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Marxist Trivia

What is the Significance of the red Flag?

Today the red flag represents the people, the workers and peasants, it was prevalent during the October revolution and the Spanish civil war. But it's origins go back a lot further than that!

The song "The Red Flag" epitomizes what it stands for (sung to the tune of "Oh Tannenbaum" (Oh Christmas Tree)

The Peoples' flag is deepest red,
it's shroaded oft' our martryed dead.
And 'ere their limbs grow stiff and cold,
their heart's blood dyed its every fold.
So raise the scarlet standard high,
beneath its shade we'll live and die.
'Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
we'll keep the red flag flying here.

Very cool, but it doesn't stop there - and we don't just meant the extra verses! The first time the red flag was used politically was in His Britannic Majesty's fleet in the 18th Century. The sailors struck for better conditions, threw a few of the more repressive officers overboard and raised the red flag to show their defiance. They won the strike and the King capitulated, but later they went back on their word about no reprisals and many of the "ringleaders" were hanged.

But the red flag even predates this, in the Carribean in the 17th century there was a serious traffic in gold and many many pirates. Amongst the most vicious were the all-female pirate ships (this is true!). When they went to raid a ship they would fly their battle flag. I'm sure everybody has heard of the "Jolly Roger" skull-and-crossbones style pirate flag, but actually their flag was blood-red and Jolly Roger is a derivation of the French "Jolie Rougier", for these pirates were Red and Beautiful!

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