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what's the meaning of "in the understanding of the times"

When a power center (state) seeks to grow, consolidate its authority, or modernize (in the understanding of the times), it is likely to harden its borders, centralize ...

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closed as off-topic by tchrist, Matt E. Эллен, MrHen, David M, oerkelens Apr 8 '14 at 8:00

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – tchrist, Matt E. Эллен, MrHen, David M, oerkelens
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'Modernize' means different things to different people at different times.

At one time 'modernize' might have meant installing a bathroom in your house instead of throwing your waste into the street.

Now 'modernize' might mean improving your bathroom to have a bath, shower, bidet, jacuzzi, heating, expensive tiles etc

'In the understanding of the times' means whatever was thought to be modern at those particular times.

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