Welcome back to this Black Ship of ours! It’s a new year, and sadly we are entering very frightening times. The rise of fascism is nothing to be taken lightly. There has to be a strong resolve to fight off the ruling regime’s attacks on political and civil liberties. At the center of that effort must be the building a culture of resistance, and what better way to add to that culture then some diverse and radical comics? We are happy to launch this new monthly segment, Comics to Spit Fascism!
In this month’s installment we advise you to read a very basic text that I’m sure you’ve all encountered in one form or another: V for Vendetta. You’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘I already watched the film; I got it.’ Well sit the f^%$ down. The truth is that the Wachowskis’ 2005 film adaptation cut out a lot of Moore’s story, and in the process reformulated that story’s key argument.
That’s not to say that the movie was completely devoid of the politics of the original, but so many omissions made it impossible for viewers to clearly grasp the radical nature of the story. In the process of translating the story for a Bush-era political climate, the filmmakers toned down many of the political points that the text brought to light so well.
To begin with, the Leader states that he is a fascist. He openly and unwaveringly defines himself in exactly those terms and gives a scary and alarming love crescendo to that political philosophy. V, on the other hand, embodies the principles of anarchism. Moore’s graphic novel is a tale of two polar-opposite philosophies coming to literal blows in a dystopian near-future United Kingdom.
Oh yes, I am a fascist. What of it? Fascism… a word. A word whose meaning has been lost in the bleating of the weak and treacherous. The Romans invented fascism. A bundle of bound twigs was its symbol. One twig could be broken. A bundle would prevail. Fascism… strength through unity. I beliEveyin strength, I beliEveyin unity, and if that strength that unity of purpose demands a uniformity of thought word and deed then so be it. I will not hear talks of freedom. I will not hear talk of individual liberty.
-Adam Susan, The Leader V for Vendetta
In a time when we hear many people throwing around both terms, it would do some folks good to see what anarchism is, and what fascism is. That’s not to say that the depiction of the terms are best represented in this comic, but it is certainly done justice. Especially anarchism, as Alan Moore (for a brilliant piece on Alan Moore read Black Ships very own Rawal Ahmed) is a committed anarchist.
Anarchy isn’t chaos, a point clearly articulated by V himself. And neither is chaos anarchy; the chapter entitled ‘Do What You Will” (a quotation of Aleister Crowley) has V explaining to Eveythat people riots and other forms of social disorder have nothing to do with anarchism, that anarchism is self-governance.
Evey: “All this riot and uproar, V… is this anarchy? Is the land as do as you please?”
V: “No, this is only the land of take what you want. Anarchy means “without leaders”; not “without order”. With anarchy comes an age of ordung, of true order, which is to say voluntary order.”
The film, though, omits this very important discussion of the nature of anarchism, and in so doing transforms V (and, later, Evey) into mildly left-libertarian resistance fighters, rather than positive exponents of a philosophy of self-rule.
Evey’s profession is an important deviation as well in the movie. In the comic, she is a sex worker who winds up radicalized and then joins the revolution. She becomes an anarchist herself, and doesn’t follow but leads. It was an excellent point to make, and can be found in other anarchist writings. Anarchist thinkers have long held that the most revolutionary forces would come from the most disenfranchised and oppressed of the lower rungs of society. I do believe that sex workers would make that sad list.
V’s death is also obstructed in the film; his death in the comic happens much earlier in the story, leaving Evey to don the mask. Before dying in both film and comic, V explains to Evey that he is part of an old world that has to die before the new can grow unhindered by anything that used to be, that he would destroy it all so that ‘they’ could rebuild it as they saw fit. Another anarchist principle: you must destroy in order to build.
Although this is this first installment to this new series we want you all to know that we are looking for new art projects that aim to disrupt and confront the xenophobia and sexism that is beginning to run rampant in the world. The fascists want to lash out at us as we get rid of class distinctions, binary gender roles, and merge into the only true race, the human race, but creators, of all people, cannot stand idly by.
Thanks for reading, and as always, all hands on deck so we can keep this Black Ship of ours smoothly sailing!