by David Nova
In Part One, I discuss the The Alignment System as a tool for a more nuanced understanding of duality. This system was originally developed for the fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons” in the late 1970s as a guideline for players to create their own characters, a two-axis system that incorporates the duality of “Good vs Evil” and “Lawful vs Chaotic” (or “Order vs Chaos”).
If we simply view world events from a single axis of duality, Good vs Evil, Light vs Dark, Order vs Chaos, White Hat vs Black Hat, I believe we’re missing a more complete understanding of the world around us. While this Alignment System is still a bit simplistic and reductive, it offers a better tool to understand human character, morality, and motivation than a single duality system.
In the diagram above, The Alignment System is represented by the archetypal characters from the original Star Wars trilogy, which provides an excellent example for this discussion. While I found numerous different Star Wars Alignment diagrams posted online by fans and gamers, I disagreed with many of their character alignment choices, so I created my own diagram [above] for this discussion.
The D&D website, EasyDamus.com, provides a detailed description of the Alignment System and each individual alignment. There is also a Q&A survey you can take to determine your own D&D character and personal Alignment. When I took the test, my alignment was unsurprisingly “True Neutral.”
I want to stress that the purpose of this D&D survey is primarily for entertainment, yet it provides some reflection for self-awareness. A true measure of one’s spiritual and moral alignment is better accomplished through meditation and self-reflection.
Let’s take a closer look at each alignment and use the characters from Star Wars as our example.
*NOTE: all of the best alignment/dangerous alignment quotes are from the same source as the descriptions: easydamus.com.
Lawful Good, “The Crusader”
“A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.” – easydamus.com
In my Star Wars diagram, I selected both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia as representatives of Lawful Good. Most diagrams pick one over the other. However both characters are equally motivated by an inner sense of justice, morality, and a higher duty. Both characters chose to sacrifice their personal desires and safety to make a positive impact upon the Universe. They are Crusaders in the truest sense. They are what many would label “White Hats,” who actively combat the “Black Hats.”
Lawful Good is probably the most active and vocal alignment to oppose Evil. This alignment has a tendency to become a little self-righteous. Outside of open warfare, they would normally operate within the boundaries of the law, accepted morality, and a society’s legal system. This could be perceived as a handicap. In the best-of-all-scenarios, are these the patriots working behind the scenes?
“Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.”
“Lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.”
Neutral Good, “The Benefactor”
“A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them.” – easydamus.com
I selected Obi Wan Kenobi as a representative of Neutral Good. Unlike Luke and Leia, he does not play an active role in the Rebel Alliance. He serves as the hermit, the wise man, the wise councilor, who aides the Universe as his inner wisdom dictates, yet he has no ‘alliance’ to any legal system or political structure (I’m only considering the original Star Wars trilogy. Obi Wan acts as Lawful Good in the prequel films.) His priorities are spiritual in nature, not political. His neutrality is not motivated by self-interest, and ultimately he sacrifices his own life for the greater good, to help Luke and Leia escape with the Death Star plans.
A Neutral Good alignment is not invested in a political order or bureaucratic affairs, and thus avoids getting sucked into these duality dramas and political belief systems. Yet they still feel a strong inner desire to actively do good, acting compassionately. In some cases they might be naive to the depths of darkness in the world. Who represents Neutral Good in our current environment? Perhaps light workers, holistic doctors, and whistleblowers?
“Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order.”
“Neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.”
Chaotic Good, “The Rebel”
“A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.” – easydamus.com
Han Solo, the rogue Corellian smuggler, is the natural choice for the Chaotic Good alignment, the typical anti-hero figure that has become extremely popular in modern culture. While he may be considered a self-serving individual, ultimately his moral and ethical alignment compels him to help Luke, Leia, and the Rebel Alliance, with or without a personal reward. Otherwise, Han Solo has no respect for political authority or any social order for that matter. His livelihood is morally questionable; he is fundamentally motivated by self-interest. Ultimately, Solo has a good heart; he will put aside his self interest to come to the aid of those whom he loves, and protect that which he believes in.
Individuals with a Chaotic Good alignment generally work outside of a legal or political system. They may be activists, artists, or provocateurs. They are not concerned with social codes or political correctness, yet they feel obligated to do good in the world. Who represents Chaotic Good in our current environment? In the best-of-all-scenarios, does this not sound a bit like Trump? Does the man seem to thrive on Chaos?
“Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit.”
“Chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment when it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.”
Lawful Neutral, “The Judge”
“A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government.” – easydamus.com
I’ve selected the Stormtroopers as the representative for Lawful Neutral, and this will probably feel incorrect to many people, simply because the image of Star Wars‘ Stormtroopers conjures up an image of Nazi Stormtroopers. However, the Stormtroopers in the Star Wars universe are simply the uniformed police officers and military soldiers of the dominant political system in the original trilogy. They are simply following their orders, as any dutiful American soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan has done. They may be lawful, but that doesn’t mean what they are doing is good or right. They are basically neutral to the morality of their own actions because their only concern is to follow the chain of command and uphold their duty. They equate morality with duty, rightness with law and order, even if their orders are intrinsically evil. As obedient foot-soldiers, the Lawful Neutral alignment has decided to hand over responsibility for their moral choice to the authority they serve.
Who are the Stormtroopers who blindly follow a chain of command or a political social order in our current environment? They could be following orders from either the Lawful Good alignment or the Lawful Evil alignment, and they probably wouldn’t know the difference. They could be doctors, scientists, bureaucrats, corporations, media figures, politicians, police officers, soldiers, or any NPC. They are the backbone of The Matrix.
“Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.”
“Lawful neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it seeks to eliminate all freedom, choice, and diversity in society.”
Chaotic Neutral, “The Free Spirit”
“A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer).” – easydamus.com
I’ve selected Lando Calrissian and his Cloud City mining colony to represent Chaotic Neutral. Lando represents pure self-interest, indifference to the moral conflicts happening in the universe around him. Thus Lando is pretty much an every-man, or every-woman, neither hero nor villain. He’s not compelled to follow a political authority’s orders like the Lawful Neutral alignment. He just wants to be left alone to pursue his own self-interest, vanity, and comfort.
In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Lando betrays his old friend Han Solo and Princess Leia to Darth Vader to protect his own self-interests from imperial oversight. Then he reverses himself to help Han and Leia escape, yet he does nothing to help Luke from falling into Vader’s trap. He wants to do some good, but he won’t step out of his comfort zone to do it. He only believes in self-preservation.
Who represents Chaotic Neutral in our current environment? Pretty much your average sleeper?
“Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.”
“Chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.”
True Neutral, “The Undecided” or “The Balanced”
“A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil-after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.”
“Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.” – easydamus.com
For the True Neutral alignment, I’ve selected two sets of representatives. The droids, R2-D2 and C3PO represent the first description, “The Undecided.” They represent a childlike naivety or innocence that is neutral by default. They represent Adam & Eve before eating the forbidden fruit of knowledge of Good and Evil. They represent new souls without experience, without an unconscious duality. Very few people beyond early childhood may fall into this category.
For the second representative I’ve selected Yoda, who has committed himself philosophically and spiritually to the principle of neutrality and balance. Yoda tries to keep Luke on the middle path, the balanced path, to continue his training in the ways of the Force. He advises Luke to ignore the suffering of his friends, because suffering is ultimately an illusion. He encourages Luke to confront his own shadow-side, in the cave on Dagobah where Luke see’s his own face in Dark Vader’s mask. And he chastises Luke for not believing in his own spiritual empowerment, when Luke expresses disbelief at Yoda’s ability to lift his X-Wing from the Swamp.
This is perhaps the hardest alignment to maintain, the center of the circle, an alignment that must actively overcome spiritual delusion and disillusionment (apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction). It requires great wisdom, balanced compassion, and a Zen master’s focus, as our world is constantly pushing and pulling us into a more dualistic alignment. Yet it is also the closest alignment to divinity, to the Law of One, to the One Infinite Creator.
Does Luke change alignments from the first film to the third film? Do many people in our current environment advocate a True Neutral alignment? And why not?
Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.
Neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.
Lawful Evil, “The Dominator”
“A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises.” – easydamus.com
As we shall see, in this system there are three different categories of evil.
Darth Vader represents the Lawful Evil alignment. These are dictators. They fervently believe in a distorted principle of Law and Order. They strive to eliminate all dissent, rebellion, chaos, and ultimately human freewill. They believe that the end always justifies the means. What dark ofter does Darth Vader make to Luke near the end of “The Empire Strikes Back?”
“Join me and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.”
Lawful Evil is very much enamored with rigid hierarchy, and Darth Vader finds his place in the dark hierarchy underneath Emperor Palpatine. Lawful Evil works within a political system or government like a cancer taking over the body. It is the shadowy deep state hidden behind the central intelligence or security state. It rots from the inside out. It hides within and feeds upon the host of a lawfully recognized institution, corporation, or agency. Lawful Evil requires the mask of Law and Order to hide its evil intent, just as Darth Vader wears his own mask to hide his disfigurement. What individuals or organizations represents Lawful Evil in our current environment?
“Lawful evil creatures consider their alignment to be the best because it combines honor with a dedicated self-interest
“Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.”
Neutral Evil, “The Malefactor”
“A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has. Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.” – easydamus.com
Emperor Palpatine represents Neutral Evil, because he is the ultimate puppet master. [Palpatine demonstrates this ability in spades in the Star Wars prequels.] Palpatine manipulates Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader toward a diabolical need to obtain more power. Neutral Evil manipulates dualities for the desired outcome of gaining more power over others. Neutral Evil invented the Hegelian Dialectic formula: “Problem + Reaction = Solution,” and the Freemason motto “Ordo ab Chao,” from Chaos comes Order.” For these puppet masters, philosophical dualities like Order and Chaos are merely tools to be used to manipulate and control others to do their bidding. And just like Emperor Palpatine, they prefer to work in the shadows, unknown and unseen, using Lawful Evil as proxies. They attempt to escape some of the costs of Karma by manipulating others, namely Chaotic Evil, to perform dark deeds on their behalf. They have no moral or spiritual allegiance to anything other than themselves, their own distorted dark ego, making them the truest of Sevice-to-Self entities. Who or what represents Neutral Evil in our current environment?
“Neutral evil beings consider their alignment to be the best because they can advance themselves without regard for others.”
“Neutral evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.”
Chaotic Evil, “The Destroyer”
“A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him.” – easydamus.com
Jabba the Hutt represents Chaotic Evil in the Star Wars universe. This may seem like a fairly weak choice, but given the PG-rated nature of the Star Wars ‘family friendly’ films he is the most appropriate choice.
Jabba is in essence a sort of intergalactic crime lord, drug lord, arms dealer, and human trafficker. Consider the fact that in “Return of the Jedi” Jabba keeps Princess Leia chained up in a gold-plated bikini. Leia is essentially playing the ‘unofficial’ role of his sex-slave. Consider the fact that Jabba forces Luke Skywalker to fight to the death for his amusement in a gladiatorial-style game. Or that Jabba takes satisfaction in sacrificing our heroes’ lives to the gapping jaws of a desert sand monster. These story elements are strait out of the 1930’s Flash Gordon/Buck Rodgers serials that George Lucas emulated, yet there is still a darker, historical element of truth to these depictions. A darkness that still exists today.
The Chaotic Evil alignment is anti-life, subscribes to a culture of death, and seeks its pleasure in other’s pain, suffering, and fear. It has no rules, no higher goals, no loyalty, yet it is often found worshiping dark spiritual entities, making “deals with devils.” This alignment is a self-devouring, spiritually dark pit, like the one Jabba wanted to throw his captive heroes in before they make a grand escape. What forces represent Chaotic Evil in our current environment?
“Chaotic evil is sometimes called “demonic” because demons are the epitome of chaotic evil.”
“Chaotic evil beings believe their alignment is the best because it combines self-interest and pure freedom.”
“Chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.”
The nature of these alignments is that they are not permanent. Individuals can and do evolve from one alignment to another alignment, over the course of one lifetime, or over the course of many lifetimes. The ultimate cosmic goal of this duality dance, at least acording the The Law of One, is to move back into divinity and the True Neutral alignment. We left it as innocent droids, but we return to it as wise Yoda.
In Part Three, I will explore the Alignment System’s relationship to spiritual polarity and The Law of One.
About the Author
David Nova is the author of the metaphysical fiction series “Season of the Serpent.” He is a truth-seeker, a Wanderer, a blogger, and was the moderator of Deus Nexus: Messages For An Entangled Universe.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.