Why is red associated with communism?

I always have random questions popping out of my mind and I don’t know if it is normal or not. Yesterday, another thought came to me. Why is red associated with communism? Or socialism? Or violence?

I have read things about the association of the color with communism and many have agreed that it is about the idea of the proletariat rising up in a revolution. We can remember the Jacobins in the French revolution who flew red flags to honor the blood of the martyrs who had been killed. Later, when they ruled the country during the Reign of Terror, they made the red flag as their national emblem. In  the 1848 French revolution, socialists and radicals demanded the red flag be France’s national flag, but the government rejected the idea. However, in the Paris Commune, the red flag was again used and since then, the red flag, or red, became a symbol of socialism/communism.

Today, when asked about red flags, two countries often come to mind: Russia and China.

The color has a long association with socialist Russia (the Soviet Union) long before the rise of Communist China. For both socialist and communist, I believe everyone has in mind a single symbol which marks these two ideologies. The red star.

According to Mikhail Khvostov, Soviet troops fleeing from the Austrian and German fronts found themselves in Moscow in 1917 and mixed with the local Moscow garrison. To distinguish the Moscow troops from the influx of retreating Russians the officers gave out tin stars to the Moscow garrison soldiers, to wear on their hats. When those troops joined the Red Army and the Bolsheviks they painted their tin stars red, the color of socialism, thus creating the original red star.

The red star became the national emblem of Soviet Union. In fact, it became the most prominent symbol of the former Russia. Buildings, monuments, aircrafts, and awards were often decorated with this insignia. Following this, the five-pointed star became a symbol of communism in general. It was sometimes thought to be the five fingers of a worker’s hand which runs the five continents. Other times, it was thought to be representing the five classes of a socialist society: intellectuals, soldiers, youth, farmers, and workers.

With the Soviet Union in the lead, other Communist states adopted the red star. They combined it with their respective flags and coat of arms. Below are the examples of such countries and movements:

Vietnam

North Korea

Yugoslavian Partisans

Communist Party of the Philippines

Now, on a different approach, let’s try the psychology of color. According to Precision Intermedia, red is the color of energy. It is associated with movement, energy, and of course blood. Furthermore, the color signifies leadership qualities and promotes ambition and determination. It symbolizes strong-will and confidence. Studies show that people who are surrounded by red tend to have an increase in heart beat and a feeling of out of breath. Sometimes, being in a place with too much red can cause irritation, agitation, and anger.

With the paragraph above, I guess it’s a no-brainer why the color is associated with communism. Assertiveness and aggressiveness bring out the red in those people who believe in this ideology.

Hmm, which reminds me of a phrase we use whenever we feel angry: I see red. What does it mean? To become angry or lose self-control. It may also mean heated emotions and violence.

So why is red associated with communism again? I hope I have made sense in this post and added something in your memory bank. To wrap things up, I am going to share to you one trivia I have read over the internet regarding red and Russia.

Did you know that the color red in Russian (красный) is almost similar with their word for beautiful (красивый)?

19 thoughts on “Why is red associated with communism?

  1. Interesting post! Even in the American flag, the red is supposed to symbolize the blood spilled for our freedom. I guess it’s universaly that red is symbolic of power and strength.

  2. Someone once told me that they purposefully don’t buy red cars because they feel that it could cause other drivers to be angry and cause an accident if even accidentally.

    Another color used for an emotion is green, that usually signifies jealousy.

    Again, it looks like a lot of research has gone into this article, unless you learn this in your history books in your schools. I’d like to suggest that you put some of the bibliography from which you’ve gained your information, or have a separate page for it if someone would want to know more.

    From all this information it sounds like you major in government or world affairs.

Share your thoughts, I would love to read them!