The symbolic power of animals has always appealed to people. There are numerous examples throughout human history where representations of animals play a significant role in the cycle in which meanings are determined: from the animal-gods of the ancient egyptians via the lamb of god to more recent examples like Mickey Mouse and the eagle – a symbol of power in both the USA and nazi Germany.
The American Eagle and the Nazi Adler, here both featured on a coin.
Nature as a metaphor
Regular visitors of this blog are probably familiar with what call Biomimic Marketing: the utilisation of images of nature to market products or services. In that respect, the above mentioned examples fall into the category of metaphorically driven Biomimic Marketing. But maybe we can expand our vocabulary a little, with adding a variation this theme that I would like to call Biomic Propaganda: using images of nature for adressing ideologies or political ideas. A well known example of Biomimic Propaganda is the use of the donkey and the elephant as symbols for respectively the Democratic- and the Republican party in the United States – and their various ironic spinoffs to mock each other. But how did they ever come into being?
The fairytale of the donkey and the elephant
The now-famous Democratic donkey was first associated with Democrat Andrew Jackson's 1828 presidential campaign. His opponents called him a jackass and Jackson decided to use the image of the strong-willed animal on his campaign posters. Later, cartoonist Thomas Nast used the Democratic donkey in newspaper cartoons and made the symbol famous.
Nast invented another famous symbol — the Republican elephant. In a cartoon that appeared in Harper's Weekly in 1874, Nast drew a donkey clothed in lion's skin, scaring away all the animals at the zoo. One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled “The Republican Vote.” That's all it took for the elephant to become associated with the Republican Party. Democrats today are thought to believe that the donkey is smart and brave, while Republicans say the elephant is strong and dignified. Metaphorical use of Biomimic Marketing for political purposes: Biomimic Propaganda.
‘The Third Term Panic’, a cartoon political cartoon featuring both the donkey as the elephant by Thomas Nast. Published in Harper’s Weekly November 7, 1874.
For the people behind More Party Animals, both creatures are fine and dandy, but as a twosome they make for a pretty uneventful safari. They think it's time to ‘don our khaki apparel and gear up for a jungle adventure filled with more and more species of the political party animal kingdom’.
More Party Animals is an apolitically-political idea born out of a heartfelt disenchantment with the status quo. As the current system continues to polarize the USA, More Party Animals strongly believe America is in need of a wider selection of political parties.
“We say our idea is apolitical because More Party Animals is steadfastly devoted to being policy-free. Our animals represent a potential symbol for new beliefs, not the beliefs themselves. That, we leave up to you. Our purpose is to encourage and help people start their own party, promote their own ideas and create a genuine alternative that might actually catch on. More choices leads to better results… it’s the American way. Are red white and blue so engrained in the design palette of the American political system? Apparently so. At least the quixotic usage of the elephant and donkey provide some fodder to build upon for political design fun. And the animal logos look good on t-shirts, too.”
NATURE ITSELF IS THE
MOST SUCCESSFULLY MARKETED
PRODUCT OF OUR TIME
Nature as ideology
But in the end there is another hidden, largely unconscious, yet even bigger propaganda mechanism going on. Perhaps even the shrewdest political campaign managers are not really aware that political ideas sold using this kind of Biomimic Propaganda, simultaneously promote a very one-dimensional and romanticized notion of nature. Along with the promotion of ideologies, nature is being promoted as the sensible, harmonic, soothing, authentic, healthy, honest and beautiful force in life. The darker, more negative, side of nature is consistently omitted by the biomimic propagandists, as you can’t sell your political party with diseases, death, hurricanes, floods, or other extremely crude, unpredictable and amoral qualities nature has to offer. Nature itself is the most successfully marketed product of our time.
Well, they sure look good on shirts. And we’re very happy that the beautiful Animal Wallpaper designed by Karl Grandin and which features as the background for this website, finally got some trans-atlantic cousins.