Hammer and sickle

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Traditional style hammer and sickle.

The hammer and sickle (☭) are a part of communist symbolism and their usage indicates an association with communism, a communist party, or a communist state. This symbol features a hammer and a sickle overlapping each other. The two tools symbolize the urban industrial workers and the rural agricultural workers respectively, and their overlapping symbolizes the unity of the two as the working class. This emblem was conceived during the Russian Revolution. Many flags and emblems have since incorporated the symbol, with some including additional locally-relevant symbolism.

Historical usage in communism[edit]

The yellow on red version became a Soviet symbol that was also placed on the flag.
The Plough flag from 1914 and flown during the Easter Rising.

The hammer and sickle were originally a hammer on a plough, with the same meaning (unity of peasants and workers) as the better known hammer and sickle. The hammer and sickle, though in use since 1917/18, were not the official symbol until 1922, before which the original hammer and plough insignia was used by the Red Army and the Red Guard on uniforms, medals, caps, etc. In Ireland, the symbol of the plough remains in use and may have shared roots with the hammer and plough. The Starry Plough (flag) banner was originally used by the Irish Citizen Army, a socialist, Republican movement. James Connolly, co-founder of the Irish Citizen Army with Jack White, said the significance of the banner was that a free Ireland would control its own destiny from the plough to the stars. A sword is forged into the plough to symbolise the end of war with the establishment of a Socialist International. This was unveiled in 1914 and flown by the Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 Easter Rising.

Later, the hammer and sickle symbol was featured on the flag of the Soviet Union, adopted in 1923 and finalized in the 1924 Soviet Constitution, and flags of the republics of the Soviet Union after 1924. Before this, the flags of Soviet republics tended to be a plain red field, with the golden text of the name of the respective republic superimposed on it, as written in Article 6 of the 1918 Soviet Constitution.

Current usage[edit]

A tableau in a communist rally in Kerala, India showing two workers forming the hammer and sickle.

The Communist Party of China uses the hammer and sickle as the party symbol. Its flag is red with the emblem in yellow. The Communist parties of many other countries also use the hammer and sickle in this way, including the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, the Romanian Communist Party and the Lebanese Communist Party. In Laos, the hammer and sickle flag can often be seen flying side-by-side with the national flag. The same is true in Vietnam.

Two federal subjects of the post-Soviet Russian Federation use the hammer and sickle in their symbols: the Vladimir Oblast has them on its flag and the Bryansk Oblast has them on its coat of arms, which is also the central element of its flag. In addition, the Russian city of Oryol also uses the hammer and sickle on its flag.

The former Soviet (now Russian) national airline, Aeroflot, continues to use the hammer and sickle in its symbol.

Aeroflot stewardess with hammer and sickle symbol in 2013.

The separatist government of Transnistria uses (with minor modifications) the flag and the emblem of the former Moldavian SSR, which include the hammer and sickle. The flag can also be used without the hammer and sickle in some circumstances, for example on Transnistrian-issued license plates.

The Maoist group, Shining Path in Peru uses it as part of its symbol.

The Communist Party of Greece officially uses the hammer and sickle as a symbol.[1] Many other Communist parties around the world also use it, including the Communist Party of Chile, the Egyptian Communist Party, the Communist Party of Spain, the Communist Party of Denmark and the Communist Party of Norway. The Communist Party of Sweden and the Mexican Communist Party use the hammer and sickle imposed on the red star. The hammer and sickle accompanied by the yellow star is used by the Communist Refoundation Party, the main Communist party in Italy.

A hammer and a sickle are both prominently included in the Austrian coat of arms, although they are not superimposed over each other and are not intended to represent communism, rather the union of the workers and the former aristocracy (represented by a crown) within the Austrian Republic.

Variations of the symbol[edit]

The South Asian variant of the hammer and sickle.
4th International symbol with number 4 superimposed.

Many symbols having similar structures and messages to the original have been designed. For example, the Angolan flag shows a segment of a cog, crossed by a machete, and crowned with a socialist star. In the logo of the Communist Party USA, a circle is formed by a half cog and a semicircular sickle-blade. A hammer is laid directly over the sickle's handle with the hammer's head at the logo's center. The logo of the Communist Party of Turkey consists of half a cog wheel crossed by a hammer, with a star on the top.

Tools represented in other designs include: the brush, sickle, and hammer of the Workers' Party of Korea; the spade, flaming torch, and hoe used prior to 1984 by the British Labour Party (which was a socialist and not a communist party); the monkey wrench and tomahawk of the Earth First! movement; the pickaxe and rifle used in communist Albania; and the hammer and compasses of the emblem of the East German flag. The Far Eastern Republic of Russia used an anchor crossed over a spade or pickaxe, symbolising the union of the fishermen and miners. The Fourth International, founded by Trotsky, uses a hammer and sickle symbol on which the number '4' is superimposed. The hammer and sickle in the Fourth International symbol are the opposite of other hammer and sickle symbols in that the head of the hammer is on the right side and the sickle end tip on the left. The Trotskyist League for the Fifth International merges a hammer with the number '5', using the number's lower arch to form the sickle.

The Communist Party of Britain uses the hammer and dove symbol. Designed in 1988 by Mikhal Boncza, it is intended to highlight the party's connection to the peace movement. It is usually used in conjunction with the hammer and sickle, and appears on all of the CPB's publications. Some members of the CPB prefer one symbol over the other, although the party's 1994 congress reaffirmed the hammer and dove's position as the official emblem of the Party. Similarly, the Communist Party of Israel uses a dove over the hammer and sickle as its symbol. The flag of the Communist Party of Guadeloupe uses a sickle, turned to look like a majuscule 'G', to represent Guadeloupe.[2]

With differing intent, the eagle on the Austrian flag holds a golden hammer in its left talon, and a golden sickle in its right talon. The tools were not meant to be references to communism (indeed, the eagle also wears a golden crown) but, rather, were meant to represent the industrial and agricultural laborers, united with the former aristocracy, in one republican democracy.

The flag of the Black Front, founded by Otto Strasser, featured a crossed hammer and sword, symbolizing the unity of the workers and military.

The flag of Burma, from 1974–2010, featured a bushel of rice superimposed on a cogwheel.

The flag of (CCM) Chama cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution in Swahili)- currently the ruling political party of Tanzania - has a slightly different symbol with a hammer and a hoe/jembe instead of a sickle to represent the most common farm tool in Africa.

Unicode[edit]

In Unicode, the "hammer and sickle" symbol is U+262D ().

Controversy and legal status[edit]

An artistic rendering of the hammer and sickle. Image credit: Sàndor Pinczehelyi, Hammer and Sickle

In several countries in the former Eastern Bloc, there are laws that define the hammer and sickle as the symbol of a "totalitarian and criminal ideology", and the public display of the hammer and sickle and other communist symbols such as the red star is considered a criminal offence. Hungary,[3] Lithuania,[4] and Moldova (October 1, 2012 - June 4, 2013)[5] have banned the symbol along with other communist symbols. A similar law was considered in Estonia, but eventually failed in a parliamentary committee. The foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic called for an EU-wide ban on communist symbols in 2010, urging the EU "to criminalize the approval, denial or belittling of communist crimes" and stating that "the denial of such crimes should be treated the same way as the denial of the Holocaust and must be banned by law".[6] In February 2013, the Constitutional Court of Hungary declared the hammer and sickle ban as illegal, adapting a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights which had sentenced that Hungary had violated the right to freedom of expression.[7] On June 2013, the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled that the Moldovan Communist Party’s symbols – the hammer and sickle – are legal and can be used.[8] In Indonesia, the public display of communist symbols like the hammer and sickle is prohibited by decree.[9]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.kke.gr/
  2. ^ Flags of the World
  3. ^ Hungarian Criminal Code 269/B.§ (1993)
  4. ^ "Lithuanian ban on Soviet symbols". BBC News. 2008-06-17. 
  5. ^ "Moldovan Parliament Bans Communist Symbols". Radio Free Europe. 2012-07-12. 
  6. ^ EU refuses to ban denial of communist crimes — RT
  7. ^ "Hungary, hammer and sickle ban declared illegal". ANSA. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Constitutional Court rules that ‘hammer and sickle’ can be used". Allmoldova.com. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Dickie Christanto (20 October 2008). "Artists summoned over communist symbol exhibition". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 

External links[edit]