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Honour Among Men and Nations: Transformations of an Idea

To no team topic to sociological and political research has honour looked as if it would subject greater than to the army. Their thought of it has normally been accredited because the such a lot stronger, open to emulation to the constrained volume that assorted situations and reasons in non-military lifestyles let. The degeneration of this idea and of the general public realm during which honour’s duties need to be saw is the topic of this ebook, in line with the 1981 Joanne Goodman Lectures on the college of Western Ontario.

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Analyses of patriotism and nationalism by social scientists always make much of this, and rightly so. We have already glanced at the kind of material developments which through the nineteenth century eased and encouraged such identifications. How fast and far they progressed from country to country is a daunting matter of comparative history which remains in the realm of impressionistic judgment. Perhaps German and American nationalism led the field. 10 American national theory, which had the opposite task of nation-building from scratch, made up in intensity and flamboyance what it could hardly find in race, history, or language.

The British good faith, and nothing else/19 His peer Colonel Walpole 'not only refused a sword of honour ... 20 Only the previous year some large part of the French revolutionary army turned a deaf ear to the National Convention's decree that no British and Hanoverian prisoners should be 18 / Honour among Men and Nations taken. It was not just the promptings of humanity that moved them, it was also the traditional code of honourable conduct which had come into their army with its pre-revolutionary professionals and which tended to be at its touchiest when (as in each of the examples I have given) it was rubbing up against politicians.

2 The other, in 1913, was less laughable: the culmination at what was then called Zabern but is now Saverne in Alsace of a series of rows between the populace and the military, revealing all too starkly the bullying mentality of the military and the ultimate inability of the civil authority, in Kaiser Wilhelm ll's Reich, to protect civilians from it. It was, oddly enough, another practical joke which brings the British armed forces into this part of the story. On 10 February 1910 HMS Dreadnought, flagship of the Home Fleet, being then at Weymouth, and having received notice by a telegram from 'the Foreign Office/ was distinguished by a State visit by 'the Emperor of Abyssinia' and suite.

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