Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Brief History of the Clenched Fist

While it came to popularity in the late 1960's the clenched fist has been around some say since the neolithic age in cave paintings. In early graphic art, however it goes back to 1917. The fist images were used in some form in the French and Soviet revolutions, the United States Communist Party of course famously with the Black Panther party culminating in Mexico City when two world class athletes used the symbol on the medal stand as a form of resistance, a dark period in McCarthyism in the late 60's in America that cost the two their medals. I love this image, it displays strength and resistance and at times unity.

The first time the symbol was used in the anti-war movement was by San Francisco Bay Area graphic artist Frank's Cieciorka for Stop The Draft Week, for actions January 14, 1968 protesting the arrest of the "Oakland Seven" This poster was adapted from one he had done earlier for Stop The Draft Week (10/17/1967) that used a large, blocky figure wielding a fist. The second poster took the fist and used on its own.

It showed up almost immediately within the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS, which used it in flier for the 1968 Chicago National Democratic Convention protest. A virtually identical fist used in the 1969 Harvard student strike traces its design to School of Design student Harvey Hacker. See some amazing clenched fist pieces of art and more on the history.

As I read about this history we need our own clenched fist, one that symbols the end of free market capitalism and signifies a movement to tie workers around the world together in unity against abusive policies that seek to both degrade humanity and destroy our planet. We need a clenched fist that seeks unity, justice and a green revolution for the 21st century. Any takers?

1 comment:

Grey Rey said...

So it is the free market you freaks hate, no problem with state capitalism or crony capitalism (fascism), its just the free part you hate.You people would make great prison guards.