One hundred years ago this month, the American Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs, reported to a penitentiary in Moundsville, W.V., to begin a 10-year prison term. Debs had been convicted the previous fall of violating the Espionage Act, which had been enacted shortly after the United States entered World War I with the ostensible aim of punishing citizens who provided aid to the enemy. By the time Debs went to prison, scores of his fellow Socialists had already been imprisoned under the act’s provisions.
Approaching his 64th birthday in ill health, depressed and dreading separation from family and friends, Debs did not crave martyrdom. But he knew he had a role to play, one he had freely chosen, and thus remained outwardly defiant. “Tell my comrades,” Debs declared on beginning his sentence in April 1919, “that I entered prison doors a flaming revolutionist, my head erect, my spirit untamed and my soul unconquered.”
Debs’s crime, in fact, had nothing to do with “espionage,” or any other devious act of subterfuge and disloyalty. His was a crime committed proudly in the open: delivering a speech before a cheering crowd of a thousand supporters in a public park in Canton, Ohio, some 10 months earlier. Debs deeply opposed the war, and said so, and was punished for it. When he entered prison, Helen Keller, herself a veteran Socialist, called him an “apostle of brotherhood and freedom.”
Debs dedicated his career to showing that another, more equitable America was possible; a century later, as the country once again wrestles with the same question, it’s worth remembering what Debs tried to tell us.
Born in Terre Haute, Ind., in 1855 and raised by freethinking French immigrant parents, Debs belonged to no church, and espoused no formal religious convictions. But he was intimately familiar with Scripture, and comfortable speaking in the idiom of Midwestern American Protestantism. “The man of Galilee,” he told the crowd in Canton, as frowning federal agents on the scene scribbled down his words, “the carpenter, the working man who became the revolutionary agitator of his day, soon found himself to be an undesirable citizen in the eyes of the ruling knaves and they had him crucified.”
Debs devoted just one paragraph of his lengthy Canton address to expressing the Socialist Party’s traditional opposition to war: “The master class has always declared the wars,” he noted, while “the subject class has always fought the battles.” But that was enough under the Espionage Act to bring his swift indictment and conviction. (The Espionage Act remains on the books a century later.)
Few of Debs’s acquaintances from his early days in Terre Haute could have predicted that he would someday face the grim prospect of spending his last years as a political prisoner. Before he turned 15, eager to contribute to his family’s uncertain finances, Debs dropped out of school and went to work in the local railroad yards. But he did not remain a manual laborer long. By the time he was 25, he was editor of the national magazine of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, then an important union of skilled railroad workers. By 30 he had won election as a Democrat to the Indiana Legislature. Given his intelligence and eloquence, his future seemed unbounded.
Debs’s views in those early Indiana days were those of a fairly conservative craft unionist, anchored in a vision of promoting social harmony between labor and capital. But by the early 1890s he had come to feel that craft unionism, which focused exclusively on the organization of skilled workers like the locomotive firemen (almost entirely white, native-born and male) was a dead end for the labor movement.
Instead he turned to industrial unionism, the strategy of organizing all workers in a given industry, regardless of skill, into a single organization. In 1893 he helped form and became president of the American Railway Union, which enjoyed a brief but phenomenal success, climaxing in the great Pullman strike of 1894. The strike was broken by federal troops, and Debs was subsequently thrown in prison for interfering with the mails. The union’s demise, and the six months he spent in jail, sent Debs on a political trajectory that in a few years’ time saw him emerge as the presidential standard-bearer for a small but growing Socialist movement.
“Even physically Debs seemed to change,” his biographer Nick Salvatore wrote. He took on national stature after the turn of the century, and won hundreds of thousands of supporters for the Socialist movement. Tall and gangly,
Debs came to use his thin frame with effect. From the podium, his intense eyes and expressive face demanded attention while his long arms and torso eased or coiled in pace with his cadence … In the patriarchs of the Old Testament and in the angry Christ of the New, Debs found a prophetic model that … demanded no apologies for frank, even harsh, pronouncements. In the process he touched for the first time his powerful charismatic appeal with audiences.
“Promising indeed,” Debs wrote in September l900, “is the outlook for Socialism in the United States. The very contemplation of the prospect is a wellspring of inspiration.”
Debs was exaggerating; that year, as a Socialist presidential candidate, he won just a 100,000 votes out of nearly 14 million cast. But in the presidential bids that followed, hyperbole began to edge toward prophecy.
In 1912 he won nearly a million votes, some 6 percent of the total. Immigrant neighborhoods on the Lower East Side and in Milwaukee were not the only places to turn out for Debs. In some states, such as Washington and California, and most surprisingly, Oklahoma, the Socialist Party’s share of the vote climbed into the double digits. Over the same 12-year period, the party expanded its membership from 10,000 to nearly 120,000. Across the country, 1,200 Socialists won public office, including mayors from Flint, Mich., and Butte, Mont., to Berkeley, Calif.
Not without personal vanity, Debs nevertheless viewed his considerable charismatic gifts with a measure of detachment. The point of his constant speaking tours crisscrossing the country was not to build an individual cult, but to develop an institutional base. “I don’t want you to follow me or anyone else,” he declared in 1910. “If you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are.” He would not presume to lead his followers into the “promised land,” even if it was in his power to do so, “because if I could lead you in, someone else could lead you out.”
Debs certainly read his Marx and Engels; he believed in class struggle, and the eventual (if not immediate) arrival of the democratic socialist commonwealth. But as Mr. Salvatore notes: “Debs remains the classic example of an indigenous American radical. He was not born a Socialist, and he did not reject American values when he became one.” He spoke American, not Marxist. His emphasis, from his days as a craft unionist and through all his subsequent political evolution, “stressed the individual dignity and power inherent in the concept of citizenship.”
Whether consciously or not, Debs drew on a strain of Protestant radicalism that stretched back to the founding days of Massachusetts Bay Colony, when Anne Hutchinson challenged the authority of the established ministry in that theocratic state in the famous “Antinomian controversy.” Antinomianism, literally “being against or opposed to the law,” was a term of abuse applied by orthodox Puritans to Hutchinson and her followers, who dared to assert a direct communication from God — or personal revelation — as the basis for their dissent.
Two centuries later, another Massachusetts radical, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, promised in the first issue of his newspaper The Liberator to be “as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.” Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Margaret Sanger followed in the same tradition. So did Debs.
In difficult debates within the Socialist movement, of which there was never any shortage, he spoke in private letters of the necessity of following “the inner light that God put there to guide through dark places.” In 1918, speaking to the court after being sentenced, he thundered in the voice of Hutchinson/Garrisonian revelation:
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.
In Debs’s cell in Atlanta, where he was transferred after two months in West Virginia, the only picture he hung on the wall was of Christ on the cross.
Irving Howe, an American Socialist of a later generation, the founding editor of Dissent magazine and a close student of the movement’s history, wondered late in his own life if Debs might have proven a little too American for the long-term good of the Socialist Party. Debsian Socialism, “profoundly native in flavor,” was rooted in the American Protestant tradition of “moral testimony,” Howe wrote, which on occasion blended over into a kind of moral absolutism. “The tradition of moral testimony could inspire great social movements, most notably abolitionism; it served protest along the rim of political life better than parties squarely within that life.” In the Debsian era, Socialists “teetered uneasily, ambivalently, between moral protest and political action.”
The issue of war and peace was not one where Debs would equivocate; nor, as it turned out, would the federal government. Debs served less than three years of his 10-year sentence, but his health was broken. He never recovered, dying in 1926.
During his time in prison the Socialist movement, battered by official repression, fell to pieces. In a note from prison to his lover Mabel Curry, Debs related a dream he had as he slept uneasily, as he often did, on the cot in his cell: “I was walking by the house where I was born — the house was gone and nothing left but ashes. All about me were ashes. My feet sank in them and my shoes filled with them.”
And so the prospects for a revived American Socialism remained for most of the ensuing century, in ashes. Whether a current generation of Socialists, new to the movement and growing in numbers, will find a way to weave together the redemptive promise of moral protest and the practical achievements of political action is still to be determined.
Maurice Isserman, who teaches American history at Hamilton College, is the author of“The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington.”
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香港平特挂牌彩图2017“【我】【没】【有】【回】【答】【这】【种】【问】【题】【的】【义】【务】。” “【这】【跟】【义】【务】【没】【有】【关】【系】，【只】【是】【好】【奇】【而】【已】【嘛】！【对】【不】【对】【啊】，【小】【冴】.” 【绫】【开】【心】【地】【将】【话】【题】【丢】【给】【冴】【子】。 “【我】【一】【直】【以】【为】【八】【云】【先】【生】【是】【个】【冷】【静】【的】【人】，【现】【在】【才】【知】【道】【他】【其】【实】【满】【会】【搞】【笑】【的】，【放】【心】【多】【了】。” 【刻】【也】【听】【到】【之】【後】【不】【禁】【起】【身】【大】【叫】： “【谁】、【谁】【说】【我】【要】【讨】【论】【那】【种】【事】【的】！【你】【爱】【怎】【么】【看】【待】【我】【都】【没】
【她】【曾】【经】【也】【是】【大】【户】【人】【家】【的】【女】【儿】。【自】【小】【学】【琴】，【有】【天】【赋】【又】【勤】【勉】。【她】【那】【时】【不】【会】【想】【到】，【有】【一】【天】，【她】【会】【以】【琴】【为】【生】，【也】【因】【为】【琴】，【遇】【见】【一】【生】【挚】【爱】。 【家】【道】【中】【落】，【她】【除】【了】【一】【身】【琴】【艺】，【一】【无】【是】【处】。【她】【该】【庆】【幸】【她】【活】【在】【宋】【朝】，【那】【是】【遍】【地】【勾】【栏】【瓦】【舍】【的】【时】【代】，【有】【琴】【艺】【的】【女】【子】【不】【怕】【没】【有】【饭】【吃】。 【她】【做】【了】【官】【伎】，【因】【人】【美】【歌】【甜】【琴】【艺】【好】，【时】【常】【出】【入】【官】【宴】，【渐】【渐】
“【木】【槿】【没】【事】【吧】？” “【没】【事】，【掉】【了】【几】【根】【羽】【毛】。” “【哦】，【伊】【洛】【呢】？” 【林】【桑】【白】【拍】【打】【着】【粘】【在】【身】【上】【的】【泥】【土】，【回】【身】【拉】【起】【正】【心】【疼】【地】【抚】【摸】【自】【己】【掉】【了】【好】【多】【羽】【毛】【的】【翅】【膀】【的】【木】【槿】。 【木】【槿】【站】【起】【来】，【扭】【头】【看】【了】【一】【眼】【自】【己】【身】【下】，【然】【后】【有】【点】【尴】【尬】【地】【对】【林】【桑】【白】【说】【道】：“【应】【该】【没】【什】【么】【大】【问】【题】，【就】【是】——” 【说】【着】，【她】【让】【开】【了】【身】【子】，【露】【出】【地】【上】
【江】【皓】【这】【边】【刚】【刚】【抹】【掉】【的】【眼】【泪】，【那】【边】【眼】【眶】【中】【又】【蓄】【满】【溢】【出】，“【由】【于】【我】【对】【你】【思】【念】【过】【度】，【我】【常】【常】【出】【现】【幻】【觉】，【看】【到】【所】【有】【人】【都】【能】【看】【成】【是】【你】。【为】【了】【不】【让】【爸】【妈】【担】【心】【我】，【我】【很】【听】【话】【的】【去】【相】【亲】，【可】【是】【我】【却】【无】【理】【的】【要】【求】【相】【亲】【对】【象】【会】【弹】【钢】【琴】，【奶】【油】【鸡】【酥】【盒】【因】【为】【也】【不】【是】【和】【你】【一】【起】【吃】【的】，【已】【经】【不】【再】【是】【那】【个】【味】【道】【了】。” “【对】【不】【起】，【是】【我】【的】【错】。” “【你】香港平特挂牌彩图2017【离】【别】【的】【画】【面】【竟】【是】【出】【奇】【的】【和】【谐】，【道】【别】【之】【后】，【众】【人】【目】【送】【艾】【琳】【几】【人】【上】【了】【身】【后】【的】【车】，【而】【后】【渐】【渐】【消】【失】【在】【了】【夜】【色】【之】【中】。 【简】【艾】【见】【状】，【这】【才】【缓】【缓】【呼】【出】【一】【口】【气】，【继】【而】【回】【头】【看】【着】【箫】【鸩】【道】：“【箫】【鸩】，【就】【让】【稚】【童】【留】【在】【这】【和】【你】【一】【起】【住】【吧】。【他】【在】【米】【国】【的】【时】【候】【就】【一】【个】【人】【住】【在】【深】【山】【老】【林】【里】，【眼】【下】【来】【了】【华】【夏】，【若】【是】【让】【他】【直】【接】【住】【进】【白】【云】【城】【区】，【我】【怕】【他】【会】【不】【适】【应】
【那】【暗】【卫】【明】【显】【不】【会】【乖】【乖】【听】【钱】【多】【多】【的】【话】，【道】，“【不】【好】【意】【思】【了】【三】【王】【妃】，【此】【行】【怕】【是】【非】【要】【带】【你】【回】【去】【不】【可】【了】！” 【说】【完】【那】【暗】【卫】【便】【朝】【两】【个】【人】【这】【边】【袭】【来】！ 【楚】【岳】【和】【钱】【多】【多】【的】【分】【别】【闪】【至】【两】【边】，【那】【暗】【卫】【更】【是】【都】【没】【管】【楚】【岳】，【直】【接】【朝】【钱】【多】【多】【袭】【过】【去】！ 【钱】【多】【多】【二】【话】【没】【说】【便】【和】【那】【暗】【卫】【交】【起】【手】【来】！ 【楚】【岳】【就】【站】【在】【旁】【边】【没】【有】【动】，【而】【是】【在】【一】【旁】【观】【战】。