An anarchist look at V For Vendetta


V for Vendetta was originally a graphic novel written in the 80's by Alan Moore about a man taking on a fascistic regime and promoting "Anarchy". The comic was full of choice quotes on the nature of the state, justice and the struggle for a free society. The main character, "V", is an 18th century style "propaganda by the deed" anarchist who spends his time blowing up buildings and murdering people, it's all very exciting if not somewhat cliché.

Many American anarchists were enraged that V's "anarchist" message was cut out of the film and even launched a campaign to promote V as an anarchist and to fill people in on what was left out of the film taking the angle; "you know what V was against now find out what he was for". For me this shows the naivety of certain American anarchists, did they ever think that Hollywood would produce a film sympathetic to real revolutionary ideas? Surely they didn't think the Wachowski brothers, of "The Matrix" fame, would leave the story intact. Has Hollywood ever taken a decent idea and turned it into anything more than a dumbed down, meaningless, 2 hour long forumlaic product? But the question the question that really struck me while watching the film was, is V actually an anarchist?

Can anyone who acts on behalf of the people instead of alongside them consider themselves an anarchist? His so called revolution, a crude plot to overthrow the government by blowing up the houses of parliament would not and could never lead to an anarchist society, if anything it would only serve to strengthen the state. Capitalism is a social relationship, defined by the system of wage labour, class structures and the pursuit of profit. We have bosses and rulers, cops and big business all working together to keep the organised chaos of the free market ticking over.

In this film V seems to be little more than the crude personification of the media stereotyped anarchist. If he blows up parliament, will there be anarchy? Or would another set of rulers just step into place and continue business as usual? Unfortunately I think the latter is far more likely. This is why anarchists believe that we must build the revolution now in how we organise and we must make our ideas the leading ideas within society before we can ever hope to overthrow this system. To quote a comrade of mine arguing for an anarchist revolution ,

"For us means and ends are interconnected. The means we use influence the society we want to see and we feel that an anarchist or communist society cannot be brought about by centralising power. But this doesn't mean that we believe in a "quick change". Revolution isn't a spectacular event, it's a process. To stop a minority seizing power after a revolution we need to encourage the self activity and organisation of the Working Class in here and now. Following a revolution when the bourgeoisie state is overthrown there will obviously be a vacuum of power, or a dual power situation. This vacuum can be filled by the democratic (mandated) organs of the Working class or by a vanguard that takes control in the name of, and even possibly supported by the class."


 - Anarchist Youth Pirate Film Showing

Anarchist Youth recently showed V For Vendetta and had a discussion about the politics of the film. These are the speakers notes from the discussion

After spending a long week outside St. Patricks Cathedral Anarchist Youth yesterday held a film showing to allow everyone to relax. We chose to show the major hollywood film "V For Vendetta" for free as we are opposed to the idea of entertainment as a commodity and intellectual property laws that outlaw downloading and sharing information (movies, music, games, software).

The following is the basic text of a talk given before the film.