An interesting article, “Why Values Matter in Australia’s Relations with China”, is useful as a model of Solomani Party/Solomani Security within the Third Imperium – during peacetime. It is a good fit for the ‘peacetime’ Classic Traveller era that most players live in (ignoring the Fifth Frontier War for now).
Beijing is taking advantage of more porous national boundaries to monitor, organize and mobilize its far-flung diaspora in order to project China’s national values in Australia.
Organizing the Race is one of the major priorities of the Solomani Party. In Classic Traveller, membership is automatic to all Solomani humans, and only Solomani humans are allowed to join. This kind of race-based, race-only party has a different ‘feel’ from the Chinese Communist Party, where you have to spend years passing exams and ideological testing to become a member.
Also, there is a certain dissonance in official vs. actual values of the CCP: the goal of worldwide revolution died some time ago, replaced with China First. This dissonance does not exist within the Solomani Party: but how Solomani superiority is demonstrated differs, depending on the circumstances. Take the following scenarios:
- Solomani-dominant world in the Solomani Confederation
- Solomani-minority world in the Solomani Confederation
- Solomani-dominant world in the Third Imperium (at war/at peace)
- Solomani-minority world in the Third Imperium (at war/at peace)
- Solomani-dominant independent world
- Solomani-minority independent world
As any field operative or director could tell you, different situations merit different responses. And the details matter as well: is the Solomani minority a wealthy and envied minority? Poor and despised? An overwhelming majority? Merely the biggest tribe on the planet – and not particularly respected or feared?
Rest assured: in cases where the Solomani are a poor majority under the rule of wealthy Vilani corporations and families, “Democracy Now!” will be the cry; but where a few old Solomani families have rule millions of Mixed Vilani peons for generations, “Tradition and Stability!” will be the only thing that matters.
Due to it’s racial rules for membership, the vast majority of Solomani Party members are not particularly active in the Party: after all, you can be 100% Solomani, and still wear the Imperial uniform. (I have no doubt that Solomani Party theoreticians have their own version of ‘false consciousness’ to explain this phenomenon.)
Party Membership in Traveller, then, is substantially different than Party Membership in China… but the desire to control every member of the Race/every citizen of the Nation remains. In the Imperium, the (Mixed) Vilani can be built up as a totalitarian threat against Solomani liberty, purity, and culture, with the Party then stepping in as the Shield and Sword of all True Humans, regardless of race or belief.
What Does Not Apply
As I read the article, a strong theme emerged: “We Westerners believe in Universal Human Rights, but the Chinese don’t.”
If you choose to focus on what the official reasons for the Solomani Rim War are (and ignore the amount of money at stake in the wealthy worlds of the Solomani Rim and the Old Expanses), you get race-based nationalism from the Solomani, and universal sophont rights among the Imperials.
“Hey, that’s strange. As there are numerous Law Level: Crushing worlds within the Imperium, it then follows that there is no notion of universal rights within the Imperium.”
Well… sort of.
The Imperium does ban all forms of chattel slavery within its borders, regardless of the policies of the given worlds. The (vague & undefined) Imperial Laws of War does not apply to the Imperial military… but does apply to member worlds, corporations, etc. And (and this is probably the official cause of the Rim War) Imperial Law places all organic sentient life as legal persons, with equal legal protection and rights while crossing the stars.
“Suppressing the Aslan on your worlds is one thing… but suppressing starfaring Aslan traders and merchants? That’s a direct threat to Imperial Justice, the foundations of interstellar trade!”
Modern Western culture teaches that all men are born free and equal: two goals that can be complimentary or contradictory, depending on how you define ‘free’ and ‘equal’.
Neither the Solomani or Imperial culture accepts this viewpoint.
The Imperium is ruled by hereditary aristocracies; or more precisely, a Aristocratic/Corporate union, with the military under the direct authority of the aristocracy. The mix of personal rule and corporate might simply feels right to the Mixed Vilani population, who want to see both a face on the people ruling them (Solomani personalism) and the strength of corporate wealth (tied to the long-established Vilani goals of ‘conformity, tradition, and prosperity’). Added to this is the notion of Imperial Honour, to keep your promises, obey your orders, speak the truth, and remain loyal to your liege.
The Solomani have a great number of political philosophies: some still follow French beliefs on Equality, Liberty and Fraternity; others follow Abrahamic, Hindu/Caste-based, Darwinian or Confucian visions instead. (Quite a lot are just plain old ethno-nationalists.) All of these political goals must be fought for within the only political party permitted, the Solomani Party, and all must hold to the tenet that “The Solomani are destined to rule the galaxy”.
Total Information Awareness
Both the Solomani and the Imperials are quite different from the official, unified, hierarchical Chinese culture outlined in the article: that’s because both Solomani and Imperials are both trying to unify a great myriad of beliefs and peoples under one banner, while the Chinese Communist Party is trying to keep together the vast Chinese people under their rule.
But despite these differences, both the CCP and the Solomani Party like to keep an eye on what ‘their’ people are doing beyond the frontiers. After all, a truly Solomani-based movement to overthrow the rule of the Solomani Party is more likely to be born within the Imperium than anywhere else.
(And to be discreetly nurtured by the Imperial government/pro-Imperial nobility.)
It is long-established in Traveller Canon that the Solomani have an extensive informant network, and that it stretches into the Imperium. The Solomani Party during the Rim War Era – where I set my stories – no doubt used its field assets for terrorism, sparking insurrections, setting up safe houses, slush funds, and other exciting escapades. In peaceful times, the use of local assets is primary for optics management, using local inhabitants to reach the goals and promote the ideology of the central government.
The Empty Quarter, 993
In 993, the Solomani Party is banned within the Imperium, and there is a major war being fought between the Solomani Confederation and the Third Imperium. Despite strong pro-Solomani sentiment, culture, and beliefs, the Imperial Empty Quadrant remains solidly loyal to the Throne. Imperial Space here is quite poor (average TL of 8, not 12 as is common in the Imperium), and can contribute little to the Solomani Cause except a lot of shouting.
There is no widespread Party monitoring here, and the area is very very far from the Confederation, so the few active Party assets still around – Imperial suppression of Party activists here has proven quite effective – are on their own. There are a fair number of sympathizers and adherents to the Cause: but Solomani superiority is more of a secondary product of local beliefs (mainly Hindu caste hierarchies or Islamic humanism), and not the primary driver.
The unpopularity of the Bwap Sector Duke, and the envy the (comparatively poor) Solomani have for the (relatively wealthier) Vilani & Bwap systems can be used to make trouble, but – even with the help of certain unnamed local Nobles – it would be difficult for the Party to really disrupt Imperial rule here. There just isn’t enough money, enough agents, or enough popular support to really open a third front…