I’ve heard of the labor strife currently spreading over our entire nation. It may be from afar, over the distance of time and space but I’ve heard. I’ve had plenty of Boehner’s, Kasich’s, Snyder’s, and Walkers’ to deal with in my day. Nothing’s changed except that you fellow workers are now the ones on the front lines of the class struggle. As I said long ago:
The labor question, as it is called has come to be recognized as the foremost of our time. In some form it thrusts itself into every human relation, and directly or indirectly has a part in every controversy.
There has always been a labor question since man first exploited man in the struggle for existence, but not until its true meaning was revealed in the development of modern industry did it command serious thought.
To escape submission, not in freedom, but in mastery over others, has been the controlling desire, and this has filled the world with slavery and crime. In all the ages of the past, human society has been organized and maintained upon the basis of the exploitation and degradation of those who toil. And so it is today.
The chief end of government has been and is to keep the victims of oppression and injustice in subjection. Walker is not the first to attempt this and will, I am sorry to say, not be the last unless we fellow workers act, and act now.
However disastrous the day of battle has been, it has been worth its price, and only the scars remain to bear testimony that the labor movement is invincible and that no mortal wound can be inflicted upon it. What has the union done for the worker? Far more than these brief pages will allow us to place on record.
The union has from its inception taught, however imperfectly, the fundamental need of solidarity; it has inspired hope in the breast of the defeated and despairing worker, joining his hand with the hand of his fellow-worker and bidding them lift their bowed bodies from the earth and look above and beyond tribulations of the hour to the shining heights of future achievement.
The union has fought the battles of the worker upon a thousand fields, and though defeated often, rallied and charged again and again to wrest from the enemy the laurels of victory.
The union has been a moral stimulus as well as a material aid to the worker; it has appealed to him to develop his faculties and to think for himself; to cultivate self-reliance and learn to depend upon himself; to have pride of character and make some effort to improve himself; to sympathize with and support his fellow-workers and make their cause his own.
You may hear I am a Socialist and a fighter in the great class struggle. I am. As I sat in a rat and roach infested jail in Cook County, Illinois in 1894 after our noble effort for the rights of the workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company, I could only reflect that in the gleam of every bayonet, the class struggle was revealed.
I am for Socialism because I am for humanity!
-Eugene Victor Debs, former President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the American Railway Union, member of the Industrial Workers of the World, leader of the Socialist Party in the United States. Italicized words have been inserted. We all know Brother Debs would have been happy to say them without the least affectation or embarrassment.
Our Union Sisters: Coming soon Sister Elizabeth Gurley Flynn!