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

Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on earth.

I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I led you in, someone else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition; as it is now the capitalists use your heads and your hands.

If war is right let it be declared by the people. You who have your lives to lose, you certainly above all others have the right to decide the momentous issue of war or peace.

So far as I am concerned, it does not matter what others may say, or think, or do, as long as I am sure that I am right with myself and the cause. There are so many who seek refuge in the popular side of a great question. As a Socialist, I have long since learned how to stand alone.

The fruits of labor must be enjoyed by the working class.

The very moment a workingman begins to do his own thinking he understands the paramount issue, parts company with the capitalist politician and falls in line with his own class on the political battlefield.

Wherever capitalism appears, in pursuit of its mission of exploitation, there will Socialism, fertilized by misery, watered by tears, and vitalized by agitation be also found, unfurling its class-struggle banner and proclaiming its mission of emancipation.

Capitalism is dying and its extremities are already decomposing. The blotches upon the surface show that the blood no longer circulates. The time is near when the cadaver will have to be removed and the atmosphere purified.

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.

If you go to the city of Washington, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of congress, and mis-representatives of the masses claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad that I cannot make that claim for myself. 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.

Socialism is very properly recognized by the capitalist class as the one cloud upon the horizon which portends an end to the system in which they have waxed fat, insolent and despotic through the exploitation of their countless wage-working slaves.

The general public knows practically nothing about the prison and appears to be little concerned about how it is managed and how prisoners are treated.

The working class must be employed by the working class.

Why should a Socialist be discouraged on the eve of the greatest triumph in all the history of the Socialist movement? It is true that these are anxious, trying days for us all — testing days for the women and men who are upholding the banner of labor in the struggle of the working class of all the world against the exploiters of all the world; a time in which the weak and cowardly will falter and fail and desert. They lack the fiber to endure the revolutionary test; they fall away; they disappear as if they had never been. On the other hand, they who are animated by the unconquerable spirit of the social revolution; they who have the moral courage to stand erect and assert their convictions; stand by them; fight for them; go to jail or to hell for them, if need be — they are writing their names, in this crucial hour — they are writing their names in faceless letters in the history of mankind.

Chicago is the product of modern capitalism, and, like all other great commercial centers, is unfit for human habitation. The Illinois Central Railroad Company selected the site upon which the city is built and this consisted of a vast miasmatic swamp far better suited to mosquito culture than for human beings. From the day the site was chosen by (and of course in the interest of all) said railway company, everything that entered into the building of the town and the development of the city was determined purely from profit considerations and without the remotest concern for the health and comfort of the human beings who were to live there, especially those who had to do all the labor and produce all the wealth.

I do not oppose the insane asylum — but I abhor and condemn the cutthroat system that robs man of his reason, drives him to insanity and makes the lunatic asylum an indispensable adjunct to every civilized community.

Ignorance alone stands in the way of socialist success. The capitalist parties understand this and use their resources to prevent the workers from seeing the light. Intellectual darkness is essential to industrial slavery.

Socialists were not born yesterday. They know how to read capitalist newspapers; and to believe exactly the opposite of what they read.

The guns on the walls that surround the prison accurately, though unwittingly, index the true character of the penitentiary in our day.

There has never been a free people, a civilized nation, a real republic on this earth. Human society has always consisted of masters and slaves, and the slaves have always been and are today, the foundation stones of the social fabric. Wage-labor is but a name; wage-slavery is the fact.

With faith and hope and courage we hold our heads erect and with dauntless spirit marshal the working class for the march from Capitalism to Socialism, from Slavery to Freedom, from Barbarism to Civilization.

Child labor must be abolished by the working class.

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.

In due time the hour will strike and this great cause triumphant — the greatest in history — will proclaim the emancipation of the working class and the brotherhood of all mankind.

Society must be reconstructed by the working class.

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