Vladimir Harkonnen was the scion of a family with a history of ruthless self-aggrandizement. Ethical complacency may condemn its practices, but only with the caveat that the entire Imperium be condemned. The Padishah feudal structure was stable only insofar as there existed a balance of power among ambitiously antagonistic forces. Constant distrust and the willingness to resort to any means remained the price of security. House Harkonnen is best viewed as displaying the excesses of a political morality which did, after all, originate on Salusa Secundus.
Dr. Willis E. McNelly, The Dune Encyclopedia (295)