The Republican and Democratic parties, or, to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.— Eugene V. Debs
The most memorable Eugene V. Debs quotes that are glad to read
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.
The class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.
Your Honor, 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.
Yes, I am my brother's keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death?
What can Labor do for itself? The answer is not difficult.
Labor can organize, it can unify; it can consolidate its forces. This done, it can demand and command.
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.
I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets.
I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.
While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
No war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people.
When we are in partnership and have stopped clutching each other's throats, when we have stopped enslaving each other, we will stand together, hands clasped, and be friends. We will be comrades, we will be brothers, and we will begin the march to the grandest civilization the human race has ever known.
Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.
If I were hungry and friendless today, I would rather take my chances with a saloon-keeper than with the average preacher.
They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people.
You have got to unite in the same labor union and in the same political party and strike and vote together, and the hour you do that, the world is yours.
I am guilty of believing that the human race can be humanized and enriched in every spiritual inference through the saner and more beneficent processes of peaceful persuasion applied to material problems rather than through wars, riots and bloodshed.
Nothing is more humiliating than to have to beg for work, and a system in which any man has to beg for work stands condemned. No man can defend it.
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.
We want a system in which the worker shall get what he produces and the capitalist shall produce what he gets.
The economic owning class is always the political ruling class.
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, some one else would lead you out.
If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.
Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on earth.
You need at this time especially to know that you are fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder.
I would no more teach children military training than teach them arson, robbery, or assassination.
Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.
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.
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.
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.
Labor is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission of emancipating the workers of the world from the thraldom of the ages is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun.
I may not be able to say all I think; but I am not going to say anything I do not think.
As long as this great army of workers is scattered among so many craft unions, it will be impossible for them to unite and act in harmony together. Craft unionism is the negation of solidarity. The more unions you have, the less unity.
Chicago is the product of modern capitalism, and, like other great commercial centers, is unfit for human habitation.
When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.
In all the history of organized labor, from the earliest times to the present day, no body of union workingmen ever served in a more humiliating and debasing role than that in which the railway unions appear at this very hour before the American people and the world.
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.
The workers are the saviors of society, the redeemers of the race.
The guns on the walls that surround the prison accurately, though unwittingly, index the true character of the penitentiary in our day.
One glance proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that these unions (railroad craft unions) are exceedingly useful to the corporations; and to the extent that they serve the economic and political purposes of the corporations, they are the foes – and not the friends – of the working class.
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.
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.
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.
In the very progress of society, the prison has in the very nature of things undergone some improvement, but there are vast stretches yet to be covered before the prison becomes, if it ever does, an institution for the reclamation and rehabilitation of erring and unfortunate men and women.
Solidarity is not a matter of sentiment but a fact, cold and impassive as the granite foundations of a skyscraper. If the basic elements, identity of interest, clarity of vision, honesty of intent, and oneness of purpose, or any of these is lacking, all sentimental pleas for solidarity, and all other efforts to achieve it will be barren of results.
Private appropriation of the Earth’s surface, the natural resources, and the means of life is nothing less a crime than a crime against humanity, but the comparative few who are beneficiaries of this iniquitous social arrangement, far from being viewed as criminals meriting punishment, are the exalted rulers of society, and the people they exploit gladly render them homage and obeisance.
The rights of one are as sacred as the rights of a million.
It is when you have done your work honestly, when you have contributed your share to the common fund that you begin to live.
I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than vote for something I don't want, and get it.
The prison, above all others, should be the most human of institutions.