Posted tagged ‘Eugene V. Debs’

DebsSpeak: On Labor Day

September 7, 2015

“The workingman – and this is the day to write him in capital letters – has given me what I have, made me what I am, and will make me what I hope to be; and I thank him for all, and above all for giving me eyes to see, a heart to feel and a voice to speak for the workingman.”

“Comrades, this is the day for Workingmen to think of the Class Struggle and the Ballot …. ”

(Eugene V. Debs, “Labor Day Greeting”, Social Democrat Herald, September 1904)

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DebsSpeak: Worker Solidarity

May 22, 2015

Eugene V. Debs on worker solidarity.

“The radical elements of the American working class must either accommodate their tactical differences and unite in a solid phalanx against capitalism or they will surely be further divided and ultimately devoured by their enemies.”

“The workers in the United States must come together some time if they would be saved from the jaws of the capitalist shark.”

“The time was never better than right now for unity between the factions of the industrial and political movement of this country. Divided, the workers will gain nothing. United, the world and all its treasures are theirs.”

(Eugene V. Debs, “The United Front: Shall We Have Solidarity Or Be Slaughtered?”, The New Age, June 22, 1922)

DebsSpeak: “I Am In It; I Am Of It; I Am Not Free”

April 22, 2015

In an address to the court during his sentencing to federal prison after having been convicted for “obstructing recruitment” during World War I, Eugene V. Debs said,

“… years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

(Eugene V. Debs, Statement to the Court Upon Being Convicted of Violating the Sedition Act”, September 18, 1918)

DebsSpeak: Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech

April 14, 2015

On the afternoon of June 16, 1918, Eugene V. Debs delivered what is perhaps the most well-known and famous speech of his labor and political career. The speech was delivered in Canton, Ohio and is known as the Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech.

For this speech, the federal government charged Debs with “obstructing recruitment” under the provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917. He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in federal prison.

-Eugene V. Debs-  Canton OH Speech 2

“To speak for labor; to plead the cause of the men and women and children who toil ; to serve the working class, has always been to me a high privilege; a duty of love.”

“I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.”

” … in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people.”

“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. … The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives.”

“There is no room in our hearts for hate, except for the system, the social system in which it is possible for one man to amass a stupendous fortune doing nothing, while millions of others suffer and struggle and agonize and die for the bare necessities of existence.”

“You need at this time to know that you are fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder. You need to know that you were not created to work and produce and impoverish yourself to enrich an idle exploiter. You need to know that you have a mind to improve, a soul to develop, and a manhood to sustain.”

“… the capitalists and their henchmen … know how to exploit, how to gouge; how to rob, and do it with legal sanction. They always proceed legally for the reason that the class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.”

” … you insist upon voting a capitalist ticket and giving your support to the present wage-slave system. The trouble with you is that you are still in a capitalist state of mind.”

Debs’ sentence was commuted in December  of 1921.

DebsSpeak: Workers Fight the Master’s Wars

April 6, 2015

“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. … The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives.”

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(Eugene V. Debs, “Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech”, June 16, 1918)

Cartooning Capitalism

March 8, 2015

I have been reading the articles and speeches of Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) – American labor leader, co-founding member of the Socialist Party of the United States, and five-time presidential candidate – for some time.

Reading Debs’ speeches and articles have taught me much about the start and development of America’s labor and Socialist movements of the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th Centuries. They have introduced me to men and women and labor and Socialist events that I had never heard about or known of. And, they have introduced me to the labor and political art of the early 20th Century. -Ryan Walker-  Red Portfolio

The art of people such as Art Young, Ryan Walker, Fred Warren, and Sewell Weidman addressed events, people, and policies that concerned the working men and women of America. They dealt with capitalism, Socialism, plutocrats, Wall Street profits and working man labors. The labor and political art of this era was published in Socialist newspapers and magazines such as the Appeal to Reason, The Masses, and The Rip-Saw.

Like Eugene V. Debs’ articles and speeches, I have found the labor and Socialist art of the early 20th Century to not just be interesting, but relevant and applicable to much of what is happening in today’s labor, economic, and political world.

I have found a very informative paper that addresses the art that I am referring to. It is entitled “Cartooning capitalism: Radical cartooning and the making of American popular radicalism in the early twentieth century” by Michael Cohen.

In the article, Cohen writes that

” … radical cartooning stripped the movements and their enemies to their core ideologies, depicting and epic struggle between ‘plutocrat and democracy’, human solidarity versus unrestrained greed. Radical cartoon humor thus offered instruction, persuasion, and entertainment, providing an excellent medium for what contemporary Cultural Studies describe as ‘cultural resistance’, or what social movement theorists have termed ‘framing social protest’: the creation of cultural practices, ideological models, and aesthetic strategies designed to empower popular intellectuals and ordinary people to understand the social world with the specific intention of transforming it.”

As time passes, I plan to post different pieces of labor and Socialist art on this page. Please return to “scottspeak” to view these pieces of art from an era gone-by.

Please also visit the “Eugene V. Debs” Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/DebsEugeneV for quotes from Debs’ articles and speeches as well as information about his labor and political life and times.

Eugene V. Debs On Facebook

February 3, 2015

The “Eugene V. Debs” Facebook community page is dedicated to Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926), an American labor leader, union organizer, and five-time Presidential candidate on the Socialist Party ticket.

The Facebook page contains quotes from Debs’ speeches and articles, as well as information about his labor and political life and career.

So much of what Debs spoke and wrote about labor and political issues one hundred years ago has relevant application to labor and political issues today.

Please visit and like the “Eugene V. Debs” Facebook page.