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July 12, 2009

Parsing Anarchist Imagery PG-20RG




Next Week's Anarchist Events


CrimethInc (sic) is an anarchist group that's planning their 2009 convergence in Coraopolis, PA (per Wiki). Another source advertises the Convergence as July 20-26. Here's a Convergence thread. Here's a flyer announcing that the Convergence meets Monday, July 20th, at the Northside Commons, W. North Avenue and Brighton, by the pond, noon to sundown. Here's a syllabus of the seminars and sessions planned.

I am intrigued by (and concerned about) the Anarchist movement and the upcoming G-20 meetings. I think my concern is driven by what I remember reading in school about the beginnings of WW1, sparked by (among other things) an anarchist's assassination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand. When you read political tracts from the 1895-1915 era, you'll see discussion of Anarchists, and it's amazing to me that 100 years later we're encountering forces that, if not the same, at least fly the same banner.

And so I'd like to examine the banners of Anarchy.

Parsing Anarchist Symbols


Anarchists have their own symbols and images, and I've never really paid attention until the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh was announced. The general anarchist symbols are apparently the Circle-A and the Black Flag. These symbols have as much meaning to Anarchists as Donkeys, Elephants, and Uncle Sam do to mainstream politicians. (Credit: Wiki page on Anarchist Symbolism.)

G-20 Anarchist Imagery

In the slick color poster prepared by ResistG20.org there's a few significant icons, including a string of two-color stars. They've got a black star, a red/black star, a green/black star, a purple/black, and a pink/black star.

Various schools within the anarchist movement have adopted their own flags and stars. These flags are bisected diagonally with the black half for anarchy and the other half in a color representing each school's ideas. These color templates are also extended to five-pointed stars representing the same schools of thought.

The Black Star, and a black flag, are traditional symbols of Anarchism. The red star is a symbol of socialism. Mixing the two symbolizes the co-existence of anarchist and socialist ideals within the anarcho-syndicalism movement, and to symbolize the more socialistic means of the movement leading to a more anarchistic end.


The red-and-black flag is the symbol of the anarcho-syndicalist and anarcho-communist movements. Black is the traditional color of anarchism, and red is the traditional color of socialism.


The black-and-green flag is used by green anarchists and anarcho-primitivists. It is generally taken to symbolize a vision of anarchism that focuses on the self-determination of all forms of life (animals, humans, bioregions) and not just humans, hence the green.


The black-and-purple flag is used in association with anarcha-feminism. Unlike other bisected anarchist flags, it does not necessarily represent another form of anarchism, but is used to focus on opposition to the hierarchical patterns of heterosexism, sexism, transphobia, and patriarchy.


Feminist Anarchy may also use the black-and-pink flag, although the latter is more closely associated with queer anarchists. This is somewhat equivalent to the Log Cabin Republicans.


The symbols in the poster represent Anarchy, Socialist anarchy, Green anarchy, Feminist anarchy, and Queer anarchy.

Groups Who Didn't Make The PG-20RP Poster

Anarcho-Pacifists

The black-and-white flag is used by anarcho-pacifists.


Christian Anarchists

Although Christian anarchists may also use the black-and-white flag, they are more likely to use symbols such as this one.


The Curious George Brigade of Crimethinc

The Curious George Brigade is a Queens, NY anarchist collective.


Anarcho-Capitalists

The black-and-yellow or black-and-gold flag is used by anarcho-capitalists and other market anarchists. The yellow is intended to symbolise gold, a commodity of exchange often used in marketplaces unrestricted by state intervention.


Anarchy's Big Mistake

The biggest mistake that the anarchists have made IMO regarding the G-20 is the failure to include Anarcho-Capitalists. If they had just provided even a token presence for the black-and-gold flag, they'd have Pittsburgh marching with them; it's a well-known phenomenon that Pittsburgh can't resist following anything black-and-gold.

The Uninvited

It does not make me feel warm that the Anarchist sub-groups they've excluded are the Pacifists, Capitalists (Go John Galt!), and the Christians.

Propaganda of the Deed

Propaganda by the deed , from the French propagande par le fait is a Anarchist concept that promotes physical violence against political enemies as a way of inspiring the masses and catalyzing revolution.

Propaganda of the deed may take many forms, but in many cases utilizes violence against people seen as threats to the working class. It also refers to the use of symbolic acts of violence against structural targets, in which the act is intended to evoke a broader meaning. This imagery from the poster of people planning action on the target is a depiction of propaganda of the deed.

I am very concerned about this image from the poster, which I interpret as a call to firebomb police cars.


The two primary images in the poster, which are the street crowd around a fire, and the hoodie crowd marching in ranks, are very violent. I hope they embrace inefficiency and fail miserably.


The four hooded figures in a line is a reference to dressing for a "black bloc", which is an Anarchist technique developed since the 1990's. A Black Bloc is a technique for looting, rioting, and street fighting, with the intent of permitting perpetrators to avoid arrest and/or conviction through the inability to differentiate among protesters. The imagery on the poster is a call for preparation for black bloc activities. (Edit)


Some Recent Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project (PG-20RP) Updates





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