Guy Fawke’s Day

Guy Fawke’s Day comes to a close uneventfully in America’s borderland. The British have burned thousands of effigies today to commemorate a man who attempted to demolish Parliament and was hanged by King James I, also the commissioner of the most popular Biblical translation to date. Watch V for Vendetta and am filled with vim and vigor for change, but I cannot help but be skeptical at the violent means V uses to bring about drastic change with uncertain future ramifications. This is the nonviolent scholar in me.


As an English major, all my classmates had their area of expertise pegged out by sophomore year. This one used Marx to critique everything from fables to ballads, this one took a feminist view take on Shakespeare, another opted for the Freudian analysis of memoirs. It would have been easier for me to choose one of these; as it was, each critique could be radically different than the others and I had little basis for analysis besides my own young ramblings.


If I had it over again, I would opt to be a nonviolent scholar, examining the ways in which nonviolence is sissy-fied and violence, particularly redemptive violence, is still applauded in our popular culture. Despite its efficacy in the 1960s, few people truly believe nonviolence is the option of the brave realist in today’s world. Nonviolence is synonymous with passivity rather than active pacifism. True, thousands of movies would never have been made without the vigilante justice model, or the heroic knight archetype, or the crusading revolutionary role. My essays would stress, however, just how different the world might be if the Academy Award went to a film whose characters eschewed special effects and elaborate fight scenes to instead focus on the redemptive power of a means which justifies the end.


Nonviolence, as it were, has lost its academia. It is not taught but for a few token references to King’s “I have a dream” speech.  University professors tend to focus on fringe topics (such as lesbian haiku or neo-Gothic comedies), because it is easier to carve out a niche for themselves in the publish-or-perish competition of academia.  And yet nonviolence is the single best critic of our current culture and its self-defeating militaristic mindset. I wish I could go back and write 10-page papers detailing how nonviolence, or the lack of nonviolence, changes the outcome and plots of every story. Perhaps then, through my academia and studies, I could impart something more than just one more critical voice, a voice we all acquire at college though without the tools of creation.


Guy Fawke’s is a fantastic myth about a man who hoped to change his country’s religion in a violent manner. Although he is dead and and his effigy burned every single year, people keep carrying on his spirit of violent defiance and armed resistance. Though it makes for great screenplay, would it have been possible if he hadn’t planned a demolition? Nonviolent scholarship would say yes, that the means must match the ends, that it is ludicrous to hope to bring about peace through violence. If only the proletariat had read this sort of scholarship in their mandatory English classes…

3 Responses to “Guy Fawke’s Day”

  1. » Guy Fawke’s Day Says:

    […] mpw160 created an interesting post today on Guy Fawke’s Day. Here’s a short outline: Guy Fawke’s Day comes to a close uneventfully in America’s borderland. The British have burned thousands of effigies today to commemorate a man who attempted to demolish Parliament and was hanged by King James I, also the commissioner […]

  2. Mike W. Says:

    Similarly, in “The Motorcycle Diaries” there is the moment when Ernesto “Che” Guevara is at Machu Picchu with his traveling companion (I forget his name) and his companion’s idea for revolution in South America is to educate the poor and illiterate and show them that they have inherent value as a member of the human race. However, Che makes a comment which determined the level of violence (and hence doomed to failure) the revolution of the masses: “Sin armas, no hay revolucion” (Without weapons, there is no revolution). Because he chose that path, the revolution of the masses and powerful influence of the Latin American culture has been delayed. Perhaps, if Evo Morales will chose to eschew violence and force, perhaps he can bring about a true revolution…here’s hoping.

  3. mpw160 Says:

    Thanks so much for your insightful post. Yes, though people sport trendy screen-printed Che shirts but rarely don a Martin Luther King, Jr. t-shirt, Che’s methods doomed the poor to a less-than-optimal situation. It did not have to be that way, but, like so many others hungry and thirsty for revolution, Che in his passion heard “Sin armas, hay no revolucion” when he should have heard “Sin alma, hay no resolucion.” There can be no deep resolution without engaging the souls of the protesters and the opposition in what Gandhi called satyagraha and MLK called soul-force. Nonviolent protests and revolution,s rather than calling on the tried-and-false weapons of war instead uses peace as the means to bring about peace. Let’s pray that Evo Morales and the monks in Myanmar can stay true to this example and model successful nonviolent revolutions to the rest of the “First” World.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: