Consider Guy Fawkes and Our Current Situation

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I see of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Today is the 5th of November, known as Guy Fawkes Night in Britain. In 1605 a man by the name of Guido Fawkes was captured hauling gunpowder under the House of Lords in a plot to assassinate King James I. Members of the Gunpowder Treason planned to replace the Protestant monarchy with a Catholic monarchy, effectively returning England to a time before the Church of England was separated from the Catholic Church.

There are similarities between that time and today. The beginning of the Gunpowder Treason goes back to 1534 when Henry VIII separated the Church of England from the Catholic Church in order to annul is marriage (the Catholic Church wouldn’t approve Henry’s divorce so they were no longer politically convenient). Part of the separation included the issuance of the Act of Supremacy of 1534, which established the monarch as the head of the Church of England and the monarchy. Before the Act of Supremacy was issued the Pope was in charge of the Catholic Church, and by extension the Church of England, whereas the monarch was the head of the monarchy. With the separation of church and state eliminated the monarchs of England moved to eliminate competition to the religion they now controlled.

In 1559, under the reign of Elizabeth I, a second Act of Supremacy was issued that mandated anybody taking public office in England swear and oath to recognize the monarchy as the supreme head of the Church and state. Failing to swear such an oath would result in charges of treason, which ended with a death sentence. To further ensure all competition to the Church of England was greatly reduced Parliament also issued the Act of Uniformity. The Act of Uniformity made weekly worship at the Church of England compulsory. Failure to attend weekly service would result in the issuance of a fine.

The stage was set for a Catholic rebellion, which is what the Gunpowder Treason of 1605 was about. Conspirators in the plot hoped to restore Papal control over the Church of England by removing the Protestant monarch and replacing him with a Catholic one.

Like Guy Fawkes, we live under a totalitarian state. Groups labeled as subversive are repressed just as Catholics were repressed after the first Act of Supremacy was issued. Things are also notably different because the repression isn’t based on religious beliefs, instead repression is based on statism. People standing against the state are actively targeted by the state. Anybody advocating liberty is prevented from obtaining any real power by the currently established state. Political parties that are unwilling to tow the current establishment party line are actively prevented from participating in presidential debates and from receiving federal campaign funds. People who are not Republicans or Democrats are treated as second class individuals just as Catholics were after the Church of England split from Rome.

The more things change the more they stay the same. History is littered with power hungry individuals suppressing any potential competition. Today, like in the time of Guy Fawkes, we live under a system that attempts to eliminate state competition. We can’t vote our way out of this. Any gain we make through the political system, if any gain is even possible, will be temporary at best. The only way to achieve liberty will be to eliminate the state itself. So long as we grant a monopoly on violence to individuals and groups we will be subjecting ourselves to their whims. This is why I advocate anarchism, it is the only way to break the cycle of power hungry individuals suppressing all competition to their reign. Remember, remember, the 5th of November for it has lessons that are applicable even today.