Posted tagged ‘Labor Quotes’

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.


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.

DebsSpeak: On Concentration Of Wealth

January 22, 2015

In “Industrial and Social Democracy”, Eugene V. Debs writes about the danger that the concentration of wealth and property in the hands of a few poses to democracy, peace, and progress.

“Privately owned industry and production for individual profit are no longer compatible with social progress and have ceased to work out to humane and civilized ends.”

“A privately owned world can never be a free world and a society based upon warring classes cannot stand.”

(Eugene V. Debs, “Industrial and Social Democracy”, American Socialist, May 27, 1915)

DebsSpeak: Now Is The Time

December 8, 2014

“Now is the time for the workers of this nation to develop and assert their political as well as their economic power, to demonstrate their unity and solidarity.”

(Eugene V. Debs, “The Socialist Party’s Appeal”, The Independent, October 24, 1912)

DebsSpeak: Political Financing

December 8, 2014

“There is one infallible test that fixes the status of a political party and its candidates. Who finances them?”

(Eugene V. Debs, “The Fight for Freedom”, Campaign Speech, July 21, 1912)

DebsSpeak: Living Or Working?

October 12, 2014

“We have been so busy seeking to make a living that we have not been able to make a life.”

(Eugene V. Debs, “Socialist Ideals”, The Arena, November 1908}

DebsSpeak: Class Consciousness

October 12, 2014

‘The most important thing for the workingman to recognize is the class struggle. … Class-consciousness points out the necessity for working-class action, economic and political.”

Eugene V. Debs, “Unity and Victory” speech, August 12, 1908)


Class Fence

“Class consciousness is knowing which side of the fence you’re on.

“Class analysis is figuring out who is there with you.”