Thursday, November 5, 2015

Remember, remember, observations on Guy Fawkes Night

Remember remember, the fifth of November…
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason,
Why the gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot.

There are more lines to this folk poem, but it all diverges to foppery and gibberish after the beginning and only really makes sense if you are both British and a few centuries old.

It is the 5th of November though, and it is time for a bit of a reflection, not to mention a bit of introspection on the somewhat absurd usage of Guy Fawkes image in modern times.

A bit of history.  Guy (Guido) Fawkes was an English Catholic who after fighting for Spain in the 80 years war came back to England.  Back in Jolly old England King James was on the throne, much to the Chagrin of Fawkes (and his conspirators) James was a Protestant and not a Catholic, therefore Fawkes and his conspirators decided to blow up parliament in order to kill King James and replace him with his daughter.

This makes it sound like Fawkes was in charge of the whole deal, but in reality he was the guy who got the short straw and the job of guarding the gunpowder so that at the appointed time when the delayed parliamentary proceedings finally commenced, they could blow all of parliament into the stratosphere.

There are a considerable number of problems with this, gunpowder in kegs is not the most effective explosive, and untamped explosion on the underside of the parliament building would put as much of its force out the front of the apartment they had rented as it would put up and into the house of parliament. 

Certainly a few people would have been killed, but it would not have sent the entirety of parliament into space, and only with a lucky shot would it have killed the king.

Although it would have been mighty exciting.

Let us now jump ahead four hundred years.

A comic book was written and then turned into a movie with a terrorist in a Guy Fawkes mask fighting back against a fascist regime in Great Britain in the modern era.  I am not going to slam the comic or the movie, I am actually going to be scanning Netflix for the movie tonight, but what happened next is the interesting part.

Guy Fawkes became the symbol of any fight against fascist regimes, this also coincided with the United States Government being declared a fascist regime, which although it has a lot of characteristics in common with, we do not have a dictator with absolute power.  We still have most of our freedom of speech, and I am more concerned about a corporarocracy where, especially after the disastrous Citizen’s United decision corporate powers have more power than the people.

But back to our theme here, the wholesome religious intolerance of Guy Fawkes Night has been converted into a symbol of resistance against fascism, and now has been adopted by the group Anonymous as a symbol of the faceless hackers working diligently to uncover the activities of the shadowy world of corporations and governments.

This is a bit of a change, and although I have to applaud some of the actions that Anonymous has takes, especially in their take down of child pornography rings and such, some of their activities are a bit heavy handed and misguided.

Tonight I am going to see if Netflix has what I am looking for, and perhaps even blast off some fireworks in the yard.  I am not going to protest against the Protestant king though, especially to replace him with a Catholic king, who in my opinion would be just as bad, only a different face.

I am not sure if Anonymous has our best interests in its sights, or really if they have any interests at all, the nature of a decentralized group is that the actions of the many can be chaotic at best.  The original attack on Parliament in 1605 was a rapier strike at the king.  The Anonymous of today is more of a pillow over the face.



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