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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Remember Remember the 5th of November . . .

It's hard not to remember the 5th November when a noisy herald of fireworks mark the occasion before the pumpkins are even lit. As every child knows, Guy Fawkes is remembered for having tried to bring down the Houses of Parliament; nowadays scenes at the ancient palace are slightly different from back in 1605, although in recent years there has been an increasing air of revolution surrounding the night.

The Million Mask March is associated with hackivist group, Anonymous; to some an anarchist movement fronted by faceless cyber terrorists, to others a symbol of hope and the recognition of change. However you view it, the fact remains that some 900 masked people descended on Parliament Square on the evening of 5th November - a movement which is increasing year upon year and is also represented in cities across the globe.

Whilst the few reports that did make it into the media were disparaging, the stark lack of coverage was of real significance. The control that the money men have over our knowledge of the world is of real concern. However it is significant that whilst the BBC trivialised the protest, claiming it was about the rise in energy bills, they didn't comment until around 10pm - ensuring that they didn't inadvertently spread the word and swell the crowds: Are the powers that be worried?

Reading this from the fairly privileged position of having the access to a computer, a reasonable question might be 'worried about what - what's the problem?' A good friend recently told me that the world is better than it has ever been, that we have nothing to worry about as things are improving all the time. For a summary of this sunny and valid viewpoint, the Beeb have put together an easy to digest little snippet from Hans Rosling. The problem then, is that although statistics about population change, access to clean water and female education show a positive trend, there is frightening evidence that indicates that over 97% of the population is essentially being played. I don't mean to make light of this - the horrors and atrocities that are committed in the name of the general public, using money we have given to our governments - and that has slipped straight into the pockets of some big players heading up certain corporations - are truly vile, corrupt and inhumane. One problem is that those who attempt to highlight these injustices are either locked up, silenced or branded conspiracy theorists and discredited. Getting these issues known is just the first obstacle. With the spread and development of the internet there has been a huge influx in people who previously had been unable to speak out - now they can tell the world.

As we've seen with the uproar caused by WikiLeaks, and the resulting treatment of Julian Assange, speaking out is dangerous - take up global causes such as fairness and equality and you have to be prepared for the consequences. The recent move by Google to engage a system that blocks certain online searches linked to pedophilia is, for me, a cause for concern. On the one hand the internet has made it easier for pedophiles to connect with one another, share material and information, and hatefully, to act - whereas perhaps before the internet some of these people may not have acted on such impulses. The same can be said of terrorists, but also it can be said about any other group of people. Plane spotters for example; perhaps they have a certain inclination to record flights going over their house, but were it not for the internet they'd have never actually gone out to Heathrow and spent a day there with their binoculars and sandwiches. My point is this; the first restriction has been put in place - others will follow. Who has the final say on who is a terrorist? Nelson Mandela was a terrorist - by our western definition of course he was. But then he was a freedom fighter, an activist, a believer in equality. When those with the 'final say' have the power to place restrictions on the internet, when they control the media, when they instigate wars and finance corporations that are screwing the planet's resources with no hesitation, it is time to take stock, consider what is important and if we really want to go down in history as another 'civilisation' that stood by and watched, too ignorant or apathetic to try and change the world.

The word 'revolution' is being bandied about; you've probably already seen the Paxman interview with Russell Brand. It's amusing but may make many role their eyes. The logical question to follow: yes, but what's the solution?

One solution is to look at how we spend. Money talks. Be careful about where you spend your money - if you disagree with the principles of a company, don't spend there. Don't be seen there, don't endorse it. We're not asking for a bloody overthrow of every system we've known. We're asking for a world where having a fortune doesn't absolve you from conducting your business with moral consideration. It might mean paying a little more - only buying free range animal produce for example. When you think of the effort involved in the production of a better quality, more ethically sourced product, it makes sense. Now any urging to purchase say, organic rather than normal hoummous might sound like the very epitome of a first world problem. It is. But somewhere down the line there is something akin to a third world impact.

After all, who wants to live in a world where we apparently fund likes of Starbucks to pay their workers in India less than half the hourly living wage - however inadvertently? By being responsible and thoughtful about the way we spend our money, taking the time to find out how our money gets spent and by being optimistic about the future, it really is possible to change the world. Again, money talks. If roughly half the population of Kentish Town spent £5 of their weekly budget more thoughtfully, an impressive three million a year would be better spent from this little corner alone!

What has this to do with V for Vendetta masks? It's a call to arms certainly. Well, a call to free range food and thoughtful, independent spending really. Community, change, all that stuff. Perhaps the Million Masked Marchers are misguided and naive - but perhaps they're on to something. They're certainly growing with every passing year. Whilst it's easy for rent-a-mob to get in on the action and discredit freedom fighters and advocates of a compassionate world, the need for change is very much here, and we're acting on it. Join us?

If you haven't already, check out Propanda which recently showed at the Raindance Film Festival, London.

Propaganda by Slavo Martinov:

A parody dressed as a North Korean propaganda video. Highly recommended. It's worth noting that after this was released on YouTube, New Zealander Slavo Martinov received a phone call from South Korea who believed him to be working as a spy for North Korea. In addition to this, although the Propaganda team delayed sending the script electronically (believing themselves to be paranoid), the first time it was sent in an email Slavo Martinov was hauled in for questioning by detectives in New Zealand. It would seem that yes, they actually are watching you!