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« signs of remembrance | Main | at the sign of the fist »
Monday
Nov072011

V

Winston Churchill demonstrating a British V for victory against Nazi Germany.

V for victory is how it was used by Churchill in WWII.  We know now how very close Britain was to defeat; it was important for Churchill to show indomitable surety that victory was nigh.  
It is a combination of the hand of solidarity and the letter V.  It is also the two-fingered Cub salute: the two fingers are the ears of Akela, the wolf cub.  You remembered that didn't you?

Victory and peace.  We also know now that victory does not automatically mean peace.  Nixon used to hold both hands up in a fractal of two-fingered Vs at the end of a two-armed V – this where the V for victory in Vietnam was at odds with the V meaning Peace, man.  Throughout the late 1960s and early 70s peace meant withdrawal, not victory, an absence of victory as the battle was given up rather than waiting for defeat.  

The V hand sign has emerged again in the Arab Spring, where valour, valediction, validity and victory has been signed by every child, every woman, every student and rebel in each country as entrenched power structures were dismantled.  Tunisia and Egypt's demonstrations were non-violent resistance movements; this didn't work in Libya and isn't working in Syria.  Here V stands for a victory not of the individual who as he is rushed off on a stretcher manages to lift a hand and weakly flash two fingers, no, here the victory is for a people who will never go back, no matter what it takes, even if it takes generations.  



A young Libyan girl flashes the "V sign" with her two fingers painted with the old national flag's colours, during a demonstration against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi outside the court house of Benghazi.Shockingly, in looking for the images here, I found recent pictures of Ahmedinijad in Iran and Saif al Qadhafi both complacently saluting their audiences with a V: here they are indicating their roots in revolutionary movements from a long, long time ago.  The green flag of Qadhafi's revolutionary movement, the target in the Libyan uprising, represented the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya: green is the traditional colour of Islam.  Green was the colour of protest in Iran in 2009, one sees on the news Palestinian coffins draped in green.  The V and Green seem to be very specific in their applications depending on which people are using them, where and at what stage are their revolutions.

There is something about all these symbols and signs that coalesce around peace, non-violence and solidarity, and revolution, war and victory.  These conditions seem to be all very closely linked and the symbols oscillate between them.

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