It’s the fifth of November. As I write this, I am surrounded by the sounds of fireworks, carrying across South West London. It is Bonfire Night, the night where people build bonfires, eat baked potatoes, and burn effigies of the Catholic terrorist Guy Fawkes. All in good fun.
The image of Guy Fawkes had a revival with the Alan Moore and David Lloyd comic book, V for Vendetta, first published in Warrior Magazine, then by DC Comics, then turned into a movie by the Wachowski Brothers. While the movie didn’t do the comic justice, it did make the Guy Fawkes march internationally known as a symbol of protest – whether against Scientology, capitalism or for anarchy.
This is a little ironic, as Guy Fawkes was anything but an anarchist. His plan, with his co-conspirators, was to blow up Parliament killing as many as possible, strike a blow to the anti-Catholic Protestant state, replace the monarch with a Catholic and bring in rule and influence from Rome. It didn’t go well, the conspirators were captured, tried, then hung, drawn and quartered. They even got topically referenced in William Shakespeare‘s Macbeth, in the Porter’s Speech.
Now the image has become one of protest – whatever the source. And tonight in London, hundreds of people in Guy Fawkes masks will congregate as part of the Million Mask March, around Trafalgar Square led by the hacktivist group Anonymous, with many similar events around the world. Causes will include anti-corruption and criticism of state oppression and surveillance, the protection of whistleblowers and respect for human rights
The London event is special, as they get to march on Parliament, the very same buildings that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up, and which V does explode at the beginning of the comic book. There are also expected to be vigils of support in Knightsbridge for Wikipedia’s Julian Assange, outside the Ecuadorian embassy where he has sought refuge since 2012.
When last we heard, the London march was moving to Piccadilly Circus (picture) before heading to Buckingham Palace… if the Queen is reading this, maybe she could give them all a little wave?
— Skeptical Seventh (@skeptical7th) November 5, 2018
Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot – I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot…