28

The First Order heavily based themselves off of the Galactic Empire. They were also directly formed from its remains.

The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary:

The Old Empire withered away, becoming a remnant of political hardliners locked in a cold war with the New Republic, before eventually breaking away to reform in the Unknown Regions as the mysterious First Order.

The opening crawl:

The... FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire

Since they are a continuation of the Empire, is there any reason they don't call themselves the Second Order? Why would they associate themselves with the Empire so heavily and then use a name that implied they were completely seprate?

From an out-of-universe perspective, I'd argue that not being the First doesn't make you any less scary or evil.

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    Of all the logical inconsistencies and nonsensical goings-on in TFA, this is way down the list. Certainly valid, though I doubt it can be answered. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 21 '16 at 22:27
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    Why isn't the Democratic People's Republic of Korea actually democratic? People name stuff however they want, and usually like names that sound good and grandiose, not confined by inconvenient reality. – HopelessN00b Apr 22 '16 at 7:16
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    They are using a 0 index. The Empire was 0 and the first order is 1. – Myers91 Apr 22 '16 at 10:00
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    Why didn't they call themselves the "Order of Magnitude", so as to be 10 times better than the last guys by default..... – Eike Pierstorff Apr 22 '16 at 10:39
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    Because at the first meeting of the then nameless organization, Snoke quieted the crowd and began "First order of business is to decide upon a name for our group". Of course the secretary, being his first day, was nervous and missed a few words, and ended up typing "First Order is a name for our group" in the official minutes. Being the first order, there were no bylaws to reverse it, and the name was forever stuck. Oddly enough, that secretary did not return for another day of work, and there is no record of a second order of business in the minutes, skipping straight to the third. Oh well. – Jimmy M. Apr 22 '16 at 19:45
33

First off, I agree with Lightness' interpretation of First as meaning primary, which puts the First Order ahead (in their opinion) of alternative governments in the galaxy — namely, the Republic. The First Order see themselves as the primary agents of order. As General Hux waxes in his speech on Starkiller base:

Today is the end of the Republic. The end of a regime that acquiesces to disorder.

But I also want to point out the following databank entry for the First Order at the official Star Wars web site:

The New Republic’s rise reduced the once-mighty Empire to a rump state hemmed in by strict disarmament treaties and punishing reparations. But in the galaxy’s Unknown Regions, former Imperial officers, nobles and technologists plotted a return to power, building fleets and armies in secret. This movement became the First Order, ruled by Supreme Leader Snoke, and is now ready to reclaim the Imperial legacy.

This implies that the architects of the First Order do not see themselves as a separate successor to the Empire, but rather a continuation of it — reclaiming the Imperial legacy. Hence, they are not "Second" from the temporal point of view either.

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    This answer kind of reminds me of the idea of The Force Awakens: they're not making anything new, they're just regurgitating whatever worked 30 years ago. – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 22 '16 at 14:41
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    @DaaaahWhoosh- Actually, it's closer to 40 years. – PointlessSpike Apr 22 '16 at 16:35
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    @DaaaahWhoosh it's like a reboot and continuation at the same time. History repeats itself... – Zack Apr 22 '16 at 21:15
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    @Zack Don't... just don't. Defending a wholesale copy of earlier films is ridiculous as it's insulting to viewers. – SnakeDoc Apr 22 '16 at 21:45
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    per the quoted entry: So, an empire loses a Great War, and is hampered by reparations and restrictions. Out of this environment a new charismatic leadership (with promises of a return to greatness) rise, and launch a Second War two or three decades after the one it lost, with with the goal total conquest? – LindaJeanne Apr 22 '16 at 21:46
67

Pure speculation, but I'd like to point out that an in-universe answer may relate to the use of "first" in a context other than to mean chronologically, but instead to mean "primary", or "foremost". It's the first order you should think about when you wake up in the morning, not the first order to ever have existed.

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    +1 - this is the best plausible explanation (I posted 2 more, but frankly like yours better) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 22 '16 at 0:31
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    I always assumed it was a drinking thing. I have a T-shirt that says 'Ren's Rum - Make it your first order'. – Gusdor Apr 22 '16 at 9:37
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    Yup, I always mentally added a comma after hearing Hux's speech about how the New Republic acquiesces to disorder. So these remnants of the Empire have the slogan of "First, Order" that became their name. – Jesse C. Slicer Apr 22 '16 at 15:36
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    @RogueJedi I prefer Sith Roast. – Xavon_Wrentaile Apr 24 '16 at 6:16
7

I imagine one of the history lessons in First Order curriculum would go something like this:

The birth of the glorious Galactic Empire brought forth by our eternal leader Emperor Palpatine signified the dawn of the New Order and the end of the corrupt and impotent Old Republic. With Vader's Fist leading the Imperial March, we were the heralds of a new era, an era of order and peace.

But the Rebel scum wanted the Republic and democracy back, the very political institutions that failed the galaxy. They sowed the seeds of war and anarchy to destroy our hard-won peace and stability. They dared to strike at our beloved Emperor. And with their help, the traitorous Jedi finally succeeded in assassinating our eternal leader.

As we mourned the loss of our Emperor, the Rebels struck in our moment of grief, destroying our fleets and seizing our homes, establishing a New Republic every bit as corrupt as the old.

After the setback on Jakku, they demanded peace from us on their terms. Without the wise Emperor to lead them, the spineless cowards of the Ruling Council abandoned the New Order and submitted to the insurgents.

But not us. We, the leaders of the Imperial military, the executors of the New Order, refused to abandon the Emperor's vision. So we left the Empire which no longer stand by the values it was founded on. We came here, to the Unknown Regions, to rebuild and one day return to liberate the galaxy like the clone armies of old did.

We are not the New Republic. We are not the Galactic Empire of present times that abandoned us. We are the heirs of the New Order and thus of the true Empire of old. We...are the First Order.

4

There's no direct canon answer yet.

Plausible explanations would be:

  1. Supreme Leader Snoke indicated to Kylo Ren that he was older than the Empire, and didn't quite seem terribly impressed with the Empire. As such, it's possible he wasn't interested in acknowledging the Empire as a full fledged "first" order, but more like a precursor effort.

  2. Technically, an Empire wasn't an "Order", so First Order was indeed "First", there were no governments before it called that. At the same time, Palpatine proclaimed he was building "New Order", so there's still continuity there.

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