The socialist song, The International


This video is about the song The International.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Too long as the vulture’s prey

(Tuesday 06 November 2007)

IN PROFILE: The International

ANTHEM: French revolutionary Eugene Pottier wrote his poem L’Internationale in 1871.

AUBREY BOWMAN of the Workers’ Music Association looks at the history behind the words of revolutionary anthem The International.

THE scene – summer of 1871, the Paris Commune, the local community government. Germany under the Prussian Bismark had attacked France.

Just a year earlier, German troops had already seized two of its [eastern] provinces, Alsace and Lorraine. With troops nearly at the gates of Paris, the French government was in a state of capitulation.

The Parisian workers, already politically organised in the First International, took control of the Commune, introduced socialist measures and immediately began preparations for the defence of the capital.

The French government, however, faced with the prospect of workers’ power, made common cause with the German enemy and turned their guns on the Commune, thus making the workers the true defenders of the nation. Barriers were set up and street barricades were erected to defend the commune.

So it was, then, in those tumultuous days, virtually on the barricades, amid cannon, sabre and shot, that French revolutionary poet Eugene Pottier penned his famous lines, the poem L’Internationale.

The battle itself had been fought with an intense ferocity. The defence was heroic, beyond all bounds, but the commune was vanquished and history records that a vengeful terror ensued.

Pottier, a poet and transport worker, had himself been a defender as a leading Communard but managed to escape the carnage. He took refuge in England, where he remained for some years, before returning to his homeland, where he died 120 years ago on November 6 1887.

It was only in the following year that Flemish musician Pierre Degeyter started to compose the music which has carried the inspiring message of Pottier’s words into all corners of the Earth
and into as many languages as there are people gathered together.

The Red Flag of Anarchy; 19th century history of red and black flags: here.

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