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Apr 6, 2008 1:10 pm

Then and Now

"And with this goes something that is always written off by European observers as 'decadence' or hypocrisy, the English hatred of war and militarism. It is rooted deep in history, and it is strong in the lower-middle class as well as the working class. Successive wars have shaken it but not destroyed it. Well within living memory it was common for 'the redcoats' to be booed at in the street and for the landlords of respectable public-houses to refuse to allow soldiers on the premises."

"What English people of nearly all classes loathe from the bottom of their hearts is the swaggering officer type, the jingle of spurs and the crash of boots. Decades before Hitler was ever heard of, the word 'Prussian' had much the same significance in England as 'Nazi' has today. So deep does this feeling go that for a hundred years past the officers of the British Army, in peace-time, have always worn civilian clothes when off duty."

-- George Orwell, England Your England, in The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius (London: Secker & Warburg, 1941).

"Plans for comprehensive school pupils to sign up for military drills and weapons training backed by PM."

"The report also unequivocally recommends that soldiers should be encouraged to wear their uniform off-duty, a policy that has been relaxed since British military personnel ceased to be targets of the IRA."

-- The Observer, London, April 6, 2008.

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