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We may not need a planetary flag, but we ought to want one. This is a design proposal for a flag of Earth. [*]

Sable, hurt.
In a field of black, a blue disc.

2 : 3
roundel r = .3h

A sensible black (field)
Pantone 300 (roundel)

*   *   *

On the following points, this flag is superior to other Earth flags designed hitherto:

1. It is shockingly, almost unbelievably, unoriginal. As a good flag should be. It is not clever. It is what every thick, nearsighted schoolchild would draw. It represents absolutely nothing more than it needs to: the world.

2. It leaves little to chance. It is both symmetrical and reversible. Its proportions are those of the flag of Japan. Its blue is that of the flag of Scotland (the flag of Earth, and rightly so, in H. G. Wells's The Holy Terror). But:

3. It is unlike any other extant flag. It is not the banner of 'a mission.'

4. It has obvious advantages over the only two Earth flag designs to enjoy any currency whatever, John McConnell's Earth Day flag (vaguely championed by various environmental organisations) [*] and James Cadle's flag (informally championed by SETI). [*] Unlike a) McConnell's flag, this flag does not depend on verisimilitude (a photo, 'The Blue Marble,' a-ha!) for its effect. It is mass-producible, uncomplicated, and not a time capsule. A flag is not an ID. No part of Earth's geography is privileged over any other; there is no geography, just a circle. Black rather than blue is used to represent the space Earth hangs in. Plain, profound, mysterious, accurate black. Unlike b) Cadle's flag, it depicts only the Earth: no Sun, no Moon. I, for one, fail to see what place they have on our flag. One doesn't invite the neighbours over to sit for the family portrait. St George's Cross isn't on the American flag.

5. It can be taken seriously. It is not hideous. It is not meant for clowns or children or astrologers. Could you live on a planet that flew this flag? [*] Or this one? [*] Or a flag that tears to bits in the breeze? [*]

6. It cannot be easily associated with any particular ideology, philosophy, or cause. (But see 10.)

7. Not everyone will like it. But few will hate it. (But see 10.)

8. It looks as if it has always been.

9. Scottish flags can be cut up to make it.

10. If an Earth flag is ever needed by an Earth military (and if Earth ever needs a flag, it will be needed by an Earth military), well, this flag is a bit menacing. If we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge that this is because it reminds us of the flag of Japan, and that flag, in the mind, never looked better than when it was painted under the wings of bombers sneaking their payloads over Battleship Row or Rangoon in wave after frightening, soul-less wave. Remembering this kind of casual, associative racism will serve us well as we, as a progressive civilisation, advance into space. Space will be frightening, and humbling. There is nothing wrong with fearing and hating the Other, as long as we admit to it, and he does, too. But it is nicer still, and safer, to fear and hate his symbols, and have ours feared and hated in return. Now don't we feel better?