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Red

Red is known as the color of revolution and working class. On the marches at the beginning of May, red flags are carried. In this article we discuss the history of the red flag.

Red flags have been used in Europe since the 15th century. They were raised in cities and castles under siege to indicate that there was no intention of surrender. Also pirates waved the red flag during a battle, signalling that no one in the enemy ship, once it had been captured, would be spared. The red flag was connected to revolution and the Left in the French revolution 1848. Subsequently, it gained the meaning of socialism during the Paris Commune.

Gradually, the red of the flags began to denote the blood spilled by the working class in the battle against capitalism. Red also implied resistance and the vigour to struggle for the common cause.

Red flag had another meaning in Russia before the revolution: it was a sign of disease or plague. During the revolution, the red flags confused some White Army soldiers, who misconceived of the red flags of the Bolsheviks as signalling a disease. As a result, they spared some villages. After the October revolution, the red flag with a hammer and a sickle was introduced as the official flag of Soviet Union.

Nowadays many social-democratic parties have renounced the very red flags, but red color still appears in their emblems and symbols. Following the example of Great Britain, social-democratic parties in many countries have adopted the red rose as their symbol.