Believe it or not, the word comes from the Sanskrit svastika, and the nearest translation would be ‘conducive to well-being’. The swastika is an ancient emblem, taking the form of an even-length cross, with arms bent at right-angles, clockwise or indeed anti-clockwise.
It was a powerful symbol of prosperity and good fortune, used in the old Mesopotamia. It appears in early Christian and Byzantine art in both South and Central America, as well as among the Hindus and Buddhists in India.
In 1910 or thereabouts, the German poet von List made a proposal which, when accepted and expedited, shook the world. List suggested that the swastika, or ‘hooked cross’ (Hakenkreus) be made a symbol for all anti-Semitic organisations. He mistakenly imagined that the hooked cross was Teutonic in origin.
Adolf Hitler was an artist by profession before entering politics, and he admired the artistry of the swastika, adopting it as the official symbol of the National Socialist Party in 1919, and incorporating it into the national flag of the Third Reich in 1935.
The swastika remains a symbol, but wholly Nazi; any Byzantine or Christian connections were wiped away by the Second World War, during which the symbol was associated with war on land, in the air and at sea, persecution of minorities, and forcible occupation of non-Teutonic states. The ‘Neo-Nazis’, mostly deluded, violent and infantile misfits, have adopted the swastika as their ikon.
The Clenched Fist and the Rose
An international symbol adopted by socialists around the world. One supposes the clenched fist was Soviet in origin, and the idea of clutching a red rose came to European socialists later. It is not easy to define what socialists are for – much easier to find what they are against. Capitalism of course is the main target; all employers (unless they are socialists themselves, such as politicians who employ many advisors or leaders of trade unions); socialists range from outright communism to the milder forms of social democracy. Communists believe that the community should own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange to ensure a fair distribution of a nation’s wealth. They believe that all industry must be state-controlled, for the common good. They intend to replace the market economy by a version of planned economy. They would like to see everybody living and working in a condition of absolute equality. They are perfectly prepared to use violence to achieve their ends, believing that the end justifies the means.
Unfortunately for Socialism, in the history of the last 150 years not one single state which embraced socialism as opposed to capitalism or simple dictatorship has achieved its utopian goals. In the majority of cases elected socialists have come to the job with the best intentions, but as they are human beings, it is not long before they fall into the traps laid for those who seek power by any means. There are plenty of socialists in this world, just as there are many, many traps. Socialists leaders in democratic countries who lose in elections never accept the voice of the people. It is against their training. Socialist leaders in non-democratic nations maintain their position by persecution of those who disagree, just as socialists in democratic countries do their best to eliminate opposition parties in Parliament, again using any method that suits.
No student of modern politics could find a better example to study than Spain since 2004. There has been little or no governance. There has been a great deal of aggression directed against opposition parties. Nothing in the world can ever persuade Spain’s still-ruling socialist party to resign. If they are driven out in the 2012 elections, they will leave unpayable debts and massive unemployment, but they will return with the popular vote four years later, because that is the nature of socialism, and Spain is a wholly socialist nation, however much the Right strives to change the people’s mind.
(see also the histories of Sweden, Chile under Allende, Cuba and the Soviet Union, modern Venezuela, Britain under Gordon Brown etc.)