How Our Flag Came To Be Red

THE red flag was not always the symbol
of revolutionary socialism. It was first
introduced in Paris through the Riot Law
of the 21 October 1791. A National Guard
was armed for the purpose of suppressing
any disturbances or rioting that might
occur. That Guard had to display at such
times a red flag as a signal that the author-
ities wanted the rebels to cease rioting
otherwise blood would be shed. Only
once was the red flag used in such a sense.
When the sans culottes (who were the
revolutionists of that period) became
more powerful, then, naturally, the riot
law with the red flag was abolished.

But the significance of the red flag has
entirely changed through a little incident
in 1832. [French] General Lamark, one
of the opponents of the kingdom, the
reigning monarchy, died, and the Republicans,
who had then a great
desire to fight, wished to make at his
funeral a great demonstration against
monarchy. That was on 15 June 1832.

The spirit of revolt was ripe at the time
and a great number of people followed the
funeral procession. Suddenly a Republican
horseman arrived carrying in his right
hand a red flag, which was the spark that
lit the flames of passion of the mass of the
people. Immediately a struggle began in
the streets, and for the first time the red
flag was seen on the barricades in the
hands of the rebels. From that time die red
flag became the signal of protest against
tyranny.

But the red flag had not yet become
the symbol of revolt against the capitalist
class. At the risings of the silk weavers in
Lyons in 1831 and 1834 they carried a
black flag as a sign of the hunger and need
from which they so keenly suffered. Only
in that great insurrection in France in
1848, which is known by the name of
''the February Revolution" and in which
the socialists played a great part — then
only did the red flag become the symbol
of revolutionary socialism all over the
world.

The red flag means war and no peace
with the present injustice and state of
things) The red flag is stained with the
blood of the workers! The red flag is the
symbol of activity, life and progress. The
different coloured flags of every national
The red flag means war and no peace
with the present injustice and state of
things! The red flag is stained with the
blood of the workers! The red flag is the
symbol of activity, life and progress. The
different coloured flags of every national
tyrannical Government are a parade of
the powers that oppress, or for ridicu-
lous national pride. The single colour of
the red flag means solidarity, the broth-
erhood of the human race who desire to
usher in socialism, wherein peace on earth
and goodwill to all may be possible.
Therefore, salute the red flag.

[This account of the red flag, a translation from
the Jewish Social Democrat, appeared in the
British De Leonist monthly. The Socialist, in January
1916.]