The USSR flag looks dominant and assertive, perfect for a protest. Which is why there are always a few people dressed in all-black clothing waving it around, feeling like heroes going against the system. They talk about the evils of capitalism while wearing fast fashion clothing and branded sneakers, and taking selfies with the iPhones their parents bought them. In reality, the use of the flag at demonstrations only shows how little they know about it and how foolish they are.
It’s extremely hypocritical – they vocally express disdain for capitalism while simultaneously enjoying all the immense luxuries that it gave them. You can’t have it both ways; almost all of the lovely consumerist things we enjoy on a daily basis and are accustomed to wouldn’t exist in a society like Stalinist Russia. Most of these far left demonstrators appear to be young adults, in the 16 to early 20s age range. which indicates to me it’s a phase that they’ll look back on and cringe later in life. Their age is relevant since they’ve most likely never had to earn their own living or pay taxes, and have been supported by their parents. Who might I add are embarrassed, sick and tired of hearing about Marxist theory from someone half their age. They also generally lack knowledge of the apathy and incompetence of bureaucrats, the people they want to put in charge of running not only their lives, but the lives of the entire population. The edginess of having radical opinions and calling each other “comrades” gets them all hopped up in a mix of excitement, a sense of belonging and of dopamine release that is so attractive to a young and naïve mind.
The profound ignorance about the history of the state they seem to love so much is downright baffling. The USSR was brutally authoritarian, the government had the power to imprison you or make you disappear even if you didn’t commit the crimes you were accused of, without a right to a fair trial. Stalin himself even hired someone to doctor all pictures of himself with Trotsky after exiling him, the late 1920s soviet equivalent to removing the pictures of your ex from your Facebook. Furthermore, the fact that they killed by some estimates approximately 13.5 million people in gulags and executions alone doesn’t help with their “revolutionary” cause either. Imagine if any government nowadays did something even remotely similar to that – these protesters would be outraged. If you asked them what they think of Guantanamo Bay, they’d likely start talking about how terrible the United States is by doing something not nearly as egregious as the government their flag represents.
The truth is that these people don’t really know what they’re waving around; they think of themselves as edgy revolutionaries, but in reality they are just part of a phase that some teenagers fall into, including me, and eventually grow out of. So many of these radical minorities in protests are either unaware or ungrateful of the quality of life that we have thanks to capitalism, the system they so wish to destroy. Furthermore, showing support or high regard for the ultra-authoritarian state that killed millions of people and committed so many crimes and abuses against its own citizens is pretty vile. Instead of using the USSR flag, they should instead use a flag from a successful state run by a far left government, like…
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Photo courtesy of Flickr user DAVID HOLT