The Fortress Mentality belongs to the past

I am surrounded by Castles; either, the real kind, active as a genuine fortress up until 1603, or partly decorative, but still well-built, just to be on the safe side. Around East Lothian, it seems that every bit of land has the remnant of a fortified structure and of course, one cannot help asking the question, "Why?". Further down the coast in Northumberland you can find more castles than anywhere in England.

I suppose what characterised these times was uncertainty, coupled with the possibility of actual,violent confrontation. One notorious Border Reiver, Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, ran a protection racket that extended as far South as the Tyne. Some saw the Reivers as Robin Hoods, others as bog-standard bandits. Armstrong was one of many such men who, along with his decendents, wreaked havoc in those lands. Eventually he was pursuaded to meet King James, ostensibly, in order to negotiate some kind of detente. It did not work out that way, and Gilnockie was taken away and hanged without a trial, along with his entourage of fifty men. This was a battle between the rule of law and those who felt they had the right to run their own affairs their way. Eventually, the rule of law won, and we have democracy and law and order.

However loved and adored by his own clan, whose interests he protected, Johnnie Armstrong was an example of a dying age, a violent age of confrontation and sudden, violent death that had no place in the march of civilisation and the eventual emergence of true democracy, where the well-being of everyone, not the well-armed belligerent few, were paramount.

If only Bob Crowe understood this.

(If you do not know who Bob Crowe is, try googling him, but remember, some papers have retreated to a fortress of their own, the odious paywall, an affront to the democratic machinery of the fourth estate and dead cheeky, given that most of the material has been cut and pasted anyway.)


Smoking Hot said...

Except that we all have to have our own fortress mentality nowadays against the righteous.

subrosa said...

I'd have put a health warning beside your statement suggesting people google Bob Crowe WW.