The death of the Hammer and Sickle

The Guardian has an interesting article about the French Communist Party dropping the hammer and sickle as its official insignia. It goes on to ask is that symbol even relevant in today’s globalised and digital world.

For me the hammer and sickle, as first envisaged, was about the working class retaking their dignity and power away from the hands of a few power craven industrialists. It was about the rise of the Proletariat.

Let’s look at the Left in Europe for a moment. There are not many members of the various parties and groups which hold to that ideology who would be represented by that insignia.

Pseudo intellectuals, champagne socialists, digital programmers, educationalists, community workers etc but not that many hard industry factory or agrarian workers amongst their ranks. In fact by the looks of quite a few I know a hard day’s work would kill them.

At a time when the working class are being devastated by the effects of rampant and uncontrolled capitalism why isn't the Left making more of an impact across Europe?

I'm not talking about the "I can't believe it's not Left" type party who massage their political message  in the centre. I'm talking about traditional working class values from a time when morals where still very much part and parcel of the Left wing movement and not the rampant liberal atheism and moral relativism that we see all too often today.

The Left should be spending less time worrying about symbols and more time reconnecting with their traditional base.


David Lee said...

"and not the rampant liberal atheism and moral relativism that we see all too often today." chris means "thinkers" when he says that -- go figure !

Chris Gaskin said...

No, Chris means exactly what he wrote. Those so twisted by liberal atheism and moral relativism that they are worlds away from the Welsh miners, the Dublin dockers and the Belfast shipyard workers

JG said...

Hmm.. Can't really agree with you. The French Communist Party are a major party with significant public support, not some crowd of wish-washy liberals. Atheism is entirely irrelevant and I'm not sure why you even mention it.

We should not get overly stressed out about symbols. That said, the decision of the French Communists to shun the hammer and sickle is more to do with making themselves more appealing to others on the left who might want to enter alliances with them than anything else.

In general I see no reason why socialists should not stick to their values, their traditions, language, and symbols. But these things aren't set in stone. If they are to change they should do so organically, not in order to pander to an increasingly de-politicised and docile public.

Chris Gaskin said...

Hi JG, great to hear from you. I think we are both looking the same thing, traditional left wing values promoted instead of a pathetic move to the centre

JG said...

Well, I'd certainly agree with that. And good to see you back on the blog, a chara. I hope life is treating you well!

Chris Gaskin said...

Life is great, thought it was time to relaunch Balrog

JG said...

There's certainly no shortage of things to write about. Is there ever?? lol

David Lee said...

hi julius,

marx or weber ? weber's predictions have been more accurate than marx, weber saw a widening growth in the middle-class, which is certainly true in the west- with the poor being lifted out of absolute poverty by the welfare state- and liberal policies of redistribution - sadly the gap between the rich and middle-class has widened, and needs urgent attention , the banking fiasco having been at the forefront .

I'm opposed to any form of totalitarianism, inc Church diktataand take my cues from the likes of George Orwell - where liberty is number 1, control number 2 ( or not at all )
I despise control systems, and believe the majority will act responsibly when given more freedom - here I follow nelson mandela

by the way there's an orwell season on radio 4 bbc, animal farm 1984, road to catalonia, and his essyas on living with the poor in paris.london, get them here :http://www.nerdoftheherd.com/tools/radiodld/ as you guys can't get iplayer in the republic -- what's remarkable about orwell was that he was brought up in the english class system, which he then went on to despise all his life; his volunteering in spain in the civil war brought his face to face with the struggle against facism, but as that struggle went on, the commies started to take control, and did unspeakable things to the good anarchists of catalonia- disillusioned orwell wrote animal farm and then 1984- he remains a true hero and patriot of the working class..

Evan said...

The programmers, educationalists and community workers are the Proletariat of today. The working class have evolved with the 21st century from a post industrial society to a digital one. As such, the nature of the work has changed often from what often required physical labour to mental labour. Farms and factory floors are more often mechanized than what they were. The hammer and sickle symbols are very much of their time. If they are less relevant today its because the working class with the advancement of society have little use for them. It is the keyboard, it is the pen that symbolize the new function of 21st century workers.

However, I don't think your attack on the French communists is about moving away from working class values at all. In fact, they command significantly more support in France from the working class than the CPI,IRSP or WP ever did in Ireland. I think your criticism has more to do with their social policies that run contrary to catholic doctrine, that you have a personal respect for. Am I right? If you think 'atheism' or maybe 'abortion' are simply later day add ons to communist thought then you're very wrong. They're as rampant now as they where in 1917.

Chris Gaskin said...

Evan my point exactly, the hammer and sickle are not of this age. I wasn't attacking the French communists however, I was attacking those "left" wing parties moving to the center and those others who are abandoning their traditional roots.

JG said...

Hi Dave.. Orwell is a fascinating character and I will check out that series, thanks. His Notes on Nationalism is well worth a read too. Hope life is treating you well!

Peat Bog said...

As a small c communist and republican, Chris, fantastic to hear. I'm sure my red ex big C grandparents wouldn't disagree. Most commentators havent picked up on the decline of the PCF, linked directly to its subjective revisionism as opposed to the actual lived existence of the french proles. Thus, the Front National is winning traditional working class and historically PCF areas. Tragic and awful, but exactly this: "The Left should be spending less time worrying about symbols and more time reconnecting with their traditional base."