A Movement That Sings (Will Never Die)

Danny Blackman

To end this extraordinary year worldwide, we bring you two songs.

Firstly, we mark the centenary of the foundation of the Communist Party of Australia on 30 October 1920, by including the lyrics of that most famous anthem of the socialist movement worldwide, The Internationale. While the song, with 1871 lyrics by Eugene Pottier, is one of the most universally translated anthems in history and there are a number of versions of the lyrics in English, we publish here the translated lyrics most closely associated with the CPA.

The Internationale

Lyrics by Eugene Pottier (1871)

Arise, ye workers from your slumbers,
Arise, ye prisoners of want,
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant.
Now away with all superstitions,
Servile masses arise, arise!
We’ll change henceforth the old conditions
And spurn the dust to win the prize.


Then comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face,
The Internationale
Unites the human race.
Then comrades, come rally
And the last fight let us face,
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

No saviour from on high deliver,
No trust have we in prince or peer;
Our own right hand the chains must shiver,
Chains of hatred, of greed and fear.
Ere the thieves will out with their booty
And to all give a happier lot,
Each at the forge must do their duty
And strike the iron while it’s hot.


We peasants, artisans and others
Enrolled among the souls of toil,
We’ll claim the earth henceforth as equals:
Drive the indolent from the soil.
On our flesh too long has fed the raven,
We’ve too long been the vulture’s prey;
But now farewell the spirit craven,
The dawn brings in a brighter day.


Our second song pays tribute to the late Jack Mundey, communist, trade unionist and environmental activist, who sadly died in May this year.

The Green Ban Fusiliers was written in 1972 by Denis Kevans, Australia’s ‘Poet Lorikeet’, to the tune McAlpine’s Fusiliers and celebrates the role of the NSW Builders Labourers Federation (at the time led by Mundey, Joe Owens and Bob Pringle) in joining with residents’ action groups to take on major corporations to save heritage buildings, bushland, and low-rent inner-city housing from developers ‘ bulldozers. The MBA in the song is the Master Builders’ Association.

You can hear Denis singing the song at http://unionsong.com/u041.html?fbclid=IwAR2PYTMisOlTB-XkK66I17QRnbIbuyByO2o5orJvV463K2_Oyhf1yqgdlvU

Green Ban Fusiliers

Lyrics by Denis Kevans (1972) * to the tune McAlpine’s Fusiliers


Up Broadway, to the MBA, come the green ban fusiliers,They stole the street, with their marching feet, placards high above their ears,
In Sydney town, they would not lie down, they gave Martin’s scabs some cheer,
And it’s up Broadway, to the MBA, come the green ban fusiliers.

Half-smart thieves, with their Gucci sleeves, and car parks on the brain,
Told the usual lie, the trees have got to die – the fig trees in Sydney’s Domain,
And some said: “Joe, we ought to let ‘em go, it’s only bloody timber to be cleared.”
Ah, but listen to the trees, as they whisper to the breeze, and the green ban fusiliers.

Bulldozer blades made a lightning raid, coming in with a great big rush,
Moving in for the kill, up at Hunter’s Hill, at beautiful Kelly’s Bush,
But the local women lay down in the bulldozers’ way, to the bucking and the shuddering of the gears,
When their hands were raised, the ones they praised, were the green ban fusiliers.

They made a stand, for our sunny land, at the Rocks and Woolloomooloo,
On the chimney-tops, they waltzed with the cops, to save a bit of Sydney for you,
And the finance fleas, who made refugees, of families who had been pioneers,
Finished on their arse, and they did their brass, with the green ban fusiliers.
Through the years, and through my tears, I can see ‘em marchen’ again,0

From the dizzy heights, and the concrete sites, in sunshine and in rain,

That patch of green’s getten’ a lovely old sheen, no matter how many flow the years,
And it’s up Broadway, to the MBA, come the green ban fusiliers.

*Song lyrics reproduced by permission of Sophia Kevans