Fear, disobedience, violence. Political Power and Protest against it in Alan Moore’s dystopia V For Vendetta

For centuries utopias have presented visions of perfect worlds, where relations between individuals and between state and citizens are free from any conflict. Dystopias (anti-utopias) are dreadful versions of utopian political systems. The utopian worlds are critically commented: obedience is revealed to actually rely on propaganda, invigilation and coercion.

Dystopian texts of culture are typical for the 20th and 21st centuries. V for Vendetta a graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd is one example. Published between 1982 and 1989 it is the authors’ answer to the problems of late stages of the cold war. The story, placed in a post-nuclear world presents Great Britain as a totalitarian state, where citizens give up their freedom for the sake of safety. V, the main character of the graphic novel rises against the totalitarian rule and goes to extremes in his disobedience. In a movie from 2006 the story was modified so that it rather presents early 21st century issues such as terrorist threat and global conflicts.

The project aims to analyze methods used by the totalitarian government in order to maintain the political power in the face of violent acts of disobedience, as exemplified by the plot of the graphic novel V for Vendetta and of the corresponding movie. In contemporary democratic societies potential protest against political power is channeled through available political procedures. This will not be sufficient in a totalitarian system or in a one with totalitarian tendencies. What are hence the limitations of protest and what methods can be used by rebels for whom social change is the objective? This is the main research aim of the project.

The project is innovatory in that it uses the perspective of political studies for the analysis of popular culture. In Polish academic literature on popular culture the paradigm of cultural studies is normally used, even when socio-political issues are analyzed. It is specifcally seldom that socio-political issues in graphic novels or comics are scrutinized.