Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 18, 2011

Toscanini conducts the Internationale

Filed under: music — louisproyect @ 2:34 pm


  1. Hello (7 October 2011),

    A friend asked me what I thought of some lyrics of a new song written for the Occupy Wall Street protests (by a young songwriter). This question led me to survey my memory for classic protest and social justice songs, chants or anthems, that might be appropriate to OWS gatherings, or might inspire songwriters to create new music for today’s protest movement. The list I arrived at follows further below (I picked visually evocative videos with sonic punch). Perhaps you can improve upon it, and pass it along as seems right.

    In my view, the kind of songs needed have to be simple and/or familiar, yet conceptually clear to the widest audience; they need to elicit solidarity, infuse the protesters with courage, and uplift them (it is also good when a protest song inspires some fear in the bosses and bankers). I’m glad that young people are writing songs for today’s movement. Stirring music can give heart to people, and thus inspired they can join together to change their world.

    La Marseillaise (Casablanca)

    “This Land is your Land” — Woody Guthrie

    [You have to disable a stupid advert before the song, or suffer through it]

    “Give Peace A Chance” — John Lennon

    “If I Had A Hammer” — Peter, Paul & Mary

    “Which Side Are You On” — Pete Seeger

    “Banks of Marble” — Pete Seeger

    “Joe Hill” — Paul Robeson

    “Union Thru’ and Thru'” — (Boyd Wilson singing)

    “Union” — Black Eye Peas

    “Where Is The Love” — Black Eye Peas

    “There Is Power In A Union” — Street Dogs

    “Worker’s Song” — Dropkick Murphys

    “Tom Paine’s Bones” — The Shee

    “All You Fascists Bound To Lose” — Woody Guthrie

    [“bankers” fits instead of “fascists”]

    “We Shall Not Be Moved” & “Ain’t Gonna Turn Us Around” — Wisconsin Teacher

    IWW Soapboxing and then “Dump The Bosses Off Your Back” — Utah Phillips

    “Dump The Bosses Off Your Back” & “Bread and Roses” — Utah Phillips & Ani DiFranco

    Here’s the granddaddy of all American protest songs:

    “We Shall Overcome” — Pete Seeger

    Here’s the original song of liberation and revolution, for the industrialized world:


    “La révolution est un travail constant.”

    “When the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, the World will know Peace.” — Jimi Hendrix

    “Let the voice of the people be heard!” — Albert R. Parsons, 40-hour-week labor activist and Haymarket Martyr, last words on the gallows, 1887; the reason for May Day.

    “And now to all I say: Falter not. Lay bare the inequities of capitalism; expose the slavery of law; proclaim the tyranny of government; denounce the greed, cruelty, abominations of the privileged class who riot and revel on the labor of their wage-slaves.” — from Albert Parson’s last letter, 1887.

    Comment by Manuel Garcia, Jr. — October 18, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  2. Lou,

    I’ll foreword this to Richie, my old room mate at Bard, who I’m sure you remember. His parents were in the Toscanini radio orchestra. His father Ralph played the bassoon, his mother Flori, the trombone. Some terrible labor event took place sometime in the early ‘fifties resulting in many of the musicians in the orchestra being blacklisted. Richies’ mother organized Music for Long Island, a very successful effort to bring ‘culture’ to the suburbs. The real purpose was to get work for blacklisted musicians. I seem to recall that they spoke of Toscanini as if he were Musolini, not Toglioti. Hopefully Richie will write to you with the story.


    Comment by Paul Mueller — October 19, 2011 @ 1:17 am

  3. HI,
    My name is Chris “The Anarchist” Ryan, I am a “Yippie!” from Columbus Ohio. I say that now, more than ever, teh stirring words and music of this song NEED to be heard. The late Abbie Hoffman was a mentor of mine, and HE liked The Internationale. Even now, so many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I STILL get a thrill to hear it. The ideals it expresses are MY ideals, and the valiant struggle of people everywhere to not have to live under constant oppression is still a worthy cause.
    “Arise ye prisoners of starvation…”

    Comment by Chris Ryan — November 5, 2012 @ 6:02 am

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