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
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