Thursday, August 22, 2013

Branding Communism?

Just a snippet, to whet the appetite:
Of course, if you don't want people to know that you are a communist organization, but be drawn to your ranks because of what you say and do without openly proclaiming yourself communist, then I suppose it makes sense to come up with a new symbol.  But this is blanquism, which is a problem that is larger than a choice in symbol, and has to do with tricking people into becoming communists.  Those of us who believe that communist organizing has to begin by proclaiming itself as communist, by refusing to hide the politics that untold millions died to bring into being, by drawing lines of demarcation based on our theory, and by beginning with those who are not afraid to gravitate towards an ideology feared by the bourgeoisie.  Indeed, the reason I am talking about treating communism as a brand is because I think it is important to popularize communism everywhere.  If I didn't think it was important, I wouldn't care about finding a logo to represent communism; I wouldn't have a valid reason to argue for an updated communist logo since I wouldn't care about what logos are supposed to do.

But a logo alone does not provide content––that is not, as aforementioned, the point of the logo.  What it does do is help identify a movement's politics (on the newspapers, on posters for events/rallies, on communiques, on handbills, on flags and banners, etc.) and divide those who are immediately opposed to what they believe the symbol represents and those who either agree with what they think the symbol represents or, at the very least, are intrigued.  In some ways it helps in the stage of accumulating those with an advanced consciousness; in some ways it helps cut down the amount of people who will not, at this stage, be interested in supporting you in any way/shape/form from showing up in those spaces in which you control the political line.  Running with the analogy of that bourgeois computer company (perhaps into the ground, but you be the judge!), one of the reasons why the apple with the bite is present on all of their products, even if it has only a vague connection to computers (byte maybe?), is because it not only serves the function of making the brand obsequious, it is also designed to produce a core of faithful consumers who will gravitate towards anything upon which the logo is branded.

Obviously it is not enough to simply have a logo.  The content represented by the logo is what ultimately matters: branding only serves the purpose of providing the easiest marketing division, separating those who might be interested from those who definitely are not.  Someone who is viscerally repelled by what they imagine a symbol represents will not gravitate towards the material upon which that symbol is branded; others who might be curious about the symbol, however, might also be repelled by what the symbol represents.  The logo simply eliminates the former group, but branding is not about depth: keeping long-term cadre has nothing to do with marketing an ideology, it has to do with actual agitation, practice, and ideological struggle.  But I'm talking about branding, not about theoretical and ideological practice, and branding only concerns surface details––it is about making an impression.

Linkage, for those who want to read the whole thing. There is a reason why I tend to continue liking the hammer and sickle as an image - it serves as a logo of sorts that is readily identifiable to anyone who views it. I know there are some who will disagree with me on this point (all I ask is that one can offer up an equally recognizably universal symbol that would identify a person or organization as communist). Naturally, there has to be some serious substance to go with the logo - and I'd like to think that Marxists of various stripes are very adept at providing plenty of content to provide the grist for reading, argument, and action. I think what this person is arguing for is not crass marketing, but simply to make sure that those of us who want to promote a Marxist alternative to the capitalist system are recognizable to those who might be interested in what we have to offer.

If nothing else, if you see someone with a blog bearing a hammer and sickle, or see an organization that utilizes it, you can make some (usually) fairly safe assumptions regarding what the individual/individuals have read and what they believe, and you can make that evaluation practically automatically. That's all a logo has to do.

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