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CHOAM flag Dune

The flag of CHOAM, as described in Dune

The Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles (CHOAM) is a fictional universal development corporation in Frank Herbert's Dune universe, first mentioned in the 1965 novel Dune. Essentially, it controls all economic affairs across the cosmos, although it relies upon the Spacing Guild for transport across space due to the Guild's monopoly on interstellar travel.

"Few products escape the CHOAM touch ... Logs, donkeys, horses, cows, lumber, dung, sharks, whale fur — the most prosaic and the most exotic ... even our poor pundi rice from Caladan. Anything the Guild will transport, the art forms of Ecaz, the machines of Richese and Ix. But all fades before melange. A handful of spice will buy a home on Tupile. It cannot be manufactured, it must be mined on Arrakis. It is unique and it has true geriatric properties ... But the important thing is to consider all the Houses that depend on CHOAM profits. And think of the enormous proportion of those profits dependent upon a single product — the spice. Imagine what would happen if something should reduce spice production.
 

The corporation's management and board of directors are controlled by the Padishah Emperor and the Landsraad (with the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit as silent partners). Because of its control of inter-planetary commerce, CHOAM is the largest single source of wealth in the Old Empire; as such, influence in CHOAM (through partisans within it and control of directorships) is the central goal of political maneuvering, both to receive dividends and also (it is implied) to skim off profits. In Dune, Herbert notes:

"You have no idea how much wealth is involved, Feyd," the Baron said. "Not in your wildest imaginings. To begin, we'll have an irrevocable directorship in the CHOAM Company."

Feyd-Rautha nodded. Wealth was the thing. CHOAM was the key to wealth, each noble House dipping from the company's coffers whatever it could under the power of the directorships. Those CHOAM directorships — they were the real evidence of political power in the Imperium, passing with the shifts of voting strength within the Landsraad as it balanced itself against the Emperor and his supporters.[1]

Before the climactic battle in Dune, Paul Muad'Dib's Fremen watch the Padishah Emperor's encampment to see whether he would raise the Atreides flag, indicating a recognition of Paul's claims, or the banner of Paul's Harkonnen enemies. Instead, the Emperor raises the flag of CHOAM, as a reminder to all of the combatant parties that economics trump political considerations.

References

  1. Herbert, Frank.Dune (20th anniversary edition), pg. 20. ISBN 0-441-17271-7.

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