While not necessarily an IWW composition, "The Internationale" was a song frequently sung by the Wobblies. It was sung at the IWW's first convention and appears in the first edition of the "little red songbook." "The Internationale" was written in 1871 by French worker, Eugene Pottier to celebrate the Paris Commune, the first working class revolution. Subsequently translated into virtually every language, "The Internationale" has been recognized as the anthem of radical movements all over the globe.

"The Internationale," sung by Billy Bragg, from 'The Internationale,' Utility Records. Provided courtesy of Elektra Entertainment. © 1990.
Awaiting permission.


By Eugene Pottier

(Translated by Charles H. Kerr)

Arise, ye prisoners 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 Industrial Union Shall be the human race.

We want no condescending saviors
To rule us from a judgment hall;
We workers ask not for their favors;
Let us consult for all.
To make the thief 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,
Wage systems drain our blood;
The rich are free from obligations,
The laws the poor delude.
Too long we've languished in subjection,
Equality has other laws;
"No rights," says he, "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 the strong coffers of a few;
In working for their restitution
The men will only ask their due.


Toilers from shops and fields united,
The union we of all who work;
The earth belongs to us, the people,
No room here for the shirk.
How many on our flesh have fattened!
But if the noisome birds of prey
Shall vanish from the sky some morning,
The blessed sunlight will stay.



© Copyright Labor Arts Inc.