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<html>
<HEAD>

<TITLE> Appendix - The Symbols of Anarchy </TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<H1>Appendix - The Symbols of Anarchy</H1>
<p><h2>
<a href="append2.html#black">1 What is the history of the Black Flag?</a><br>
<a href="append2.html#redblack">2 Why the red-and-black flag?</a><br>
<a href="append2.html#circledA">3 Where does the circled A come from?</a><br>
</h2><p>
<h3>Introduction</h3>
<P>
Anarchism has always stood deliberately for a broad, and at times 
vague, political platform. The reasoning is sound; blueprints create 
rigid dogma and stifle the creative spirit of revolt. Along the same 
lines and resulting in the same problems, Anarchists have rejected the 
"disciplined" leadership that is found in many other political groupings 
on the Left. The reasoning for this is also sound; leadership based on 
authority is inherently hierarchical. It seems to follow logically that 
since Anarchists have shied away from anything static, that they would 
also shy away from the importance of symbols and icons.
<P>
While this is may be an explanation of why the origination of Anarchist 
symbols is elusive and inconclusive, the fact is, Anarchists have used 
symbolism in their revolt against the State and Capital, not only the 
black flag, but also the circled-A and the red-and-black flag. Circled-As 
are spray-painted on walls and under bridges all over the world; punks 
display them on their jackets and scrawl them into half-dried cement. 
Black and red-and-black flags were resurrected in Russia and eastern
Europe after the fall of state socialism and continue to fly in most 
parts of the world.
<P>
Therefore, the anarchist movement has various symbols associated with 
it. The most famous of these are the circled-A, the black flag and the 
red-and-black flag. This appendix tries to indicate the history of 
these symbols. Ironically enough, the one of the original anarchist
symbols was the <b>red</b> flag (indeed, as anarchist historians Nicolas
Walter and Heiner Becker note, <i>"Kropotkin always preferred the red
flag"</i> [Peter Kropotkin, <b>Act for Yourselves</b>, p. 128]). This is 
unsurprising as anarchism is a form of socialism and came out 
of the general socialist and labour movements. Common roots would
imply common imaginary. However, as mainstream socialism developed 
in the nineteenth century into either reformist social democracy 
or the state socialism of the revolutionary Marxists, anarchists 
developed their own images of revolt, starting with the Black Flag.
<P>
In this appendix we present a short history of the more famous
symbols, namely the Black and the Red-and-Black Flags as well
as the circled a. We would like to point out that this appendix is 
based on Jason Wehling's 1995 essay <b>Anarchism and the History of 
the Black Flag</b>. Needless to say, this appendix does not cover
all anarchists symbols. For example, recently the red-and-black 
flag has become complemented by the green-and-black flag of 
eco-anarchism. Other popular symbols include the IWW inspired
"Wildcat," the Black Rose and the ironic "little black bomb" 
(among others). However, we concentrate here on the three most 
famous ones.
<P>
<a name="black"><h3>1	What is the history of the Black Flag?</h3>
<P>
There are ample accounts of the use of black flags by anarchists. 
Probably the most famous, was Nestor Makhno's partisans during the Russia 
Revolution. Under the black banner, his army routed a dozen armies and 
kept a large portion of the Ukraine free from concentrated power for a 
good couple years (see Peter Arshinov's <b>History of the Makhnovist
Movement</b> for details of this important movement). On the black flag
was embroidered <i>"Liberty or Death"</i> and <i>"The Land to the Peasant, The
Factories to the Workers."</i> [Peter Marshall, <b>Demanding the Impossible</b>,
p. 475] In the 1910s, Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican revolutionary, 
used a black flag with a skull & crossbones & the Virgin on it -- it 
also had <i>"Land & Liberty"</i> as a slogan (<i>"Tierra y Libertad"</i>). In 1925, 
the Japanese anarchists formed the <b>Black Youth League</b> and, in 1945, 
when the anarchist federation reformed, their journal was named <b>Kurohata</b> 
(<b>Black Flag</b>) [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 525-6]. More recently,  Parisian students 
carried black (and red) flags during the massive General Strike of 1968 
as well as at the America <b>Students for a Democratic Society</b> national 
convention of the same year. At about the same time, the British based 
magazine <b>Black Flag</b> was started and is  still going strong. Today, 
if you go to any sizeable demonstration you  will usually see the 
Black Flag raised by the anarchists present.
<P>
But the anarchists' black flag originated much earlier than this. The 
first account is actually unknown. It seems that this credit is reserved 
for Louise Michel, famous participant in the Paris Commune of 1871. 
According to Anarchist historian George Woodcock, Michel flew the black 
flag on March 9, 1883, during demonstration of the unemployed in Paris, 
France. With 500 strong, Michel at the lead and shouting <i>"Bread, work, or 
lead!"</i>, they pillaged three baker's shops before being arrested by the 
police [George Woodcock, <b>Anarchism</b>, pp. 251]. However, anarchists
had been using red-and-black flags a number of years previously (see
<a href="append2.html#redblack">next section</a>) so Michel's use of the colour black was not totally
without precedence.
<P>
Not long after, the black symbol made it's way to America. Paul Avrich 
reports that on November 27, 1884, the black flag was displayed in 
Chicago at an Anarchist demonstration. According to Avrich, August Spies, 
one of the famous Haymarket martyrs, <i>"noted that this was the first 
occasion on which [the black flag] had been unfurled on American soil."</i> 
[Paul Avrich, <b>The Haymarket Tragedy</b>, pp. 144-145]
<P>
On a more dreary note, February 13, 1921 was the date that marked the end 
of black flags in Soviet Russia. On that day, Peter Kropotkin's funeral 
took place in Moscow. Masses of people whose march stretched for miles, 
carried black banners that read, <i>"Where there is authority there is no 
freedom."</i> [Paul Avrich, <b>The Anarchists in the Russian Revolution</b>, p. 26] 
It seems that black flags didn't appear in Russia until the founding of 
the <b>Chernoe Zhania</b> (<i>"black banner"</i>) movement in 1905. Only two weeks 
after Kropotkin's funeral march, the Kronstadt rebellion broke out and 
anarchism was erased from Soviet Russia for good.
<P>
While the events above are fairly well known, as has been related, the 
exact origin of the black flag is not. What is known is that a large 
number of Anarchist groups in the early 1880s adopted titles associated 
with black. In July of 1881, the Black International was founded in London. 
This was an attempt to reorganise the Anarchist wing of recently dissolved 
First International [George Woodcock, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 212-4]. In October 1881, 
a meeting in Chicago lead to the <b>International Working People's Association</b> 
being formed in North America. This organisation, also known as the <b>Black 
International</b>, affiliated to the London organisation. [Clifford Harper,
<b>Anarchy: A Graphic Guide</b>, p. 76, Woodcock, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 393] These two 
conferences are immediately followed by Michel's demonstration (1883) and 
the black flags in Chicago (1884). 
<P>
Further solidifying this period (circa early 1880s) as the birth of the 
symbol is the name of a short lived French Anarchist publication: <i>"Le 
Drapeau Noir"</i> (<i>The Black Flag</i>). According to Roderick Kedward, this 
Anarchist paper existed for a few years dating sometime before October 
1882, when a bomb was thrown into a cafe in Lyons [<b>The Anarchists: the 
men who shocked an era</b> p. 35]. Backing up this theory, Avrich states 
that in 1884, the  black flag <i>"was the new anarchist emblem"</i> [Paul 
Avrich, <b>The Haymarket Tragedy</b>, p. 144]. In agreement, Murray Bookchin 
reports that <i>"in later years, the Anarchists were to adopt the black 
flag"</i> when speaking of the Spanish Anarchist movement in June, 1870 
[Murray Bookchin, <b>The Spanish Anarchists</b>, p. 57]. At that time, 
anarchists widely used the red flag. It appears obvious (though 
not conclusive) that this is the period that the black flag bonded 
with Anarchism.
<p>
However, use of the red flag did not instantly 
die out. Thus we find Kropotkin writing <b>Words of a Rebel</b> (published
in 1885, but written between 1880 and 1882) of  <i>"anarchist groups . . . 
rais[ing] the red flag of revolution."</i> As Woodcock notes, the <i>"black
flag was not universally accepted by anarchists at this time. Many,
like Kropotkin, still thought of themselves as socialists and of the
red flag as theirs also."</i> [<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, p. 75, p. 225] In 
addition, we find the Chicago anarchists using both black and red
flags all through the 1880s. Similarly, we find Louise Michel stating:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"How many wrathful people, young people, will be with us
when the red and black banners wave in the wind of anger!
What a tidal wave it will be when the red and black banners
rise around the old wreck [of capitalist society]!
<p>
"The red banner, which has always stood for liberty, frightens
the executioners because it is so red with our blood. The
black flag, with layers of blood upon it from those who
wanted to live by working or die by fighting, frightens
those who want to live off the work of others. Those red
and black banners wave over us mourning our dead and wave
over our hopes for the dawn that is breaking."</i> [<b>The Red
Virgin: Memoirs of Louise Michel</b>, pp. 193-4]
</blockquote><p>
French Anarchists carried three red flags at the funeral
of Louise Michel's mother in 1885 as well as at her own
funeral in January 1905. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 183 and p. 201]
Therefore, for a considerable period of time anarchists
used both black and red flags as their symbol.
<P>
The general drift away from the red flag towards the black must 
be placed in the historical context. During the later part of the 
1870s and in the 1880s the socialist movement was changing. Marxist
social democracy was being the dominant socialist trend, with 
libertarian socialism going into decline in many areas. Thus 
the red flag was increasingly associated with the authoritarian
and statist (and increasingly reformist) side of the socialist 
movement. In order to distinguish themselves from other socialists, 
the use of the black flag makes perfect sense. Not only was it an 
accepted symbol of working class revolt, it shared the same origins 
in the 1831 Lyons revolt [Bookchin, <b>The Third Revolution</b>, vol. 2,
p. 65]. After the Russian Revolution and its slide into dictatorship
(first under Lenin, then Stalin) anarchist use of the red flag
decreased as it no longer <i>"stood for liberty"</i> and was associated
with the Communist Parties or, at best, bureaucratic, reformist
and authoritarian social democracy. Anarchists would still use
red in their flags, but only when combined with black (see 
<a href="append2.html#redblack">next section</a>). In this 
way they would not associate themselves with the tyranny of the USSR.
<P>
It seems that figuring out when the connection was made is easier than 
finding out why, exactly, black was chosen. The Chicago <i>"Alarm"</i>, which is 
right from the horses mouth, stated that the black flag is <i>"the fearful symbol of hunger. misery and death"</i> [Paul Avrich, <b>The Haymarket Tragedy</b>, 
p. 144]. Bookchin asserts that the black flag is the <i>"symbol of the 
workers misery and as an expression of their anger and bitterness."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 57]. Historian Bruce C. Nelson also notes that the Black
Flag was considered <i>"the emblem of hunger"</i> when it was unfurled in
Chicago in 1884. [<b>Beyond the Martyrs: A Social History of Chicago's
Anarchists</b>, p. 141, p. 150] Louise Michel argued that the <i>"black flag
is the flag of strikes and the flag of those who are hungry."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 168]
<P>
Along these lines, Albert Meltzer maintains that the association between 
the black flag and working class revolt <i>"originated in Rheims [France] in 
1831 ('Work or Death') in an unemployed demonstration."</i> [Albert Meltzer, 
<b>The Anarcho-Quiz Book</b>, p. 49] In fact he goes on to assert that it 
was Michel's action in 1883 that solidified the association. The links
from revolts in France to anarchism are even stronger. As Murray Bookchin 
records, <i>"[i]n 1831, the silk-weaving artisans. . . rose in armed 
conflict to gain a better <b>tarif</b>, or contract, from the merchants. 
For a brief period they actually took control of the city, under
red and black flags -- which made their insurrection a memorable
event in the history of revolutionary symbols. Their use of the
word <b>mutuelisme</b> to denote the associative disposition of society
that they preferred made their insurrection a memorable event in
the history of anarchist thought as well, since Proudhon appears
to have picked up the word from them during his brief stay in the
city in 1843-4."</i> [<b>The Third Revolution</b>, vol. 2, p. 157]
<P>
Kropotkin himself states that its use continued in the French labour
movement after this uprising. He notes that the Paris Workers <i>"raised 
in June [1848] their black flag of 'Bread or Labour'"</i> [<b>Act for
Yourselves</b>, p. 100] 
<P>
The use of the black flag by anarchists, therefore, is an expression 
of their roots and activity in the labour movement in Europe, 
particularly in France. The anarchist adoption of the Black Flag 
by the anarchist movement in the 1880s reflects its use as <i>"the 
traditional symbol of hunger, poverty and despair"</i> and that it was 
<i>"raised during popular risings in Europe as a sign of no surrender 
and no quarter."</i> [Walter and Becker, <b>Act for Yourselves</b>, p. 128]
<P>
This is unsurprising given the nature of anarchist politics. Just 
as anarchists base their ideas on actual working class practice,
they would also base their symbols on those created by the practice.
For example, Proudhon as well as taking the term <i>"mutualism"</i> from
radical workers also argued that co-operative <i>"labour associations"</i>
had <i>"spontaneously, without prompting and without capital been
formed in Paris and in Lyon. . . the proof of it [mutualism, the
organisation of credit and labour]. . . lies in current practice,
revolutionary practice."</i> He considered his ideas, in other words,
to be an expression of working class self-activity. [<b>No Gods, No
Masters</b>, vol. 1, pp. 59-60] Indeed, according to K. Steven Vincent,
there was <i>"close similarity between the associational ideal of 
Proudhon . . . and the program of the Lyon Mutualists"</i> and that 
there was <i>"a remarkable convergence [between the ideas], and 
it is likely that Proudhon was able to articulate his positive
program more coherently because of the example of the silk 
workers of Lyon. The socialist ideal that he championed was
already being realised, to a certain extent, by such workers."</i>
[<b>Piere-Joseph Proudhon and the Rise of French Republican 
Socialism</b>, p. 164] Other anarchists have made similar
arguments concerning anarchism being the expression of 
tendencies within society and working class struggle (for 
Kropotkin see <a href="secJ5.html">section J.5</a>) and so the using of a traditional
workers' symbol would be a natural expression of this aspect
of anarchism.
<P>
Similarly, perhaps it is Louise Michel's comment that the Black
Flag was the <i>"flag of strikes"</i> which could explain the naming
of the <b>Black International</b> founded in 1881 (and so the 
increasing use of the Black Flag in anarchist circles in the
early 1880s). Around the time of its founding congress 
Kropotkin was formulating the idea that this organisation 
would be a <i>"Strikers' International"</i> (<b>Internationale
Greviste</b>) -- it would be <i>"an organisation of resistance, of
strikes."</i> [Kropotkin, quoted by Martin A. Miller, <b>Kropotkin</b>,
p. 147] In December 1881 he discussed the revival of the
International Workers Association as an <b><i>Strikers' 
International</b></i>
for to <i>"be able to make the revolution, the mass of workers
will have to organise themselves. Resistance and strikes are
excellent methods of organisation for doing this."</i> He stressed
that the <i>"strike develops the sentiment of solidarity"</i> and
argued that the First International <i>"was born of strikes;
it was fundamentally a strikers' organisation."</i> [quoted by
Caroline Cahm, <b>Kropotkin and the Rise of Revolutionary
Anarchism, 1872-1886</b>, p. 255 and p. 256] A <i>"Strikers
International"</i> would need the strikers flag and so,
perhaps, the <b>Black International</b> got its name.
<p>
While the idea of the <i>"Strikers' International"</i> was, like the
<b>Black International</b> itself, somewhat stillborn, anarchists
did encourage and support strikes during this period. It 
seems possible, although not totally proven, that the Black 
International and use of the Black Flag came about, in part, 
because of Kropotkin's ideas and articles. This, of course,
fits perfectly with the use of the Black Flag as a symbol
of workers' resistance by anarchism, a political expression 
of that resistance.
<p>
But there are other possibilities.
<P>
Black is a very powerful colour, or anti-colour as it were. The 1880s 
were a time of extreme anarchist activity. The Black International saw 
the introduction of <i>"propaganda by the deed"</i> as an anarchist 
platform. 
<P>
Historically black has been associated with blood -- dried 
blood specifically -- like the red flag (as Louise Michel
put it, in 1871 <i>"Lyon, Marseille, Narbonne, all had
their own Communes, and like ours [in Paris], theirs
too were drowned in the blood of revolutionaries. That
is why our flags are red. Why our red banners so terribly
frightening to those persons who have caused them to be 
stained that colour?"</i> [Louise Michel, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 65]).
So while it is tied to working class rebellion, it was 
also a symbol of the nihilism of the period (a nihilism 
generated by the mass slaughter of Communards by the 
French ruling class after the fall of the Paris Commune 
of 1871).
<p>
It is this slaughter of the Communards which may also point to
the use of the Black Flag by anarchists. Black <i>"is the colour of 
mourning [at least in Western cultures], it symbolises our mourning 
for dead comrades, those whose lives were taken by war, on the
battlefield (between states) or in the streets and on the
picket lines (between classes)."</i> [Chico, <i>"letters"</i>, <b>Freedom</b>,
vol. 48, No. 12, p. 10] Given the 25 000 dead in the Commune,
many of them anarchists and libertarian socialists, the use of
the Black Flag by anarchists after this event would make sense.
Sandino, the Nicaraguan libertarian socialist (whose use of the
red-and-black colours we discuss in the <a href="append2.html#redblack">
next section</a>) also 
said that black stood for mourning (<i>"Red for liberty; black
for mourning; and the skull for a struggle to the death"</i> 
[Donald C. Hodges, <b>Sandino's Communism</b>, p. 24]).
<P>
There is a possible philosophical rationale behind the use 
the colour black. Another reason why anarchists turned to 
the black flag could be because of its nature as a sign of 
<i>"negation"</i>. Many of the writers on the Black Flag have 
mentioned this aspect, for example Howard J. Ehrlich 
argues that black <i>"is a shade of negation. The black
flag is the negation of all flags."</i> [<b>Reinventing Anarchy,
Again</b>, p. 31] As a symbol of negation, the black flag 
fits nicely in with some of Bakunin's ideas -- particularly
his ideas on progress. Being influenced by Hegel, Bakunin 
accepted Hegel's dialectical method but always stressed 
that the <b>negative</b> side was motive force within it (see 
Robert M. Culter's introduction to <b>The Basic Bakunin</b> for 
details). Thus he defines progress as the negation of the 
initial position (for example, in <b>God and the State</b>, he 
argues that <i>"[e]very development . . . implies the negation 
of its point of departure"</i> [p. 48]). What better sign to 
signify the anarchist movement than one which is the 
negation of all other flags, this negation signifying 
the movement into a higher form of social life? Thus the
black flag could symbolise the negation of existing society,
of all existing states, and so paves the way for a new
society, a free one. However, whether this was a factor 
in the adoption of the black flag or just a coincidence 
we cannot tell at this moment. 
<P>
There is also an interesting connection between the black flag and 
pirates. There is an unconfirmed report that Louise Michel, while lead 
the women's battalion during the Paris Commune of 1871, may have flown 
the skull and crossbones. But the association may go further.
<P>
Pirates were seen as rebels, as free spirits, and often ruthless killers. 
While pirates varied a great deal, many had an elected Captain of the 
pirate ship. In some cases the captain wasn't even male, which was very 
unusual for the time. He or she was "subject to instant recall", and life 
on board a pirate ship was certainly more democratic than life on board 
ships of the British, American or French Navies -- let alone a merchant 
ship.
<P>
For pirates, the black flag was a symbol of death; the give-away being a 
skull and bones on black. A sign equivalent with "surrender or die!" It 
was intended to scare their victims into submitting without a fight. It 
operated in much the same way as Ghengis Khan's armies.
<P>
Many others also adopted the black flag as a sign of "surrender or die!". 
A Confederate officer named Quantrill in during the American Civil War 
fought under the black flag. He was known as unwilling to show mercy to 
his opponents and he did not expect any mercy in return. Also, General 
Santa Anna of Mexico was a notorious flyer of the black flag. He even 
flew them at the Alamo. Accompanying the black banner, he had his buglers 
play a call named "The Deguello," which was a call that meant "no quarter 
will be given" (Take No Prisoners). This use of the black flag was
echoed by the America anarchists of the <b>Black International</b>. While
it <i>"was interpreted in anarchist circles as the symbol of death, hunger 
and misery"</i> it was <i>"also said to be the 'emblem of retribution'"</i> and in
a labour procession in Cincinnati in January 1885, <i>"it was further 
acknowledged to be the banner of working-class intransigence, as
demonstrated by the words 'No Quarter' inscribed on it."</i> [Donald C. 
Hodges, <b>Sandino's Communism</b>, p. 21 -- see also Avrich, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 82]
<P>
While Khan, Quantrill and General Santa Anna are not connected to 
anarchism in the slightest -- pirates, on the other hand, are more 
complicated. They were seen as rebels. Rebels without a state, owing 
allegiance to no code of law except whatever makeshift rules they 
improvised amongst themselves. Certainly pirates were not consciously 
anarchist, and often acted no better than barbarians. But what is 
important is how they were seen. Their symbol was the embodiment of 
rebellion and the spirit of lawlessness and rebellion. They were hated 
by the ruling class. 
<P>
This may have been enough for the starving and unemployed to pick up the 
black flag in revolt. In fact, one could quickly get a hold of a piece of 
red or black cloth in a riot. Getting hold of the material was easy. 
Painting a complicated symbol on it took time. So an improvised rebel 
flag raised in a riot was likely to be of just one colour. Hence it 
follows nicely that the black flag flew without the skull and bones 
because it was necessarily make-shift for a riot. 
<P>
To this question of the black flag, Howard Ehrlich has a great passage in 
his book <b>Reinventing Anarchy, Again</b>. It is worth quoting at length:
<P><blockquote>
<i>"Why is our flag black? Black is a shade of negation. The black flag is 
the negation of all flags. It is a negation of nationhood which puts the 
human race against itself and denies the unity of all humankind. Black is 
a mood of anger and outrage at all the hideous crimes against humanity 
perpetrated in the name of allegiance to one state or another. It is 
anger and outrage at the insult to human intelligence implied in the 
pretences, hypocrisies, and cheap chicaneries of governments . . . 
Black is also a colour of mourning; the black flag which cancels out the 
nation also mourns its victims the countless millions murdered in wars, 
external and internal, to the greater glory and stability of some bloody 
state. It mourns for those whose labour is robbed (taxed) to pay for the 
slaughter and oppression of other human beings. It mourns not only the 
death of the body but the crippling of the spirit under authoritarian and 
hierarchic systems; it mourns the millions of brain cells blacked out 
with never a chance to light up the world. It is a colour of inconsolable 
grief.
<P>
"But black is also beautiful. It is a colour of determination, of resolve, 
of strength, a colour by which all others are clarified and defined. 
Black is the mysterious surrounding of germination, of fertility, the 
breeding ground of new life which always evolves, renews, refreshes, and 
reproduces itself in darkness. The seed hidden in the earth, the strange 
journey of the sperm, the secret growth of the embryo in the womb all 
these the blackness surrounds and protects.
<P>
"So black is negation, is anger, is outrage, is mourning, is beauty, is 
hope, is the fostering and sheltering of new forms of human life and 
relationship on and with this earth. The black flag means all these 
things. We are proud to carry it, sorry we have to, and look forward to 
the day when such a symbol will no longer be necessary."</i> [<b>Reinventing
Anarchy, Again</b>, pp. 31-2]
</blockquote><P>
<a name="redblack"><h3>2 Why the red-and-black flag?</h3>
<P>
The red-and-black flag has been associated with anarchism for some time.
Murray Bookchin places the creation of this flag in Spain:
<P><blockquote>
<i>"The presence of black flags together with red ones became a feature of
Anarchist demonstrations throughout Europe and the Americas. With the
establishment of the CNT [in 1910], a single flag on which black and 
red were separated diagonally, was adopted and used mainly in Spain."</i> 
[<b>The Spanish Anarchists</b>, p. 57]
</blockquote><P>
However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the red-and-black
flag spread across to other countries, particularly those with strong
links to Spain (such as other Latin countries). For example, during the 
<i>"Two Red Years"</i> in Italy which culminated in the factory occupations of
1920 (see <a href="secA5.html#seca55">section A.5.5</a>) the red-and-black flag was raised by workers 
in revolt [Gwyn A. Williams, <b>Proletarian Order</b>, p. 241] Similarly, 
Augusto Sandino, the radical Nicaraguan national liberation fighter 
was so inspired by the example of the Mexican anarcho-syndicalists
during the Mexican revolution that he based his movement's flag on their red-and-black ones (the Sandinista's flag is divided horizontally, 
rather than diagonally). As historian Donald C. Hodges notes, Sandino's
<i>"red and black flag had an anarcho-syndicalist origin, having been
introduced into Mexico by Spanish immigrants."</i> Unsurprisingly, his
flag was considered a <i>"workers' flag symbolising their struggle for
liberation."</i> (Hodges refers to Sandino's <i>"peculiar brand of 
anarcho-communism"</i> suggesting that his appropriation of the flag
indicated a strong libertarian theme to his politics). [<b>Intellectual
Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution</b>, p. 49, p. 137, p. 19]
<P>
In the English speaking world, the use of the red-and-black flag by
anarchists seems to spring from the world-wide publicity generated
by the Spanish Revolution and Civil War in 1936. With CNT-FAI related
information spreading across the world, the familiarity of the 
CNT inspired red-and-black flag also spread until it became a 
common anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist symbol in all countries.
<P>
For some, the red-and-black flag is associated with anarcho-syndicalism
more than anarchism. As Albert Meltzer puts it, <i>"[t]he flag of the
labour movement (not necessarily only of socialism) is red. The
CNT of Spain originated the red-and-black of anarchosyndicalism
(anarchism plus the labour movement)."</i> [<b>Anarcho-Quiz Book</b>, p. 50]
Donald C. Hodges makes a similar point, when he states that <i>"[o]n 
the insignia of the Mexico's House of the World Worker [the Mexican
anarcho-syndicalist union], the red band stood for the economic
struggle of workers against the proprietary classes, and the
black for their insurrectionary struggle."</i> [<b>Sandino's Communism</b>,
p. 22]
<P>
George Woodcock also stresses the Spanish origin of the flag:
<P><blockquote>
<i>"The anarcho-syndicalist flag in Spain was black and red, 
divided diagonally. In the days of the [First] International 
the anarchists, like other socialist sects, carried the red
flag, but later they tended to substitute for it the black 
flag. The black-and-red flag symbolised an attempt to unite 
the spirit of later anarchism with the mass appeal of the 
International."</i> [<b>Anarchism</b>, p. 325f]
</blockquote>
<P>
However, there are earlier recorded uses of the red-and-black
flag, suggesting it was, perhaps, rediscovered by the Spanish 
Anarchists rather than invented by them. In April, 1877, 26 
anarchists <i>"entered the small commune of Letino [Italy], 
prominently displaying the red and black anarchist flag"</i> 
in a failed attempt to create a revolution. [T. R. 
Ravindranathan, <b>Bakunin and the Italians</b>, p. 228]
George Woodcock records the same event and the same flag
being used [<b>Anarchism</b>, p. 285]. There is also a report of 
the red-and-black flag being used by anarchists a few 
years later in Mexico. At an anarchist protest meeting on
December 14th, 1879, at Columbus Park in Mexico City
<i>"[s]ome five thousand persons gathered replete with
numerous red-and-black flags, some of which bore the
inscription 'La Social, Liga International del Jura.'
A large black banner bearing the inscription 'La Social,
Gran Liga International' covered the front of the speaker's
platform."</i> [John M. Hart, <b>Anarchism and the Mexican
Working Class, 1860-1931</b>, p. 58] 
<p>
The links between the Mexican and European anarchist 
movements was strong. As historian John M. Hart notes, 
the <i>"nineteenth-century Mexican urban labour-movement 
maintained direct contact with the Jura branch of the 
. . . European-based First International Workingmen's 
Association and at one stage openly affiliated with it."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 17] Therefore, it is not surprising we
find movements in Mexico and Italy using the same flags.
Both were in the same anti-authoritarian International
as the Jura federation and had close links with it.
<p>
Both the Italian and Mexican anarchist movements were
involved in the First International and its anti-authoritarian
off-spring. Both, like the Jura Federation in Switzerland, 
were heavily involved in union organising and strikes. Given
the clear links and similarities between the collectivist
anarchism of the First International (the most famous advocate
of which was Bakunin) and anarcho-syndicalism, it is not
surprising that they used similar symbols. As Kropotkin
argued, <i>"Syndicalism is nothing other than the rebirth of
the International -- federalist, worker, Latin."</i> [quoted
by Martin A. Miller, <b>Kropotkin</b>, p. 176] So a rebirth of
symbols would not be a co-incidence.
<p>
Two other factors suggest that the combination of red and
black flags was a logical development. Given that the black 
*and* red flags were associated with the Lyon's uprising of 
1831, perhaps the development of the red-and-black flag is not 
too unusual. Similarly, given that the Black Flag was the 
<i>"flag of strikes"</i> (to quote Louise Michel -- see 
<a href="append2.html#black">last section</a>) 
it use with the red flag of the labour movement seems a
natural development for a movement with anarchism and
anarcho-syndicalism which bases itself on direct action
and the importance of strikes in the class struggle.
<p>
However, in spite of these uses of the red-and-black flag in 
the late 1870s, it seems to have fallen into disuse and it was 
only with the founding of the CNT over 30 years later in Spain 
that it was used again on a wide scale. 
<P>
Over time association with anarcho-syndicalism has become less 
noted, with many non-syndicalist anarchists happy to use the 
red-and-black flag (many anarcho-communists use the red-and-black 
flag, for example). It would be a good generalisation to state that 
social anarchists are more inclined to use the red-and-black flag
than individualist anarchists are social anarchists are usually
more willing to align themselves with the wider socialist and
labour movements than individualists (in modern times at least).
<P>
Thus the red-and-black flag comes from the experience of anarchists 
in the labour movement and is particularly associated with 
anarcho-syndicalism. The black represents libertarian ideas and 
strikes (i.e. direct action), the red represents the labour movement. 
However, it has become a standard anarchist symbol as the years have 
went by, with the black still representing anarchy and the red 
social co-operation or solidarity. Thus the red-and-black flag 
more than any one symbol symbolises the aim of anarchism (<i>"Liberty 
of the individual and social co-operation of the whole community"</i> 
[Peter Kropotkin, <b>Act for Yourselves</b>, p. 102]) as well as its 
means (<i>"[t]o make the revolution, the mass of workers will
have to organise themselves. Resistance and the strike are
excellent means of organisation for doing this"</i> and <i>"the
strike develops the sentiment of solidarity."</i> [Peter
Kropotkin, quoted by Caroline Cahm, <b>Kropotkin and the 
Rise of Revolutionary Anarchism: 1872-1186</b>, p. 255 and
p. 256]).
<P>
<a name="circledA"><h3>3 Where does the circled-A come from?</h3>
<P>
The circled-A is even more famous than the Black and Red-and-Black flags
as an anarchist symbol (probably because it lends itself so well to
graffiti). According to Peter Marshall the <i>"circled-A"</i> represents 
Proudhon's maxim <i>"Anarchy is Order."</i> [<b>Demanding the Impossible</b> 
p. 558] Peter Peterson also adds that the circle is <i>"a symbol of
unity and determination"</i> which <i>"lends support to the off-proclaimed
idea of international anarchist solidarity."</i> [<i>"Flag, Torch, and Fist:
The Symbols of Anarchism"</i>, <b>Freedom</b>, vol. 48, No. 11, pp. 8]
<P>
However, the origin of the "circled-A" as an anarchist symbol is less clear. 
Many think that it started in the 1970s punk movement, but it goes back to 
a much earlier period. According to Peter Marshall, <i>"[i]n 1964 a French 
group, <b>Jeunesse Libertaire</b>, gave new impetus to Proudhon's slogan 
'Anarchy is Order' by creating the circled-A a symbol which quickly 
proliferated throughout the world."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 445] This is not the
earliest sighting of this symbol. On November 25 1956, at its foundation 
in Brussels, the <b>Alliance Ouvriere Anarchiste</b> (AOA) adopted this symbol. 
Going even further, a BBC documentary on the Spanish Civil War shows 
an anarchist militia member with a "circled-A" clearly on the back of 
his helmet. Other than this, there is little know about the "circled-A"s 
origin.
<P>
Today the circled-A is one of the most successful images in the whole
field of political symbolising. Its <i>"incredible simplicity and directness
led [it] to become the accepted symbol of the restrengthened anarchist
movement after the revolt of 1968"</i> particularly as in many, if not most, 
of the world's languages the word for anarchy begins with the letter
A. [Peter Peterson, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 8]
<P>