At a crucial point in V for Vendetta, as the populace, wearing now-iconic Guy masks, march on Parliament, a stand-off develops between citizens and soldiers.
It is resolved when the soldiers refuse to fire.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen the meme. It also occurs in the pre-911 film The Siege, where crazed general Bruce Willis backs down as Americans protest at the racial profiling following a terrorist attack in NYC.
In real life, the same faith that the Army Will Not Fire had been seen in protests from Tiananmen Square 1989 to Tunisia 2011.
In real life, the Army usually opens fire.
The faith that an army Will Not Fire is behind the surprise that Occupy protesters have been assaulted. And it is Occupy’s real test. Civil disobedience rests on the certainty that the army (or paramilitary police) WILL fire. The entire point of the protest is to provoke a reaction, demonstrating the inequity of the power resisting demands for justice.
Occupy has had the mood of a student party so far. Meanwhile in Egypt, protesters assemble despite – even because – the Army will open fire.
It remains to be seen whether Occupiers have the same mettle.