As a boy who grew up in America since the age of 12, I have always viewed the Hammer and Sickle symbol with fear and suspicion. I can’t really put my finger on why I viewed this symbol so negatively but I did. After all, I had never taken a class on Soviet politics or on the Russian Revolution nor was I privy to any other source of knowledge that might provide me a rational justification to fear this symbol. Sometime later, as a young man in college I began to see the faults of the capitalist system and I slowly began to organically come to the conclusion that capitalism is a system that only rewards those with money, hence the word, “capital”. This means that people who are already wealthy, due to nepotism or due to favorable circumstances in life, do very well, and everyone else is left to fend for themselves.
It is only recently in the last five years, when I was in university, that I began to actually call myself a socialist and represent myself as such in my public life, but even so, I was quick to point out that I was not a communist and that I despised the Soviet style communism. Even when I became quite knowledgeable on economic models and the history of capitalism in the west since the industrial revolution; I had no idea what Soviet Communism was. It was only last week that I watched a documentary called “Empire Files: What the Russian Revolution Proved Possible” on TeleSur with Abby Martin and Brian Becker, that I learned what Russian Communism was all about. And when I did, I couldn’t believe how duped I had been for most of my politically active life.
So what was Soviet Communism about anyway? what did I discover? well, to put it shortly, the word “soviet” simply means council. The “big bad Soviets” that we were supposed to fear and loath were a bunch of grassroots peasants and soldiers and other oppressed workers banding together to demand a decent living for them and their families, and standing against the oligarchy of the Romanov Crown, this is other wise called a fight for democracy. They were what we would revolutionary groups fighting for fair wages, fair taxation, and fighting to overthrow an unelected monarchy, sound familiar?
This is when I realized the of the power of the media and the amazing ability of the human mind to be compartmentalize. America, the so called beacon of democracy, demonized an entire country of people to make sure that revolution did not spread, and to make sure the workers understood that they are surfs to the oligarchy and nothing more. To be fair, it is not the totality of the American populous that is to blame for this demonization of the Soviets; it was mostly the rich oligarchs of America and Europe who feared revolt from their own workers given how inhumanely they had been treating them all through the industrial revolution that propagated the anti-Communist narrative. But it didn’t work, worker revolutions happened all over the world including America and the those particular oligarchs lost everything.
The reason that I feared the Hammer and Sickle, and why most Americans react negatively to this symbol, is because of the Xenophobia that was bread against worker revolutions by capitalist oligarchs and their henchmen in the western media in the last 80 years. The rubber barons, oil barons, coal barons, and every other kind of baron across Europe and America wanted to make sure that the Soviet Revolution failed. I went through my entire academic degree program without ones being told the truth about what the Soviet Union was really about. All we hear about is Stalin and how bad he was, which is curious since Stalin abandoned all the principles of communism and established a corrupt oligarchy of his own where he made the Russian people work like slaves and imprisoned or killed any political opponent who stood against him. Much like what American oligarchs did to union leaders and communists party leaders in America during the early 1900s. American communist were literally hung and killed by mobs hired by wealthy industrialists. It is as if Stalin looked at American Oligarchs to learn his lessons on brutality.
In conclusion, the reason I wanted to write this piece is to clear my own head and publicize my own political journey as a person. I would wear the Hammer and Sickle on a shirt now, and proudly so. This symbol is one of worker unity, one of the powerless oppressed masses coming together to oppose the oligarchy, which as it was back then has come to manifest itself in our world once again in the form on Wall-street Bankers and CEOs of corporations who use the government as a slot machines for their own financial benefit leaving the workers of America sitting out to dry. As it was necessary for the Russian people to stand together to challenge the oligarchy in the February Revolution and the October Revolution, it has become necessary for the American people to stand in solidarity against the corporate oligarchy of today which has violated our rights and economically decimated our country.
(P.S: I hope reading this testimonial prompted you to rethink your perception of the Soviet Union and what it was meant to be before Stalin ruined everything).
Documentaries to Watch to further understand Communism and Capitalism:
- Empire Files: What the Russian Revolution Proved Possible https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAK9G8f87fw
The Empire Files: Understanding Marxism and Socialism with Richard Wolff https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yEiv1fIhyE
Empire Files: Peter Joseph & Abby Martin on Abolishing Capitalism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HwFOo5rbZA
The Empire Files: Ralph Nader & Abby Martin on the Corporate Elections https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WkLtJjONqs
A People’s History of the United States ($3.99 on Kindle)