Doffing Your Cap to a Thousand Years of Scottish Serfdom

Author’s Preface: I spent a year of my life offshore in the North Sea, between the Ninian Central and the Nenian South, and I did what I always do, pump the locals for ‘interesting color’. By my insistence, a Scottish friend gave me an interesting insight into a wee-bit of Scottish psyche… The Scots are intensely political, and full of poignant opinions I think very worthy to share…

Illustration from my diary of 1987

Doffing your cap to 1000 Years of Scottish Serfdom

By TLB Contributing Author: Ken LaRive

Right now, I’m working on a North Sea platform, and as usual, pumping the locals for ‘color’. I had a conversation with a Scottish friend David, who gave me an interesting insight into a bit of Scottish psyche. He has traveled extensively in the States, and loves the idea of the Constitution guaranteeing personal freedom. He was trying to explain the frustrations of being proud of his Scottishness, while at the same time being frustrated at the lack of freedom in his country, when compared to being an American in America. He told a story, which highlighted this problem that I would like to share…

In one of the many late-night conversations he told me about two friends, let’s call them Tommy and Bill, who worked on the railroads maintaining and repairing track as members of a ‘rail gang’.

These rail gangs were made up of hard men. Tommy and Bill played at right and left back (defense) for the railway soccer team, which was infamous as being the hardest team in the league. Bill and Tommy’s motto was “they shall not pass!” and woe to any opposing forward who tried to run past them with the ball! The rail gangs were also noted for their extreme left wing political views, and during their lunch breaks there were always discussions on the merits of various forms of Socialism. The only gangers who weren’t stanch members of the Labour party, were staunch members of the Communist party! These were men who would, in times of war, have helped form the backbone of any fighting unit of the famous ‘Gordon Highlanders’ regiment in the British army. Their foremen at work treated them with the respect that was due to hard working, hard fighting men.

They had a fiercely independent streak, and were proud of the fact that they felt themselves to be the equal of any of their so-called ‘betters’ in the aristocracy. They were proud of the fact that they worked in all weathers. No train would be stuck because they were inside a hut warming their hands. Not that they did it for the railway company mind you, but because of pride in their own toughness, and ability to brave the elements.

One day, as they were repairing a section of track, the whistle blew to warn them of an approaching train, and they moved to the side of the track to allow it to pass. The train slowed down to go over the damaged juncture, crawling along at less than walking speed. As it passed the line of men, his friends looked up at the carriages as it passed, and seated, just before them, was the Queen Mother. She is a very controversial figure in Scotland, loved and respected, but for some, abhorred, as are the entire British royal family. Scotland has a long history of pushing back on authority, and some still consider England an occupying force.

When she saw the men, she smiled and waved her hand gracefully (as only she can do). Then, this group of self-determined men, these hardened socialists, who would punch a boss rather than take any abuse, all at the same instant, – doffed their caps to her! When the train had passed, each of them avoided the eyes of their mates, put their caps back on, and never mentioned the incident to each other ever again!

It seemed that, in spite of their strongly held socialist beliefs, that ‘we are a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns’ (we are all equal), centuries of kow-towing to the aristocracy had made the cap-doffing an instinctive reaction. These men would have had their eye teeth removed rather than admit this, but nevertheless it was so. Because there has never been a revolution in the UK, and because the ruling classes are still there, the ordinary people have never known what it feels like to be truly free, with Liberty from tyranny. There are still hereditary peers in the house of Lords who have the right to vote on legislation, not because they are qualified in any way, shape, or form, but because their forefathers were part of the ancient aristocracy!

In the distant past, people were elevated to the peerage for performing some service to the king, perhaps even providing women for his pleasure, and their sons and grandsons have been reaping the benefit for generation after generation. Only recently has the Labour government made changes to the House of Lords, with some of the hereditary peers being turfed out of their elite club. Even this radical Labour government did not have the courage of their convictions, however, and left some of the hereditary peers in place. If the ruling government still doffs its cap to the aristocracy, small wonder that Tommy and Bill doffed theirs!”

Now, before we Americans start to scoff at the serf-like attitudes of these men, it’s worth thinking about the fact that our forefathers were probably driven out from Scotland (or countries like it) – and had to fight tooth and nail in the War of Independence, so that their children would never have to doff their caps to their ‘betters.’ Even so, think about how the east-coast intelligentsia in America fall over themselves to get close to visiting British royalty, even after nearly 250 years of Liberty. Take these railway men out of Scotland for a couple of generations, let them breathe the free air of America, and they would be no different from any of us.

Finally, a few words of warning about America which my Scottish friend passed on, quoted almost word for word:

Liberty is a precious commodity that has to be re-won each generation, but be careful not to confuse Liberty with Freedom, as they have different meanings. Our study of America is confusing at times, especially when a word like Democracy is used in place of a Republic. Your founders gave you a Republic, but your masters want you to believe it is a Democracy. Just like us, a lazy and apathetic population will have their Liberty eroded slowly and smoothly by those in the halls of Congress who ‘know what’s best for you.’ Don’t, as a people, allow a ruling class to get too entrenched in the corridors of power! This is not a party political statement. I don’t care if you vote Democrat, Republican, or any other political party, it behooves each of you to vote regularly, and to regularly call your government representatives to account.

Are two generations of Bush in the White House enough? Should you even contemplate voting for another Kennedy? Remember, it’s only a few years since Richard Nixon contemplated the idea of changing the Constitution so that he could run for a third term! And it was only through the incompetence of a few burglars that it was discovered how far he was prepared to go to hang on to power! You should make sure that you elect more Abe Lincolns and Thomas Jefferson’s, rather than the scions of a few ruling dynasties. Don’t create your own royal families, so that your children don’t ever feel too ashamed to look each other in the eye as they stand with doffed caps and watch some dignitary sweep past in an armored limo.”

Far fetched? Maybe, but we should check even the smallest tendency for the ruling classes to rear their ugly heads in this fine country of ours – just in case! My friend tells me that he cannot openly write about his feelings, and envies my ability to do so. I felt a lump in my throat when I realized the implications of what he said, and how much for granted I have taken our Liberty…

Until recently, after 9-11, I had never paid much attention to the political climate of the world, or my own. America’s controlling power over the masses has instilled in us a cancerous complacently that cannot be denied… I assure you this is not the case in Europe. There are sweeping changes taking place here from the unifying placement of the Euro dollar, to the coming powers of France, Germany, China, and Israel. Changes that can, in a moment, upset the entire balance of the world. We should pay attention…

Picture of a proper Scottish Gentleman in from the fields. Inverness, 2003.


Read more great articles from KEN’S CORNER


Ken LaRive

From the Author, Ken La Rive – We in the Liberty movement have been fighting to take back this country for less than a decade, peacefully and with the love of God and country in our hearts. Our banner has been trampled on and displaced by a multitude of distractions, further eroding our nation and the cause for Liberty. And so, as we are pulled by forces we cannot fathom, powerful entities with unlimited resources stolen from our future, unaccountable trillions printed out of thin air and put on our backs as debt, we must formulate the most pitiful of all questions any patriot might ask in the final hour: Are we going to fight for our master’s tyranny, or are we going to demand the return of our civil liberties and Constitution? Are we going to choose The Banner of Liberty, or the shackles of voluntary servitude? Will it be a war for corporate profit, or a war to regain our ability to self govern, as the blood and toil of our forefathers presented to us, their children, as a gift? I fear that decision is emanate. I fear that any decision will be a hard one, but my greatest fear of all is that the decision has already been made for us.


Image Credit:

Oil Rig Image by C Morrison from Pixabay

Queen Image by minka2507 from Pixabay

Hands Image by Tumisu from Pixabay




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