The Labor Problem

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Eugene V. Debs (1885-1926) was a trade unionist, a founding member of the IWW, and candidate for President of the Socialist Party five times. In his last run, in 1920, he got almost a million votes while in a prison cell.

by Eugene V. Debs – unsigned editorial in Locomotive Firemen’s Monthly Magazine, vol. 3, no. 5 (May 1879), p. 146.

Whatever politicians may say to the contrary, however much they may attempt to lead the masses away from the truth, the fact remains that the labor question is the great problem of the immediate future. Politicians may howl over the Southern question; so-called statesmen may cry “revolution” at each other, but the thinking man knows that most of it is done for effect; he knows, further, that the future outlook is ominous for peace and prosperity, if the wants of the laboring man are not met as they should be. Like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, the labor issue looms up, prominent, awful, grand; and he only is a true friend to his country, who understands the great difficulty, and will use his honest endeavors to solve it. The solution, we hope, will come steadily, peacefully, but come it must, though it be necessary to bring it here on the terrible wings of revolution. Not the revolution of bloodshed, but a revolution that will overwhelm the enemies of the laboring classes beneath ruin unutterable. God hastens the day, say we. Organization is the great secret of success. A body of men—no matter who they are, or for what purpose they come together—if they are well organized, they will succeed. Our readers will recognize the truth of this by looking at our own grand Brotherhood. We are as one man, from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon—East, West, North, South—the same great body of honest, hard-working men. One great body, with one noble heart, beating responsive to the wishes of every member. Let us persevere in our objects, let us organize more fully, and we shall become more of what we are already: a power in the land for good. Brothers, gird on the armor, the whole world is a battlefield, and we must be the heroes in the fight for our rights.

Edited by Tim Davenport, 1000 Flowers Publishing, Corvallis, OR · February 2017 · Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

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