If one were to look at pictures of the Occupy protests that are spreading in major cities all across the world, the one group of people you can’t afford to miss out are the people wearing the Guy Fawkes masks and holding up quotes from Alan Moore’s famous graphic novel V for Vendetta.
So who is Guy Fawkes? Well, he belongs to early 17th century England and was part of the Gun Powder plot in 1605. The Gun powder plot was by a group of English Catholics who wanted to assassinate the protestant King James.The conspirators sought to blow up the British Parliament in July but due to the plague the Parliament was only opened on November 5th. The gun powder was discovered in the early hours of 5th November and as Fawkes was seen leaving the cellar where the gun powder had been found, he was arrested, later tried and executed. November 5 in Britain thus became Guy Fawkes Day in order the celebrate the King’s escape from the assassination. For Guy Fawkes, the struggle was between the Catholics and the Protestants. So why are current wall street protestors wearing Guy Fawkes masks?
It is in the novel V for Vendetta where the masks are made popular by the central character V. The identity of V is never revealed and the major theme in the novel is V’s fight against the fascist state.
The Occupy protests which began in New York are now a global phenomena. The idea that this is a revolution of sorts, is perhaps a reason why the protestors are wearing Guy Fawkes masks.
The mood suggests a growing public imagination where the powers that be are seen as totalitarian in nature and the protestors feel the need to launch an epic struggle of sorts. Guy Fawkes and V represent that struggle, which has a tinge of romantic anarchism attached to it; a quality which perhaps attracts it to the current protestors.
The protests represent a growing collective anger that is aggravated by the global financial crisis.The villians, as seen here are not just one state, it’s every state, every bank, every big corporate household for the protestors. There is no one coherent structure that is being attacked. Whether or not the protestors call themselves anarchists, is irrelevant to the issue. The idea, to occupy financial capitals and landmarks in their cities, is one that threatens all power structures, which makes it akin to anarchy, perhaps not in the rigid sense of theory but in a very popular sense. As for the protestors they are not lead by any organisation or party; it would seem that the themes and struggles set in a comic book has defined their choice of protests.
Watch our slideshow of the images from the protests.