The black color and the black flag as a symbol are closely related to the misery of mankind under rule. It is claimed the color of black symbolizes dried blood and is therefore closely related to the bloodshed of oppressive rule or the rebellion, and the suffering, hunger, misery and death of the ruled masses. The dried blood may also represent the helplessness, and in time: apathy, of people under rule, who are forced to watch their liberties, family and friends be slaughtered by the tyrant(s). It symbolizes that the time of tyranny and oppression is to be ended, and that the rebellion against the oppressive rule will not stop, its rebels will not surrender nor be merciful. “Liberty or Death.” “Surrender or die!”
Why is our flag black? Black is a shade of negation. The black flag is the negation of all flags. It is a negation of nationhood which puts the human race against itself and denies the unity of all humankind. Black is a mood of anger and outrage at all the hideous crimes against humanity perpetrated in the name of allegiance to one state or another. It is anger and outrage at the insult to human intelligence implied in the pretenses, hypocrisies, and cheap chicaneries of governments.
Black is also a color of mourning; the black flag which cancels out the nation also mourns its victims the countless millions murdered in wars, external and internal, to the greater glory and stability of some bloody state. It mourns for those whose labor is robbed (taxed) to pay for the slaughter and oppression of other human beings. It mourns not only the death of the body but the crippling of the spirit under authoritarian and hierarchic systems; it mourns the millions of brain cells blacked out with never a chance to light up the world. It is a color of inconsolable grief.
But black is also beautiful. It is a color of determination, of resolve, of strength, a color by which all others are clarified and defined. Black is the mysterious surrounding of germination, of fertility, the breeding ground of new life which always evolves, renews, refreshes, and reproduces itself in darkness. The seed hidden in the earth, the strange journey of the sperm, the secret growth of the embryo in the womb all these the blackness surrounds and protects.
So black is negation, is anger, is outrage, is mourning, is beauty, is hope, is the fostering and sheltering of new forms of human life and relationship on and with this earth. The black flag means all these things. We are proud to carry it, sorry we have to, and look forward to the day when such a symbol will no longer be necessary.
from Reinventing Anarchy, Again by Howard Ehrlich, an American sociologist and anarchist activist. Formerly a professor at University of Iowa, he was co-founder of Research Group One that conducted research on behalf of activist organizations in the US. Subsequently, he co-founded a collective that produced a successful radio program called the Great Atlantic Radio Conspiracy, a free school, and started a peer-reviewed journal called Social Anarchism.
Today, Ehrlich is director of the Prejudice Institute, which studies ethnoviolence.