Neither King Nor Kaiser

A hundred years ago today the arms race was at an end
If there was a soul alive who could begin to comprehend
The suffering to follow, the hell that would transpire
When the soldiers were lined up and the men began to fire

A hundred years ago today, all around the world
There were hordes of marching men with flags of empire unfurled
And then there was the opposition who wouldn’t stay on bended knee
Who said we’ll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country

A hundred years ago today the streets were filled to burst
With millions of people who said they had no thirst
For the blood of other workers who lived across the sea
They said we’ll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country

A hundred years ago today referendums were ignored
Democracy was something no empire could afford
Sedition laws were passed and they filled the penitentiaries
We’ll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country

A hundred years ago today the executions were at dawn
Bomb blasts filled the air, the battle lines were drawn
The muddy fields were all red, a voice echoed amid the bodies
We’ll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country

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“Neither King Nor Kaiser” appears on the 2014 Bandcamp album, When I’m Elected President.

I heard from some folks in England who were organizing a campaign to remember World War I as the industrialized imperial bloodbath that it was.  So I figured I’d write a song for the occasion.  The title comes from a popular antiwar slogan at the time coined by James Connolly — “we fight for neither king nor kaiser, but for Ireland.”

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