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Words and Things: A Critical Account of Linguistic by Ernest Gellner

By Ernest Gellner

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The power of the Vatican as a secular government was eliminated. Spain maintained her determined decline into obscurity, Portugal struggled with poverty. Poland seethed as a Russian province and the Balkans were murderously unstable. The Balkan nations were predisposed to violent internecine warfare as a way of life even after the conflict of 1914/18 was concluded. A mixture of Orthodox and Roman Christian with Muslims added for good measure, all in a melting pot of territories lacking the essentials of social cohesion, maintaining whatever passed as an identity by reason of fear of the warring tribe next door, determined to defend what they each held and take any advantage that came available, short or long term.

Parliament and the government of the day assumed control of the actions and policies of the armed forces. This arrangement is not replicated for example in the USA. The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief. This American arrangement places the armed forces under the jurisdiction of an elected politician; at the same time it allocates ultimate military authority to someone to whom the culture of command and discipline of military strategy are unappreciated arts, at the very best.

With some notable exceptions such as The Tower of London, London barracks such as Chelsea, and other major cities such as Carlisle, Colchester, Windsor and Edinburgh, there were few garrison barracks; soldiers were billeted on the local population, publicans and in tented camps. It was a policy of dispersion, the body politic wanted to avoid the threat of any sort of coordinated military insurrection. The other ranks as soldiers were not well regarded, well paid or well fed. The discipline was draconian and the average recruit only found his way into the Recruiting Sergeant’s company as a consequence of the unattractive conditions of labouring work in agriculture or to escape the consequences of his own, sometimes criminal, actions.

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