Anonymous was made for the people, to show that we have alternatives to the politics of Westminster and that the wheels of change have been set in motion.

Last month, Guy Fawkes was back in Parliament …. or should I say the spirit of Guy Fawkes. Shout Out UK’s short documentary, Anonymous: A Million Men, a film which I wrote and directed, was screened in Portcullis House on the 16th of July 2015.

Yes, you heard it right. Anonymous entered Parliament.

Security was tight. It was actually quite funny in hindsight, although at the time I remember being slightly uneasy about the armed guards stationed at the entrance of the building. Apparently somebody had informed the authorities that Anonymous were planning to ignite some kind of revolution after the film was screened. (I took that as a compliment.)

However, despite the rather melodramatic security, I must give credit to the Labour MP who kindly agreed to sponsor the screening. Chi Onwurah, one of the so-called ‘moronic’ MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for leader, was brave enough to host such a film and participate in the Q & A afterwards. Anonymous: A Million Men does not exactly shy away from its politics nor its firm belief that, politics aside, there is something fundamentally wrong with society today. Politicians, for whatever reasons, have failed us.

I am often asked why I made the film (or indeed, why I decided to call it ‘Anonymous: A Million Men‘ rather than ‘Anonymous: A Million People‘). Ultimately, the reason I decided to make this documentary was because I wanted to take movements like Anonymous and Occupy seriously. I wanted to listen and consider what these people had to say about the world without any preconceived notions. I think it’s important, especially given the growing inequality and economic instability, that we look at all kinds of politics and not just the politics of Westminster; the ‘acceptable’ kind of politics, propagated by the wealthy and certain factions of the media, which has left so many of us, particularly the young, effectively disenfranchised. Neoliberalism has eroded the parameters of democracy and I think it’s about time that we took democracy back. This film was, in many ways, me doing just that: voicing my opinion as well as amplifying the opinions of others. In essence: doing democracy.

So do I think Anonymous have all the answers? No. In fact, I am not entirely convinced that they have any answers at all – although nor do most of the mainstream political parties on that note. Anonymous are an almost unanalysable network of individuals; a weird and sometimes contradictory combination of communism, anarchism and libertarianism. Some of their ideas are good and others are just plain silly. Indeed, I often think that many Anons mistake the philosophical or political concept of the ‘state’ with the current neoliberal incarnation of the ‘state’. What I mean to say is that just because you fundamentally disagree with what the government is currently doing (and whom it represents) does not necessarily mean you are against the idea of a state altogether.

For me, the state could quite easily be a genuine force for good in human society if it adopted the right kind of politics. To abandon any idea of a state is to embrace a kind of nihilistic, self-serving view of the world which is probably a lot worse than what we already have now (although the two are strangely related upon reflection). That said, I do not think that Anonymous should be so lazily disregarded. Over the last three decades or so, capitalism has been allowed to run riot across the globe and this has ultimately led to unimaginable poverty, massive inequality, environmental catastrophe, selfishness, greed, consumption and Justin Bieber. In my view, Anonymous exist as a fundamental reaction to neoliberalism and although they do not necessarily provide any real practical solutions to most of our problems, the fact that they exist, that they protest, that they share information, and that they hope for a better world; is undeniably positive. I would however, on a quick sidenote, urge Anonymous to support Jeremy Corbyn if he were to become leader of the Labour party as I think that he could shake things up a bit…

So what are we doing now? Well, Shout Out UK are currently fundraising for their next short film. The Director, a project which will be manned by virtually the same crew as Anonymous: A Million Men, is a social comedy that aims to challenge the negative perceptions associated with homelessness. I think, just like Anonymous, this is an important film to make given its social and moral heart. Homelessness is one of the most significant and controversial issues facing modern society and according to the most recent statistics there are more than 6,000 people living on the streets of London. Moreover, homeless people are often thought of as being lazy, criminals or drug addicts – but this just ISN’T the case.

As such, I want to make a film which explores some of these issues in an entertaining, satirical and subversive way. Surprisingly enough, I would like to encourage people to embrace the spirit of socialism, if only for this one time – and donate a couple of quid to the film. Our crowdfunding campaign ain’t really going too well, so we could do with all the support we can muster. I genuinely believe that this can be a great film and, more than anything else, I just want to see it. In order to continue making films, to continue living my dream, I have to rely on the kindness, time and generosity of others. Please do consider donating.

 

Patrick Ireland