For around a week now, I have been hearing fireworks resonating across the city every single night. That can only mean one thing: Yes, it's almost bonfire night again. When did that name take over? Bonfire night. Fireworks night.
Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.
I fear we have forgot. Across the country, every November, towns and villages gather on their communal greens wrapped up in fur coats and wooly hats, and they light a large fire. There was a time when these fires were invariably topped with a balloon-headed, straw effigy of the man who the night is supposed to commemorate (or celebrate the failure of, depending on your political stance). On the fifth of November 1605, when news spread of Fawkes being arrested beneath the House of Lords before his explosives could do their job, the people of London lit bonfires to celebrate. For centuries, the date has been a celebration of criminal justice prevailing against evil. But now, with the memory of Fawkes and the events of that night fading like Jesus being drowned in an eternal downpour of rabbits and chocolate eggs, why not give the Fifth of November a new cause?
The people of 21st Century Britain are not like those of the 1600s. Times have changed, and an awful lot has happened to push a wedge of skepticism and often hatred between the people and their government. From many MPs outrageous abuse of their expenses system, to the military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan and, most recently, the cooperation of GCHQ in the US government's monumentally large-scale surveillance of millions of innocent citizens across the world, the British governmental establishment is very unpopular. Freedoms are constantly being clamped down on, particularly on the ever-more-significant portion of our lives that exists on the internet. More than this, we are constantly and eternally being lied to about government activity by the people we have elected to work for us, and represent us. Most of the British public recognise these incredibly important problems, yet not many of those people act. Not many speak openly about something needing to be done. Now, while movements such as Anonymous and the EFF exist to try and make a difference, not everybody wants to get so heavily involved. What many people would partake in, however, is a national day of recognition.
And what better day to use than the 5th of November? Why not turn this national celebration on its head, and allow it to fit more appropriately within the views of the modern day British public? Let's make the Fifth of November a national day of celebration of remaining civil liberties, and a chance for people to speak up and unite against those that have been taken away or are under threat. I don't call for revolution or violence or even aggressive anarchy, but simply for people to take one day a year to come together and discuss issues of civil liberty, surveillance, and intrusions on our lives in the name of security. While Guy Fawkes was a pre-terrorism terrorist, what his action stands for represents, on a rather extreme level, a stand against corrupt authority which is relevant now more than ever. I would love nothing more, a year from now on the Fifth of November 2014, than to see open forum on the issues of freedom in this country, and maybe even to see thousands of people in the now-iconic masks of the man himself, taking one day out of the year to celebrate and utilise our civil liberty to come together in the streets and show that we will stand up for our privacy and our freedom. What do you think?