Workers of the world, unite!

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The Coat of arms of the Soviet Union had the slogan emblazoned on the ribbons in 15 languages spoken in the republics.

The political slogan Workers of the world, unite! is one of the most famous rallying cries from the Communist Manifesto (1848), by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (German: Proletarier aller Länder vereinigt Euch!, literally "Proletarians of all countries, unite!"[1] but soon popularized in English as "Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!", although this is not found in any official publication).[1][a] A variation of this phrase ("Workers of all lands, unite") is also inscribed on Marx's tombstone.[3]

The International Workingmen's Association, described by Engels as "the first international movement of the working class" was persuaded by Engels to change its motto from the League of the Just's "all men are brothers" to "working men of all countries, unite!"[4] It reflected Marx's and Engels' view of proletarian internationalism.

The phrase has overlapping meanings. First that workers should unite in unions to better push for their demands such as workplace pay and conditions.[5] Secondly, that workers should see beyond their various craft unions and unite against the capitalist system.[6] And thirdly, that workers of different countries have more in common with each other than workers and employers of the same country.

The phrase was used by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in propaganda and songs,[7][8] and was a mainstay on banners in May Day demonstrations. The IWW used it when opposing World War I in both the USA[8] and Australia.[9]

The slogan was the Soviet Union's state motto (Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь! Proletarii vsekh stran, soyedinyaytes'!), appeared in the State Emblem of the Soviet Union, on 1919 Russian SFSR banknotes (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian and Russian), on Soviet coins from 1921 to 1934, and in most Soviet newspapers. The nascent USSR under Vladimir Lenin was oriented toward international communism. Even after the USSR later modified the tactical nature of its internationalism, the motto still reflected the aspiration toward a global (and eventually stateless) communist society.

Contemporarily, some socialist and communist parties[who?] continue using it.[10] Moreover, it is a common usage in popular culture, often chanted during labor strikes and protests[11]

Variations[edit]

In the first Swedish translation of the Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, the translator Pehr Götrek substituted the slogan Folkets röst, Guds röst! (i.e. Vox populi, vox Dei, or "The Voice of the People, the Voice of God"). Later translations have, however, included the original slogan.

Amongst Maoist-oriented groups a variation invented by Vladimir Lenin, "Workers and Oppressed Peoples and Nations of the World, Unite!", is sometimes used. This slogan was the rallying cry of the 2nd Comintern congress in 1920, and denoted the anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist agenda of the Comintern.

Non-English usage[edit]

The phrase has been translated into many languages. All of the Soviet Socialist Republics in the Soviet Union had it as their motto translated into the local languages. An extensive list of such translations is available at Wiktionary.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The final paragraph of the Manifesto is translated by Samuel Moore as "The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!" This translation is the authorised translation by Marx and Engels, and is the most commonly used version in English[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Translator's note to the Communist Manifesto". Marxists.org. Marxist Internet Archive. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich (2002). Jones, Gareth Stedman, ed. The Communist Manifesto (New ed.). London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-140-44757-6. 
  3. ^ Wheen, Francis (2002). Karl Marx: A Life. New York: Norton. Introduction. 
  4. ^ Lucia Pradella in 'The Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics.' Edited by Ben fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho, 2012, p.178.
  5. ^ Wiktionary, entry for "Workers of the World"
  6. ^ Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848. [1]
  7. ^ Joseph Grim Feinberg, "The Gifts of the IWW," Against the Current 117, July–August 2005. [2]
  8. ^ a b Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All, Quadrangle Books, 1969.
  9. ^ Nick Armstrong, "The Industrial Workers of the World," Socialist Alternative, June 2005. [3]
  10. ^ Thurston, Robert W.; Bonwetsch, Bernd (2000). The People's War: Responses to World War II in the Soviet Union (illustrated ed.). University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252026003. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "May Day celebrated on both sides of Line of Control". socialistworld.net. 06/05/2008. Retrieved 30 November 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]