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In April and May of 1797 the British ruling class was horrified when two naval mutinies broke out; the first was at Spithead, close to Portsmouth; the second at the Nore which marks the seaward approach to the Thames Estuary.

The State can ultimately be reduced to bodies of armed men. These bodies of armed men are used by the ruling class either to maintain its power against what it sees as internal enemies, to defend itself against foreign aggression, or in support of its own aggressive action against foreign nations. Since its power lies in its ability to threaten or actually to use force, the ruling class regards anything that jeopardises the effectiveness of the State apparatus with the utmost seriousness. This explains why mutinies in the armed forces are of such concern to them.