I was wondering how should I interpret this verse from the old union song Solidarity Forever:

What's the ought with have in common with those greedy parasites?

I'm split between

What responsibility do we have towards those greedy parasites?


What responsibilities do we share with those greedy parasites?

The first reading is more consistent with the theme of the song but without contex the second seems more correct (a common ought -> a shared responsibility), which makes me think it might be an idiom or an old usage I'm not familiar with.

1 Answer 1


Did you hear it or read it somewhere? The correct start of the second verse:

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?

"Aught" is an archaic word meaning "anything at all".


Solidarity Forever

  • 1
    I think "aught" is still used frequently in some areas, although it is often spelt (and pronounced) "owt", which pairs with its opposite - "nowt".
    – Tim Foster
    Apr 9, 2019 at 13:22
  • 1
    "You don't get owt for nowt" is Yorkshire dialect. Apr 9, 2019 at 14:26

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