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« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 167 -- Mary Landrieu's 2008 Hopes. | WILLisms.com | 200,000 Visitors. »

Quotational Therapy: Part 44 -- Eugene Debs.

Eugene Debs, "The Canton, Ohio Speech"-

Socialism is a growing idea; an expanding philosophy. It is spreading over the entire face of the earth: It is as vain to resist it as it would be to arrest the sunrise on the morrow. It is coming, coming, coming all along the line. Can you not see it? If not, I advise you to consult an oculist. There is certainly something the matter with your vision. It is the mightiest movement in the history of mankind. What a privilege to serve it!


It has taught me how to serve — a lesson to me of priceless value. It has taught me the ecstasy in the handclasp of a comrade. It has enabled me to hold high communion with you, and made it possible for me to take my place side by side with you in the great struggle for the better day; to multiply myself over and over again, to thrill with a fresh-born manhood; to feel life truly worthwhile; to open new avenues of vision; to spread out glorious vistas; to know that I am kin to all that throbs; to be class-conscious, and to realize that, regardless of nationality, race, creed, color or sex, every man, every woman who toils, who renders useful service, every member of the working class without an exception, is my comrade, my brother and sister — and that to serve them and their cause is the highest duty of my life.

And in their service I can feel myself expand; I can rise to the stature of a man and claim the right to a place on earth — a place where I can stand and strive to speed the day of industrial freedom and social justice.

Yes, my comrades, my heart is attuned to yours. Aye, all our hearts now throb as one great heart responsive to the battle cry of the social revolution. Here, in this alert and inspiring assemblage our hearts are with the Bolsheviki of Russia. Those heroic men and women, those unconquerable comrades have by their incomparable valor and sacrifice added fresh luster to the fame of the international movement. Those Russian comrades of ours have made greater sacrifices, have suffered more, and have shed more heroic blood than any like number of men and women anywhere on earth; they have laid the foundation of the first real democracy that ever drew the breath of life in this world. And the very first act of the triumphant Russian revolution was to proclaim a state of peace with all mankind, coupled with a fervent moral appeal, not to kings, not to emperors, rulers or diplomats but to the people of all nations. [Applause.] Here we have the very breath of democracy, the quintessence of the dawning freedom.

Read the entire June 16, 1918 speech here. Actually, don't. But it's there for reference.

Factoid: Eugene Debs ran for president 5 times. He was the Socialist Party nominee each time. His popularity peaked in 1912, which had more to do with the political landscape's major upheaval due to former President Theodore Roosevelt's third party candidacy than any actual surge in popularity.

1900- 0.62%
1904- 2.98%
1908- 2.82%
1912- 5.99%
1920- 3.42%

It is funny to read Eugene Debs' comments in 2005, with the 20th century in our rear-view mirror. But it would not have been such a laugh-fest had American become a socialist paradise as Debs wished.

Today, the annual U.S. economy is nearly 12 trillion dollars (.pdf) strong. But it didn't get there by accident.

It could be an 8 trillion dollar economy. Or a 4 trillion dollar economy. Or a half a trillion dollar economy (as in the Russian Federation). Or a 20 trillion dollar economy.

Had we made different choices along the way, choices supported by Eugene Debs, the history of the United States could have been very different (and not in a good way). And thus, the present of the United States could have been very different. We could have been stronger. We could have been weaker. It all depended upon the choices we made along the way. Our future depends, likewise, on the choices we make today.

Sure, our economy was generally freer than any other throughout the 20th century. Thus, the American economy was generally stronger than any other throughout the 20th century.

But as ever-more of the world realizes the power of economic freedom, we can and must do better to remain on top. The world is in constant flux, with a perpetual flow of change. Whether we ride or outrun the wave, or get swallowed up by it, is up to us, right here, right now.

In an 11 or 12 trillion dollar economy, we can afford a healthy and growing population, living in safety and comfort and happiness. We can handle a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina without sinking into economic catastrophe.

Many Americans are upset by Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath because it made us feel like we were but a third world country. It forced America to recognize the uncomfortable fact that the New Deal and Great Society failed to eliminate poverty in America.

Unfortunately, some are drawing the wrong conclusions from this. They think it verifies the nanny state. They want higher taxes. They want more socialism. They believe a larger government could have somehow prevented Hurricane Katrina and/or its aftermath.

How wrong that lesson would be. You do not grow an economy by throwing shackles onto it. And you do not improve the lives of your citizens with a smaller, stagnating economy.

In a few more years, that 11,667,515,000,000 dollar economy America boasted in 2004 will become 14 trillion, which will become 20 trillion, which will become 40 trillion. This will happen in our lifetimes.

It is this growth that will allow us to eradicate poverty. It is this wealth that will allow us to project power in the world. It is our wealth that will pull us through crises.

Let us not follow Eugene Debs, nor his modern day torch bearers, into ruin. Let's instead continue to find ourselves on the winning side of history.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Huey P. Long.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 September 2005 09:50 AM


The best thing the government can do for the economy is get out of the damn way!

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at September 12, 2005 11:26 PM

Yay!... He really is a Pundit Now! Would that be nice if the government did " get out of the damn way!"???

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at September 13, 2005 06:03 AM

Reminds me of the following quote I keeped stashed away:

The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of "liberalism" they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. "

Norman Thomas, Former Presidential Candidate U.S. Socialist Party


Posted by: paul at September 14, 2005 02:48 PM