Is V’s terrorism an acceptable means of civil dissent in the face of totalitarianism?

Is V’s terrorism an acceptable means of civil dissent in the face of totalitarianism?


This paper will focus on the central character in the book V for Vendetta and will specifically highlight the actions he undertakes to regain the fundamental rights that a repressive government has taken from the people. The paper will endeavor to determine if the violent actions he resorts to using such as killing people and blowing up government buildings to attain his goal are okay, particularly considering that the only motivator for engaging in these terrorist acts is an oppressive government.

Thesis Statement

The idleness and apathy of citizens can encourage a government to strip the people of even their most fundamental rights and unless the people understand how to speak out and hold the government answerable nothing can be done to stop the hijacking of their civil liberties.

Although labeled a terrorist all through the story, V endeavors to ensure that the freedoms that every citizen is granted are taken back from a repressive regime. He understands that he cannot just sit around and expect that someone else will get back those rights for him and believes that he can take a personal initiative to institute the necessary political action instead of nonchalantly and inactively sitting around like the rest of the public to get back what is rightfully his. This then begs the questions, is it ok to murder people and blow things up because you perceive your government as oppressive and at what point is “the line in the sand” crossed that allows violence to be an acceptable form of restructuring the social contract?

First of all, it is important to state that it is not okay to murder people and blow things up just because someone feels the government is oppressive. However, there is an acceptable context in which this kind of reaction can be regarded as acceptable and even necessary, and this is the situation that occurs in the case of V for Vendetta. The story features V as the main character, who resorts to using violence to free his people against a tyrannical and highly oppressive government that has tactically, oppressively and for the mere reason of exercising selfish control denied and deprived its own people of their most fundamental rights. After seeing the suffering and devastation that terrorist attacks engender, it is obvious that it should be strongly resented. However, it would seem that terrorism and the accompanying violence is acceptable in certain instances if the events that happen in V for Vendetta are anything to go by.

The major question that arises is whether V’s terrorist strategies to revolt against a fascist regime that has taken over Britain are those of a revolutionary or a rebel. In other words, the question is whether his terrorist actions are reasonable or not, based on if his actions emanate from disappointment, anger and resentment, or if his actions are done in the name of a principle or a conviction. A meticulous evaluation of his actions shows that his actions are motivated by a combination of both factors and since his disobedience is strictly informed by a conviction to principle, he is a revolutionary.

V’s anger is justified because of the atrocities that are personally committed against him by the government. He had been held in confinement in a concentration camp where he, along with his colleagues, were subjected to medical experiments that were aimed at finding a vaccine to a lethal virus. Due to these experiments, most of the test subjects died and V only survived because he had an unusual genetic mutation, although he is left with such a damaged face that he has to wear a mask.

The severe suffering he undergoes causes him to be enraged at the perpetrators, especially considering that some of them were major government operatives. Some examples of such include Lewis Prothero (Moore and Lloyd, 30), a government mouthpiece who was the camp commander, Bishop Lilliman, the corrupt priest who had government protection at the expense of the people and especially of young girls as seen in (Moore and Lloyd 53), Dr. Surrige, the doctor who commandeered the experiments and the mastermind of the evil atrocities known as Chancellor Sutler.

This piece of information is important because it helps justify V’s killings, which targeted these oppressive individuals. His actions can also be morally justified because if the justice system then had been fair, his reaction would have been different, seeing that he would have used other channels to air his grievances. However, he resided in a totally brutal fascist regime that was controlled by the people who had damaged his life. It means that he lacks the alternative to appeal to the authorities because the same people who grieved him are in charge and confronted with this dilemma, it is easy to see why vigilantism becomes morally acceptable.

His noncompliance has a dual dimension, with the one being on the aforementioned personal vendetta and the other being against the principled resistance against the brutal and fascist regime that was controlling the country. The Old Bailey bombing (Moore and Lloyd 41) as well as that of the Parliament houses (Moore and Lloyd 14) is an expression of V’s and in fact the peoples’ discontent with the government. He desires to establish a true anarchy and the only way form him to do that it to obliterate the current tyrannical government known as Norse Fire, (Moore and Lloyd 28) in order to create freedom.

The idea that V intends to communicate through his actions is that if people are more aware of what is going on around them, they will never find themselves in a situation that will compel them to resort to violent means to communicate their discontent.

The government brazenly deprives the people of their individual rights and freedoms, such as when it declares a curfew purportedly to keep everyone safer, but it seems this is not the true agenda of the government because it harasses and arrests everyone who is found on the streets. This response by the government in deed causes people such as Evey to feel so insecure because they have to constantly look over their shoulders in fear of being arrested when they are in the streets. They feel like criminals even though they have not broken any law and the end result of this curfew is that it denies people their fundamental right of moving around without restrictions especially when such movement does not bring any harm to any person or threaten the government.

Further, the government completely rejects the rule of law as seen in its rampant discrimination on the people on the basis of their sexuality, religion and even because of disagreeing with the various government policies. The government severely punishes the people for merely having different perspectives by subjecting them to ruthless trials and even kills them just like it how criminals are handled. Additionally, this ignorance for the rule of law is shown by the government’s favoritism of powerful individuals who could do whatever they wanted without facing any kinds of consequences. A good example is the Bishop who was permitted to sexually violate young girls and he could not be reported because the person would be killed for making false accusations against a man of GOD.

Moreover, the government totally rejected the concept of self-interest because it denied the society the right to say anything, only requiring them to unquestioningly obey the government’s orders. The people could not air their concerns or grievances because they would always be subjected to severe punishment, which left the government to do whatever it wanted to.

It reaches a point when “the line in the sand” is crossed, and this is well-illustrated by the fact that the England government had now resorted to even deny people the most fundamental rights. The Declaration of Independence articulates “unalienable rights” to liberty, life, as well as the pursuit of happiness (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2001).  This implies that every human being has a set of personal rights that even the government should not interfere with and should not attempt to restrict in whatever manner, notwithstanding a person’s religion, social class, sex, gender or race.

Additionally, the Declaration of Independence holds that a government can only exist if the people it governs allow it. The implication is that if the government resorts to oppressing the people who have granted it the power to exist and govern, the natural reaction will be rebellion from the people as they try to free themselves from the repressive government’s chokehold.

The implication is that every human being has some fundamental rights that should not be denied, whether by the government or by any other person because these rights are the essence of life. However, the England government that ruled at the time did not consent to grant the citizens even the most fundamental rights. So desperate is the situation in the country that V in fact resorts to commandeering the government-run broadcasting system to air an initially recorded message that rightly portrayed the government as cruel, unjust, oppressive and intolerant, citing that the government had obliterated the citizens’ right of speech by instituting censors and surveillance systems to coerce the peoples’ conformity and to solicit their submission.

If the government had been one that was receptive and responsive to the concerns of the people, his violent resistance against the government would be inexcusable. This is because structured civil disobedience is often a satisfactory avenue to air the citizens’ grievances, since there is respect for their right to dissent. Conversely, if one dwells in a repressive society that does not even allow its citizens to hold peaceful pickets, violence becomes the only option to institute the desired change, especially when such change is only intended to ensure that the citizens get their most basic rights.

There is even a point where Evey questions V on whether he believes blowing up a building will deliver the desired change. V answers by saying that the building as well as its obliteration are symbols in the sense that if a satisfactory number of people is persuaded by the symbolism of detonating the building, change then becomes possible.


It is never right for an individual to take the law in his or her hands and especially in initiating a profound initiative like displacing a government. This is because there is a big risk that such an individual exposes the rest of the citizens to because of the kind of reaction that the authority in power may counter such rebellion with. In V’s case, it would have been a better option to approach an authority in the government to discuss on how the government could ease the grip it had on the people so that there could be a consensus on how the critical affairs of the government could be run with the aim of ensuring that the people had a good relationship with the government. \

However, in as much as it is wrong to take up arms against the government, V had no avenue to seek any kind of redress into the injurious situation. This is because a fascism regime derives power form subjecting its people to severely restrictive conditions so as to ensure that they have no say or oversight over the government. People are subjected to intense fear so that they do not dare disobey because of the potential severe repercussions and as a result, even if they may be discontented with certain affairs in the government, the issues are never air ed and they continually repress the population, keeping them enslaved to harsh conditions of living.

Unless some of intervention can arise, such people can never rise against such a government, and all they have remaining is to surrender to the harsh authority. V’s terroristic acts are geared to burst forth the discontent and resentment that the people had harbored for so long. After he had destroyed the Houses of Parliament and bombed the Old Bailey, it was only then that the people became emboldened to assert their disgruntlement.  Only after these actions did they realize that they were not alone and hence dared to revolt, which became their eventual source of freedom.


In a civilized society, the best alternative for resolving conflict is through negotiation and also following the established political process. This was however not the case in V for Vendetta as the government assumed a stance of total unresponsiveness to the people, ignoring any kind of negotiation and totally controlling the political process. It means that the standard channels for discourse between the government and the people were entirely unusable, for it had even taken full control of the media. As such, the only remaining option that could guarantee any kind of freedom was violence. This then qualifies V’s actions, seeing that he is the only person from the oppressed society who dared to stand up and initiate the action that was necessary to free the entire population. In fact, had the entire population started the revolt, the damage would have been much worse than what V was doing because it would have been happening in multiple places at once, rather than the damage V was inflicting as one man.

Works Cited

Constitutional Rights Foundation. (2001). The Declaration of Independence and Natural Rights. Accessed on 30th March, 2019 from

Moore, Alan and Lloyd, David. ‘V for Vendetta.’ Accessed on 30th March, 2019 from