After the neat mappings of various imagined futures, it came to mind that the new regions of fractured America are going to want to unite themselves under various banners. What we wind up with will tell us a lot about how these future countries will relate to each other, and how they show themselves to the world.
Now, this may seem a bit silly. What is a flag, but just a bunch of multicolored cloth flown in the wind? Yes, that may be the case, but when a symbol, such as a flag is used so often by a country or a group of people, it can become a distilled down version of what that group represents, its very essence. This is why companies spend so much on corporate logos, and “branding” of their advertisement universes.
Let’s look at this potent national and advertising symbol:
The flag of the United States of America; flown everywhere, and meaning (advertising) “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” A few copies of it are on the Moon, telling everyone for all time, “Americans did this; Americans were the ones who put their collective effort into going to a place nobody could even dream of going!” Gives most of us a good feeling, right?
Now, this one:
For some, it is no big deal. For others, it means oppression, slavery, and a whole host of other bits that people will scream about for hours. The recent controversy is fuel for political cartoonists, of course. To add fuel to the fire, we could show this flag, but there’s no sense in beating a dead horse. Flags are important, and convey a great deal of meaning.
So, what will our future republics use as flags, to rally their populations, and to ‘unite them under one banner’?
With regard to the Confederate Battle Flag (the Confederate Naval Jack, actually), some folks took it upon themselves to design a new symbol for the South:
This symbol, seems, well, OK, if you are designing a new corporate logo. As a flag, it sort of passes what I call, “the five year old crayon” test, but it seems to fail the “sewing test.” The “five year old crayon” test is just that – can a five year old kid draw the nation’s flag in crayon reasonably well? The more important one is the “sewing test” – can you easily sew the flag? The fading stripes seem kind of difficult to produce in a flag, and frankly, it seems a bit contrived. It’s not a bad start, but again, the stripes make it seem too corporate to be a nation’s flag, or a flag of anything other than a banal multinational entity. One good thing this flag has going for it is a lack of words – languages can change and morph over time, and a flag should have a timeless quality that transcends things like typography and language of the moment. The following flags (of Denmark, The Netherlands, the UK) are centuries old – simple, to the point, and something that yes, even a five year old could crayon:
Another element of the flag that seems a bit off is the color; light blue is usually associated with the United Nations, and the red doesn’t jibe with the red of the American or Confederate flags. Perhaps something a bit stronger would seem more fitting:
Still have to figure out how to to handle those intermixing blue and reds though.
One of the best modern flags that came about, to mix the old and new, was that of South Africa:
This flag sums up what South Africa is; a combination of pre- and post-apartheid worlds, joining together, using the colors of the ANC, Transvaal, Dutch and Union Jack flags.
One political cartoonist, when weighing in on this very topic, had two characters in his cartoon discussing this issue as well. How do you represent the good parts of Southern culture, but realizing new traditions have come up? He suggested we use this as the new flag for the South (that of the NASCAR checkered flag):All kidding aside, the kind of flag that a nation uses can tell a lot about a country. JHK’s flag for the Foxfire Republic gives you an instant glimpse of that country’s founding ideology and worldview:
In JHK’s play “Big Slide”, the folks that take over the camp use a “red flag, with a white circle, and a blue stylized eagle”:
This might be the flag of a bunch of local rebels, but it might not wash, from the point of view of a flag that a new nation could rally around; it has no history. One forward thinking individual, Albert Ebinger, came up with the following (note it is under copyright, used here under the Fair Use doctrine) flag for New England:
What is good about this flag is that it takes a bit from the existing US flag, and a bit from an old New England flag, and makes something that would help ease the transition for the citizens of the New England Confederacy. Without the stars, it is the traditional Bunker Hill Flag.
Texas, Alaska, Hawaii, and California all have their own state flags; luckily, all of them are relatively good, from a design standpoint, and have enough history in them to indicate their own territories and cultures without too much explanation.
Most US state flags are pretty boring, however, and about thirty of them don’t have much besides the state seal on a dark background. It is difficult to identify them when they are completely unfurled, much less when they are not flying in a breeze. Try identifying the flags of Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Maine, or Kansas – it’s tough to do!
So, of the various republics that will form in the wake of a breakup of the US, what will we get?
If one country takes the mantle of the United States of America, as in JMG’s Twilight’s Last Gleaming, some of us will be lucky and haul out the old Betsy Ross flag (or a variant) depending on how many states join this new America:
There are plenty of variants, but the important thing is that this flag will bring people together, and may make themselves think (as was alluded to in the story), “America is returning to its roots – a simple country, with clear ideals.”
In the television series ‘Jericho’, the Allied States of America used a variant of the US flag to show that it still (ostensibly) maintained a connection to the old United States:
The orientation of the stripes was changed deliberately; in that alternate universe it was said, “President Tomarchio stated the change in orientation of the stripes could be taken to represent “a new direction” for Americans.”
Perhaps what may happen is (with the exception of places like Texas), the new countries of the US will retain parts of the American flag, just as the offshoots of Great Britain maintained a Union Jack. The New England flag above does that nicely; perhaps white stars on a blue field will be the common theme of these new republics.
Some of the best thoughts on these topics have been thought out quite extensively, especially with respect to the varying number of states in the US. Other regions of the country have been thought about as well; for example, if an Appalachian Republic was to form, this flag by Rick Wyatt might do the trick:
Simple, easy to make, and easy enough for a five year old to remember how to make it, and it includes the a design element (the star) that links it to the old United States. I’m not too sure about having brown in a flag; strong colors (black, white, red, blue, green) are the colors that seem to be in most flags. My take would be then along these lines:
Cascadia has a flag as well, but it uses stripes to link itself to the US flag.
A bit of searching for other regional flags turns up some garish ones, but the idea does have merit. Of course, there is a reddit post on this very topic. Interestingly enough, a flag for a nation surrounding the Great Lakes (JMG’s Lakeland Republic!) was suggested; even the stars (with seven points) might reflect that seven states formed the basis of the new republic.
But, given the criteria above, perhaps this flag below might work, although some critics may say that it looks too much like the EU flag. It also (I just found out), is the naval jack of the old Confederate Navy, so it might not fly (quite literally).
Another option might be to incorporate some color from the old US flag; perhaps the red border refers to the long embargo that the Lakeland Republic has had to endure and helped define it over the years.
For the flag of an independent Florida (which exists in another of JMG’s universes – Twilight’s Last Gleaming/”How It Could Happen”), this seems appropriate (from the old West Florida Republic):Nice, simple, and again, noting that it was from the old United States of America, but not of it.
If the folks in Oklahoma and New Mexico are clamoring for more attention, they might petition so the flag for Texas includes them:
The Rocky Mountain Republic might wind up with:
The Atlantic Republic might go all out digital, or get something more simple and corporate:
The Republic of Deseret might use some old flags, such as the Kimball/Maguire Flag of 1877, depicted here. I haven’t thought what the Missouri Republic might do; there were seven states in the Missouri Republic, and Missouri had a chunk taken out of it; would that be reflected in the flag?
Questions for this week:
- What might flags of the future American republics look like?
- What design elements (stars, stripes, colors) will be in all of the flags?
- Will any wildly colorful flags (i.e. rainbow colored) appear as national flags?
- Any other ideas for the flag of the Lakeland Republic (or any of the other republics), in JMG’s latest online story of Retrotopia?