Belorussian Vexillology

There’s some people who seem to believe that displaying or posting the white-red-white flag commonly used in Belorussian opposition protests is supposed to “trigger” Russians and/or Russian nationalists, or something.

But really, why should even – or especially – Russian nationalists prefer one larp flag – that of the BSSR from 1951-1991…

… over another – the BNR from 1918-19?

(as below, but without the Pahonia coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania).

So far as the vast majority of protesters on the streets are concerned, this flag primarily serves to signal opposition to Lukashenko, whereas only the ~10% of them who are convinced zmagars read it as some deep civilizational statement.

There are in fact just three groups of people who take it seriously:

(1) Westernist ideological crusaders and Ukrainian svidomy who see in what they hope for – Belarus flipping towards “Europe”, pushing Russia “back” into “Asia.”

(2) Marginal Belarusian zmagars larping as “We Wuz Litvins”.

(3) Russian and Western sovoks, who do have a preference for the BSSR flag for obvious ideological reasons, and castigate the white-red-white as having been used by Belarusian collaborators with the Germans during 1942-44. Fun fact: They also castigate the Russian tricolor on exactly the same grounds, as a “Vlasovite rag” (власовская тряпка).

But Russian nationalists are distinct from both sovoks and Westernists, and understand that there is no contradiction between the red-white-red and/or the Pahonia and an All-Russian identity. Below is the coat of arms of Vitebsk, an eastern Belorussian city, from 1781:

As such, they can only encourage Belorussians in their vexillological pursuits.

Here are a couple of suggestions from Sergey Kiselyov, a culturologist and specialist in the Russian/Belorussian/Ukrainian border regions:

Red-white design in the form of the Saint Andrew’s flag, while combining the Russian double-headed eagle and the Pahonia.

This flag was invented by Belorussians, and combines the red-white scheme with a visual representation of the Ascension of the Virgin. According to legend, the icon was painted by the Apostle Luke, came to Korsun in the Crimea, and was taken to Kiev in the late 10th century by Vladimir the Great. During the Tatar siege of Kiev in 1500, it was vandalized and tossed into the River Dnepr. On August 13, 1500, it was found in Minsk, and was made its coat of arms in 1591.

Finally, a fancy CGI take from the famed graphics department of the late Sputnik & Pogrom journal.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.

 

Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.

 

Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.

Comments

  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

  2. Kent Nationalist says

    More flags should have symbols like knights, eagles, angels, dragons(?) on. It would make the world a better place.

  3. Georgia’s first post-Soviet flag isn’t the one currently used. Not so surprising:

    https://twitter.com/neverblackpill/status/1295501895604346883

  4. Let me say that I think a lot of flags are uninspiring, copycat, or retarded.

    One way to look at is to suppose that plain, thick bars are more discernible at a distance, than heraldic symbols, especially with a flag flapping in the wind. Does this really matter today, though? With GPS? How often are ships at sea boarded? And how common were false flags, when they were?

    Maybe, though it really has something to do with political ambition, and a new regime approves the first design they see, in order to legitimize their power. And the first design is always poor.

  5. Magic Dirt Resident says

    Flags are so boring today; too many meaningless tricolors. Coats of arms definitely need to make a comeback.

  6. Too many flags were inspired by the French revolution – an awful event with negative, long-term consequences for many different European nationalities.

    Chad’s flag is basically indistinguishable from Romania’s. That is not very chad, for Romania – Chadians will be saluting the same flag, if they move to Romania. Or maybe it is secretly chad – just an avowal of the fact that African countries don’t matter.

  7. Hyperborean says

    One way to look at is to suppose that plain, thick bars are more discernible at a distance, than heraldic symbols, especially with a flag flapping in the wind. Does this really matter today, though? With GPS? How often are ships at sea boarded? And how common were false flags, when they were?

    Looking at naval ensigns my impression is that while not all of them are stylistically successful they are very commonly more creative and more detailed than the national land-based flags.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_ensign

  8. Hyperborean says

    Chad’s flag is basically indistinguishable from Romania’s. That is not very chad, for Romania – Chadians will be saluting the same flag, if they move to Romania. Or maybe it is secretly chad – just an avowal of the fact that African countries don’t matter.

    Secretly chad:

    For 27 years, the Central African country, one of the world’s most isolated places, has been quietly complaining that the Eastern European nation of Romania copied its flag. Romanian politicians, who adopted the banner in 1989, said they were aware that Chad was already using the same blue-yellow-red tricolor. France’s president at the time, François Mitterrand, tried to talk Romania out of it.

    “But there were more important things to care about,” said Romania’s then-president, Ion Iliescu.

    Since then, Chad’s parliament has thrown up distant protests, and some vexillologists—experts in flag studies—have accused Romania of flag theft.

    Romanians remain unflustered: “Why should we care?” said one of the protesters marching through central Bucharest last month. “Chad is too far away.”

    Though since the Romanians merely went back to the pre-commie design Chad’s complaints are false.

  9. Guess I’m not too familiar with naval flags, other than the famous Rising Sun flag traditionally used by Japan’s navy, which is pretty detailed, though it has a simple color scheme. Personally, despite the political baggage, I think it is a singularly good flag, and should be used more frequently, since it could be used to help symbolize how important it is to have a cultural sphere – effluent to help block or mitigate the influent.

    The Nazi flag also had very good aesthetics. I think that Germany should ban the regular tricolor – shouldn’t be too difficult to do because of the aversion for national flags in Germany means that there are relatively few, and replace it with a less cucked flag. Though, I’m not sure what would be best. The single-headed eagle is too reminiscent of America for me. I like the Iron Cross, but some countries with crosses seem to be very pozzed. Perhaps, runes might be interesting.

  10. Magic Dirt Resident says

    I don’t think plain bars are more discernible. Belgium/Germany, Netherlands/Russia, Italy/Hungary, Poland/Indonesia all have the same exact color scheme.

    My crazy theory is that boring flags were created to dissuade nationalism. Who would be proud of/passionate about three stripes? Or, like modern art and architecture, it’s just representative of a lack of creative talent.

  11. I suppose the Ivory Coast can just buy Irish flags and fly them backwards.

    Generally, I think that African flags are too garish. Even the Apartheid South African flag, with three tiny flags in the center. I guess it is partly a political thing, with the colors of pan-Africanism and political parties. Maybe, part of it comes from the natural garishness of Africans in the tropics? Diversity or the good combos already being taken?

    Angola’s has some funny symbology: a machete and half a gear-wheel, black for Africans, and red for blood. If I had to choose the best, I would say either Botswana or Kenya.

  12. Hyperborean says

    I guess it is partly a political thing, with the colors of pan-Africanism and political parties. Maybe, part of it comes from the natural garishness of Africans in the tropics? Diversity or the good combos already being taken?

    In my opinion Namibia, Zaire/DR Congo, Cape Verde have decent flags, but generally I think the insistence on the pan-African colour scheme of yellow, green and red dooms many flags from the start.

    In this sense the pan-Arab colours of black, white, red and/or green are better suited.

    Angola’s has some funny symbology: a machete and half a gear-wheel, black for Africans, and red for blood.Angola’s has some funny symbology: a machete and half a gear-wheel, black for Africans, and red for blood.

    Moçambique’s Kalashnikov and plow is also quite fitting, though the book is a bit aspirational for the indeterminate future.

    Speaking of weird flags, I wonder who designed Bolivia’s atrocious naval ensign?

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/11/Naval_Ensign_of_Bolivia.svg/1280px-Naval_Ensign_of_Bolivia.svg.png

  13. Some say that Canada’s maple leaf flag was designed to help set the stage for multiculturalism.

  14. Moçambique’s Kalashnikov and plow is also quite fitting, though the book is a bit aspirational for the indeterminate future.

    LOL. The Kalashnikov, while a good gun (depending on who makes it), is too international for my tastes. In 2017, adult literacy rate for Mozambique was 60.7 %. I’d like to see some other stats: number of books read/published.

    The ANC’s military arm had a guy chucking a spear as their symbol. Much as I like traditionalism, seems kind of weak in a modern military context, but maybe it makes sense given the name uMkhonto we Sizwe, “spear of the nation.” Perhaps, not a bad symbol, if you speak Xhosa.

    I kind of like how the shield on Kenya’s flag is incorporated into the red band. The blood of their enemies on their shields, I guess.

  15. The ridiculousness of Chad’s ‘complaints’ and the idea that UNO would have considered to ask Romania to change its flag because a former French colony pretended that Romania ‘stole’ it, is matched by the assertion that the Romanian flag was ‘adopted in 1989’ by ‘politicians’.
    Actually there was no formal notification from Chad about any intention to notify the UN judicial office about the two countries’ flags. It’s a ‘fake story’. It is true that I met people (mostly of Anglo extraction) struggling to figure out whether Romania is in Africa or in Asia!
    The ‘Tricolor’ was adopted by the Constitution of Romania of 1866 when the United Principalities of Valahia and Moldova adopted the official name of Romania, but was in use in Valahia since 1834. The only exception was the Constitution of 1947 which added a coat of arms to the flag to symbolize the ‘victory of socialism’, which was removed by the present Constitution (adopted in 1991).

  16. reiner Tor says

    Exactly. It was pretty surprising to me to read that Romania adopted the flag “in 1989,” without any reference to the much older history or the fact that the pre-1989 flag was exactly the same flag, but with the communist coat of arms added.

  17. Gerard1234 says

    The Vlasov point is a strong one from Karlin. However the Russian tricolor has been used for many centuries, so it shouldn’t be synonymous with the short period of time of it’s use by his army.

    The white-red-white should be directly connected with Nazi occupation- the most catastrophic time in the history of Belarus. Used just for a few weeks as part of the Peoples Republic, next used by collaborators during 3 years of crimes against Belarus …and then next used immediately after end of USSR- but emphatically rejected in referendum in 1995 ( 3.5 million voted for the current one, 1 million for the white-red-white). That flag is dominated by the history of Nazi occupation and collaborators.

    Vlasov is correctly reviled on principle, but he’s not associated with raping, torturing , burning villages & people alive or actually killing large amounts of Soviet soldiers

    Although intent of it’s use, by most of these guys, is probably not sinister as it is with the UPA flag…..that doesn’t mean that it’s use is still not despicable.

    Current Belarus flag is beautiful by comparison to the irrelevant and nothing flags of the Baltic states.

  18. Vergissmeinnicht says

    Flag of Georgia is wrong. It only became white in 2004.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Georgia_(country)