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(23) Melas

I changed my mind about the Soviet flag. I used to think that the Russians had to integrate Soviet symbolism into their national life because—for good or ill—it was connected to Russia’s history. Russians died under the flag; and, as Enoch Powell observed, they ultimately died for Russia—in two hundred years Russians will not really know who Stalin was, but they will remember “Stalingrad” and “WWII” meant “Russia won”. Governments and ideologies come and go, the nation remains—and symbols can be integrated along with these changes, so that the hammer and sickle is just “the flag our ancestors happened to die under then”.

However, I have come to the conclusion that symbols are much powerful than that—they are genuine magical operations. Men like Powell were secular organic conservatives in the sense that they saw national life as being in a process whereby it gradually evolves and integrates new phenomena along the way—and that could include old Soviet battle standards as flown atop some Russian tanks in the Ukraine today. This attitude appealed to me because I have an anti-iconoclastic streak: I sat on a student committee at university that wanted to name a meeting room after the first black female peer. I had no objection, but I would only settle for an unnamed room, “Room A”, to be named, not one that was already named for another person—a natural conservative instinct that most agreed with.

So I don’t like to see any statue topple, not even Lenin—and I dislike the old newsreels where a swastika is blown up and we’re meant to cheer. However, these symbols have a genuine magical power; so when a Russian flies the hammer and sickle from his tank he is reanimating Bolshevism—it is not just “my grandfather won under this flag”. It needs to be stopped by the officers—Russia needs to decommunise more thoroughly; just as the LGBT flag needs to be removed from the West, absolutely removed.

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