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Prophet 49

What is the point of COMPNOR and the ISB?

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Lengthy question, sorry...

Under the Empire, the Emperor introduces the New Order, a totalitarian ideology that sought to remake the political and social fabric of the Galaxy.  This ideology was further elaborated on by Tarkin, according to the Rebellion Era Sourcebook when he authored the text “Visions of the New Order”.  You could almost give the New Order the name “Palpatinism-Tarkinism”.  COMPNOR was established as a joint state/volunteer civilian umbrella organization dedicated to coordinating the entire Galaxy into the model outlined by the New Order, equipped with its own secret police and paramilitary corps to help accomplish this goal.  They had a blank check and Palpatine’s blessing to do whatever they wanted in pursuit of this mission.  They were the truest totalitarians and the fanatic loyalists to the Emperor’s vision.  I always loved this idea as an EU fan, and thought they were grossly underused int the EU.

However, they didn’t seem to do the primary thing they were sent out to do.  Their goal was to bring the “revolution” to the rest of the Galaxy.  Except that they didn’t.  There were entire worlds and big name senators that outright opposed the Empire and openly spoke out against it on a daily basis.  I am primarily thinking of Mon Mothma and Garm Bel Iblis or Chandrila and Corellia, respectively.  Why were they not silenced?  Why were two very influential Core World systems allowed to just not go along with the New Order?  Doesn’t that defeat the entire purpose of COMPNOR?  If COMPNOR had done its job, they could have stopped the Rebellion before it even started.  As soon as Mothma speaks out against the Emperor in the Senate, ISB should have arrested her for treason and made her disappear, and a new loyal senator “elected” in her place.  If Chandrila has a problem with that, then the Empire steps in and stages a “regime change” much as they did with Naboo in Battlefront II (2005).  Or, if they wanted to avoid scandal, they could have arranged an ”accident” and have Mothma encounter an “attack by pirates” during a relief tour of the Outer Rim, then play it off with plausible deniability.  The Empire literally waited 17 years to finally decide to arrest her, and that was after she openly declared war against the Empire itself and stated that she wanted to see the Emperor overthrown.  The New Order could have saved itself from a lot of future headaches had they just gotten rid of her earlier, and installed a more “cooperative” government on her homeworld.

My point is, when you sit down and think, the Empire didn’t make any sense, and it actually makes you wonder if anyone with any sense of history of authoritarian states has thought about this when writing about the Empire.  The Empire is very bad at being totalitarian, and it really (for me, anyway) takes you out of the universe and makes you think about the nonsensical political nature of the Galaxy under the Empire.  Why even have COMPNOR if you aren’t going to use them for the one job they have?

Anyone have a reasonably sensible explanation for this?  Any historical examples to look to for explanation?  Why would a totalitarian ideology allow for vocal and open political dissent to undermine its regime?  It just makes no sense to me, and lessens the Empire as plausible villains.

Please, I prefer Legends answers, since I have been somewhat disappointed in new canon material lately.

Edited by Prophet 49

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Initially, Palpatine was consolidating power.  He did not have absolute control until Episode IV when he dissolved the Senate.  Until then, he was growing in power, but Mon Mothma and others were too powerful to touch.  But in 2 BBY they signed the Corellian Treaty, which was actually a trap by Palpatine and COMPNOR.  They were arrested and taken to the Death Star.  They escaped when Galen Marek fought Vader.  This was detailed in Star Wars:The Force Unleashed.  This mirrors many totalitarian regimes, who gather power quietly, allow their enemies to gather in one place, then strike them down in a single attack.  

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There is a theme of bureaucratic incompetence at times where the Empire is concerned that is reminiscent to the Soviet government. The Soviets used brutality in the form of secret police and Gulags as well as foolishly inhumane policies such as feeding the cities by starving the farmers. I think this is partially because you can only get so many impressive and astute people to rally wholeheartedly to a cause like Palpatine-Tarkinism. While I maintain that humans must have a significant numerical advantage over other species, the fact is that there are a lot of non-humans so having a regime that is anti-alien is going to have a fairly large built-in population of non-conformers based on having no real self interest in a Human Supremacist Empire versus some other form of government. Maybe they made the calculation that they could only push so hard before they forced a reaction. 

I think this is something that is just inherent in the problem that Palpatine had to solve, and perhaps did not constitute a real worry for him. Maybe he was working on extending his life or something so he could play the long game. 

While disappointing, I think the answer also may simply be Story. Without a tension between the two sides you don't have a story. If the Empire takes over completely and is 100% efficient then the saga goes nowhere.

Edited by Archlyte

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21 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

I don’t think Mothma, Organa, or Bel Iblis opposed the Empire as vocally as you think. The fact that they went more than 20 years without running into legal trouble tells me that they knew to keep quiet out of fear for the ISB/COMPNOR/COMPOR.

Yes I agree they would have had to have been exceedingly careful and clever. 

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Another more interesting possibility is that Palpatine, in his UNLIMITED POWER™ decided that he wanted to have a challenge during his rule, so he intentionally allowed his opponents to run free and reform a rebellion, thus giving himself one final challenge.

Remember: Palpatine didn’t create the Empire because that’s what he thought was best for the galaxy; he created the Empire because it was the most ambitious goal he could think of and succeeding in it would be his greatest possible triumph.

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25 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

Another more interesting possibility is that Palpatine, in his UNLIMITED POWER™ decided that he wanted to have a challenge during his rule, so he intentionally allowed his opponents to run free and reform a rebellion, thus giving himself one final challenge.

Remember: Palpatine didn’t create the Empire because that’s what he thought was best for the galaxy; he created the Empire because it was the most ambitious goal he could think of and succeeding in it would be his greatest possible triumph.

Or he did it to fight the Vong... 😎

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2 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

Vong > First Order

👿

Sophie's choice where I don't care about either child :) . The timeline ends for me after second death star blows up. Haven't seen anything yet to make me really like anything written after that. 

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I guess, I'd always assumed Mothma had been in protective exile as far as any extent to which she associated with the Rebellion. 

If we're talking about myriad non-film sources, then it's a matter of Star Wars being fiction and fiction writers being human, and occasionally not as good as they should be. ISB and COMPNOR make sense; it's the random contradictions that are outliers.

And, again, since it's modern mythology that's increasingly democratized/crowdsourced by the internet/gaming/media, we ourselves can define or re-define if an author or editor overlooks something big.

Edit: And dang it, Archlyte, we're wearing the same dress!

Edited by wilsch

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This is a good discussion.

 

So, from my point of view, the Empire has to strategically allow dissent to at least show the systems, "it isn't all bad." I think in the core rule book it mentions, paraphrasing,  "Some worlds in the Core may not know the Empire's brutality, while the Empire's rule is felt heavily in the some Outer Rim planets." Something like that. Sometimes the illusion of freedom is easier to pacify a galaxy than building two super stations and blowing up one planet.  

 

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Going with A New Hope and Rogue One it seems to me that Senators still have some clout and that Palpatine needed them to some degree to keep galactic order over their systems.  Their real power may have been limited in the Senate but my take is that he needed them to maintain control (or at least the illusion it provided).  He couldn't get rid of the Senate and turn things over to regional governors until the death star was operational.  And having COMPNOR/ISB actively going after Senators would interfere with that (even covertly).  And even if you only want to consider Legends (no "new canon"), A New Hope establishes this pretty well.

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COMPNOR was only partially effective with determined adults. It also dedicated its efforts towards bending the developing generation of youths that would have been the Empire's future. If your version of Star Wars accepts the First Order, then COMPNOR had some success that outlived the Empire.

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2 hours ago, Stan Fresh said:

He couldn't protect the galaxy from a farm kid, a drug runner, and Princess I-want-to-speak-with-the-manager.

From a military standpoint, he had the upper hand over the rebellion all throughout his reign. It was only his death that allowed the rebels to win. Now, I’m not saying the Vong couldn’t have assassinated Palpatine, but it would have been unlikely.

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2 hours ago, Yaccarus said:

From a military standpoint, he had the upper hand over the rebellion all throughout his reign. It was only his death that allowed the rebels to win. Now, I’m not saying the Vong couldn’t have assassinated Palpatine, but it would have been unlikely.

The upper hand is meaningless if you lose in the end. He had almost all the advantages and still failed against a desperate,  kludged-together guerilla force vastly smaller in number.

There is no reason to think he would have fared better against the Vong. I've never seen any substantial argument for this.  It always comes down to dudes who venerate might makes right and militarism.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Shaheed the Gand said:

This is a good discussion.

 

So, from my point of view, the Empire has to strategically allow dissent to at least show the systems, "it isn't all bad." I think in the core rule book it mentions, paraphrasing,  "Some worlds in the Core may not know the Empire's brutality, while the Empire's rule is felt heavily in the some Outer Rim planets." Something like that. Sometimes the illusion of freedom is easier to pacify a galaxy than building two super stations and blowing up one planet. 

 

That's something the Rebels show did, too. Life under the Empire wasn't some **** on earth for everyone.  For most people it was just a little bit worse than it was before.  A few less freedoms,  a bit less of everything to go around,  and a  few outspoken critics here or there disappeared.  But it's not like they were killed,  right? They're in jail.  Just keep your head down , don't make eye contact with people in uniform,  and you'll get by.

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Again, the Empire only lost because it fragmented after his death. So long as it had one Emperor to rule it and didn’t fight itself, it could defeat the Yuuzhan Vong through numbers. Really the only way to defeat the Empire would to assassinate Palpatine, and I don’t see the Vong being able to pull that off.

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3 hours ago, Yaccarus said:

Again, the Empire only lost because it fragmented after his death. So long as it had one Emperor to rule it and didn’t fight itself, it could defeat the Yuuzhan Vong through numbers. Really the only way to defeat the Empire would to assassinate Palpatine, and I don’t see the Vong being able to pull that off.

And as long as I don't grow old, don't.become ill,  and aren't killed I'm going to live forever!

That's about the logic here.

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23 hours ago, wilsch said:

I guess, I'd always assumed Mothma had been in protective exile as far as any extent to which she associated with the Rebellion. 

If we're talking about myriad non-film sources, then it's a matter of Star Wars being fiction and fiction writers being human, and occasionally not as good as they should be. ISB and COMPNOR make sense; it's the random contradictions that are outliers.

And, again, since it's modern mythology that's increasingly democratized/crowdsourced by the internet/gaming/media, we ourselves can define or re-define if an author or editor overlooks something big.

Edit: And dang it, Archlyte, we're wearing the same dress!

I want to change my avatar again but the page of icons isn't displaying the thumbnails or the files. They need a lot more icons anyway :)

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The Empire first needed stability. Isolated repression and minor atrocities were OK - it's a big galaxy after all - but that same principle means there's literally millions of government officials with some component of power. Their loyalty needed to be assured, but the trouble is ... who's making those assessments? Ultimately, that's what COMPNOR is supposed to be about, but their small size relative to the job stretches the task out over decades. It's hard to run a galaxy when you only trust people you know to be loyal personally. The focus has to be on the military first. And some amount of contained and monitored opposition may actually prove useful ... "how can you say we're so tyrannical when we just allow "person XYZ" to speak her mind?"

 

The Senate was still a thing until roughly the time of A New Hope. And the news of its removal is greeted with "That's impossible! How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?" - from an Imperial general, no less. 

 

The campaign I run is actually during the post-prequel period, and some of the story turns on the influence of these formerly Republic officials receiving new orders. How much do they go along with? At what point does keeping your authority involve betraying yourself? But if you get tossed out ... isn't the replacement likely to be even worse?  

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