(Follow ≈Pope≈ Norm IV on twitter: @EnlightenedChao You won’t be sorry.)
“Do you have a flag?” – Eddie Izzard
Flags are weird and they make people do weird things. There. I said it.
Case in point. A nice, otherwise completely rational woman named Bree Newsome climbed a pole recently. Crazy right?
She did this in broad daylight, for absolutely no money, and all because of an ink-stained strip of cloth. Insane, I know!
There is nothing particularly special about how that flag looked. It was square, dyed blue and red with some white left over, had an ‘x’ and a handful of stars. (Bonus at the end of the article.)
What made that flag so important to Bree and beckoned her to climb that pole, what makes it so significant to hundreds of millions of Americans, are the things that have been done in the name of that flag. It is the meaning that flag has accrued like a ghoulish patina.
Strips of fabric lashed to a pole and left to face the elements, ignored for most of our lives, become sanctified touchstones through the fullness of time.
We purposefully abuse flags, placing them in beating winds and blazing sun until they are bleached and weather beaten. But threaten to deface or burn a flag and woe be unto you, poor fool, who hath awakened such vengeful spirits.
As a vexillologist and a vexillographer (he who doth study and design flags, Book of Explanations verse V-23), and as a Discordian, I looked at all the centuries-old flags in the world. I saw how people revered flags, preserved them, and pledged themselves to flags. And yeah, I got jealous.
So I decided that we Discordians needed a flag of our own. But designing it was going to be a challenge. How do you create a flag for a fundamentally chaotic and disjointed group, which would also be universally recognizable and appreciated?
At their core, flags are tools of non-lingual communication. So I searched around for a flag that communicated similar ideals to Discordianism. It was tough. How many organized movements do you know that prize discordant thought? Exactly.
Then, while watching “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”, it hit me. Dennis the peasant and his anarcho-syndicalist commune were exactly the kindred spirits for which I was searching. But did they have a flag?
Yes they did! It was so simple, so bold, so unique amongst the traditional symbolism of flags! It – was – sexy! (Second bonus at the end of the article.)
Now, how to relate it to Discordianism? I tried Golden Apples, the Sacred Chao, even pentagrams. Finally I found a solution: a nice fat Hand of Eris set it just off kilter, as any self-respecting Discordian would.
Simple, bold, reproducible, cheap to manufacture, translatable across languages and cultures, this flag can be a tool for Discordians, a symbol into which we invest ourselves, rally ourselves, and announce ourselves to the world.
Bonus #1: How to beat a secret racist in an argument.
Here’s the history of the Confederate flag. It began as the battle flag of the army of Northern Virginia, developed after confusion during the first battle of Manassas. The first national flag of the CSA, which was carried in that battle, looked a lot like the US flag. (say hi, Georgia) That CSA national flag was the one called the “Stars and Bars”, not the battle flag.
The battle flag was so popular among confederates that it then replaced the national flag. Unfortunately it was placed on a white field, which looked too much like a flag of surrender, so a red bar was added to the fly end. After the end of the war, confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, along with a group of confederate officers, established the KKK, which immediately began using the confederate battle flag as its own symbol. So, from its inception though today, the confederate flag has always, always been a tool of violence and oppression against a huge swath of Americans.
Bonus #2: Symbolism of the anarcho-syndicalist flag.
The flag combines the colors red, for socialism, and black, for anarchy. These are the two sociopolitical traditions that influenced the development of anarcho-syndicalism. The flag is one of the very few divided at an angle. This angular division is to distinguish it from the other political and state flags of the time. Horizontal colors represented the traditional royal houses and states of Europe. Vertical colors represented the revolutionary democracies inspired by the French Revolution. Now, go look at the flags of the European countries of today… I know, right?!
≈Pope≈ Norm IV is from the Reformed Discordian Brotherhood of the Universal Sacred Chao Enlightened. There isn’t a cabbage among them. Follow them on twitter: @EnlightenedChao