Thursday, November 05, 2015

Guy Fawkes was no freedom fighter

In view of this evening's events in London it is worth pointing you to an article by John Elledge in the New Statesman.

He writes about the way that, in recent years, Guy Fawkes has been adopted as a symbol by those claiming to be opposed to state power:
A certain right-wing political blogger was an early adopter, back when the British left was still in the ascendancy and he could convincingly pretend he wasn't a member of the establishment. Since then the Guy Fawkes mask has become the symbol of left-wing anti-government protests far and wide, including hacktivists Anonymous and the Occupy Movement.
Yet, argues Elledge, this represents a misunderstanding of what Fawkes was about:
Guy Fawkes was many things, but one he emphatically wasn’t was a freedom fighter. Fawkes had actually voluntarily fought for the Spanish empire in its Eighty Years War against Dutch independence – hardly the action of someone who fights over-weening government power wherever they may find it. 
The reason the Gunpowder Plotters decided to take down the government of King James I & VI was not because they were opposed to government oppression. The Plotters were kind of okay with a spot of government oppression, actually: they just thought that the oppressed Catholics should be the ones doing it.
The place to be on 5 November is Lewes in East Sussex, where Protestants were burnt at the stake under Queen Mary. I wrote about Bonfire Night there for Spiked before this blog was born.

No comments: