Imagine that the Star Wars movies aren’t what “really” happened in a galaxy far, far way, but are instead propaganda:
First of all, let’s conduct a thought experiment of removing religion from politics. I mean, let’s remove the Force religion from the lore of the Star Wars universe. Most importantly, remove the religious dogma that the Sith and the Dark Side are automatically Satanic evil and the Jedi are automatically good guys, unless they fall to the Dark Side.
We can assume the movies show the viewpoint of some really credulous guys who think Palpatine can throw lightning bolts for roughly the same reasons some really credulous guys in Ancient Greece believed Zeus can throw lightning bolts.
But notice how it makes it far harder to determine who is good and who is evil! Now we cannot trust the Force making this judgement obvious. We have to make up our own minds. Perhaps the Sith are good and the Jedi are evil now? Or both evil? Or both good? Or there is no such thing as good or evil at all? Now we have to start thinking a bit harder, don’t you find?
So, after all, if the Jedi could be evil, the Jedi Media and Jedi Academia, and the Overall Mainstream Jedi Republican Narrative — the movies — could be lying to us?
So how about a counter-narrative? Let’s say the Republic could not do its one job right: to keep various factions from erupting into civil wars, to keep various planets and star systems from erupting into local wars. In short, they failed at keeping peace and order. Senator Palpatine, seeing how it doesn’t work, and wanting to save the Galaxy from untold suffering, pulled a Julius Caesar move and attempted to restore peace and put an end to the many local pockets of bloodshed through establishing imperial authority and basically undisputed dominance, a Galactic Pax Romana. His motive was noble and one that could be reasonably considered efficient: to have a force of Galactic Peacekeepers, Galactic Police around to keep everybody else from killing each other.
Except that some guys didn’t like it at all. And some of the guys who didn’t like that could be called positively evil. Former Senators who enjoyed the power gained by participating in the murky, inefficient chaos of the politics of the Republic. Planetary bigwigs who wanted to wage war on the next planet. Consider Leia’s dad, who was a Senator and Prince or Viceroy. Maybe the old ruling class didn’t like their power reduced? It could interfere with their schemes like waging a local war or supporting a power-hungry Senate faction, right? The Republic had a huge ruling class of senators, local monarchs, bureaucrats and the suchlike, all kinds of intermediate level of strongmen who didn’t like the new Emperor bossing them around and reducing their power. So they engineered a Rebellion. And another group who engineered that Rebellion were a cabal of top Jedis. They used to have immense informal power in the murky chaos of Republican politics: the power of the advisor. The power and influence of the intellectual, opinion leader, who does not rule directy: he does not have to. He simply tells other people who actually rule what to think, be that the kings of monarchical planets or the voters of democratic planets. His rule is not of the iron fist but the glib tongue, the power of “free speech”, persuasion, manipulation, seductive half-truths wrapped into a lingo of sugary, bleeding-heart idealism — can you say Jedi Mind Tricks? And they too did not like losing their influence much. So these two group of highly influential and highly unethical people engineered the Rebellion.
Of course they did not tell most Rebels what it is really about. Most Rebels are in fact good guys, good guys in the sense of foolish idealists. Pure hearts, if not much in the way of brains. So they lapped up the whole sugary idealistic bullshit about freedom, democracy and ending oppression.
Meanwhile, the Emperor had a tough job. The Rebels were infecting everybody who is nice and stupid — and most people are — with idealistic propaganda, presenting themselves as those who fight for truth, freedom and justice, while the Emperor is an evil tyrant. On the other side, the Emperor had a simple and honest agenda, too simple and too honest for people to actually believe it: to keep the galaxy from erupting into violent chaos by basic simple military-police type repression. His agenda was just the basic civilized one: if you don’t want hooligans at a British football match to start fighting each other, you just send a lot of policemen to the match and make it clear everybody who starts trouble will get into one. Of course the hoodlums consider that oppressive. From the civilized angle, they should. So basically he just had the basic Pax Romana type of motive and plan. At any rate, the Emperor could not recruit the idealistic type of folks as they were almost all duped and fighting for the other side. He had to recruit the kind of folks he could, not necessarily the folks he wanted — and if you have to fight against shiny-eyed, pure-hearted idealists — duped by an evil cabal with silver tongues and Jedi Mind Tricks — the kind of folks you can recruit against them are not going to be particularly wholesome characters.
Is this alternative narrative entirely implausible? If not… try to unlock the metaphors for the real world.