Friday, 17 August 2012

The Hammer & Sickle

It's an odd thing, the hammer and sickle. It seems to evoke a strong visceral reaction whenever we see it. I was raised in the anti-communist west, just after the Vietnam War and on through the Cold War. The Russkies were the enemy. They were going to launch the nukes first. The threat even made it into games I played. In Theatre Europe the Warsaw Pact had more units in play, but were poorly trained. Thus, the ultimate challenge was to play as NATO and hold off the overwhelming commies.

But now? So I take the demonising out of the equation and find out more about these people. I get it. I understand that it's about the solidarity of the proletariat and the peasantry, about remembering who wields the tools that feed us all and provide goods for us all and ensuring that they aren't exploited.

My shirt came from somewhere. My car came from somewhere. People made those things in a factory. My lunch was grown somewhere. My breakfast was grown somewhere. People worked on those farms.

Our supply chains are so long now that we've lost sight of these facts. Even with the prevalence of farmer's markets it's still easy to shop there and forget the workers.

For me, I can't ever forget the hammer. I'm in manufacturing. I hear the hammers striking all day long. We need the hammers. Thankfully my hammers produce something useful for society.

Whatever your instinctive reaction to the hammer and sickle, take a moment to think about it in all its idealism. Forget the evils of failed communist states just long enough to remember that in our daily lives we are supported by the masses of invisible workers who wield the hammer and the sickle all day long. We mustn't forget the evils entirely, of course, because remembering them will help us avoid them. But always remember the people who wield the hammer and sickle.
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