Pete Seeger sings and explains The Internationale

... on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution

The song of the First and Second International, it was written by a transport worker after the Paris Commune was crushed by the French government. The song was later used as the first Soviet Union National Anthem and Anthem of the (Third) Communist International, until 1944 when the latter was disolved.

Written by: Eugène Pottier - Paris, June 1871

Music by: Pierre Degeyter - 1888,

Arise ye workers from your slumbers

Arise ye prisoners of want

For reason in revolt now thunders

And at last ends the age of cant.

Away with all your superstitions

Servile masses arise, arise

We’ll change henceforth the old tradition

And spurn the dust to win the prize.


So comrades, come rally

And the last fight let us face

The Internationale unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction

On tyrants only we’ll make war

The soldiers too will take strike action

They’ll break ranks and fight no more

And if those cannibals keep trying

To sacrifice us to their pride

They soon shall hear the bullets flying

We’ll shoot the generals on our own side.

No saviour from on high delivers

No faith have we in prince or peer

Our own right hand the chains must shiver

Chains of hatred, greed and fear

E’er the thieves will out with their booty

And give to all a happier lot.

Each at the forge must do their duty

And we’ll strike while the iron is hot.

Adaptation of Charles H. Kerr translation from the original, for The IWW Songbook (34th Edition).

Arise ye pris’ners of starvation

Arise ye wretched of the earth

For justice thunders condemnation

A better world’s in birth!

No more tradition’s chains shall bind us

Arise, ye slaves, no more in thrall;

The earth shall rise on new foundations

We have been naught we shall be all.


’Tis the final conflict

Let each stand in his place

The International Union

Shall be the human race.

We want no condescending saviors

To rule us from their judgement hall

We workers ask not for their favors

Let us consult for all.

To make the theif disgorge his booty

To free the spirit from its cell

We must ourselves decide our duty

We must decide and do it well.

The law oppresses us and tricks us,

The wage slave system drains our blood;

The rich are free from obligation,

The laws the poor delude.

Too long we’ve languished in subjection,

Equality has other laws;

"No rights", says she "without their duties,

No claims on equals without cause."

Behold them seated in their glory

The kings of mine and rail and soil!

What have you read in all their story,

But how they plundered toil?

Fruits of the workers’ toil are buried

In strongholds of the idle few

In working for their restitution

The men will only claim their due.

'We toilers from all fields united

Join hand in hand with all who work;

The earth belongs to us, the workers,

No room here for the shirk.

How many on our flesh have fattened!

But if the norsome birds of prey

Shall vanish from the sky some morning

The blessed sunlight then will stay.

Billy Bragg lyrics

Stand up all victims of oppression

For the tyrants fear your might

Don't cling so hard to your possessions

For you have nothing if you have no rights

Let racist ignorance be ended

For respect makes the empires fall

Freedom is merely privilege extended

Unless enjoyed by one and all

So come brothers and sisters

For the struggle carries on

The internationale

Unites the world in song

So comrades come rally

For this is the time and place

The international ideal

Unites the human race

Let no one build walls to divide us

Walls of hatred nor walls of stone

Come greet the dawn and stand beside us

We'll live together or we'll die alone

In our world poisoned by exploitation

Those who have taken now they must give

And end the vanity of nations

We've but one earth on which to live</div>

And so begins the final drama

In the streets and in the fields

We stand unbowed before their armor

We defy their guns and shields

When we fight provoked by their aggression

Let us be inspired by like and love

For though they offer us concessions

Change will not come from above

Songwriters: Stephen William Bragg / Petrus Christianus De Geyter / Eugene Edme Pottier

The Internationale lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC