by Thomas Luongo by Thomas Luongo
Remember, Remember, the 5th of November The Gunpowder Treason, and plot. I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot.
I’m sure the idea of using Catholic-conspirator Guy Fawkes and his anarchic anti-hero V as the basis for a political fund-raising campaign has Alan Moore seething, seeing red and cursing the moment he signed away the rights to his and David Lloyd’s brilliant V for Vendetta to DC/TimeWarner even more so than when he read the first draft of the Wachowski Brothers’ screenplay and had his name removed from the film.
But, that’s the funny thing about creating something. Quality work not only sells itself, it self-replicates and evolves into something far beyond what you intended for it. In an interview during the film’s production Moore’s biggest issue with the screenplay was the expunging from the story of any overt discussion of anarchy (a criticism I share, frankly). But, much like the libertarian movement there were those who were afraid of Ron Paul’s campaign at the outset, life-long LP’ers and beltway libertarians mostly, afraid that the ideas they thought were important would be lost within the morass of Republican politics and Dr. Paul’s perceived missteps in presenting the message in previous venues.
But, in the end, if you love something you must allow it to roam free and, like any good plan, give it the chance to survive contact with the enemy; to trust that you’ve done your best to communicate the truth as you see it and allow it to gestate in the minds of those you were trying to reach in the first place. Ideas without an audience will never become anything more than ideas, no matter how bullet-proof they might be, to quote Alan Moore.
Those highly-prized ideas behind V’s violent revolution and Ron Paul’s peaceful one are the same. The Wachowski Brothers screenplay took Moore’s dystopic vision in the final act of the comic and toned the violence down to a personal struggle, V’s vendetta, and the destruction of an inanimate object, as opposed to the unleashing of societal chaos on a mass scale, the culmination of which is Evey’s appearance at the right moment dressed as V to galvanize the movement and transform his persona from sacrificial destroyer to that of architect of the reconstruction.
The realist in me says that Moore’s vision is closer to what will actually happen when (not if) the United States reaches the state of affairs depicted in Moore and Lloyd’s original work. But, like the Wachowski brothers more-fanciful re-telling for film suggests, I'd like to hope that there is another way; a grand statement made by a large number of people peacefully letting the authorities know that they want to be treated differently without resorting to violence. By doing in anonymity what they could not do singularly, namely converging on Parliament to witness and sanction the destruction of the old social order (if only symbolically) and complete the work that Fawkes could not, the people of England in the film state that they are rejecting violence as the means of change; that this event is their catharsis even if they aren’t quite sure what it all will mean tomorrow.
We too have that choice; our system of social organization has not so completely broken down that we cannot make ourselves heard individually, within a group, and reject the notion of state control of our lives. This is where Guy Fawkes and Alan Moore meet Ron Paul. As flawed, immoral and cynical as the political system is inherently, at times, it can serve as a mechanism for us to do great things; to make great statements no matter how much our masters may hate us for doing so or those that inspired us to make such gestures may not like what we did with their work.
In my mind it becomes even more ironic and poignant to use the state's own mechanism of control, i.e., electing a President, to do so.
As he has noted multiple times, Paul has offered himself as the figure-head for a revolution that was mature enough, finally, to find him. His campaign is a spontaneous and self-organizing uprising of human frustration; acknowledging that it’s truly time for a change in direction for this society and the responsibility that comes with that knowledge. It’s a role he has taken on willingly, with great enthusiasm, and for that his supporters, many of whom are not even remotely acquainted with the ideas of market anarchism no less would agree with them if they were, have rewarded him with the only thing that truly talks in politics, money.
And while our money is as corrupt as our political system, anathema to the very demands that created it in the first place, it is, in essence, a voluntary and peaceful medium of exchange and in this application a force for political change. Individual people are paying Ron and his staff to help them defend themselves from further pillage by their government and its masters. Donations to the Ron Paul campaign can almost be looked at as insurance against violence; the Private Production of Defense that Prof. Hans Hermann Hoppe has done so much work defining the mechanisms of. So, in essence, this is a defensive revolution. At its core it is peaceful and voluntary, the hallmarks of the polite and orderly society we all want, but now realize we cannot achieve through violence and coercion.
Guy Fawkes will be remembered, rightly or wrongly, as the leader of a violent uprising but whose legacy persists some 400 years after his death at the hands of the State. Ironically, on the day where he is burned in effigy and the thwarting of his plot by the State is celebrated, these activities have been deemed dangerous to public safety and greater state control over them exercised.
We are rapidly approaching the day of remembrance for this year and this time a group of people dedicated to peace and freedom want to update his memory with a singular event, namely donating an unprecedented amount of money in one day, to mark the beginning of a new way of doing things, a new means of organization. In essence, to drop the proverbial bomb on the U.S. political establishment, testifying to the raw power of the people to self-organize when motivated by something in their best interest and shaking the power structure at its core.
Whether they achieve their stated goal or not is irrelevant, the idea now exists on its own, and like a self-replicating virus from another work of speculative animation, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (but that is an article for a different day) it infects us looking for a new and inventive way to express itself. For right now, Ron Paul is its conduit.
In the end, isn't that what Alan Moore wanted us to take from his story of fascism and anarchy? Isn't that what anarchy is supposed to celebrate?
So while Guy Fawkes' revolution died on the vine of violence and V's is forever stuck at its moment of crisis, Ron Paul's grows peacefully stronger and more interesting every day.