The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
So begins many different iterations of poetry derived from the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt by Catholics to depose the Protestant King James I and replaced him with a Catholic head-of-state. The most famous member of this treasonous plot, Guy Fawkes, was captured by authorities while trying to light 36 gunpowder kegs underneath Parliament, in hopes of killing the King and other members of the British government. The Guy Fawkes figure was later adapted by Alan Moore in his graphic novel, “V for Vendetta,” which was then turned into a hugely successful motion picture.
Now, the Guy Fawkes image has been adapted once again for another use. This time, the hacktivist group Anonymous has adopted the image to represent their fight against… the world? On their main website and Facebook page, Anonymous encourages people in 450+ locations to march against their governments on November 5th. Their cause? “To remind this world what it has forgotten, That fairness, justice, and freedom are more than just words” What that means, exactly, no one knows. Anonymous made sure to point out that the march has no leader and is only a movement, not an organization.
Despite the fact that the movement is leaderless, it has gained some steam. More than 17,000 people RSVP’d to attend demonstrations in Washington, D.C., where such topics as nuclear warfare, political corruption, and NSA actions were spoken against. However, it is unlikely that the demonstrations will see more than 1 million people march, especially with a paltry showing of 50 people at Time Square in New York City.
The lack of support for the Million Mask March is most likely due in large part due to the incoherent nature of the march itself. Not only is Anonymous involved, but also other social protest groups, such as Wikileaks, the Pirate Party, and the Occupy Movement. While all of these groups can label themselves under the banner of standing against government corruption and inequality, there is no real “joining” rhetoric or propaganda. If the Occupy Movement made no real head-way with their months of “organized’ protests, how does the Million Mask March plan to create any real change?
The most effective thing this march does is put money into the hands of Time Warner, the company that owns the rights to the Guy Fawkes image worn by all the protesters. The other accomplishment of this march is to misrepresent history. Guy Fawkes was not an anti-authoritarian figure – he was trying to depose one king only to establish another. And Guy Fawkes Night was traditionally celebrated in England as an anti-Catholic holiday after the assassination attempt failed and the Protestants reappropriated the day.
While it may be true that Anonymous is one of the most influential groups in the world, this march is nothing more than typical American grandstanding. Anonymous should stick to their hacking ways and leave organized protest to those more socially adept.[Image via Twitter]