The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






The Internationale

The Internationale (L'Internationale in French) is the most famous socialist song and one of the most widely recognized songs in the world. The original (French) words were written in 1870 by Eugène Pottier (18161887, later a member of the Paris Commune). Pierre Degeyter (18481932) set the poem to music in 1888. (It was originally intended to be sung to the tune of La Marseillaise.)

The Internationale became the anthem of international revolutionary socialism. Its refrain: C'est la lutte finale./Groupons-nous et demain/L'Internationale/Sera le genre humain. (Freely translated, this means: "This is the final struggle./Let us join together and tomorrow/The International/Will embrace all the human race.") The Internationale has been translated into scores of languages. Traditionally it is sung with the right hand raised in a clenched-fist salute.

In many European countries, the song was illegal around the beginning of the 20th century because of its "communistic" image and government-undermining lyrics.

The Russian version served as the national anthem of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1941, when it was replaced by the Hymn of the Soviet Union and became the party anthem of the CPSU. It was initially translated by Aron Kots (Arkadiy Yakovlevich Kots) in 1902 and printed in London in the Russian émigré magazine Zhizn (Life). The first Russian version consisted of three stanzas and the refrain. Later it was expanded and reworded.

The Internationale is sung not only by communists but also (in many countries) by socialists or social democrats.

In George Orwell's Animal Farm, it is parodied by Beasts of England.

Surprisingly for a Communist song, the music of the Internationale is copyrighted in France, though this copyright is widely ignored by organizers of left-wing meetings and other occasions where it is sung. While the duration of copyright in France is 70 years following the death of the author, it was extended to compensate for the First World War and the Second World War. In 2005, a movie producer was asked to pay 1000€ for the use of the song by the corporation administering the authors' rights.[1]

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Last updated: 05-07-2005 11:54:47
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04