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Remember, remember, the fifth of November

It is often said that Guy Fawkes was the only man to ever enter Parliament with honest intentions

samizdata_over_parliament_noborder.jpg

25 comments to Remember, remember, the fifth of November

  • Putting aside the reinterpretation of Guy Fawkes from V for Vendetta, it should remembered that the original was a Catholic zealot whose real purpose in destroying parliament was not to strike a blow for freedom against the state, but to kill King James I and his government to attempt to restore a Catholic monarch to the throne of England.

    Guy Fawkes actions (had they succeeded) would have cast us back into the internecine struggle that through diligence, patience and struggle Elizabeth I managed to restore to England. It was not perfect, remaining a largely unreformed monarchy that did little to nothing for the vast majority of the English, however it was better than the continual fighting that went on throughout Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries.

    For myself, there is every reason to bring the state and parliament to its knees, for the state now acts as oppressor of the people, master rather than servant and for this reason alone it should be brought down. However, the seeds of this are already sown. The ever expanding growth of government will increase until it is beyond the scope of non-government tax-payers to pay for it. The only way that it will collapse is by those who are productive workers refusing to fund it further, through means of a tax strike, withdrawal of labour or emigration.

    There is a book that talks about this happening written by Ayn Rand. It’s called Atlas Shrugged or something.

    Certainly worth a read.

  • Putting aside the reinterpretation of Guy Fawkes from V for Vendetta, it should remembered that the original was a Catholic zealot whose real purpose in destroying parliament was not to strike a blow for freedom against the state, but to kill King James I and his government to attempt to restore a Catholic monarch to the throne of England.

    All true of course, but the ‘re-imagining’ has little to do with history… Paul Staines has no interest in restoring a Catholic monarchy for example :-)

    Indeed I think we *need* to be part of that re-imagining rather than just leaving it to our enemies.

  • James of England

    Pardon my ID here, it was born of my being the English guy in my Chinese law office in Beijing (I agree with the Jennings quote above). I don’t have particularly strong feelings about James.

    Anyway, I’m not sure we do need to be part of a re-imagining here. Fawkes, had he been successful, would have been the engineer of the most devastating and harmful terrorist attack in history, leaving 9/11 in the dust. It is just and right that we burn him in effigy, for lack of ability to exhume, restore, and execute him again. He is a unique example of evil in British history, and our annual celebration of his defeat is a celebration of our shared values and shared love for our country. There’s no need to join in the left’s campaign against these two things, and generally Samizdata has been above that sort of thing.


  • Indeed I think we *need* to be part of that re-imagining rather than just leaving it to our enemies.

    In which case, let us celebrate “V” as our hero rather than Guy Fawkes. He certainly echoes a lot of what the libertarian views held by the community posting and commenting here at Samizdata believe in.

    Although I must admit to having a dog in this fight. I’m all for supporting the heroes of libertarian fiction, channelling one myself.

    :O)

    http://www.whysanity.net/monos/vendetta.html

  • James of England

    Just to associate myself with John Galt’s comments, Atlas Shrugged is a good example of a libertarian revolt that can be celebrated. If Galt’s plan had been to blow up Congress during a SOTU, with plans to murder the VP and whoever else in the line of succession survived, followed by a brutal civil war in which the productive minds took power, it would not be a great book, but a repulsive one. Even if the ideology that the coup masterminds were 100% sound, with the correct views on the federal reserve, sound money, and the castle doctrine, the book would inspire little good and some evil. We are not socialists, who lionize the demonic if it is on the right side. There is no libertarian or conservative Che.

  • James of England

    Uh, that’s to associate myself with the first of John Galt’s remarks, not the second. Darn lack of live updates. I’m not a fan of V.

  • He is a unique example of evil in British history, and our annual celebration of his defeat is a celebration of our shared values and shared love for our country.

    Well I find it as hard to empathise with Parliament and the establishment of 1605 that it represents as I do with any Catholic English terrorists. Frankly what with me being a cosmopolitan libertarian atheist circa 2011, I share very few, if any, values with either. Moreover the whole “love of our country” thing has never really been my strong point :-)


  • Frankly what with me being a cosmopolitan libertarian atheist circa 2011, I share very few, if any, values with either.

    Agreed. In fact the vast majority of the UK public of 2011 would be deemed heretics and treasonous rebels by the state of 1605.

    However, I do see there being a counterpoint between the Catholic versus Protestant conflicts of 16th and 17th Century and the modern conflict between the libertarians and the collectivists.

    I think we would all admit to having a dog in that fight, but the only activism that is going on at the moment is one bunch of collectivists (the teen trots of OccupyWhatever) versus crony capitalists.

    Its like a football match between Man City and Man United – sometimes you wish both sides could lose.

    However, my views are of a libertarian anarchist, so I’m a bit extreme even for most libertarian perspectives, in that I believe ALL TAXATION IS THEFT and that the power of the state should be destroyed and removed forever from our lives, purely because it oppresses and enslaves the majority to serve itself.

    To quote “V” once more,

    “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

    , but perhaps the original quote from Thomas Jefferson is more appropriate

    “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

  • James of England

    While I agree that the morality of parliament and the king was pretty far removed from ours today, I don’t think that this is terribly helpful argument for endorsing their murder. They don’t seem much worse than, eg., the Turkish government today, but I’d be against blowing up the Meclis, too. Killing even liberals tends to cause unhappiness.

    There have been civil wars that have made the world a better place, but they are few and far between (both examples I can think of have been American). Examples of terrorist actions outside of a just war that have improved the world seem non-existent.

  • James of England

    Rereading your comment, Perry, I realize that I should have been clearer. The shared values I referred to were the shared values of the UK today, including a basic respect for the rule of law and an abhorrence of violence.

  • Hmm

    Perry,

    …the whole “love of our country” thing has never really been my strong point…

    Think Different types of loveI think that there is nothing wrong with “love of country”, however – it is often wrongly confused with “being in love with – the country”.

    If you love something – you want the best for it… And that almost certainly requires you disciplining it and yourself so that the best becomes achievable.

    Whereas the usual understanding of being “in love” with something means to be besotted with it – ignoring its faults and generally being a plonker with regard to it. :)

    2 completely different things – though often confused on purpose to denigrate useful actions and ideals.

  • Laird

    Well, if the leftists can “re-imagine” Robin Hood to be a socialist “redistributing” money from the rich to the poor, rather than a freedom fighter opposing rapacious and tyrannical government, it seems to me only fair that we can “re-imagine” Guy Fawkes as a libertarian icon rather than a catholic terrorist. Works for me, anyway.

    James of England says that “our annual celebration of his defeat is a celebration of our shared values and shared love for our country.” That may be true for him, and for those who still burn Fawkes’ effigy on November 5, but my celebration is not for his defeat, but rather for the ideal which (to me) he represents. That ideal being so well expressed in “V for Vendetta”.

    I watched it again last night, as I do every November 5. I love that movie.

  • Leftist do not ‘re-imagine’, Laird, they lie and make things up to suit their leftist agenda. Truth still matters, and lies are unacceptable – even when they supposedly suit “our” agenda. I haven’t seen the movie, so if the relevant character in it is not represented as some historical figure who was rather different in reality, then I’m fine with it – otherwise it’s just another lie.

  • Hmm, a fair point. But even by that standard, I really do regard nation-states as having rather a lot with a mafia protection racket, and thus I really cannot bring myself to have any love or even like for ‘country’, if by country you mean a nation-state.

    Frankly I regard ‘country’ as at best a culture with with I have some affinity… and on that basis I can bring myself to raise a glass or burn a Guy or cheer a team. And at worse a mechanism by which I am robbed and threatened regularly. I tend to think of it as the later most of the time.

  • PeterT

    Just thought I’d mention that the graphic novel “V for Vendetta” is more libertarian than is the movie, which Alan Moore described as an “American liberal fantasy” (he hates all the films based on his work). At the end of the movie we have crowds of people all in the V mask walking towards parliament. This has a collectivist feel to it of course, and does not happen in the book. The movie is good, but there is a bit of implicit W Bush bashing.

  • Laird

    Frankly, I’ve never noticed any “implicit Bush bashing” in the movie, and I’m not sure I agree that the graphic novel is truly “more libertarian”. It’s certainly more conflicted, and V is (in my opinion) somewhat less heroic. Perhaps I need to read it again.

    Alisa, the historic Guy Fawkes isn’t really represented at all in the movie (other than a brief segment at the very beginning, and a lot of references to his name). He’s used there basically as a metaphor, much as I use him. Since you haven’t seen it I really think you should withhold judgment. But I’ll share a quote from it: “Artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.” I do not (completely) agree with your statement.

  • “Artists use lies to tell the truth” Well, and I disagree with this one, very strongly.

    I intend to see the movie. I did not pass judgment on it, but rather on your related point about re-imagining: I’m fine with imagining or re-imagining, I’m not fine with outright lies presented as historical truth.

  • Laird

    Really? What is historical fiction? Political allegory? Does Picasso (hardly a realist) say nothing to you? Methinks you use the word “lies” a bit too freely, and too intemperately. There are degrees.

    But see the film and we’ll talk again.

  • Historical fiction is traditionally presented as such – if it’s not, it’s a lie. And what does Picasso have to do with it? He painted human faces with eyes one on top of the other – hardly a ‘lie’, unless the person looking at such a painting has never seen a human face before.

    I already pointed out that I’m not talking about the film, but about a general point you made.

  • James of England

    Burning a guy supports a culture with which you have some affinity. The act does not enable taxation (the mostly dead custom of begging with the Guy almost approaches that, but even that was voluntary) or an oppressive state (particularly since the state in question would much rather that you didn’t burn Fawkes in effigy).

  • Indeed, James, which is why I do it.

  • Guy Fawkes Day is also my b-day. I’ll have to jet to London for that occasion one year. Anyone got a spare bedroom? I wanna see all the historical sites and take the Warren Zevon tour (Lee Ho Fook’s, Kent, Mayfair, Trader Vic’s).

  • Paul Marks

    The graphic novel was written by a hard core collectivist (based only a few miles away from me), if the work has anything to do with liberty (in the sense libertarians understand the term) I assure you it was accidental.

    Down with big business and burn everything (and leave some corporate shill regime women to be gang raped by homeless men) is the “message” of the graphic novel.

    As for the film….

    Let us leave aside the Communist visual images at the end (they run just before the credits – at least in the cinema version, YES I went to see the film when it first came out), it is claimed (by defenders of the film) that most people are too mindless to know what the visual images at the end about. An odd defence – but I will let it go.

    In the story of the film (no apologies for “spoilers” I am not in the habit treating adults as if they were 12 years old).

    The major terrorist incident in the past was NOT done by Islamists. It was a stunt to bring the new regime (nationalist, socially conservative…..) to power.

    A British version of “9/11 was an inside job – done to help Bush and Big Business”.

    As for Islam……

    It is a lovely, wonderful religion – especially loved by homosexuals (Stephen Fry’s character makes this clear).

    I must repeat that this stuff is not from the graphic novel (which has its own background absurdities instead – evil America creates World War III, but Britain escapes being nuked because of a noble Labour government, which is then overthrown by evil tools of big business….) it is from the film.

    And (before I forget) the path of terrorism (such as blowing up Parliament) does not hurt the totalitarians – it HELPS them.

    Terrorism (whether shootings or bombings) is exactly what the left WANTS – and they will attempt to pin any such acts on “anti big government” people (even if they were not anti big government at all).

    On the other hand………..

    The film is well made.

    And N. Portman gives a very good performance in the film.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    And, of course, sometimes lies are for moral instruction. an american writer pointed out how american kids are taught the lie that Washington confessed to chopping down his Father’s Cherry tree- so that the kids will learn to tell the truth! I wonder if that inspired Orwell and his Ministry of Truth?