The perspectives, motivations, opinions, and expectations of Anne Onimous

Although metallic and fabric standards and banners were used in antiquity, flags as we think of them today originated in medieval land battles, spreading to sea battles by the early seventeenth century. It was not until the late eighteenth century, however, that nations began to uniformly wave any ‘national’ flags, the driving force for their appearance having been the rise of nationalism. By the early nineteenth century, when nationalistic attitudes were pervasive, national flags became ubiquitous, along with rife isolationism and xenophobia. Had national flags not arisen at that time, one might speculate that they would probably arise now, given recent international trends.

In the two centuries or more that national flags have widely existed, they have virtually come to be regarded as sacred symbols within the nations that they represent, worthy of pledges of allegiance as well as criminal punishment for their ‘desecration’. Almost every nation on earth has historical laws that impose fines, imprisonment, or even death for such disrespect, and the perceived need to make or to enforce such laws continues to be regurgitated to this day. In the current political climate, with ‘nationalism’ thought by many to no longer be the dirty word that it had become by the latter part of the twentieth century, criminal penalties for national flag insults will probably increase.

All of which is just to point out that, although national flags can be exquisitely beautiful, extremely useful, and highly symbolic, and although even the poorest of national flags can garner, over time, unfathomable depths of emotional attachment from the citizenry over whom it has waved, there is a fair bit of rubbish associated with national flags. It seems unlikely, from the point-of-view of any Deity, that a piece of fabric can be sanctified by the pattern that it displays, such that a plain sheet can be burned or even defecated upon without significance, whilst dire consequences can justly attend the identical acts for a national flag. A Deity would probably also see the logic of replacing a poor flag with a better one, to the extent that any Deity might care about such a thing. By contrast, for the flawed creatures that comprise humanity, the merits of replacing a poor national flag with a better one can be lost on those who are unable to esteem logic above emotion, whilst the merits of replacing a poor flag with a better one will most certainly be lost if no better flag design even exists.

In the opinion of Anne Onimous, the latter condition best explains why Australia’s national flag has not yet changed. Having performed a somewhat more than cursory study of the history of the Australian flag debate, she decided to see if she could design some Australian flags that might be better than both the current national flag and the alternative flags that have been proposed to-date. It will never be for her to say whether she succeeded in that endeavour, but she found pleasure in its pursuit, and she derives pleasure from it still. The challenge is its own reward.

Having succeeded, at least, in producing a number of flag designs that she herself thought good, Anne realised that keeping her designs to herself would never have any practical benefit, so she built a website to showcase them. In the course of producing her designs, Anne also found herself developing strong and perhaps unconventional opinions about flag design in general, as well as about Australian flag design in particular. In her view, practical advice about designing an Australian flag is mostly non-existent, and vexillological advice about designing flags is mostly worthless, so she put her ideas into writing, in the form of a ‘Precepts’ PDF and other documents, all of which can be found on her ‘Resources’ page.

Anne does not claim to be an expert on flag design or on anything else, and it is of no consequence to her whether Australia ever opts to replace its current flag. After all, she may not even an Aussie, and her name may not even be Anne Onimous, and she may not even be a she, not that any of that is pertinent. She is not looking for affirmation or validation from those who visit the website that she has created, nor is she inclined to invite a flood of criticism, so her designs simply feature an anonymous five-star rating system, and her opinions are presented on a take-them-or-leave-them basis, without any provisions for public comment or for e-mail interaction. Should anyone feel compelled to remark upon Anne’s designs beyond rating them, or upon her opinions, whether pro or con, they are welcome to build their own websites.

Anne’s only expectation is this: Sometime after all of the centenary commemorations have faded from memory, or when an Australian politician manages to float a republic vote, or when the Queen passes away or passes her crown, or when the Kiwis get their own new flag and leave Aussies envious, or when any other event precipitates an Australian flag referendum, the flag designs of Anne Onimous will be ready to compete for honours, and her opinions will be available for consideration, because nothing on the Internet is ever truly lost. In the meantime she simply hopes that at least some of the Australians who visit her website will appreciate the offerings that they find there.

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