Black Flags Spell Trouble

  • Posted on: 27 September 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href=" Review</a>

<strong>Black Flags Spell Trouble: It is no accident that the marauders in Benghazi and Cairo hoisted the black flag.</strong>

``Every normal man,” wrote H. L. Mencken, “must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” Given that his subject was modern poetry, he can be forgiven the impulse. But we might politely decline to join him. There are few occasions on which the raising of a black flag has been an overture to something pretty, and a great many on which it has augured something ill. Black flags are harbingers of chaos.

The recent events in the Arab world are no exception. The barbarism in Egypt and Libya pushed back into view the nefarious purposes to which black flags are most commonly deployed. Having scaled the walls of the American embassy compound in Cairo on September 11, protesters ripped down Old Glory, set fire to it, and managed to replace it temporarily with their own pennant. At the consulate in Benghazi, marauders put up their flag, murdered the ambassador and three other Americans, and caused as much damage as they could. The unrest has not yet stopped, with U.S. citizens and property being targeted in Lebanon, Yemen, Tunisia, and Syria.</td><td><img title="if it were only this simple" src=""></td></...
There are, it seems, three main causes in the celebration of which one might elect to hoist a black flag, and all of them are execrable: They are anarchy, piracy, and some unholy combination of jihad and the end of days. The Islamist mobs that have run riot in the past fortnight have managed to combine all three — some feat.

Since the 1990s, black flags have become associated in the Western mind with Muslim extremism, and for good reason. The “black flag of jihad,” as it has been routinely if innovatively described, is now a fixture on Islamist websites, in hostage videos, and at anti-Western demonstrations. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda bear much of the responsibility for this; they were quick to appropriate it as a motif, and it featured prominently in their propaganda both before and after the attacks in 2001, which goes some way to explaining why it is now so widely recognized.

Nonetheless, the modern Islamist movement did not invent it from whole cloth. The “Black Standard” is the traditional flag of Islam — by all accounts a nice little number flew outside of Mohammed’s tent, and it has been de rigueur for those of a more literalist religious bent ever since. It is part of a diad: In Islamic custom, the white flag is the symbol of government and its black counterpart — or “Ar-Raya” — is the banner of the military. As legend has it, when Mohammed returned to Mecca as the conquering hero after eight years in exile, his army carried black flags with the word “Punishment” emblazoned in white. To mark the occasion, this replaced the more traditional inscription, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.”

In Islam, the black flag runs the gamut, forecasting events from war to the apocalypse. In certain traditions, the Hadiths provide it with a more eschatological role. Most Shiite Muslims believe that it signifies the impending coming of the “Mahdi” — loosely translated as “messiah” — a redeemer who will arrive in the world to rule for an uncertain amount of time and then, eschewing a second term, end the world on the Day of Judgment. Put bluntly, if you see black flags coming from the east, you might well want to run like hell. As well as linking it to the end of days, the Hadiths also hold that armies sporting the black flag will be called upon to fight the “Masih-ad-Dajjal” — or “false messiah.”

That the black flag spells trouble is a rule that applies also to pirates and anarchists, although it should be admitted that their choice of color is less divinely inspired and more practical. In this instance, black flags are primarily designed to contrast with other flags. Whereas the white flag denotes immediate surrender, the black flag signifies that its bearer will fight to the death. Pirates and anarchists thus employed their pennons primarily as a warning sign. As outlaws, they often had little to obtain in surrender but execution, and to broadcast that fact could be efficacious in convincing their enemies to retreat or to give up without a struggle. To paraphrase James Baldwin, the most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose. He will think nothing of hoisting the black flag and slitting throats, and it behooves him to convey that to his enemies.

As men unconstrained by laws or by the Rules of Engagement are dangerous, so are men without nations. The black flag stands in contrast to the colorful insignia of the nation state, purposively setting its adherents outside the international order and its conventions. Except in Islam, the black flag is, perhaps, the absence of a flag as much as a flag itself; a sly means by which someone indicates that he renounces the established order and submits to no authority.

Such symbolism became popular in the punk-rock movement, with bands such as Black Flag and Anti-Flag using black banderoles to present themselves as rebels and, in the case of the former, as haters of the police. Indeed, the audiences at Black Flag concerts got the message and behaved accordingly, to an extent sufficient to encourage a significant police presence each time the band played and to prompt the lead singer to say that the establishment “probably had reason to be scared.”

This secular black-flag tradition has a long — and bloody — heritage. During the French Revolution, the black pennant was the symbol of the Paris Commune, and it waved happily over such atrocities as the September Massacres, the Reign of Terror, and the Assault on the Tuileries. Such was its success that Louise Michel, the “French grande dame of anarchy,” resurrected it during the second Paris Commune of 1871. “Black,” she averred, “is the flag of strikes and the flag of those who are hungry.” She made no mention of violence, but then such types tend not to.

Troublemakers around the world agreed with Michel: Black was very chic. In 1881, an anarchist paper called the Black International sprang up in London; in Chicago, participants in an 1884 anarchist protest carried black banderoles, explaining that they bore “the fearful symbol of hunger, misery, and death”; and a Chinese bandit group called the “Black flag army” invaded Vietnam.

In the 20th century, Parisian students carried black flags during the 1968 General Strike, and were echoed in Chicago by protesters at the Democratic National Convention. They channeled Nestor Makhno, whose anarchist “Black Army” carried black flags into battle during the Russian Revolution, and the Mexican revolutionist Emiliano Zapata, who chose a black flag as his army’s marching accessory in the 1910 uprising. Most recently, Occupy Wall Street’s anarchist wing styled itself after the “Black Bloc” of 1980s German autonomism and took to smashing windows and looting. Apparently, you can have your anarchy in any color you like — as long as it’s black.

We are better off when the seas are free, when order trumps anarchy, and when jihad is resisted in favor of liberty. H. L. Mencken liked nothing more than to tweak polite society and its mores, but had he examined the subject more closely his savage wit would likely have been trained as fiercely upon the bearers of black flags as it was on everybody else. Black flags serve as a prelude to bedlam. It is the job of civilization to relegate them to the bottom of the staff.


lulz, can one be more reactionary?

Yes We Can! and you can have your anarchy in any color you like — as long as it’s black.

this article fucking rocks. i was swept over by the profound imagery of our glorious black flag, whipping, cracking, flying in the wind as we smash that fucking window, throw the newsbox in the street.

>this article fucking rocks.

I agree wholeheartedly. This hack at the National Review really does know how to be evocative in his attempt to stir up hate against Muslims. In me, his writing just makes me proud to fly the black flag and puts my participation as an agent of chaos in perspective as part of a rich tradition.

Your sarcasm implying that you *don't* take pride in being an agent of chaos? Say it aint so ...

Cannot stop the chaos.

I <3 polite society.

Black Flags and Windmills!


This dude totally doesn't get it! We've got to send him some radical zines and DO MOAR OUTREACH!!

While it's nice that such reactionary source recognizes the strong anarchist insurgent movements in lat 19th-early 20th century China -something that Western anarchists seem to be unaware of- to compare those Al Qaeda tools in Benghazi with black bloc is completely retarded. I suppose wearing a swastika on your black flag makes you anarchist too?

And yeah, ummm... black is the color of the bad guys. BUt but but.. what about today's riot cops?

I think the anarcho-Buddhists would wear a swastika on their flags.

Anarcho-Hindus can't stand Anarcho-Buddhists.

Or Native American Anarchists before WWII:,_Standing_1909_-_NARA_...

Hum... yeah like the neonazis who've been wearing swastikas in my neighborhood were just buddhists after all. Gosh... and all those pogroms against Asians were just karmic retribution, right?

As long as there are Nazis, antisemites and eugenicists out there -closet or not- the swastika stays a symbol of their oppression, and your argument is bullshit.

Crucifixes, stars and crescent moons are more symbols of oppression than the swastika. The problem is that we live in the shadow of the WW2 aftermath. Some day the swastika will be seen as a symbol of both peace and hypocrisy as the above noted symbols. The pentacle might be more appropriate as a true symbol of peace. The will of the dark lord is for both strength and liberation. Something the hypocrites avoid professing as they rely on the weak to prop themselves up on.

So I suppose we should all set ourselves free from the "specter of Nazism" and wear swastikas at the rainbow gatherings?

Fascism is still alive and well today, as much as the Nazis. Hopefully with pacifist tools like you, they'll be able, one day, to wave again the same flag that dominated over the death camps and the SS. And BTW the swastika symbolizes the double S sign, also worn on the SS officers uniforms regalia. Golden Dawn in Greece are using the single S. The S is an old Germanic symbol of the Sun.

The Nazis adopting the old Hindu symbol of the swastika was directly related to their occult conviction of being the offspring of Aryan race from upper India, through their Germanic lineage, that was proven to be a farce. The only Indo-Aryans who lived in Europe over the last 2-3 thousands of years were the Celts and today's Roma. All the rest are known to Caucasian (Germanic tribes), Middle-Eastern and African in origins.

"Peace" is the synonym of total domination for those who monopolize power. Fuck you and your peace, war for liberation! War against fascism!

"We are better off when the seas are free, when order trumps anarchy, and when jihad is resisted in favor of liberty."

Bravo! The writer must be "one of the most influential and widely read political writers defining the post cold war world order", as these (neo)con ideologues such as Francis Fukuyama, Samuel P. Huntington or Robert D. Kaplan are routinely introduced.

The Coming Anarchy

don't happy

Eschatological movements hurt my bowel.>Otto

Coffee always helps imminentize my eschaton.

The Five Orders of Discordia (``THEM'')

Gen. Pandaemonium, Commanding

The seeds of the ORDERS OF DISCORDIA were planted by Greyface into his early disciples. They form the skeleton of the Aneristic Movement, which over emphasizes the Principle of Order and is antagonistic to the necessary compliment, the Principle of Disorder. The Orders are composed of persons all hung up on authority, security and control; i.e., they are blinded by the Aneristic Illusion. They do not know that they belong to Orders of Discordia. But we know.
1. The Military Order of THE KNIGHTS OF THE FIVE SIDED TEMPLE. This is for all the soldiers and bureaucrats of the world.
2. The Political Order of THE PARTY FOR WAR ON EVIL. This is reserved for lawmakers, censors, and like ilk.
3. The Academic Order of THE HEMLOCK FELLOWSHIP. They commonly inhabit schools and universities, and dominate many of them.
4. The Social Order of THE CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR CONCERNED CITIZENS. This is mostly a grass-roots version of the more professional military, political, academic and sacred Orders.
5. The Sacred Order of THE DEFAMATION LEAGUE. Not much is known about the D.L., but they are very ancient and quite possibly were founded by Greyface himself. It is known that they now have absolute domination over all organized churches in the world. It is also believed that they have been costuming cabbages and passing them off as human beings.
A person belonging to one or more Order is just as likely to carry a flag of the counter-establishment as the flag of the establishment -- just as long as it is a flag.

Don't let THEM immanentize the Eschaton.

You illuminatus!

Hemlock, I do not touch the stuff!!!

I'm going to reread this later because I like it a lot.

I always knew Black Flag was a terrible band.

This reminds of some Rolling Stones....Paint it Black....hahaha ;) ......Let's just paint everything in black.

Paint sucks, arsty-fartsy crap... let's keep burning society down to black sooth, and cool-looking formless piles of rubble.

Burn, baby, burn!

In order to understand 'black flags', one has to understand 'Western civilization'.

Western civilization is a particular type of transgenerational indoctrination that likes to simplify how its advocates view the world dynamic.

One of the core simplifications imposed on current observations and experiences of Western civilization-indoctrinated members is ‘the difference operator’ [or 'time-derivative'] as associates with ‘differential equations’. If you want to isolate ‘anomalies’ in the social dynamic, you run a ‘difference operator’ over the continuous dataset and ‘mine it’ for anomalies.

In this way one can ‘get rid of the continuum aspect' and isolate the ‘anomalies’, making them appear as if they are ‘events in themselves’ which are ‘local’ in ‘time and space’ [i.e. you can isolate and localize the 'cause' of the event, as scientific thinkers like to do]. In this article, the differential operator is applied to the continually unfolding dynamic of ‘colonization’ so as to isolate current ‘anomalies’ and make it appear as if they are local in time and place rather than part of the unfolding continuum.

for example, the colonization of libya involved a 20 year Jihadist resistance during which hundreds of thousands of bedoins were rounded up by Christian European colonizers and put in concentration camps where 30 to 50 percent of them died. the Che-Guevara of the resistance was Omar al-Mukhtar [the ‘Lion of the Desert’] who was eventually caught by the Italians, given a speedy trial and hung the next day in one of the concentration camps 'pushing it into the face' of thousands of Bedouins to encourage them to embrace colonization. That was on September 16, 1931, only 81 years and a few days ago. Omar, who was 73 when hung, was clearly defiant to the bitter end and reportedly said during the trial proceedings;

" We do not succumb ... Win or die ... This is not the end ... But you have to fight the next generation and the generations that follow.”

But we are ‘scientific thinkers’ and ‘science’ has taught us to simplify our observations and we have built this into our popular mode of ‘analytical inquiry’. As Henri Poincaré says in ‘Science and Hypothesis’;

“Origin of Mathematical Physics. Let us go further and study more closely the conditions which have assisted the development of mathematical physics. We recognise at the outset the efforts of men of science have always tended to resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by experiment into a very large number of elementary phenomena, and that in three different ways.

First, with respect to time. Instead of embracing in its entirety the progressive development of a phenomenon, we simply try to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. We admit that the present state of the world only depends on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past. Thanks to this postulate, instead of studying directly the whole succession of phenomena, we may confine ourselves to writing down its differential equation; for the laws of Kepler we substitute the law of Newton.” — Henri Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis

Now, who wants to bother with looking at ‘continua’. When I look at my beautiful ex-fiancé today, I don't remember at all that night I caught her in bed with my best buddy. Every day is a new day. And hey, it is too much trouble for the media to report the whole fucking history of Libya when reporting ‘news events’. The idea of a ‘news event’ is that it is ‘local’ in time and space, like the tragedy in the Benghazi U.S. Embassy.

After all, what could anyone read into the supposedly prophetic ‘last words’ of a deranged Jihadist like Omar al-Mukhtar, suggesting, contrary to the scientific practice of assuming that the present state of the world only depends on the immediate past , which, by the way, was U.S. aid to Libyan rebels,... that current phenomena could be directly influenced by the recollection of a more distant past; i.e. by the ‘whole succession of phenomena’

Science rules! and differential equations don't lie, right? The media know that. Why else would they apply their ‘differential operator’ to isolate ‘News events’ that are ‘local’ in space and time? The colonization of Libya is a forgotten, ‘distant past’. It would simply clutter up the News reporting if one were to regurgitate it as a garnish to today's events.

Funny thing, though, a Los Angeles Time report of May 6, 2011, entitled “In Libya, a long-dead hero rises again in the east”, says that that Omar al-Mukhtar’s name was all over the place; e.g. “Omar Mukhtar, a resistance fighter executed by Italian occupiers 80 years ago, has become the spiritual leader of the Libyan revolution.”

May 05, 2011. Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times. Reporting from Benghazi, Libya — In eastern Libya, the spectral image of an elderly, bearded man in a skullcap or Bedouin cloak is everywhere — on bumper stickers and posters, military vehicles and checkpoints, even press IDs issued by the rebel government here. "He is the godfather of all of us," said Salim Ismael, a retired army officer now training rebel recruits. "He is our inspiration, the spiritual leader of the Libyan revolution."

There are even videos of Omar al-Mukhtar’s son visiting the wounded rebels [Jihadists?].

hmmm. Maybe Omar al-Muktar’s prophecy was not just the words of a deranged man! Maybe Qaddafy’s worst crime was to sell out to the colonial powers!

But the differential operator used by the media suggests that the recent tragic events in the U.S. embassy in Benghazi were an isolated occurrence perpetrated by ‘extremist factions’ and are totally out of synch with the times; i.e. if we do open up the differential operator a bit, the last influence we can see was the U.S. giving help to the Libyan rebels. Surely we don’t have to take into account “the recollection of a more distant past” The native americans have forgotten and forgiven the genocide laid on them by their colonial masters, haven’t they? after all, there have been ‘apologies’ and all that transpired in the distant past is all ‘water under the bridge’. The slate is continually wiped clean. As corporations say to their workers; “at the end of each of your work days, when you have given us your labours and we have paid you for them, we are square. neither of us has any outstanding obligation to the other. hey, not like the old days when labour was woven into community and your workplace was your lifelong and even transgenerational home!

The ‘black flag of jihad’ and the other black flags, ... they seem to keep 'popping up out of nowhere'. we see them in more and more ‘News events’, ... you know, ... those 'local-in-place-and-time' events that are becoming so violent, and for no reason at all, other than the evil that jumpstarts out of the dark hearts of those people with the black flags.

"Now, who wants to bother with looking at ‘continua’. When I look at my beautiful ex-fiancé today, I don't remember at all that night I caught her in bed with my best buddy."


dummy, ... you didn't know my ex-fiancé is a 'trans' with lesbian as well as hetero affinities? or am i dealing with a one-dimensional mind here, that goes about as if their only tool is a hammer, seeing everything he/she/it encounters as a nail?

uh, yeah -- that's why they're the opposite of white flags, motherfucker.

A band named White Flag would really suck

There was in fact a punk band named White Flag. And--

Immanentize the eschaton!

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Enter the code without spaces.