14A057 Incoherent Anger by Jim Davies, 11/18/2014    


Two weeks ago all over the world, people protested the existing order wearing anonymous masks of the kind used in the 1989 movie "V for Vendetta." The excellent news is that so many took part, and that so many preferred to make it hard for government snoops to figure out who exactly was doing so. The less welcome news is that the subjects being protested were so diverse and contradictory; there was little focus.

"Protests against mass surveillance, government austerity and social injustice have taken to the streets in over 400 cities worldwide" begins the account in Russia Today. So they wanted governments to spy less, spend more, and manipulate society more. Some evidently want less government, but others want more, and some may be so confused as to wish for both. It's splendid that so many are dissatisfied, but not having a clear aim is one way to make sure none will be achieved.

For all that, the widespread use of the V-masks conveys very powerfully that a key theme underlying it is that participants fear and distrust government. That's a vast improvement on the blind, empty-headed presumption that it can ever be benevolent, which was so common through the 20th Century. I think it's also an improvement on the so-called "Occupy" movement, to which it may be a successor. "Anonymous" is a better name.

The mask image is of Guy Fawkes, whose attempt to replace Protestant rule in England by a Roman Catholic one in 1605 by blowing up the House of Commons was stopped in the nick of time, and to my mind it's a strange choice. The movie was made by a self-described anarchist group (another reason to be pleased by the present protests) - but the story does not end with an abolition of the State - merely with the replacement of one government by another. Some anarchists! Powerfully, it portrayed a reaction against years of increasingly brutal Fascist oppression in Britain, imagined by the authors to take place after 1990. It ends with the triumphant demolition of Parliament, as symbol of the hated government, accompanied by happy crowds and stirring chords from the 1812 Symphony. A worth-see movie, but disquieting and violent.

As suggested by its title, "V for Vendetta" is also about vengeance. The hero has recovered from a period of torture, and has prepared himself for the task of killing those who tortured him. The character is so confused that when one on his hit-list shows genuine remorse for what she had done, he treats her very gently and kindly - but kills her anyway. The moral message is all mixed up.

So too is the present Anonymous Movement, and while that's disappointing it does spell opportunity. Here are millions of people all over the world, mostly young, saying plainly that they are dissatisfied with the status quo and fear their rulers. I say that's a very good start. All we need do is to channel them in to a better understanding of what's wrong.

The means to do so is already in place, of course; the On Line Freedom Academy. You know someone who took part in one of these protests? - invite him to take part. He or she has already begun his journey to a rational understanding of which way is up.

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