By Cory Doctorow at 1:38 pm Wed, May 16, 2012
Your moment of Commie Zen for the day: a big-band lounge-style cover of "L'Internationale," the hymn of the Communist Second International. Assuming that's not to your taste, how about a trance remix industrial dance version.
Tony Babino - L'Internationale
(via Making Light)
Oooooh next 1st of May thats what I’m playing during the demonstration! :D Brilliant
That Big Band version causes all kinds of strange cognitive dissonance. Love the industrial dance version though (you have to get about two minutes in before you can actually hear the Internationale).
The Internationale is not the “anthem of the 2nd Communist International.” The 2nd Internationale wasn’t communist. In fact, its successor is the Socialist Internationale, a center-left grouping of political parties, including the far from communist Parti Socialiste in France. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_International
However, having said all of that, I dig the heck out of this remix.
The second international’s most prominent member was the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands). The SPD was originally a fusion of Marxists and Lassaleans but eventually the Marxists won the arguments and it became largely a Marxist party. The SPD intellectuals were in fact communists and “social democrat” was used largely as a synonym. The idea of a division between socialist and communist didn’t come until after WWI and the Bolshevik approach to communism which was far more insurrectionary and much less focused on the “democracy” aspect. Furthermore the idea that social democracy is a kinder capitalism is a late invention, something that doesn’t really occur until after WWII. The most prominent “reformist”, often called the right-wing of the SPD, Bernstein, believed that communism was achievable by reform and increasing workers power gradually. So even the right wing of the SPD of traditional social democracy sits closer to the far left parties like the Euro-Communist PCI (who’s flag is shown repeatedly in this video) or more contemporaneously, SYRIZA in greece than to the post WWII social democratic parties.
That is flippin’ awesome! Thanks, Cory!
Whoah! Had no idea I was dancing code.
I once saw Madame Binh speak in San Francisco. At one point the audience sang the Internationale. It being SF, people were singing in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Basque, Farsi, Shona and more. It was as if the song came to life.
Is this song available for purchase anywhere other than in the credits of Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story”?
i’m not familiar with these lyrics! i guess i just have billy bragg’s version embedded in my memory. i actually prefer his: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BIvqbyku5g
Thanks for the link! Just so it’s said: It’s not just for the commies.
Regards from social-democratic guy who likes to sing the Internationale.
On the same tip: Cory, you posted about my version of the Internationale (and the remix contest I had for it) way back in 2006.
The winning remix, by the way, can be heard here. And my non-remixed cover (which is freely downloadable) is here.
Personally, I am always baffled when people pull out the ol’ hammer and sickle in defense of socialism or communism. It is like pulling out a swastika for your nationalist party. Whatever its origins, it is so loaded down with unrelenting horror that any sane person who doesn’t score a 10 on the zealot scale sees it classifies you as a psychopath with an epic inability to learn from the horror of countless communist revolts.
That said, that was an epic remix.
The Bolshevik assent and it’s degeneration into Stalinism and the purges is deeply lamentable but it’s also only a small part of the story. The hammer and sickle in that video was being flown by a Eurocommunist Party, the PCI (Partido Communista Italia) and its various descendants. This party was not Stalinist, never attempted a coup and instead took a majoritarian approach. Even China never had a period which can be compared to Stalinism in the level of political repression, gulags, and mass torture.
Further, the idea that we should obviously recoil in horror because of the negative impact of historic communism doesn’t really work out well when we look at the actual numbers. If you look at China in 1949, the average life expectancy was in the mid to late 40s. The Communist revolution there managed to change that to the 60s in a single generation. By comparison slow capitalist development in India has lead to so many deaths from starvation that the respected sociologist Amartya Sen commented that capitalism in one region (India) has killed more people than can be attributed to communism over its entire existence.
I’m not in any way plumping for totalitarian regimes (but then neither were the PCI, the SPD or the PCF) but we should also be careful to apply the same standards universally to all systems. The rather nasty communist regimes killed fewer than the friendly capitalist regimes like India (and starting from similar points of extreme underdevelopment).
Alternative economic experiments have really only taken place on a large scale twice, both of which required revolutionary wars to over-turn the previous order – conditions which are generally not good for establishing open democratic societies as we’ve seen with attempts to establish bourgeois democracy. The previous orders in both Russia and China were intensely brutal – the first being incompetent aristocracy the later being warlordism. Were these experiments a tremendous failure? Maybe, though in the later case it’s very easy to argue that it was much better (google life expectancy in China). You can only expect so much to come from planting flowers in a sewer.
At the same time, non-insurrectionary approaches to communism have been intensely and sometimes violently suppressed by the US. Allende was murdered in Chile with the assistance of the US. In Italy the CIA spent millions trying to keep the PCI out of power (see NYT archive article). In France the US delayed elections to ensure that the PCF would remain weak. If you block the democratic route, then all that is left is the non-democratic route. So whose fault is that?
It takes some pretty serious rationalizing to argue that the hammer and sickle has bright history. Chinese Communist Party, the Soviet Union, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge all sported hammer and sickles as they each implemented some of the most brutal and violent political repression in the history of man kind. The fact that you can find other nasty stains on the soul of humanity doesn’t void what happened in those places.
If India managed to kill more people than those regimes, a really doubtful clam, it doesn’t suddenly exonerate the Khmer Rogue from killing off 15%-20% of the entire population of Cambodia or the political repression of a couple billion under the Soviet Union or China.
If you were a human in the middle of the 20th century to now and look up to see a hammer and sickle waving over your house of government as the official flag, you almost most certainly would be living in a nation that brutally represses political dissidents and crushes any rival political parties violently with the state. Your freedom of expression is almost certainly severely limited, and membership in alternative political organizations is banned. Ironically, you also almost certainly do not belong to any union that isn’t the official state sanction and controlled union because independent unions are banned or severely repressed. Pointing out that other places in the world also suck doesn’t make any of this less true.
Dump the hammer and sickle. Regardless of what you think about validity of communism, socialism, or various subsets thereof, the hammer and sickle has been a symbol of mass political oppression. Pick a new symbol that isn’t so stained by its history and make sure you learn the lessons of the various failed communist states descended horrible political repression when they gained power.
Hell, keep the symbol if it is so dear to you. Just don’t be shocked when someone points out that a few billion people suffered brutal repression under that symbol and that anyone still waving it around after that has suspect motives. I know people who swear up and down that they are waving around confederate flags and that they are not racist and that it doesn’t represent racism too.
Yes. So unlike communism itself.
You say “industrial dance”. I say “Puttin’ on my gloves”.
The lyrics were written by an anarchist and a communard (Eugène Pottier) just after the Commune was crushed. The music came later and was written by a socialist (Pierre Degeyter).
The whole predates marxist-leninism by a good fifteen years…
In France you’ll hear it at demonstrations sung by anarchists, syndicalists, trotskytes or whatever flavor of radical left is your own preference!
Other protip : the song was originally sung to the tune of “La Marseillaise”, the French anthem.
And you don’t hear it from anarchists very often in France, at least not in the demonstrations I’ve been to…they don’t sing a lot, actually, apart from “Cayenne”. The communists (FdG/NPA) like it a lot, though.
I posted a version I imagined being for kids, which someday I’ll mashup with the finale of Bug’s Life when the ants rise up against the grasshoppers…
Sung this in its original French* to an audience of conservative Arizona farmers at a country music open mic and got round of applause. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they neither understood French nor recognized the anthem.
*Thanks to Pete Seeger’s tutorial-like rendition
A prog rock version, from Italian group Area
And the classical version directed by Toscanini, in 1944, in New York.
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