Remember, remember the 5th of November

It’s the 5th of November — the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Treason and Plot day. That particular story has very little personal interest to me except as an historical oddity.

On the other hand, the date came alive again to me recently as I re-watched the really outstanding movie V for Vendetta

The film focuses on V, a shadowy hero/freedom fighter/terrorist, who uses the memory of Guy Fawkes Day as one of the tools to foment a revolution against a totalitarian government.

When a government, or aspect of government, moves toward totalitarianism, seeing no limits to its authority nor any reason to defer to science or facts, and when that government attempts to control the population through misinformation, it is the responsibility of the population to revolt.

The first step is waking them up.

How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

Unlike with Guy Fawkes, waking up the population doesn’t mean you need to blow up parliament. I’m a firm believer in finding non-violent means of provoking change. It can seem to take longer, but it also may, in fact, be the only way to actually accomplish the task.

Once the population wakes, a totalitarian-shaped government function may ironically actually help the revolution succeed.

What I found particularly interesting in “V for Vendetta” were the actions of the totalitarian leader Adam Sutler, portrayed compellingly by John Hurt. Once threatened by the awakening of the masses, Sutler reacted (step by step precisely as predicted by V), cracking down more forcefully, leading to incidents that further angered the population, until his demise ultimately came as a byproduct of his own tyranny.

In a way, a similar kind of effect is seen today with the DEA crackdowns on medical marijuana and other similar actions. And it is, perhaps, inevitable. Oddly, once the public objects to totalitarianism, often the only way totalitarians know how to respond is to crank it up even more out of fear of losing power.

When it comes to the drug war, we’ve seen the public begin to wake (slowly, but inexorably). This has caused the drug warriors to double down in an attempt to maintain their power. This leads to incidents and outrages that we can use to help grab the attention of more people who may have only peripherally cared about drug policy. And so on.

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

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30 Responses to Remember, remember the 5th of November

  1. darkcycle says:

    If what you say is indeed true, we’ve got some oppression to endure. I’m hoping sensible minds will win the day.

  2. Francis says:

    I’ll also be remembering the 6th of November, 2012.

  3. Plant down Babylon says:

    I like how there is a big push to move accounts from the ‘too big to fail’ banks to credit unions. It’s nice to see the ‘people’ taking action!
    They say it shouldn’t have much effect, but if that was the case, why have all the TBTF banks reversed their 5$ debit fee!?
    I can’t recall big banks EVER reversing fees.
    I love my local credit union. nice people, no fees, and I even get a small INTEREST/DIVIDEND on my savings!
    I think most people don’t realize the power of their pocketbook. Or the power of the individual TAKING ACTION!

  4. damaged justice says:

    Read the comic V FOR VENDETTA. I haven’t seen so much lost and deliberately distorted in translation since THE RUNNING MAN. It went from a cautionary anarchist tale to simplistic populist feel-good nonsense.

    • Pete says:

      I haven’t read the comic, and therefore I can see the movie as brilliant by itself because I’m not judging it by whether it is true to the comic. My understanding is that the comic is different, which is fine. That doesn’t, by itself, reduce the value of the movie.

    • divadab says:

      Graphic novel, if you please. V for Vendetta is not Rin Tin Tin nor The Family Circus – it’s a serious work of art with a serious theme and a serious call to action which has been answered a million times over.

  5. Servetus says:

    Definition of a Riot: “Entertainment staged for the police by innocent bystanders.”—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, (1906).

  6. darkcycle says:

    It’s like “No Country for Old Men”. If you are a fan of McCarthy’s novels (and I’m a big, BIG fan-I’d recommend “Sutree” as a starting point), don’t even think about seeing the movie(s).
    But that’s Hollywood. I think the problem is car exhaust. One of the components of smog is Nitrous Oxide. They walk around huffing hippy crack with every breath. I believe the visible manifestation of this is their inability accurately render a story. Just a theory.

    • Bailey says:

      I really didn’t like the movie. You don’t care what happens to most of the people (aside from vague interest where the bundle of money ends up). Do the books make the characters more interesting?

      • darkcycle says:

        Well…don’t really know how to answer that. McCarthy’s characters aren’t really loveable. Mostly his protagonists are thrust by fate into an unfamiliar world, subjected to violence wholly out of proportion, battered by fate and whim, and sometimes killed in the end. His prose is both spare and starkly beautiful, and his ability to convey a scene and a mood is phenomenal.
        This is the opening paragraph of “Sutree”
        “Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the water trucks and now when the drunk and homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you.”
        Just my opinion, mind you, but that is the best opening paragraph written in the last hundred years.

  7. DdC says:

    Bank Transfer Day – Saturday, Nov. 5 Update
    Bank Transfer Day Nov 5th: Resentment Frustration Angry Customers


    Anonymous drops Zeta threat after return of kidnappee | InSecurity Complex – CNET News
    Members of the online activist group Anonymous in Mexico have again (and hopefully for good) called off their threat to expose names of associates of the Zetas drug cartel. Apparently, the cartel returned the Anonymous member whose kidnap allegedly was the catalyst for the OpCartel plan in the first place.

    Anonymous Threatens Zetas Drug Gang
    A group of Anonymous has threatened the notorious Zetas Drug gang with exposure of their connections to police, journalists and others. They have promised to release the names and addresses of the co-conspirators in response to the kidnapping of a Mexican Anonymous member. They will carry through with their threats if the person is not released or is harmed.

    But now Anonymous members are worried that more of their members might be in danger if they follow thru with this threat on Nov 5th, which is Guy Fawkes day (the mask they wear is supposedly Guy Fawkes).

    Anonymous says Facebook attack was never real | InSecurity Complex – CNET News

    Anonymous Strikes Again! Releases Personal Info on Police Chiefs

    Anonymous and it’s sister group, Anti-Sec have published personal information on thousands of police officers from Boston and Alabama on behalf of the Occupy Movement because they protect the 1% of the wealthiest Americans. They are also protesting police brutality against the protesters and they chose today because it is the International Day of Action Against Police Brutality.

    More than 600 MB of data from the International Association of Chief of Police, or IACP, (website still down) was released, according to a press release from Anonymous. It included internal documents, membership rosters, home addresses, passwords, social security numbers and more. Along with the IACP data, Anonymous revealed 1000 names and passwords from the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association; 1000 names, ranks, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers from the Alabama law enforcement systems; and the full contact database Matrix Group, a web development agency serving government websites…

    …“We have no problem targeting police and releasing their information even if it puts them at risk because we want them to experience just a taste of the brutality and misery they serve us on an everyday basis,” reads the Anonymous press release.

    How can you trust the police to keep private info ON YOU secure, when they can’t even secure their own info?

  8. Bailey says:

    V for Vendetta is great, and I agree that its very different from the story of the graphic novel, but I don’t really find either weaker in terms of plot.

    Mainstream film is intended to be a social experience, so the story telling veers towards “common values.” This is a mixed bag, but for V for Vendetta the “People should not be afraid of their governments…” perspective is thoroughly told.

  9. chuck says:

    pete writes a decent tidbit here, but i disagree with him on the non-violent issue. the police are corrupt as shit, and they in fact provoke the violence through their own use of violence and intimidation. so even though it may be non-violent from the side of the protests (with the exception of a few), inevitably violence will ensue as the police will no doubt use their military might to squash the movement. in fact, it is known that in new york, oakland, and various other cities, that the federal government is involved through various “anti-terrorism” agencies and their ilk. in other words, the federal government itself is calling the shots on how to crush the protests.

    • Windy says:

      This has been a tactic of police for a very long time. If you view the archival footage of the riots during the civil rights movement and the Viet Nam war protests, you will notice it was almost always the cops who started the violence, and in the few cases where it wasn’t the cops, it was agents provocateur. Cops cannot handle it when the people refuse to be cowed by their badges.

  10. kaptinemo says:

    Not having read the graphic novel, I can’t say what the authors of it had in mind. But the movie definitely hit quite a few nerves when it came out, and almost all of those who screamed in pain and hypocritical outrage at its’ anti-fascist message were the NeoCons and their enablers. That, in and of itself, told me the effort was worth it.

    But it also struck a different nerve with the majority of those who saw it…and needless to say, the vast majority of those were of the ‘99%’. They knew, some perhaps on an inchoate, instinctive level not processed into consciousness yet, that while it was political fiction, about a dystopic future in a foreign country, in fact it was a parable for what was going on at the time in this country…and still is. They ‘got the message’, loud and clear.

    And reacted accordingly; just look at how many people had adopted the Guy Fawkes mask as their icon on various political commentary sites prior to Anonymous doing so. Most Americans, who had little or no exposure to the history of the Gunpowder Plot, the mask represented not an evil plot against established government but legitimate resistance to an evil government.

    The rot has run so deep, the means of correction have been so co-opted by the Elites or allowed to waste into such ineffectualness, that the people themselves, in their numbers, are rising up to challenge a system they understand all too well does not serve them, but savages them.

    And drug law reformers know just how evil and corrupt a government this is…and how much institutionalized injustice comprises the majority of that government’s operations.

    “Remember, remember the 5th of November” is certainly catchy, but doesn’t really resonate all that well with Americans. But, I feel that someday, maybe soon, there will be another date that will have vastly more significance, and that will be the day the present form of the US government is supplanted by another, one more responsive to the demands of its’ people, instead of kow-towing to the (self-described) Elite. One in which the majority of people will finally understand the absolute necessity of guarding personal liberties against encroachment by The State, for whatever reason. because that’s how we got into this mess to begin with.

    That date will have vastly more significance to me than the 4th of July ever did in my lifetime. For then we’ll really have something to celebrate.

    • darkcycle says:

      There’s dark sides to all that too, Cap’n. Hold on to your hats. In the immortal words of my friend Lou:
      “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be boring.”

      • kaptinemo says:

        Dark, I am only too well aware that there’s a price for everything. But somebody else said it better:

        “”Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

        “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress…Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.” – Frederick Douglass, ca 1857

        Spoken by a man who knew freedom’s worth, from having it denied to him for so long.

        There are many kinds of slavery. Douglass had known the more overt form. But make no mistake, we, too, are slaves. We don’t have scars on our backs from whips. No, we have scars on our psyches courtesy of the kind of society that put them there, in seeking to ‘help’ us in the form of drug prohibition. And those scars are not limited to reformers, but the whole of society. It’s like everyone has the same disease, but very few are aware of it because the symptoms of the disease are described as being normal.

        It’s normal to have police act towards their paymasters like foreign conquerors in occupied territory. It’s normal to have laws that cause vastly more damage, to the individual as well as to the entire society, than the behaviors those laws are meant to curb. It’s normal to have ignorant, self-serving, fascistic bureaucrats making regulations to govern the practices of physicians who know exponentially more than said bureaucrats ever will. I could go on, but this is getting long, and I don’t want to bore anyone.

        In other words, having the societal fabric warped by drug prohibition (amongst many other forces) it’s somehow normal to have a sick society…and like Pete’s analogy about putting out house fires with grenades and machine guns, it’s considered sick to want to heal it. And healing it will prove to be a very painful process, as those who profit from its’ illness don’t want the patient to recover, hence the increasingly greater use of force to try to stop reform, of almost every stripe. So it’s time to batten down the hatches; there’s rough seas ahead.

        • darkcycle says:

          …and it won’t be boring.
          Sorry Kap’n, I have a habit of finishing other people’s thoughts for them (annoys the heck out of my wife….).

    • Windy says:

      Except the criminaliz­ation itself is UNCONSTITU­TIONAL, ALL drug laws are void BECAUSE they are UNCONSTITU­TIONAL, we don’t need to “legalize it” it is already legal, we just need to stop obeying ALL unconstitu­tional laws.

      We have arrived at this tyrannous situation because the American people stopped enforcing the Constituti­on. The people (out of ignorance of the Constituti­on, thanks to public schooling) keep electing those who violate their oath to the Constituti­on the very first day of their term of office and every single day thereafter­, and no one acts to remove those oathbreake­rs. The people no longer use the Constituti­on as a defense when they are unconstitu­tionally arrested for disobeying an unconstitu­tional law. It is well past time to reverse that trend.
      As congress continues its daily deluge of anti-American legislation, its un-American activities, bear in mind that just because congress said it, doesn’t make it so. Consider this opinion of the Supreme Court:
      The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be in agreement. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail. This is succinctly stated as follows:
      The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it.
      An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.
      Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principals follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts performed under it . . .
      A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one.
      An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law.
      Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby.
      No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.
      – Sixteenth American Jurisprudence, Second Edition, Section 177. (late 2nd Ed. Section 256)

  11. darkcycle says:

    …plus, there’s two potential outcomes to any violent upheaval. There can be a unity of purpose and a rising above to correct injustices long endured, or there can be a descent into tribalism and perpetual warfare. My fear is that a long history of having been manipulated by “fear of the ‘Other’ may come back to haunt us. We are a society that has long been divided and manipulated by that mechanism. Every civilization has had times of upheaval and precipitous change that have restructured them. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not, yet ultimately these civilizations all fell….to tribalism, suspicion and fear.
    I’ve seen how close that is in times of civil revolt first hand and the prospect scares the living shit out of me. Just look to Somalia for an example. And don’t think for a second that it couldn’t happen to us.
    That being said, it appears that just such a social upheaval is upon us now. And it’s important we are wary of how we go. And be ready to duck.

    • darkcycle says:

      Adding: Hopefully this won’t need to deteriorate into general violence.

    • allan says:

      hmmm… the lesson i took from Edward Abbey’s Good News… keep a well working pistol loaded and close to hand. (a common theme among western writers)

      Good News

      A futuristic fable about what happens when modern society completely breaks down, as Abbey (in his other books) repeatedly claims it will if we don’t change our ways.

      I’m continually amazed at how close to right so many of the futurists, primarily those writing in sci-fi and speculative fiction, were back in the ’60s and ’70s. Underneath the writer’s facade of futuristic technologies, space travel, time travel, etc, were the examinations of liberty, of what freedom can come to mean to those from whom it has been stripped.

      Environmentally we’re screwed. We are incapable of dealing properly with the extreme bio-damages wrought by failed technology (think BP and Deepwater Horizon). And those failures occur not because of the science behind the technology but that it is produced and managed by humans…

      We can never be perfect. We will always fuck up… and only with a massive infusion of acknowledgement of our failings (a massive dose of humble pie) and a dedication to minimizing and correcting them as best we can.

      I mean look at us and where we find ourselves… what are we doing? What are we producing? How much real value is there in a system of production that exists only to produce…stuff? If we are to be so dedicated to industry then that industry needs real value. Real value produces more value… quality work with quality exchange for the work enhances self esteem, instills pride and dedication to doing the best we can. Anything less is basically senseless time wasting. In today’s world Kim Kardashian’s “divorce” trumps the feeding of those thousands of fellow humans starving daily.

      It’s time for a housecleaning… time that science does matter… time that we advocate and propagate literacy. Time that we truly beat swords back into plowshares…

  12. Duncan20903 says:

    I’m really starting to develop a feeling of genuine awe about the synchronicity that I encounter on this blog. I’ve spent the day (Staurday) watching and savoring the memory of another classic digital video presentation that’s pulled my 56 old white men strings and caused a feeling of genuine patriotism to form in a lump in my throat. It was great how they portrayed the American “defense” forces as nothing but puppets. Terrorists, your game is through because now you have to answer to America (fuck yeah!) indeed. I also just noticed the cannabis plants cultivated on the public street in Panama just before the terrorists blew up the Panama Canal about halfway through.

    But I admit that I’m puzzled, why the most genuine US patriotic themed digital video presentation of all time was written and produced by Canadians is an utter mind boggler. Maybe I really have lost my mind due to the incessant milking and plowing. I should have paid attention to Ezekiel when he finally agreed with the consensus.

    Please remember that my idea of patriotism was embodied in the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Mr. J also boiled it down into a nutshell when he said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” Short, sweet, to the point and very accurately described.

  13. allan says:

    just outside my window stands my powerline pole and a doug fir tree that stands another 20′ over that. I get hawks and crows and ravens and robins and all sorts a critters come sit in that tree. Lately I’ve had a sparrowhawk (American kestrel) that’s been hanging out, eatin’ lots of freshly killed mice and voles atop that pole. So I go talk to him and he just hangs out. I’ve watched him (here from the desk) chasing the 3 scrubjays that live here but they’re wily wascals. And he’s chased the flickers and it’s cool aerial work… and a sublime position to sit and follow the world as it rolls thru a day on this tv/typewriter thingy.

    Ya know it used to be a fairly lonely place out there in the big www, when it came time to talk drug policy to folks who far from agreed with us. But now… I watch you all and know that our coverage wwwebwise has grown exponentially in the last decade plus. I know that the quality of the rebutting of prohibition and the prohibitionists is top notch, level headed and usually backed up by another of similar mind.

    My optimism ebbs… somedays I’m convinced stupid is gonna win. But other days I’ll find something that makes me nod… makes me say yep, the world may have to live with us a while longer.

    Pete’s couch is one of those places that often makes me nod and say “yep.” It’s a great forum in that most ancient of schools… open public dialogue. As I quietly slip away from drug policy it’s not ’cause I don’t love y’all but because I have shit to do in this last chunk of my life… and now I’m convinced that the young’uns have a good handle on what we be doin’… there are fish to be caught, women still to love… photos to be taken.

    And there will always be fights to be fought. So it goes, living among the two leggeds…

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