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Saturday, November 05, 2011

 

Guy Fawkes

"Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot."

Today is the four-hundred and sixth anniversary of a failed attempt by English Catholics to destroy the English Parliament. Made popular in recent years by the movie "V for Vendetta", today is heralded as a day of remembrance for "fairness, justice, and freedom" as "more than words, but perspectives."

The problem that I have with this is how utterly skewed this perspective is. In the perspective of today, Guy Fawkes bears a striking resemblance to Islamist terrorists, a fanatic who attempted to impose his minority will on the greater populace through an act of gross violence: the murder of most of a somewhat representative government...well, not really.

For the government of England was hardly better than the beliefs that Fawkes supported. Neither the English Parliament nor the Catholic autocracy represented by the influence of the Pope believed in "fairness, justice, and freedom." The main criticism of "the Church" throughout history has always been for its behaving too much like the State.

All too often the State seeks to control the influence that "true faith" holds over a populace. It need only find something it can control and that people can wish to believe. The popular wish is that humanity is somehow capable of achieving utopia if left to its own devices. The main problem with such a wish is the decision our professor spoke of in class. Each person must constantly choose to either give of themselves in order to please others or to use force in order to compel others to please them. It appears far simpler for those who possess great force to use compulsion, and humanity prefers simplicity.

Guy Fawkes chose the latter because the people who led his "true faith" were proponents of the Church acting like the State. If there is anything to be learned about "fairness, justice, and freedom" from Guy Fawkes, it is simply that he supported none of them, for the State is so often the thief of liberty, rather than its enabler.

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