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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hammer and Sickle

When the two-headed eagle, the symbol of the Russian empire, was discarded by the Bolsheviks, the state needed a new emblem. The decision was not easy. The hammer, a traditional symbol of industry, the working class and trade unions, came naturally. Its importance is reflected in a popular revolutionary song: "We are the smiths, our spirit is young; We forge keys to the future. Rise higher, our hot hammer. . ".


For the second part of the emblem, members of the commission created to choose an emblem initially suggested a sword. But Vladimir Lenin, who knew something about heraldic symbols, opposed it on the grounds that the sword was a traditional symbol of military supremacy and religious intolerance.


The commission had ten sessions until somebody suggested the sickle. This, no doubt, had something do with Lenin's influence, as the man had spent some of the best days of his life in Switzerland, where a sickle was the traditional symbol of peasantry and farming. In 1923, the hammer and sickle was officially adopted as the Soviet state emblem.


In "International Symbols and Emblems", V. Pokhlebkin wrote: "It would be totally incorrect, both formally and politically, to investigate the name of the designer of the emblem, because this wasn't an artist's choice, but a collective decision of Soviet political leadership".


In any case, the commission, led by Anatoly Lunacharsky, gave the world one of the century's most successful designs. The Soviet emblem, a hybrid of proletarian symbols, a cross, a crescent and a swastika, worked perfectly from both a political and aesthetic point of view.


The emblem appeared everywhere: on buttons, orders, banners, etc.


Over the years, the hammer and sickle evolved from a Communist fetish into an object of ridicule. A popular dissident folk song went something like this, "Look at our Soviet arms, There's a sickle and a hammer, You forge steel, or you crop wheat - All you get is a piece of. . ".


During Gorbymania, the hammer and sickle became a cult commodity in the West. Now it looks like the old two-headed bird is about to make a comeback.


These days, however, it seems that the most fitting replacement for the hammer and sickle would be a dollar sign overlapping a gas pistol.