Il n’y a pas de lutte victorieuse si l’on néglige un seul des maillons de la chaîne de solidarité qui doit unir tous les opprimés. C’est ce qu’explique Phil Ochs dans cette chanson, accompagné par les Broadside Singers (sans doute composés de Happy Traum et Gil Turner, mais peut-être d’autres des jeunes artistes de la revue Broadside, comme Tom Paxton ou Bob Dylan).

Il s’adresse aux syndicalistes, et leur rappelle le temps où ils forgeaient ces liens au cours de leurs difficiles combats, dans la sauvage répression armée de la police montée. Le temps aussi où ils ont contribué à vaincre le fascisme. Et le moment où leurs organisations les ont trahi par leur réticence à participer aux luttes pour les droits civiques des Noirs. Un lien essentiel a ainsi été perdu, au seul profit des exploiteurs. Les patrons riaient bien de les voir s’opposer à la marée montante ; ils les regardaient perdre ces liens de solidarité. Ne voient-ils pas que même les moyens d’action de ces nouveaux combattants sont les leurs ? Ceux qui vous incitent à croire que les Noirs vont vous prendre vos boulot, ce sont juste les jaunes. Il faut vous débarrasser d’eux. Et Phil Ochs leur pose alors la question de la vieille chanson de Florence Reece, que chantaient Pete Seeger et les Almanac Singers : de quel côté êtes vous ?


LINKS ON THE CHAIN

Come you ranks of labor, come you union core
And see if you remember the struggles of before
When you were standing helpless on the outside of the door
And you started building links

On the chain, on the chain
And you started building links
On the chain

When the police on the horses were waitin’ on demand
Ridin’ through the strike with the pistols in their hands
Swingin’ at the skulls of many a union man
As you built one more link

On the chain, on the chain
As you built one more link
On the chain

Then the army of the fascists tried to put you on the run
But the army of the union, they did what could be done
Oh, the power of the factory was greater than the gun
As you built one more link

On the chain, on the chain
As you built one more link
On the chain

And then in 1954, decisions finally made
Oh, the black man was a-risin’ fast, racin’ from the shade
And your union took no stand and your union was betrayed
As you lost yourself a link

On the chain, on the chain
As you lost yourself a link
On the chain

And then there came the boycotts and then the freedom rides
And forgetting what you stood for, you tried to block the tide
Oh, the automation bosses were laughin’ on the side
As they watched you lose your link

On the chain, on the chain
As they watched you lose your link
On the chain

You know when they block your trucks boys by layin’ on the road
All that they are doin’ is all that you have showed
That you gotta strike, you gotta fight to get what you are owed
When you’re building all your links

On the chain, on the chain
When you’re building all your links
On the chain

And the man who tries to tell you that they’ll take your job away
He’s the same man who was scabbin’ hard just the other day
And your union’s not a union till he’s thrown out of the way
And he’s chokin’ on your links

Of the chain, of the chain
And he’s chokin’ on your links
Of the chain

For now the times are tellin’ you the times are rollin’ on
And you’re fighting for the same thing, the jobs that will be gone
Now it’s only fair to ask your boys, which side are you on?
As you’re buildin’ all your links

On the chain, on the chain
As you’re buildin’ all your links
On the chain

As you’re buildin’ all your links
On the chain