"No War By Any Nation in Any Age Has Ever Been Declared by 'the People'."
There are history lessons and heroes we should never forget, but, alas, all too often do. The courageous actions of a few truly great men who’ve acted alone, driven by their conscience and unshakable high principles, have been buried by the sands of time. Given his unwavering adherence to high ideals for world peace and the good of mankind, Eugene Deb’s name belongs right up there with such iconic men of peace as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs spoke out against World War I, and all wars, in a speech on June 16, 1918 in Canton, Ohio. Because of this speech, Debs was arrested two weeks later, charged with ten counts of sedition, and sentenced to ten years in prison under the Espionage Act of 1917. While in prison, Debs ran for president in 1921 and received nearly one million votes. He served two years, eight months in prison before having his sentence commuted (for health reasons) by President Harding in 1921.
|Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926). Traitor or man of principle?|
Here are excerpts from Debs’s 1918 Canton speech:
"Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages, when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth, they declared war upon one another.
"But they themselves did not go to war any more than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street, go to war. The feudal barons of the Middle Ages –– the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day –– declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles".
"And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose –– especially their lives.
"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.
"And here let me emphasize the fact--and it cannot be repeated too often –– that the working class that fights all the battles, the working class that makes the supreme sacrifices, the working class that freely sheds its blood and furnishes the corpses, has never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace.
"It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace. "Yours not to reason why; Yours but to do and die.” That is their motto, and we object on the part of the awakening workers of this nation."
From Debb’s statement to the judge before sentencing:
"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.
"I listened to all that was said in this court in support and justification of this prosecution, but my mind remains unchanged. I look upon the Espionage Law as a despotic enactment in flagrant conflict with democratic principles and with the spirit of free institutions"
"Your Honor, I have stated in this court that I am opposed to the social system in which we live; that I believe in a fundamental change –– but if possible by peaceable and orderly means"
The Espionage Act of 1917, though amended over the years, is still in effect. Prior to the time President Obama took office, It had been used three times for cases involving government officials providing classified information to the media. It has been used at least six times during the Obama's time in office, including against Bradley Manning. According to David Carr of the New York Times , "the majority of the recent prosecutions seem to have everything to do with administrative secrecy and very little to do with national security."
Actor Mark Ruffalo reads Debs's Canton speech [4min] :
_________ KILLERS _________ReplyDelete
I am singing to you
Soft as a man with a dead child speaks;
Hard as a man in handcuffs,
Held where he cannot move:
Under the sun
Are sixteen million men,
Chosen for shining teeth,
Sharp eyes, hard legs,
And a running of young warm blood in their wrists.
And a red juice runs on the green grass;
And a red juice soaks the dark soil.
And the sixteen million are killing. . . and killing
I never forget them day or night:
They beat on my head for memory of them;
They pound on my heart and I cry back to them,
To their homes and women, dreams and games.
I wake in the night and smell the trenches,
And hear the low stir of sleepers in lines--
Sixteen million sleepers and pickets in the dark:
Some of them long sleepers for always,
Some of them tumbling to sleep to-morrow for always,
Fixed in the drag of the world's heartbreak,
Eating and drinking, toiling. . . on a long job of
Sixteen million men.
~ Carl Sandburg
The seeds of every war are to be found in the previous war -- even if the previous war was waged as the war to end all wars. This in no way should denigrate the service of those who served.ReplyDelete
In many ways, WW1 was a failed war -- at least, in most senses of the word failed.
Interesting that WW1 was, in effect, ended primarily by the influenza epidemic. Just sayin'.
As for Debs himself, well, he did have his own agenda. I wonder if he viewed the waging of WW1 as interfering with the march of socialism.ReplyDelete
Carl Sandburg, for all his wonderful poetry, also had an agenda of his own.ReplyDelete
Debs was wrongly prosecuted. Speaking one's mind is not against the law.ReplyDelete
The delicious irony here, of course, is that Debs was jailed by the progressive regime of Democrat Racist in Chief and would-be dictator Woodrow Wilson.
Like all good propaganda, Debs proceeds from a grain of truth, but as history has shown, Communist "solutions" are no solutions at all, but rather even bigger human meat grinders that the wars he blathered on about.
What a great, thought-provoking post, FT!
Debs was wrong. Democracy is not an insurance policy against war. In fact, the history of democracy in ancient Greece (Athens) serves as an excellent counter example. It took an "aristocratic" Spartan "oligarchy" to "tame" Athenian ambition (the Pelloponesian War).ReplyDelete
The balance of power in a democracy consists of the President and the lower class vs the merchantile "aristocracy". The poor have NOTHING to lose by going to war.
Thanks, Kurt. You saw and reported everything I'd hoped you (and others) would.ReplyDelete
Jailing someone for exercising his first amendment rights was unconstitutional, and Wilson should have been prosecuted for it -- even though I believe Deb's basic thinking to have been way off base.
Interesting thing about Debs: He UNDERSTOOD the problem of "banksters" and the role they play long before the term came into being
No one is all right -- or all wrong -- about anything.
That's why the current state of extreme, unreasoning polarity -- obsessive, compulsive defamation and denigration -- is weakening us hour by hour.
And yes, AOW, Sandburg was a socialist, but like Debs he was not a Bolshevik.ReplyDelete
The DIRECT descendants of Marx and his minions were responsible for injecting unreasoning violence, and mob psychology into politics.
The Fabians, even though I dislike their objectives, were at least civilized in their attempts to initiate collectivism.
Of course, Fabianism and Marxism will both kill you, but the former is a slow-acting lethal poison that lulls you into a stupor from which you never awake.
It's easier to deal with than being frog-marched from your home, carted off to a concentration camp, then suddenly dragged from your cell, slammed up against a wall, and treated to a burst of machine gun fire.
The "forward thinking" intellectuals of the early twentieth century were not all villains by any means. They just didn't realize where their dream visions were bound to lead.
Debs was wrongly prosecuted. Speaking one's mind is not against the law.ReplyDelete
Evidently it was 10 years worth against the law.
Has Bradley Manning been unfairly prosecuted?
"It had been used three times for cases involving government officials providing classified information to the media. It has been used at least six times during the Obama's time in office, including against Bradley Manning"ReplyDelete
So, when NOMObama, Big Mouth Biden, and countless others of bozo's minions blabbed to the whole world what transpired in the killing of OBL, where were the Espionage Act prosecutions?? Two-faced hyprocritical bastard!
Debs was unjustly prosecuted by a corrupt leftist Administration.ReplyDelete
Debs political views and ethics with respect to the same may have been wrong but he had a right to his views and to express his opinions.
Ducky: You earn you moniker 'Canardo' every day with crap like this:ReplyDelete
"Has Bradley Manning been unfairly prosecuted?"
No. Bradley Manning released classified information, which is against the law. State secrets and property rights are universally recognized concepts, so by whatever lights, little cupcake boy Manning was wrong and will rot in jail for his crimes.
You can't be that moronic, so we can only assume you are purposefully trafficking in false equivalencies in the pursuit of some anti-American red agenda.
Bradley Manning... Sodomy's poster child for "Treason".ReplyDelete
I always felt that Daniel Ellsberg should have gotten the Chair for what he did. Instead the bastard is praised as some kind of "hero."ReplyDelete
God help us all when treason becomes praiseworthy.
Have "we" ever done stupid, evil things?
You bet! But this is OUR country. We don't betray it to "The International Community" for some self-righteous malcontent's idea of serving "The Greater Good."
What do you see in the eyes of Eugene Debs?ReplyDelete
Tell me. What do YOU see in that face, those eyes?