- Category: Culture
- Created on Saturday, 13 October 2012 11:54
- Written by Tim Rezeti
This appeared as part of our Kasama discussion of communist symbolism (and the importance of symbolism in struggle for change, influence and power).
This continues a discussion of symbolic language and rituals of transition that we have engaged in two threads:
- Radiating: How revolutionary movements represent
- Liberation: Beyond revenge and hatred of relatively privileged
- Connecting: More on communist symbolism
by Tim Rezeti
This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. And there are a lot of things to think about when considering all of this.
I do think our symbolism will change to better meet circumstances as they change, and to better serve our objective needs. After all if we see our project as having continuity (but also breaks!) from previous communist movements, and we already are confronted with the need to develop new symbolism, I think it is safe to assume that our symbolism may change again (even in the near future).
I think we need to look at what many of the old symbols are, because I often see an imitation of the methodology behind those symbols. And to be frank I think we need to break with that methodology. On top of that they don’t mean the same thing in today’s context, as Mike Ely pointed out they are associated with the USSR and all of that (for better or worse).
The particular symbol I am referring to is the good old hammer and sickle.
The hammer and sickle are work implements; they are the tools once used in production in particular times and places (this is historic symbolism after all). The two of them together represent unity of agriculture and industry.
Now there is a problem that Avery Ray Colter pointed out above, in much of the world the same implements aren’t used in the same industries anymore. In the U.S. for instance agriculture is industrialized, massive combines are used, not sickles. And to much of the working class, in places like the U.S. and much of the world for that matter, these tools are now alien to a degree from peoples experience and lives. Many more are now involved in types of mental labor, using computers.
I am not trying to argue which sections of the economy (and the working class) are key, that’s another discussion, but the point is that production has changed, and because of the methodology of the old symbols they have become outdated.
Now we could just change the tools, add some other implements, maybe some computer parts, a pen or paint brush (a mouse and spreadsheet) etc.
The CPUSA’s new logo has a gear (how modern). Or like the image A-Non linked to, a tomahawk and a monkey-wrench. But that all has the same methodology as the hammer and sickle. In some sense it is very Marxist, to use symbolism that represents unity and production. But we need to break with that symbolism, and I don’t think that some superficial change like shiny new working implements will do the trick. I think when people see things like the CPUSA’s new logo (see left).
or something like the All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (Revolutionary)’s logo (see right).
or even something like A-Non’s image (see right below).
They will make similar connections as to the hammer and sickle. And because of the reasons discussed in this whole thread, we need a break with that.
I think Ajagbe Adewole-Ogunade’s wave idea is on the right track. I too have my own thoughts as to possible symbols to use, even if only temporarily, I’ll save those for later though. I think a discussion for a new methodology is more important now.
In our “what is Kasama?” tab it says
“One old socialist movement was famous for saying “the movement is everything the final goal is nothing.” Kasama says (by contrast) “the final goal is our start, the ways of moving there are still emerging for us.””
I think our approach to symbolism should reflect that approach.