At the end of the first part of Foundation and Empire, Barr mentions the Second Foundation as a possible future enemy, but why?

Until that point it has been only namedropped in the prologue and when narrating the genesis of the Foundation to characters that didn't know the story, its nature wasn't known yet, and nowhere has it ever been implied it would in any way oppose the First Foundation.

4 Answers 4


Out of universe, it is worth mentioning that the several Foundation instances were not a single work, but created & sold separately to SF magazines (so, the first Foundation book was actually five different stories in the same universe). Foundation and Empire, likewise, were two different long stories, (The general & The mule).

So, it is probably that it was just a cliffhanger for a future work set in the war of the first versus the second foundation. At that point, the arc still had not been spoiled by the Mentallics "idea", and little had been explained about the Second Foundation (so Asimov still had a great degree of freedom).

In universe, the First Foundation had been attacked by the entity that still was, with difference, the biggest military power in the galaxy. And not only the Foundation did repel the invader, it got a new province and captured ships. In the eyes of the Foundation "physics" (who would see the history as a matter of who has more money/technology/ships/terrain) it was clear that if the Empire had failed that time, it would fail again if he tried (as the Foundation would be progressively stronger, and the Empire weaker), and that the Second Galactic Empire was almost unavoidable.

Of course, they thought that at some time they would find the Second Foundation. And they thought that it would have the same nature of the First Foundation (expansionist, imperialist even). Perhaps they even thought that the "securities" that the Second Foundation gave to the Plan were that, in case the First had failed, the Second would have followed the path that was assigned to the First.

In any rate, they expected that when the Second Foundation was found, it would be a competitor, not an ally (*1). Even if a deal could be struck with the Second Foundation, it would imply that the First Foundation ruling class would have had to share power with the ruling class of the Second Foundation. And given how little that ruling class liked the idea of sharing any power (*2), they would have to assume that the same would happen to the Second Foundation ruling class.

*1: At that time, probably there would be no other kingdom or alliance capable of being a credible "common enemy" to both of them.

*2: Remember that at the time the First Foundation had an oligarchic government, and that relying in independent traders was almost a "last resource" option for them.


The leadership of the Second Foundation addresses this. I don't have the book in front of me but if you'll recall, the Second Foundation states that it must remain a secret because any society would reject an all-knowing oligarchy, seeing it as a challenge and an insult to their history of success and sentience. The First Foundation included.


They are just considering the possibilities.

Barr is speculating in response to Forell's assertion that "there are no more enemies". Forell, in fact, is dismissive of the possibility and Devers adds "There are internal enemies, perhaps".

There is no indication that Barr has any inside knowledge. He may be playing devil's advocate to Forell.

So, they've just proven that they are a match for the remnants of the Galactic Empire. Where else could danger possibly lie?


A minor point not otherwise covered: Barr is NOT a citizen of the Foundation, therefore he has not been raised knowing about Seldon's Plan, etc. He probably knows only that there is something called 'the Second Foundation', not anything about its role in the Plan. To him, it would be just another power in the Galaxy, possibly a rival.

  • 2
    This answer would be greatly improved if you edited it to add in sources to back up your claims.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jun 12, 2019 at 14:00
  • 1
    I swear I've seen you around before; is there any reason you're using unregistered account and not signing up for a full StackExchange account?
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 12, 2019 at 14:42

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