French Communists Give Up The Hammer And Sickle

The French Communist Party is parting ways with one of Communism’s most notable symbols:

France’s Communist party has undergone a revolution and dropped the hammer and sickle from its membership cards.

The party (PCF) is replacing the communist emblem of peasants and the proletariat with a five-pointed star representing the European Left, a loose alliance of far-left parties, including France’s Left Front. The move, announced at the party’s 36th congress, which closed on Sunday, has angered traditionalists.

“Everyone in the party is shocked,” Emmanuel Dang Tran, the party’s Paris secretary told France Info radio. “The PCF is allowing itself and its values to be swallowed up by another organisation.”

He said the hammer and sickle represented “a historic element in resistance against the politics of capitalism for the working class of this country”, and accused the party leadership of selling out to a form of social democracy made up of “Greens, socialists, Trotskyists and I don’t know who else”.

Pierre Laurent, PCF national secretary, defended the decision to abandon the symbol, saying it no longer represented present-day realities.

“We want to turn towards the future,” he told LCI radio. “It’s an established and revered symbol that continues to be used in all of our demonstrations, but it doesn’t illustrate the reality of who we are today. It isn’t so relevant to a new generation of communists.”

So, a Smartphone and an iPad?

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. iPhone / iPad would be apt – corrupt communist country screwing over their own by letting corporations exploit the little guy.

  2. Surreal American says:

    Wait a minute: If no-one but the French Communists had the right to interpret the hammer-and-sickle symbol, why would they feel the need to discard it?

  3. al-Ameda says:

    I’d say Twinkies and HoHo’s might work, after all both are at least as relevant as the French Communist Party.

  4. Andre Kenji says:

    The point is not about the hammer and the sickle or any kind of symbol. The problem is that since the nineties the French Left is diluted among a dozen parties, almost all of them with similar language and proposals. That fragmentation that allowed Jean Marie Le Pen to go to the runoff of the Presidential Elections in 2002 and in practice the smaller parties have little influence over the Socialists. There was also the disaster of the European Elections in 2009, when the far-right gained several seats in the European Parliament.

    They are now trying to solve this problem by uniting these smaller parties in bigger coaltion, the so called Front de Gauche. Considering how popular their candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was in the last presidential election I think that they are being successful in this intent, and abolishing the hammer and the sickle is just a part of this project.

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    Just a correction: the Front de Gauche was created for the European Elections of 2009, not in response to it.

  6. Boyd says:

    I’m with Solomon on this one. An iPhone and iPad would be the most appropriate, since everyone knows those Apple acolytes are today’s true Communists.

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’ve never understood why Communism isn’t treated like Nazism. Hell, Communism has killed a LOT more people than Nazism did, but it’s the Nazis who are outlawed and universally reviled. Communists ought to be treated like Nazis.

  8. matt bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    USSR != Communism
    China != Communism
    Cuba != Communism

    For all of it’s problems, including the entire wave your hands and saying everything will be wonderful after the revolution, there has been no “Communist” state that has ever been formed in keeping with the key ideas of the Communist Manifesto or any of Marx’s (among others writings on Communism).

    Generally speaking, just about every modern Communist state has been a thinly veiled dictatorship. And anyone who understands the concept of Communism would know that this is completely antithetical to the premise of Communism.

    That said, it’s also hard to understand how a true “Communist Party” can function within the political structure of a capitalist democratic state.

  9. matt bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    All that said, while French Communists != the USSR, there is no excuse for them continuing to use the same graphic symbol of the failed country that committed all of those atrocities and created so much misery.

    Of course, on another thread currently running on OTB, some folks keep telling us that it’s the Origins of a Symbol that matter rather than what was done under it. And if you believe that argument, then the French Communists using the Hammer and Sickle is no different than flying the Stars and Bars over government buildings in the South.

  10. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @matt bernius: Funny how all these “failed attempts” at Communism are the ones that tout themselves as “true Communism,” and praised by Communists around the world… right up until they collapse, and the mass graves start turning up. Kind of a “no true Scotsman” thing.

    How about this as a compromise: attempts at Communism have resulted in the deaths of over 100 million people. After all these “failures,” it might be time to give up on trying. And for beating the crap (rhetorically, but I’m not ruling out literally) of those who say we should give it just one more chance.

  11. Franklin says:

    @Solomon Kleinsmith: Heh. It would also seem appropriate due to Apple’s “walled gardens”. The walls aren’t for keeping people out.

  12. Andre Kenji says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’ve never understood why Communism isn’t treated like Nazism.

    Because Communism is not openly antisemitic and openly racists.If I see someone dressed with the hammer and the sickle I imagine that this someone is a naive person that has no idea about that symbol, If I see someone with a swastika I imagine a openly racist person.

    Big difference.

  13. @Andre Kenji:

    Apparently you are ignoring the tens of millions of Russian and ethnic Soviet “citizens” that Stain sent their death.

    How convenient.

  14. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think most people ignore the victims of Stalinism. It’s a problem of education. Everyone knows the Nazis. Naive college kids barely know about Stalinism, so they get a little slack until they grow up a little.

    Communism is like Libertarianism — great concepts for a teenager to idolize, but they fail in practice.

  15. Andre Kenji says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Apparently you are ignoring the tens of millions of Russian and ethnic Soviet “citizens” that Stain sent their death.

    No, I´m not. In fact, I know – personally – several people that are Communist Sympathizers. Some of them are good people, some of them are complete idiots and all of them have terrible ideas, but they are not racists.

    Some of the Communists are Trotskytes that despise Stalin, others are Stalinists that thinks that the Holomodor is a conspiracy created by the West or that capitalism is also as brutal as Stalinism, but they don´t hate Ukrainians or Poles. On the other hand, the Swastika is a symbol of racist groups, and that´s the difference with the hammer and the sickle.

    The problem with the Swastika goes beyond the crimes of Hitler. As bad as Stalin was, his sympathizers are naive(Or complete idiots), not racists.

  16. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13 & @Doug Mataconis:
    The issue with “communism” is that it needs to be thought of like a religion (irony of ironies). I appreciate the “no true scotsman” critique. And there is some truth there. However, given that many so-called “communist states” have actively suppressed many of the foundational writings on communism.

    This is like suggesting that we can understand a religion by looking at the actions of Religion run state.

    Of course all of this points out how problematic it is to have a state run by a church. And it also suggests the fact that its difficult to see how a Communist state could ever actual work — or at least how it could work while capitalistic states still exist.*

    * – Which, this btw, was a key point of Marx’s. When he and Engles wrote about the “revolution” it was a simultaneous, world wide event. It was the moment that capitalism committed suicide on a global scale. And it was the same moment that communism emerged everywhere at once. Of course, that’s when “the magic” happens and everything becomes equitable and “where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.” (Marx, German Ideology)

    Of course, Marx never really explains how we get to that point. And his followers have been trying to work that out since his death.

  17. JKB says:

    It’s quite simple really. The hammer and sickle represent real manual work and such work is not something that appeals to communists and, socialists. Besides after decades of a “progressive” education, most who subscribe to the communist or socialist ideologies can barely identify a hammer much less use on and have no clue about a sickle.

    Not to mention, the sickle has been replaced by we terrible capitalist with the tractor and other productive farm innovations brought about by the voluntary interactions of various individuals for their own benefit to create something that no individual could ever create alone all inspired by, dare we say, the desire for profit.

    Same for the hammer, although the hammer has not been completely replaced as they need something to smack those who dare to stick their head up. Manual hammers are not however, in common use to for shaping and the nailgun, there is that evil word, has raised productivity many fold over the manual hammer in construction. All, created by evil capitalists seeking a better way to make more goods and services available at a lower price to rich and poor alike.

  18. JKB says:

    I’ve been wondering,

    How many millions have to be murdered or allowed to die before the acolytes of communism, socialism and marxism at the universities create a new variant of whichever -ism to disassociate themselves from that old, murderous communism, or sociopathic socialism, or thuggish marxism, that was never what they meant when they acclaimed the virtues of their faith?

    Do we get a new “type” at 1 million dead? 10 million? Or is it just when the latest murderer is declining in power?

  19. JKB says:


    He’s right, it really isn’t the Communism that was so bad. It was the Socialism. As in Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Communism, none shall have more than another, fails in the face of human nature, so they keep the logo but bring in the Socialism to keep the trains running on time.

    While Communism might conceivably be established upon the largest scale, and has, in a hundred experiments, been upon a small scale established, by voluntary consent, Socialism begins with the use of the powers of the State, and proceeds and operates through them alone. It is by the force of law that the Socialist purposes to whip up the laggards and the delinquents in the social and industrial order. It is by the public treasurer, armed with powers of assessment and sale, that he plans to gather the means for carrying on enterprises to which individual resources would be inadequate. It is through penalties that he would check wasteful or mischievous expenditures.

  20. stalingrad flagger says:

    But what about the heritage!?

  21. Rob in CT says:

    where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.” (Marx, German Ideology)

    I remember reading that in college and chuckling. We’re so far from even the hint of a possibility of that being possible that it’s laughable.

    Marx was pretty good at diagnosing weaknesses in (mid-19th century) capitalism. He was pretty piss poor, as far as I can figure, at designing something better.

    It looks like the French commies are well into the “People’s Judean Front v. People’s Front of Judea” stage. Which is likely a good thing.