Literally meaning "Guardians of Our Morality", the Tavrchedl' are the Zhodani "Thought Police".
The infamous Thought Police are a branch of the Zhodani government charged with maintaining right thought by the population. Primarily an internal attitude and security police, their responsibility is internal order within the Zhodani Consulate. Effectively they operate as a secret police force constantly spying on the population with psionics. Their mission is to catch anyone who is discontent with the system, their lot in life, or their superiors, and to brainwash them into acceptance of the system.
The Tavrchedl' are also charged with locating and removing agents of external powers from the Zhodani Consulate.
To the Zhodani, the view is completely different. As guardians, the organisation is seen as filling a role much closer to firemen than policemen.
Zhodani society is a happy one, but even in a happy society, individual members can fall prey to depression, frustration, or disillusionment. They can still suffer from mental illness or imbalances. Individuals can find themselves losing trust or confidence in the system. And it is for these people that the Tavrchedl' exist.
Thought Police monitor all of Zhodani society, conducting periodic examinations of individuals in order to ensure that everyone's mental health is at acceptable levels. But the Thought Police also conduct random sweeps of the community, looking for signs of unacceptable behaviour or deviant thought patterns. When they find such patterns, they seek them out, find their source, and remedy the situation.
The cure for any aberrant behavior is re-education. The Zhodani psionic society is excellent at re-education; psionics has made possible extremely efficient re-education. Long ago, psionics made possible studies which confirmed what educational techniques worked, and how efficiently. They allowed academics to plan out lessons which could be learned to any degree of efficiency. Psionics also makes possible tests and examinations which can confirm that learning has taken place.
The result is excellent diagnosis and careful treatment in re-education centers. When treatment is completed, the individual rejoins society without any stigma or blot on his record; the period of re-education is much like a period of recovery from an illness.
The end result is that occasionally a Prole will sit awake late at night, depressed and angry. Some aspect of society has affected him adversely, and he has been unable to cope with it. Perhaps he lost his old job and is unhappy with his new one; perhaps he is jealous of a neighbor who is more successful than he is. The thought patterns spell deviance, and roving Thought Police patrols pick them up. Late at night, there is a knock at the door. The Prole knows the Thought Police have arrived; he invites them in. They enter, talk quietly or loudly depending on what their quick diagnosis indicates. After a few minutes, the Prole leaves with the Thought Police. A note is left behind telling where they have gone. Already, the Prole feels slightly better knowing that someone cares.
A few days or weeks later, the Prole returns home, much happier. His new job is exactly what he needs and wants; a perfect outlet for his ambitions. His successful neighbor, he now knows, leads a shallow life without the enjoyment and fulfillment that it should have. The world itself seems brighter and clearer.
The Thought Police is organized into levels of authority which parallel the various ruling councils. Thought Police precincts are organized to cover the same population which is governed by the ruling council. Higher levels of Thought Police organization are responsible for re-education and are supported by higher level councils. At the planetary level, the Thought Police command structure is responsible for training, and is supported by the planetary council level. Higher level councils support Thought Police research and development, usually of refined techniques for determination of or treatment of aberrent behavior.
The Supreme Council is responsible for ultimate policy decisions concerning Thought Police.
A special branch of the Thought Police operates in the military under the control of the Consular Guard. This military Thought Police has a twofold purpose: it maintains the moral and mental health of the the Consulate's troops, and it operates in enemy, disputed, or occupied territory to protect the Consulate and its citizens. The military Thought Police is less delicate than the forces which deal with Zhodani; its methods (because it often deals with large populations of discontent individuals) are coarser or harsher than most Zhodani would prefer.
For example, during the Frontier Wars, the military Thought Police is responsible for the administration of occupied Imperial worlds. The military government is concerned primarily with maintaining a safe and docile population, and proven methods of achieving such a condition include some brutal exploits to prove they are serious, followed by inclusion of locals into the governing process. The people that are included often receive a quick re-education and then take their position with sincerity and dedication to the Zhodani cause. To the rest of the population, the individual appears to be brainwashed or coerced.
(ALIENS-4: p13, 1111; HIWGt, 1120)
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