(Grma to Irish Republican and Marxist History Project for the invitation to sing, the recording and the Youtube posting).


The song is Be Moderate (also known as”We Only the Want the Earth”) by James Connolly from the James Connolly Song Book, edited by Connolly and published in New York in 1907. No air or tune was indicated in that publication and it has been sung to a number of airs over the years. It’s a wonderful song in my opinion.

I sing it to the air of a “A Nation Once Again” composed by Thomas Davis in the 1840s, which I think suits it and supplies a chorus for others to join in. I first heard it sung to that air many years ago in London by a group of musicians and singers including Cornelius Cardew, of the CPE (m-l) (who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in an incident without any witnesses).  He is here singing it with a ska back-beat(!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTxVBsg4u30


In my rendition here there is an adaptation and an error. The adaptation is my singing “workers” instead of “Labour” so as to distance the revolutionary content from the social democratic collaboration with capitalism, as illustrated by the unfortunate evolution of the party of that name founded by Connolly. My error is in the verse beginning “The Labour fakir …” in which I say “….. teaches” in two different lines.


I should have sung the lines thus:
The Labour fakir full of guile false doctrine ever teaches
and whilst he bleeds the rank and file,
tame moderation preaches;
Yet in his despite we’ll see the day, when with swords in their girths,
workers shall march in war array to claim their own, the Earth!




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