The Internationale

Words by Eugene Pottier (Paris 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.
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.

The Internationale was written to celebrate the Paris Commune of March-May 1871: the first time workers took state power into their own hands. They established in the Commune a form of government more democratic than ever seen before. Representatives were mandated on policy questions by their electors, they were recallable at any time and were paid wages that reflected those of their constituents. The Commune was a working body, not a talk shop. The distinction between legislative and executive arms of government was abolished. Marx's Civil War in France is a suberb account of the history and significance of the Commune. The Commune was drowned in blood by the conservative French government in Versailles, cheered on by the ruling classes of the world.

Workers have adopted a similar pattern of organisation whenever they have challenged the capitalist class for state power: in the form of the Soviets in Russia in 1917; collectives in Spain in 1937; the Workers Council of Greater Budapest in Hungary in 1956; the cordones in Chile in 1973; and, in many respects, Solidarity in Poland in 1980.

I:\publish\marx\intfoot.htm

Internationale | Marxism Page


Original URL http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/int/internationale.html
Author Rick Kuhn. Last revised 22 May 2011. Feedback form