Monday, February 28, 2011

A Collection of Socialist International Party Logos

Wikipedia syas this: "The Socialist International is a worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labour political parties. It was formed in 1951." Essentially it's a group of parties around the world that espouse, or that historically espoused, Socialism. It's distinct from Communist International for a few different reasons: it's never been centrally-run, parties can have differing policies, parties play well with others in parliament, and parties are more likely to be part of the political mainstream than communist parties. Most socialists will hate hearing it, but socialism and communism are related philosophies: they're both Marxist and dedicated to increasing equality of weath and opportunity through centralised planning and ownership. Also both are pretty rare political philosophies these days. The vast majority of parties on this list have made their peace with the free market in one way or another. Most espouse 'third-way' politics à la Tony Blair, and are quite ardently centrist on economic matters. Still, a lost of them preserve traditional socialist names and iconography. You are about to see way too many red roses and red rectangles, but still, it's an impressive collection of logos.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF ALBANIA - You've got to wonder how a party that was founded in only 1991 could have such an iron-curtain 'retro' logo, but it's awesome that they do. They're no big deal locally, represented in parliament but with just a tiny fraction of votes.

PEOPLE'S MOVEMENT FOR THE LIBERATION OF ANGOLA: LABOUR PARTY - The MPLA, Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola - Partido do Trabalho, are a member of Socialist International, which seems to suggest that the International isn't overly strict about democracy. Well, not that Angola's not democratic - every now and then. In the last election, the MPLA won 80% of the vote, and obviously thus won the election. They're the only party ever to rule Angola since independence. Their logo isn't quite the Angolan flag - the logo is less communisty.

ARMENIAN REVOLUTIONARY FEDERATION - With that name and with that flag/logo, the ARF (a/k/a Հայ Յեղափոխական Դաշնակցութիւն) seem a bit more hardcore than many other SocIntern parties. They are a proper party in Armenia with political representation, but they're a bit mor than that, it seems, being quite active in the diaspora (and also existing as a parliamentary party in Lebanon, curiously enough). They've been around since the Ottoman Empire and have a confusing flag where surely all that stuff that that hand is trying to hold up is bound to fall off onto the ground, right?

AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY - Labor are currently the government, having barely scraped through an electoral challenge. Their logo is pretty sharp, blue for Australia and red for, well, there's lots of red here, isn't there? Can't understand that spelling at all, though.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF AUSTRIA - Founded in 1888, the Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs is one of the oldest and one of the most avowedly Marxist of the parties in Socialist International. They're the senior partners in government now and have a logo that's half wordmark and half Austrian flag. Well, the Austrian flag has good colours for a socialist party.

SOCIALIST PARTY (BELGIUM) - The Parti socialiste is a Francophone party in Belgium - where all parties are strictly divided on linguistic lines - and a junior member of the coalition cabinet. Their logo is a red flag with the party's initials in the corner, reminiscent of other European socialist flags.

DIFFERENT SOCIALIST PARTY (BELGIUM) - Flemish parties seem to have weird names, like for example the Socialistische Partij Anders, which gets a dot in its acronym, is indeed quite 'anders'. They've got a pretty red rose in their supermarket-looking logo, and they sit on the opposition side of parliament, looking across the floor at the Walloon SocIntern party.

DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY (BRAZIL) - I have no idea why Lula's Partido dos Trabalhadores is not a member of Socialist International, but the Partido Democrático Trabalhista is a junior partner in that party's governing coalition, and they are. Which is to be expected, since their logo is pretty much the same as SocIntern's.

PARTY OF BULGARIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS - Don't even try to figure out this logo, which takes some obvious starting points - Bulgarian flag, EU flag, Socialist International logo - and goes all icky on them. Must explain why they're in opposition now.

NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY (CANADA) - Rare to see a logo without red, doubly interesting since red is one of Canada's national colours. Instead, the wonky maple leaf logo of the New Democratic Party / Nouveau Parti démocratique is completely devoid of socialist imagery. They're a permanent resident of the opposition benches.

SOCIALIST PARTY OF CHILE - That's one hell of a logo, eh? The whole continent of South America, a tomahawk... The Partido Socialista de Chile has been in power quite often, and was right up until last year. They're not now; they're the opposition.

COLOMBIAN LIBERAL PARTY - This cool logo, the handwritten "L" on a red background, goes well with the main opposition to the Partido Liberal Colombiano, the Colombain Conservative Party, whose logo is a hand-written "C" on a blue background. The PLC seems to have a rather poor name for the Socialist International, unless you're a FOX News viewer.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF CROATIA - Croatia, desperate to fit in. This party's name and initialism-on-red-flag are so generic for Europe. The letters are on an angle, whoop de do. They're really called Socijaldemokratska partija Hrvatske and they're currently on the opposition benches.

MOVEMENT FOR SOCIAL DEMOCRACY (CYPRUS) - This party is properly called Κινήμα Σοσιαλδημοκρατών, or also known by their initials ΕΔΕΚ. I know; that doesn't make any sense to me, either. It seems the acronym survived from an earlier name the party once had. The logo is a typical red rose with lots and lots of green text. They sit on the opposition benches in Nicosia.

CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY - The Česká strana sociálně demokratická (or ČSSD for short) is one of those crazy-old European socialist parties, going back to 1878. They're an opposition party currently, and their logo has the socialist rose, but so stylised it kind of looks like an onion, and orange in colour too - which is as atypical of roses as it is of onions.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (ESTONIA) - They used to be called the 'Moderate People's Party', with an apple logo, before becoming the more generic Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond and adopting a regulation stylised rose as their logo. They're in opposition now, not a huge presence in parliament.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF FINLAND - How does this logo differ from other logos of parties called "SDP" with initialism-on-red-square logos? Why this square is a bit wonky in the corners! The effect looks like a cell phone operator. The party is called Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue in Finnish and Finlands socialdemokratiska parti in Swedish, neither of which readily suggest the acronym "SDP". They're in opposition right now.

SOCIALIST PARTY (FRANCE) - The mighty. One of SocIntern's biggest parties, humbled now in opposition but still a major force, the Parti socialiste wears its hand-clutching-a-rose SocIntern logo like no one else.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF GERMANY - The Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, probably better known as the SPD, are one of the largest parties in this group of parties. In opposition now, the SPD forms the government of Germany quite frequently, and isn't even the left-most major party in Germany, with Die Linke to their left. The logo is the letters "SPD" on red, nothing we haven't seen before - but now a three-dimensional cube.

PANHELLENIC SOCIALIST MOVEMENT (GREECE) - All hail the mighty ΠΑΣΟΚ. The Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα is currently the majority government in Greece, and has been so for most of the past 30 years. The head of the party is also currently the head of Socialist International, and the last SocIntern summit was in Athens. All pretty impressive for a party that by now sits squarely in the centre of the Greek political spectrum and has a green-sun logo that doesn't seem overly SocInternesque.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (ICELAND) - I'm not sure that that's a literal translation of 'Samfylkigin', but then again I don't speak Icelandic. This ten-year-old party calls its leader 'Prime Minister' as it heads up a coalition. Its logo is barely a logo at all, being a red ball. Ooh, round.

LABOUR PARTY (IRELAND) - Labour has the more attractive name Páirtí an Lucht Oibre in Irish. That logo's certainly English, though. Red rose, nothing special. Technically they're on the opposition side in the Dáil, though in a few days that all may change. They're not polling especially high, though. They're pretty old, by the way, and are apparently the only major party in Ireland not to descent from Sinn Féin.

ISRAELI LABOR PARTY - For a party I've heard a fair amount about, Labor is doing extraordinarily crappy in the Knesset right now, with 8 seats in 120. Must be that logo: I mean, what is that, a sheaf of wheat? A pyramid? Anyway, they're called Avoda, or more accurately, מפלגת העבודה הישראלית.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (JAPAN) - The name is familiar, the logo isn't. It's a very Japanese logo, even if it isn't very socialist-looking. Pretty, I guess. They call themselves 社会民主党, which isn't quite what it says on the logo. They're in opposition. In fact, they barely exist, being rather similar in outlook to the much larger Democratic Party of Japan.

PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST PARTY (LEBANON) - That's a pretty cool name. Their logo seems more Freemason than Socialist, and though they're officially non-sectarian, in the 'everything is sectarian' world of Lebanese politics, they're primarily supported by the Druze. Their proper name is الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي, and they're a junior mamber of the governing coalition.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC UNION OF MACEDONIA - Now that's a logo: regulation red rose with a fist inside, on a bright yellow star. Pretty, and a nice mix of new-left and old-left - which the party is, being the successor to the ruling party of Communist-era Macedonia. They're SocIntern now, in fact Third Way and rapidly approaching neoliberal, which is a pretty rapid slide across the spectrum.

LABOUR PARTY (MALTA) - Yay! A torch! That's different. As is the Maltese name, Partit Laburista. They're in opposition, as one of only two major parties.

LIBERATION FRONT OF MOZAMBIQUE - Seriously? FRELIMO? Well, apparently they're democratic now. That's new; they certainly didn't use to be, and their logo seems to keep the Stalinist dream alive. But apparently they've slid into cozy 'centre-left' ground, are democratic, and won 75% of the vote last time out. Yay.

NEPALI CONGRESS - Being merely socialist makes नेपाली काँग्रेस the most right-wing of the major parties in Nepal at the moment. They're in opposition at te moment, and have a logo like a flag. Their 'election symbol' (whatever the difference is) is a tree.

LABOUR PARTY (NETHERLANDS) - PvdA is a pretty cool acronym. Everything about the Partij van de Arbeid is cool, really. The logo is hardcore fist-in-a-rose stuff. They're in the opposition now, by choice in fact: they were part of the ruling coalition until this time last year, when they pulled out.

NEW ZEALAND LABOUR PARTY - This third-way party is one of New Zealand's two major parties. Also called Rōpū Reipa o Aotearoa, it's in opposition at the moment. Not really a logo at all so much as the flag, the party name, the big red... er... shape.

NIGERIEN PARTY FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIALISM-TARAYYA - That's not a typo; spelt nigerien, that adjective refers to Niger, Nigeria's northern neighbour. It's more properly called Parti Nigérien pour la Démocratie et le Socialisme-Tarayya, it's in opposition, and it has a brilliant old-school logo, with corn, a cog wheel, and shaking hands. As in making a pact, not as in having Parkinson's. No idea what the 'Tarayya' bit means.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC AND LABOUR PARTY (NORTHERN IRELAND) - Okay, Northern Ireland's not a country. But their political parties are distinct from the reast of the UK's, and while they have ties to Labour, they're a distinct party. Their corporate-looking logo mixes Irish colours with Socialist red. They have a few seats in Westminster and a few in the Northern Irish assembly. Their Irish name is Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre.

NORWEGIAN LABOUR PARTY - Det norske arbeiderparti, or the Norwegian Labour Party in English, is the senior partner in the current Red-Green coalition, and its leader is currently the Prime Minister. Its logo is a rose, no surprise there, but highly stylised and corporate-looking.

PAKISTAN PEOPLE'S PARTY - This party, called پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی in Urdu, is the Bhutto family's party. It's currently the senior party in the coalition in the parliament of Pakistan. Its logo rather looks like a country's flag, doesn't it?

DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTIONARY PARTY (PANAMA) - Partido Revolucionario Democrático are in the opposition in tiny little Panama, where its logo looks like a highway sign. No idea what '11' represents.

AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY POPULAR ALLIANCE (PERU) - They like it hard-core in Peru. Check out that old-school name (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana, in fact). Check out that old-school flag-like logo. Who'd have thought they're (now) a Third Way group of Blairites? Still, that's enough to get them as senior partner in the current Peruvian coalition government.

DEMOCRATIC LEFT ALLIANCE (POLAND) - That odd little logo is a distorted Polish flag. Looks like a bank or something, eh? As you can see, in Polish they're called Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, and they're the 'second largest opposition party in Poland'

SOCIALIST PARTY (PORTUGAL) - What do you do if you can't decide between a clenched fist and a red rose? Put 'em both in, side by side. It's two, two, two logos in one, and the Partido Socialista call their leader Prime Minister, though they've got the sketchiest of minorities in parliament.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY (SERBIA) - The largest party in Serbian parliament at the moment, Демократска странка flouts all convention by not even having any red in their logo: instead, for some reason, their logo is the flag of Palau. With a really awesome old-school Cyrillic wordmark.

SPANISH SOCIALIST WORKERS' PARTY - They keep it real in Spain. Look at that nmame and look at that logo: clenched fist holding rose on an acronym-bearing red flag. What more could you want? But they're sadly third-way. Oh, and they're the government.

AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS (SOUTH AFRICA) - Hey! It's the ANC! That's a pretty old-school logo, Zulu spear-and-shield, a wheel probably swiped from the Indian Congress, and a flag that is not the ANC-designed South African flag. Of course, they're the government, and have been ever since the end of apartheid.

SWEDISH SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY - They're properly called Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti, but they contest elections as Arbetarepartiet-Socialdemokraterna and are commonly called Socialdemokraterna or even Sossarna. None of which makes much sense. But more importantly, what the hell is that logo? That's a seriously bizarre piece of craftsmanship. Definitely not Swedish for common sense.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF SWITZERLAND - Swiss politics make no sense, so let's say they're part of the coalition, as I think every major party is, marvel at their initialism-on-red-shape logo, and figure out how that initialism can be SP when their local names are Sozialdemokratische Partei der Schweiz, Parti socialiste suisse, Partito Socialista Svizzero and Partida Socialdemocrata de la Svizra. Note that to the Germans and Romansch, the party is Social Democrat, but to the French and Italians, it's Socialist. None of this makes any sense at all.

REPUBLICAN PEOPLE'S PARTY (TURKEY) - Though they're in opposition now, the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi has been super-important in Turkish history, for 23 years actually being the only party in the country. Their logo is seven arrows all pointing (ironically) to the right, in varying degrees.

LABOUR PARTY (UK) - You could blame this party as much as any on this list for 'third way' deviation from Socialist principles, and one wonders if this is, in fact, the least left-wing of all parties on this list - at least in the Blair/Brown years. It's of course in the opposition now. The classic red rose is theirs, though now it's in inverse colours and abstracted out of recognition. Like the party's politics.

Daily fortune cookie: 28 February 2011

"Don't bite off more than you can chew, unless you have a friend willing to help you with the chewing."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monarchy Makes No Sense At All

Some three years ago I had a blog that I called "Makes No Sense At All", named after the Hüsker Dü song. The point of it was to give me an occasional soap-box from which to give into Andy Rooney tendencies and just grumble and complain about whatever took my fancy. I didn't carry on with it too long, and it was read by, like, a maximum of five people who were not GoogleBots. So since it's just sat there moribund, collecting digital dust down the years. I decided I might as well close down the old blog and syndicate its contents here, in weekly installations. I've eliminated a few blog entries that seem too anachronistic by now, but the blogs that I have included I've not edited at all. So enjoy watching me at my grumpiest... Makes No Sense at All.

Originally published 5 June 2008.

Okay, I'll step out of the closet. I admit it; it's true. I am Canadian. I was born in Canada, I live in Canada, and I was here for much of the stuff in between. I point that out because, while my harangues so far to date have tended to focus on events happening with regards to our lovely neighbours down south, not all that I have to gripe about involves our beloved brethren south of the border, down New Mexico way.

After all, they booted out the British Royal Family centuries ago.

Have you ever seen the flag of Virginia? Now that is one bad-ass flag. It features some dude, decked in a liberty blue toga, carrying a spear and standing on top of a slain king wearing regal purple, his crown fallen off his head and abandoned on the floor nearby. As a stern warning, it says in Latin, "Thus Always to Tyrants".

Love 'em or hate 'em, Americans have got their republican furore going on. They may aw-shucks Lizzie and her brood of inbreds today, but that's because they ain't got to live with them anymore.

Well, in a sense, neither do we. Lizzie only makes her way round these parts once or twice a decade, and when she's in Buckingham Palace, I don't imagine concern about affairs in Canada crosses her mind appreciably more often than, say, affairs in Antigua and Barbuda or affairs in Belize (and I wonder if she could even find Tuvalu, one of her realms, on a map). Poll after poll shows middling support for republicanism in Canada mostly because nobody even notices she's here.

But she is. Not just on the back of our coins. Canada's status as a monarchy is an embarrassment. For a country that leads the world in equality and civil liberties, the unelected, hereditary and foreign head of state we continue to cling to is an anachronism and a source of shame. The fact that she doesn't do anything doesn't excuse her - if anything, it supports the need to get rid of her.

I have no personal beef with the Windsor family themselves. I'm sure they're lovely people and I'd love to have a beer with them. I don't want to lop off their heads, just the metal hats on top of them. Without excessive jingoism, I do think this is a fine country we live in - at least a pretty good one. The desire to give Lizzie the boot is nothing more than a desire to make this country even better. To say, "as proud as we are of our historical ties to the UK, they are historical, and what Canada now is is something more than merely that. What Canada now is is something that flies in the face of hereditary monarchy."

If nothing else, it might help a certain disgruntled province come to terms with its equal status, as opposed to foreign subjugation, within Canada. As ugly as Queen Elizabeth II's English language style is, her being styled as "Elizabeth Deux, par la grâce de Dieu Reine du Royaume-Uni, du Canada et de ses autres royaumes et territoires, Chef du Commonwealth, Défenseur de la Foi" is all that much more ridiculous (Which 'foi' is that again? Ah yes, Anglicanism: the religion of precisely no francophone Canadians...)

We are not some ridiculous country with its head in the sand, blind to the changing times. We are a country that embraces progress and freedoms. Canada remaining a monarchy makes no sense at all.
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