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Ours is a uniquely demilitarised society. War and service are remote from everyday civilian experience. Perhaps in consequence, our language abounds in the crassest military metaphors. Take for instance “the war on x,” where x stands for an abstract entity. The original such war was Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, but the formula was later adapted to crime, drugs and, of course, terror. Britain and America are now engaged simultaneously in a number of these notional wars, many of them headed, bizarrely, by “tsars.”

Perhaps we decadents need military rhetoric to rouse us from our lethargy. But it is nonetheless…

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