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Lit We need to talk about the Rebellion (or, how to build a better Alliance)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Thrawn McEwok, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Thrawn McEwok

    Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    May 9, 2000
    This is basically the love-child of Coop's old diversity thread and the three (three!) different threads on various aspects of character-portrayal in the Empire and FO that are running around Lit. - which I guess makes this a Mamma Mia! homage. No, I don't expect you to get that reference. :p

    Anyway... what I want to do here is talk about the idea of the Rebel hero; who are they, what do we respond to, how do we think they should be Rebels. This obviously isn't limited to the OT-era - because the type works just as well, and is just as much part of STAR WARS, in any other timeframe of the continuity... you don't have to be in the Rebel Alliance to be a Rebel archetype.

    My purpose for starting this is basically a sense that maybe we don't talk about this enough in this fandom - "they're us"? That seems self-explanatory. But what does that mean, what do we enjoy, what doesn't work for us? I really don't want this thread to be about what I think (you can read WARFARE and my backcatalogue of TF.N posts and book-reviews for that). More about getting you to offer your opinion, but because I want to get the ball rolling, that is going to force me to say something as a catalyst...

    What I'm going to do to kick off is to suggest that there are various types of Rebel, with various implications for how they rebel (or "how they Rebel"?), individual strengths an weaknesses.

    1. The politician. The elected leader who makes a stand because they think the system has become intolerable. They often have to go through something of a wringer to actually achieve what they want, when they discover that simply making a stand is no more effective outside of the political system than inside. But OT!Leia's idealism is unarguable.

    2. The soldier. The sort who believes in confronting the Empire with a formal military opposition, and who seeks to compensate for numerical inferiority with a belief in superior tactics and technology. Ackbar. Indispensable for giving the Rebellion legitimacy, both as an existential opponent to the Empire during the movie era, and as a valid replacement after Endor.

    3. The pirate. This is the type who fights by undermining the Empire, with multiple small attacks and manoeuvres, perhaps not a formal member of the Rebellion at all. Perhaps actually an outspoken critic, even. Han. They also often have a highly-tuned self-preservation instinct, a willingness to duck-and-cover that relates to their way of fighting, and which may also be related to an ability to see both sides. Not necessarily an actual pirate. Smugglers. Gunrunners. Passive supporters. Imperial officers. Unquestionably my favourite sort of Rebel, and the ones I think are most indispensable. YMMV.

    4. The kid. Luke, Ezra. Do I even need to explain? Or should I point out that the impetus that compels both of them to rebel also risks both of them becoming Sith servants of the Empire, too?

    5. The outrider. Almost the stereotype of the "Rebel fighter", though the OT has few if any. This is a type which doesn't fit the other categories. More willing to break the rules than the soldier. Highly individualistic. Unlike the pirate (with whom they can be superficially confused), they're absolutely committed and sometimes too much so. Cassian and Jyn.

    6. The traditionalist. This used to be a very common type, but now less-so. They come from a background where they were imbued with old-fashioned values that enable them to recognize the Empire's wrongness, often because the Empire directly tries to attack their society, whether that's a small Mid-Rim colony, or a Space Ruritanian pocket-civilization with silly uniforms, or an alien society that's more unindustrial and unstatelike than our own standards. They're often able to casually behead people in ways we'd otherwise be appalled by, though sometimes they're uncompromising peaceniks. The Noghri and Akanah. Chirrut and Baze. Chewie. The Ewoks. Obi-Wan. Ahsoka. Kanan. Loth-wolves.

    7. The radicalised urbanite. This is a type that's become more prominent in the reboot continuity, as in real life, they're often the children of the traditionalist, moved into the city and dislocated by socio-economic forces. They did always exist - the aliens of Invisec in the X-wing novels are a good example - but they've become much more prominent in post-millennial Star Wars. The Coruscant scenes in Thrawn are full of them.

    There are obviously other options - outliers, extensions of the pattern. One detail that sticks in mind is the characterization of Commander Vedij in the old Role-Playing scenario The Far Orbit Project - he's an aristocratic Imperial officer who's mutinied out of principle and taken his frigate over to the Rebellion, but he finds himself in a situation where the paradox between his "establishment" identity and his new role in a struggle against that establishment (and a very diverse, messy struggle as well) is pushing him towards a breakdown. That seemed to me to be a very deft piece of storytelling, and reveals the layers of characterization and narrative drama that can be added to the basic types.

    Another thing that might be worth raising is the idea, originally from the old WEG RPG, but which we nodded to in WARFARE, that the politician/soldier leadership had originally launched a coordinated series of conventional planetary uprisings before ANH, which got whupped. Perhaps just a tragedy, but something that leaves open the possibility that the politician, in particular, can be a very ruthless operator, who will deliberately push to provoke the Empire, knowing that the violence weakens the system and wins them more supporters. Not a type I can say I'm comfortable with, but a thought worth raising....

    Discuss!!

    - The Imperial Ewok
     
  2. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 8, 2016
    My take-the rebel alliance in legends is founded by displaced aristocrats and a broken monaster order.

    It's arguably a reactionary organization, that's in its very name-the alliance to restore the republic.

    Of course there are more revolutionary aspects of it-but it isn't a pre-dominantly revolutionary organization along the lines of the French jacobins, Russian Bolsheviki, or Americans sons of Liberty really even.

    It's more an organization of restoration.

    If I may delve into a Marxian analysis-it's fascinating that the rebel alliance's leadership is comprised of disgruntled galactic elites, most of its best operatives are imperial academy defectors and maybe the galactic lower middle class. It's relationship with the galactic "proletariat" is relatively hard to judge, it's relationship with the lumpenproleteriat and the criminal element-as Marx would have said Jabba and Xizor are members of the galactic aristocracy/bourgeoisie. And their muscle mostly come from the lowest levels of galactic society.

    Of course a socio-economic composition analysis makes no judgement on an organization's morality or righteousness merely where in the the social system its support and personnel hail from.
     
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  3. sidv88

    sidv88 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Good to see you here @Thrawn McEwok ! I still remember the old days when they gave out McEwoks for bizarre theories. Since you said that your discussion refers to any timeframe of Star Wars, I'm going to contradict Luke's statement in 8 that 'The Rebellion is reborn today," in regards to the New Republic leftovers, and say that the rebellion spirit is actually in the First Order. :kylo::kylosaber: This isn't to say that the FO is right or just in what they do (far from it), but that they are acting within the definition and boundaries of the term Rebels, which basically means people attempting an overthrow of the ruling government. That's all there is to it, only the Star Wars original trilogy put a "positive" spin on the term rebelling. Outside of that, the FO is in fact rebelling against the New Republic. Let's go through your elements line by line.

    1. The politician: Senator Carise Sindian from Bloodline fits this role perfectly, working against the ruling New Republic behind the scenes to support the First Order.

    2. The soldier: FN-2199, better known as Tr8tor, the First Order stormtrooper who dueled Finn in a rage and shouted "Traitor!" at him because he was angry at Finn's betrayal of the First Order. Totally loyal to the First Order.

    3. The pirate: DJ. Like Han, it takes a while for him to figure out who he sides with. But when it comes down to it, he's rolling with the First Order.

    4. The kid: Kylo Ren :kylo:

    5. The outrider: Any of the Knights of Ren. They are associated with the First Order, yet also more individualistic.

    6. The traditionalist: Armitage Hux. He was imbued with old-fashioned values that enable him to recognize the Republic's wrongness, often because the Republic directly tries to attack First Order society under the guise of the Resistance. He casually annihilates star systems in ways First Order citizens would otherwise be appalled by.

    7. The radicalized urbanite: possible spoilers for Resistance?
    Imanuel Doza

    So it seems the First Order fits all your criteria for a better Rebellion. ;) :kylo::kylosaber: :phasma: :nttrooper::nttrooper::nttrooper:
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  4. Xammer

    Xammer Jedi Master star 1

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    Jan 31, 2009
    Er, why not? Mamma Mia is pretty mainstream.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  5. TiniTinyTony

    TiniTinyTony Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 9, 2003
    8. The spy. It seems these people help turn the tide towards the good, but they could also be used to help lure the good guys into a trap whether it be intentional or unintentional. Examples: Kaz, Bothans, Fulcrum

    9. The person who changes sides. There are many instances where a "bad guy" has a change of heart and decides to help the good guys. Examples: Kallus, Vader, Lando
     
  6. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    I have a headcanon that when it comes to the makeup of the Rebellion, the New Republic entertainment industry emphasizes the crap out of former Separatist groups and former Loyalist groups coming together under the Rebel flag to fight the evil Empire. In much the same way that West European stories about the WW2 Resistance emphasize the cliche of Communists and Catholics working together against the Nazis.

    As with the French and Italian myths about the Resistance, how much of that is true and how much of it is just political stuff meant to defuse culture wars and push for national unity is... debatable.
     
  7. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

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    Aug 25, 2013
    I mean, it would be news if that wasn't the case. The fact that insurgencies, terrorist groups, and revolutionary movements are disproportionately led by people who are well-off or at the very least securely middle class is pretty much the norm in our world, too. The general explanation is that they're more likely to have the education to know that rebellions can succeed, not to mention more likely to have resources and connections. Whereas conversely, working class people are disproportionately too worried about more immediate concerns (i.e. "where's my next meal coming from") to think too much about, or be too active in, politics (let alone the violent kind).
     
  8. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Yes your right about the leadership, as the upper class and middle class has the free time to devote to revolutions.

    But even the general alliance soldier or pilot-doesn't seem to come very much from the galactic proletariat(if such a thing exists).
     
  9. Charlemagne19

    Charlemagne19 Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2000
    The Rebellion is an organization of idealistic do-gooders, Robin Hood types, and noble heroes.

    Everyone keeps expecting them to become terrorists or resort to the level of the Empire and they don't and they kick the Empire's butt instead.

    They inspire people to be better and disdain evil.

    They are GOODtm.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  10. FS26

    FS26 Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2018
    The First Order is mainly an outside force invading, not a rebellion from within.

    What makes the capital-R Rebellion and defines it is a common belief in the posibility of peaceful cooperation and opposition to tyranny and authoritarianism. And even though several of its members are part of old Elites, they treat others as equally valid beings. Think about the 3 star members of the Rebellion: Luke, Leia, and Han. A member of an ancient elite family, a farmer from the edge of civilization, and a kid from the slums of one of the world's great industrial areas.
     
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  11. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 18, 2008
    FACPOV, it's true that rebellion - in the dictionary sense - could apply to either the OT Rebels or the First Order.

    The difference being, the OT Rebels, and the Resistance after them (in canon) are fighting for freedom.

    Not "freedom from a CPOV," not "liberal freedom" (although the definition would certainly fall within what we consider in RL as liberal democracy), but freedom from oppression, freedom from fear - freedom to live one's own life, without harming others..

    The FO is a bunch of excessive, murderous, oppressionist thugs raised on toxic propaganda, far too much love of stiff ceremony and shriekingly hateful speeches from a spoiled brat who murder planets to bring back what they think were the "good old days." [face_plain]

    AFA the makeup of the canon Rebels, I'd say McEwok's list fits a variety of types; I'd add in cellular structures like Cracken's Crew, who were, effectively, middle- to lower-class citizens who were rightfully fed up with the Empire's shavit in their lives. The Alliance leadership, and those soldiers with them at the main bases were probably a mix of different types, but we shouldn't forget the average citizen on the ground (who, to be fair, may have been "Rebels" INO, AFA Mothma or the higher-ups were concerned, but whom they'd support if they could).
     
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  12. Thrawn McEwok

    Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    May 9, 2000
    Quick replies just to bounce the thread along...

    @Darth Invictus - so you're saying that you think the best Rebels are reactionaries?

    @sidv88 - I stopped regularly giving out Golden Ewok™ No-Prizes years ago. If memory serves, I was accused of trying to use them to build up a personal powerbase on the boards, and I just couldn't be bothered giving people who came up with crack like that free ammunition. Yes, there's an irony there. :p I think I did actually lob one at someone the other day, but that was complete random. :p

    That said - your argument that the FO can contain similar character-types to the Rebellion is a smart one, but I'm really talking about people who share the Rebels' sense of principle here... not that I actually have either the right or the desire to direct the direction of the thread at all... :p

    I didn't want anyone who didn't get the joke to feel like they should have?

    @TiniTinyTony - I was thinking primarily about character rather than role, but both of those are very definitely Rebel "types". The spy, and the defector.

    @Ackbar's Fishsticks - I think the question of image and reality is a good one. I'm reminded of the key French town which was liberated in '44 by... I can't remember whether a Vichyist horse-cavalry unit, or the Bonapartist claimant and Prince Murat with their private army, but someone absurdly random; the next day, the communists showed up, took over the local newpaper, and printed a story about how they'd liberated the town; a few days later, the American army showed up with a film crew, and the German garrison had to feign a surrender for the cameras, so the international audience could see the Americans liberating the town. That may in turn be partially inaccurate story, and is being told from memory, but maybe that's part of the point...

    You and Invictus and I could probably have an interesting discussion about whether the Rebels represent the bourgeoisie, or in general about how many different theories of rebellion do and don't fit the story... [face_thinking]

    @Charlemagne19 - who's "everyone" here? I think Rebels are capable of incompetence - the NJO is the clear example of that - though I like them best when they avoid that.

    QFT. :D

    QFT. :D :p

    With regard to groups like Cracken's Crew (or Kapp's Team One, or Lando's Commandos) - I'd tend to see them as a mix of "soldier" and "pirate" and "outrider" types, though in terms of background, they may have started off as the traditionalist or the urbanite.

    But your point that Rebels are Rebels because they've been pushed too far is a good one...

    - The Imperial Ewok
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  13. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 8, 2016
    I'm saying rebels fit the definition applied broadly enough of reactionaries. I'm not using the word as a term of moral judgment.
     
  14. Havoc123

    Havoc123 Jedi Master star 4

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    Jun 26, 2013
    Well ultimately, the Rebellion is one set of bourgeois and aristocrats fighting another set (the Empire). If you stretch it far enough, you could even call it a reactionary rebellion (feudalism) against increasing absolutism, a factor of the renaissance.
     
  15. CooperTFN

    CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1999
    First off, you say "Coop's old diversity thread" like it's not still going. :p

    This is the part of the OP that I find most interesting, because aside from one use of the word "hero", your focus is on archetypes much more than "principles", and whether those archetypes happen to align with the protagonists of the story is highly dependent on which era we're in. Since sid beat me to the FO comparison (which I cosign, with the requisite disclaimer that no, it doesn't make them the good guys), I'll look instead at the prequel era--even moreso than in the ST, the protagonists here are the establishment and the rebels are the Separatists. Type 1, for example, is more reminiscent of Mina Bonteri than Padmé--their principles may be quite similar but Padmé chose to work within the system--marry into it even--where Bonteri took a stand and walked away. That both strategies ultimately failed is the real tragedy of the time they lived in.

    I think this heroic protagonistic element of the CIS is much clearer in post-TCW canon than it was for the Legends generation--of course it makes perfect sense that lots of old seppies would have ended up with the Rebel Alliance but Bantam/DH/DR didn't have the worldbuilding tools to give us people like Cassian or Saw until 2005 at the earliest, so the Luke/Han/Leia types--people whose fight wasn't contingent upon the details of the Clone Wars--were all we really knew.

    What's fun about the sequel era is that even if you rebel (heh) at the thought of seeing the FO this way, even the principles of the Resistance are comparatively debatable prior to TFA. We mostly know the peacetime generation through Resistance personnel like Poe and Kaz because they're the ones whose POV makes for fun stories but by definition they're the fringe of NR citizenry--and from within the relatively stable and comfortable confines of the NR it's very easy to see Leia's cohort as warmongers, people who can't let the last fight go until every old Imperial is dead. They're justified in the end (nothing ends, Adrian) because otherwise there's no trilogy, but in the context of a superficially peaceful and just society, the "rebel archetypes" who would decide to up and join the Resistance anyway and go fight a FO of which they're barely aware are an interesting bunch to consider--so I think in my ideal telling the Resistance would be a mix of hardcore Leia loyalists, people from the geographical fringes of the NR who actually have been hurt by the FO (like the Ticos--Type 6, I suppose?) and NR citizens who maybe aren't so clean and noble in their motivations.

    Marry that to sid's FO analysis and the ST is a story of rebels versus rebels, where the OT was establishment (bad) versus rebels (good) and the PT was establishment (meh) versus rebels (meh).
     
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  16. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Master star 5

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    Aug 8, 2016
    Arguably yes-one could argue the empire is despite its origins and the intentions behind it(palpatine would have disposed of it for his dark magocracy eventually) the empire is in some sense a "progressive" idea of increased galactic centralization and structure, as opposed to the chaotic oligarchic old republic.
     
  17. CooperTFN

    CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1999
    You've lost me.
     
  18. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 8, 2016
    I was responding to @Havoc123's post above yours.

    And I was speaking in a general academic and pseudo Marxist sense-of the progression of governments and societies and the resistance against such things by the old classes in every era.
     
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  19. TheRedBlade

    TheRedBlade Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Well, now I have a new favorite moment of WWII, so thanks fort that.

    I LOVE that they nu-canon Rebellion contains multitudes, from fire-breathers like Saw to hard-line pragmatists like Draven to soft accommodationists like Jebel - who, it should be noted, did NOT lose his position after Scarif despite being proved totally wrong. While in the EU, the post-Endor Rebellion was portrayed as a bunch of freedom fighters trying to figure out how to govern, now we've got sizable factions that could do without a big galactic government at all, or others who are just happy to get back to the usual pork barrel politics and really could have gone without this whole messy civil war business. No wonder the canon New Republic somehow managed to be more dysfunctional (and, tragically, less inspiring) than the Legends version.
     
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  20. CooperTFN

    CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 1999
    *puffer pig barrel politics
     
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  21. Thrawn McEwok

    Thrawn McEwok Co-Author: Essential Guide to Warfare star 6 VIP

    Registered:
    May 9, 2000
    But were you approving of, or enjoying, that reactionary streak? Or neither?

    There's definitely a contrast of attitude. You could also see this as independence against mechanisation, pluralism against uniformity... themes I think are important, personally; where I think STAR WARS squares the circle is in suggesting that tolerant old-fashioned value and positive new ones can and should align...

    Old like "Old Republic"? o_O :p

    I was actually specifically trying to start a discussion about which archetypes fit the broader "Rebel hero" archetype, but I'd probably respond that the Prequel storyline was establishment vs. establishment, while as you say, the FO are "rebels" as much as their opponents - the narrative perhaps being one of the collapse of a system into squabbles, which is probably not the narrative that anyone thinks they're telling... this is a thought I've not yet digested.

    But I think the Ticos are actually borderline urbanites. Mining colonies are outposts of an industrial system whose preferred face is the city.

    To be honest, I think the pre-reboot Rebellion was just as diverse, and the transition to the NR was very much about creating a government out of the less anarchist elements. The portrayal was just a bit subtler, which I think was perhaps more realistic - seen mostly through the practical eyes of Rogue Squadron and the idealistic POVs of Luke and Leia. The fact we think the way we do now is perhaps partially due to the time we've spent following that narrative...

    I basically think of Draven as Cracken with the serial numbers filed off. Of course, if we take the view that Nowar Jebel is the personal name of the character known in the pre-reboot canon by the title of Viscount Tardi, we're presented with the possibility that his HRD becomes NR Minister of Finance. :p

    - The Imperial Ewok
     
  22. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    *nods* I'd imagine that Draven is a more acceptably-modern Cracken - I'm sure there had to be times that Cracken's Crew did very Rogue One-esque jobs that WEG might not have felt comfortable presenting in gaming modules in the '80s, but which individual gaming groups may have explored.

    There's also groups as diverse as Churhee's Riflemen:http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Churhee's_Riflemen

    And the Katarn Commandos (starting as the 32nd Specforce during the GCW): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Katarn_Commandos
     
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  23. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

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    Aug 25, 2013
    I've never heard of that story, but it sounds like exactly the kind of mess that would go on right after the liberation. A good book I read about this recently was Keith Lowe's Savage Continent, about the whole mess that was Europe immediately after 1945, before things started to settle down.

    One thing I liked a lot in the X-wing series was that it gave you a decent cross-section of different backgrounds with the squadron's members. In Earth terms, you've got the son of a truck stop owner (Wedge), the son of a telecom mogul (Tycho), the children of HMO moguls (Erisi and Bror), the son of a big city cop who followed in his footsteps (Corran), the son of a farmer (Gavin), the daughter of social workers (Lujayne, and later Inyri), and a former public defender (Tal'dira). It was a nice glimpse at how many different kinds of people might be tempted into joining the Rebellion.
     
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  24. CooperTFN

    CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus star 6 VIP

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    Jul 8, 1999
    Human...human...human...human...human...human...human...human...Twi'lek. :p
     
  25. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 8, 2016
    I think the rebels represent the displaced aristocracy and monastic order who lost out in the new system, with the bulk of their support coming from the galactic lower middle class.

    But that's my attempt at Marxist class composition analysis for the day.
     
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