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Social democrats and the red rose

Since the 1880s, the red rose has been a symbol of socialism. The origin of the rose as a symbol of socialism relates to its association with the color red. Since at least 1848, red was associated with socialism.
Following the collapse of the Paris Commune, German Chancellor Bismarck, out of fear of the growing strength of the socialists in Germany, had parliament pass the Anti-Socialist laws to suppress the activities of the Social Democratic Party. To circumvent the law, social democrats wore red bits of ribbons in their buttonholes. These actions, however, led to arrest and jail sentences. Subsequently, red rosebuds were substituted by social democrats. These actions also led to arrest and jail sentences. The judge ruled that, in general, everyone has a right to wear any flower as suits their taste, but when socialists as a group wear red rosebuds, it becomes a party emblem. Subsequently, the Germans spread the red rose, the symbol of socialism, across Europe and the United States. With time the red rose, and the social democrats took over Western Europe. There is no complete consensus among Social Democrats regarding what the rose symbol represents.

There is no complete consensus among Social Democrats regarding what the rose symbol represents:  There are, however, several ideas:

  1. community (the flower’s petals)
  2. socialism (its red color)
  3. taking care of those who are less able to compete (the fragility)
  4. the struggle (the thorns)
  5. growth (growing potential)
  6. the plurality (the flower’s form)
  7. respect for nature (a plant) and
  8. cultural life (beauty)

Labour Party, United Kingdom

For purposes of standing apart – symbolically and ideologically – from the more prominent Communist Party’s hard-line socialism, the Western European Socialists placed a red rose into the clenched fist. The intention was to signify “socialism with a human face.”

International Socialist

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