“”Vote Guy Fawkes — The Only Man Ever To Enter Parliament With Honest Intentions
|—Poster placed on the door of one of the Holyrood offices of the Scottish Socialist Party|
Guy Fawkes (sometimes Guido Fawkes) is the person (erroneously) regarded as the instigator of the English Gunpowder Plot in 1605 — in fact he was just really the group's explosives expert.
Involvement in the plot
Although a prominent historical figure and possibly the only member of the plot that is widely remembered, the conspiracy was masterminded by a small group of Roman Catholics led by one Robert Catesby, who recruited Fawkes, a former soldier and zealous convert to Catholicism. His experience as a soldier made him a suitable candidate for the high-risk work of setting up the explosives. Fawkes was tortured on the rack after being captured to persuade him to reveal his co-conspirators.
Despite being a convicted terrorist, and one of the most famous ones to boot (Osama bin Laden has nothing on Fawkes in the Who's Who even if bin Laden, unlike Fawkes, actually managed to land a blow), Fawkes often appears in pop culture as some sort of anarchist folk hero. This is despite the fact that he was fighting to overthrow one theocratic dictatorship and replace it with another theocratic dictatorship. For instance, Guy Fawkes masks — as seen in the graphic novel and film V for Vendetta — are worn by Anonymous when campaigning or picketing Scientology. Indeed, the film version that inspired the masks invokes the spirit of Guy Fawkes in blowing up Parliament to take on a repressive fascist regime (and in the process putting the whole "terrorist or freedom fighter" thing into far more uncomfortable territory). Particularly puzzling, as said repressive fascist regime would have either abolished Parliament or ignore it completely, and destroying the Parliament buildings would just remove a legitimate place of assembly for the regime's opponents. It appears that the people who admire Fawkes the most are the ones who know the least about him and are oblivious to the fact that Fawkes had way more in common ideologically with Rick Santorum than he ever did with Anonymous, Occupy or anyone who doesn't wish to force their beliefs on others.