Eugene V. Debs, fully Eugene Victor Debs

Eugene V.
Debs, fully Eugene Victor Debs
1855
1926

American Socialist Leader, Union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and several times Presidential Candidate of the Socialist Party of America, Imprisoned for his opposition to WWI

Author Quotes

Deny it as may the cunning capitalists who are clear-sighted enough to perceive it, or ignore it as may the torpid workers who are too blind and unthinking to see it, the struggle in which we are engaged today is a class struggle, and as the toiling millions come to see and understand it and rally to the political standard of their class, they will drive all capitalist parties of whatever name into the same party, and the class struggle will then be so clearly revealed that the hosts of labor will find their true place in the conflict and strike the united and decisive blow that will destroy slavery and achieve their full and final emancipation.

I would no more teach children military training than teach them arson, robbery, or assassination.

Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.

The American people can have anything they want; the trouble is, they don't know what they want.

The most heroic word in all languages is REVOLUTION.

They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. That is too much, even for a joke. ...Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder... And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.

Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on Earth.

I would not be a Moses to lead you into the Promised Land, because if I could lead you into it, someone else could lead you out of it.

It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.

The capitalist class is represented by the Republican, Democratic, Populist and Prohibition parties, all of which stand for private ownership of the means of production, and the triumph of any one of which will mean continued wage-slavery to the working class.

The people are as capable of achieving their industrial freedom as they were to secure their political liberty, and both are necessary to a free nation.

Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most--that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.

A man should take to himself no discomfort from an opinion expressed or implied by his adversary, but it is difficult, and oftentimes humiliating to attempt to justify the kindness of one's friends.

First of all, Theodore Roosevelt and Charles W. Fairbanks, candidates for President and Vice-President, respectively, deny the class struggle and this almost infallibly fixes their status as friends of capital and enemies of labor. They insist that they can serve both; but the fact is obvious that only one can be served and that one at the expense of the other. Mr. RooseveltÂ’s whole political career proves it.

I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets.

It is when you have done your work honestly, when you have contributed your share to the common fund that you begin to live. Then, as Whitman said, you can take out your soul; you can commune with yourself; you can take a comrade by the hand and you can look into his soul and in that holy communion you live. And if you don't know what that is, or if you are not at least on the edge of it, it is denied you even to look into the Promised Land.

The class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.

The people can have anything they want, the only problem is they do not want anything.

Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. I would have you make up your minds there is nothing that you cannot do for yourselves.

A prison is a cross section of society in which every human strain is clearly revealed.

Foolish and vain indeed is the workingman who makes the color of his skin the stepping-stone to his imaginary superiority. The trouble is with his head, and if he can get that right he will find that what ails him is not superiority but inferiority, and that he, as well as the Negro he despises, is the victim of wage-slavery, which robs him of what he produces and keeps both him and the Negro tied down to the dead level of ignorance and degradation.

I would rather be friendless out on the American desert than to be friendless in New York or Chicago.

Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.

The collective ownership and control of industry and its democratic management in the interest of all the people. That is the demand.

The political solidarity of the working class means the death of despotism, the birth of freedom, the sunrise of civilization.

Author Picture
First Name
Eugene V.
Last Name
Debs, fully Eugene Victor Debs
Birth Date
1855
Death Date
1926
Bio

American Socialist Leader, Union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and several times Presidential Candidate of the Socialist Party of America, Imprisoned for his opposition to WWI