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HELENA,MONTAN A. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST SI, 1904.
Debs'Opening Campaign Speech to Workmen!
Openingaddress delivered by Lugene V. i ^i-bs, can^1i^latt- for^president of the Socialist party. Indianapolis, Ind.. Sept. i. 1004.
Mr.Chair nun, Citizens and Comrades: Then lias never been
afree people, a civilized nation, a real republic Oil tliis earth. Human^society lias always consisted of masters and slaves, and the slaves^have always been and are today, the foundation stones of the social^fabric.
Wage-labor is but a name: vvagc-slavcrv is the fact.
Ihetwenty-five millions of wage-workers in the United States^are twenty-five millions of twentieth century slaves.
Ibisis the plain meaning of what is known as^The Labor Market.
Andthe labor market follows the capitalist flag.
Themost barbarous fact in all Christendom is the labor market.^'Ihe mere term sufficiently expresses the animalism of commercial^civilization.
Theywho buy and they who sell in the labor market are alike^dehumanized by the inhuman traffic in the brains and blood and bones^of human beings.
Thelabor market is the foundation of so-called civilized society.^Without these shambles, without this commerce in human life, this^sacrifice of manhood and womanhood, this barter ^.f babes, this tall^of souls, the capitalist civilizations of all lands and all climes would^crumble to ruin and perish from the earth. ,
Twenty-fivemillions of wage-slaves are b^night and sold daily it^prevailing prices in the American labor market.
Thisis the paramount issue in the present national campaign.
Letme say at the v ery threshold of this discussion that the work^^ers have but the one issue in this campaign, the overthrow of the^capitalist system and the emancipation of the working class from^wage-slavery.
Thecapitalists may have the tariff, finance, imperialism and other^dust-covered and moth-eaten issues entirely to themselves.
Iherattle of these relics no longer deceives workingmen whose^heads ;ire on their own shoulder--.
Theyknow by experience and observation that the gold stand^^ard, free silver, fiat money, protective tariff, free trade, imperialism^and anti-imperialism all mean capitalist rule and wage-slavery.
Theireyes are open and they can see: their brains are in opera^lion and they can think.
Thevery moment a workinguian begins to do his own thinking^he understands the paramount issue, pnitl company with the capi^talist politician and falls in line with his own class on the political^battlefield.
Thepolitical solidarity of the working class means the death of^despotism, the birth of freedom, the sunrise of civilization.
Havingsaid this much by way of introduction I will now enter^upon the actualities of my theme.
Weare entering tonight upon a momentous campaign. The^struggle for political BUprcmaCI is not between political parties mere^^ly, as appears upon the surface, but at bottom it is a life and death^struggle between two hostile economic classes, the one the capitalist^and the other the working class.
Thecapitalist clas- is represented by the republican, democratic,^populist ami prohibition partita, all of which stand for private own^^ership of the means of production and the triumph of any one of^which will mean continued wage-slavery to the working class.
Asthe populist and prohibition sections of the capitalist partv
representminority elements which propose to reform the capitalist
systemwithout disturbing wage-slavery, a vain and impossible task,^they will be omitted from this discussion with all the credit due the^rank ami file for their good intentions.
Therepublican and democratic parties, or. to be more exact, the^republican-democratic party, represents the capitalist class in tin^class struggle. Thev are the political wings of the capitalist system^and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not
Witheither of these parries in power one thing is always Certain
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.indthat is that the capitalist ciaSI are in the sad.He. and the working^( lass under the saddle.
t'nderthe administration of both these parties the means of pro^^duction are private property, production is carried forward for capi^^talist profit purely, markets are glutted and industry paralyzed, vvork-^mgincn become tramps and crinrinals. while Injunctions, soldiers and^riot guns are brought into action to preserve ^law and order^ in the^chaotic carnival of capitalistic anarchy.
Dtnyit as may the cunning capitalists who are clear-sighted^rnOttgfa to perceive it. or ignore it as mav the torpid workers, who^are too blind and unthinking to see it. the struggle in which we are^engaged today is a class struggle, and as the toiling millions come
tosee and understand it and rally to the political standard of their^class, they will drive all capitalist partu s of whatever name into the^same party, and the class struggle will ilien be so clearly revealed that^the hosts of labor will find their true place in the conflict and strike^the united and decisive blow that will destroy slavery and achieve^their full and final emancipation.
Inthis struggle the workingmen and women and children are^represented by the Socialist party and it is my privilege to address^you in the name of that revolutionary and uncompromising party^of the working class.
Attitudeof the Workers.
\\hat shall be the attitude of the workers of the United States^in the present campaign^ What part shall they take in it^ What^party and what principles shall they support by their ballots^ And^why^ These are questions the importance of which are not sufficient^^ly recognized by workingmen or they would not be the prey of para^^sites and the servile tools of scheming politicians who use them only^at election time to renew their master 1 lease of power and perpetu^^ate their own ignorance, poverty ami shame. In answering these^questions I propose to be as frank and candid as plain-meaning words^will allow, for I have but one object in this discussion and that object^is not ofhee. but the truth, and I shall state it as I see it if I have to^stand alone. But I shall not stand slooe, for the partv that has mv^allegiance and may have my life, the Socialist party, the party of the^vorking class, the party of emaniepatioii. is made up of men and^women who know their rights and scorn to compromise with their^oppressors: who want no votes that can be bought and no support^under any false pretense whatsoever.
TheSocialist party stands squarely upon its proletarian prin^^ciples and relies wholly upon the loffCCS of industrial progress and the^education of the working class.
TheSocialist party buys no vote* and promises no offices. N'ot^a farthing is spent for whiskey or cigar-. Kvery penny in the cam^^paign fund is the voluntary offering of workers and their sympa^^thizers and every penny is used for education. What other parties^can say the same^ Ignorance alone stands in the way of Socialist^success. The capitalist parties understand this and use their re^^sources to prevent the workers from ledng the light. Intellectual^darkness is essential to industrial slavery. Capitalist parties stand^for shivery and night. The Socialist party is the herald of freedom^and light. Capitalist parties cunningly contrive to divide the workers^Upon ^lead issues. The Socialist party is uniting them upon the Bring^issue: Heath to wage slavery! When industrial slavery is as dead^as the issues of the Siamese capitalist parlies the Socialist party will^have fulfilled its mission and enriched history.
Andnow to our questions : First, ev ery workingman and woman^owe it to themselves, their class and their country to take an active^and intelligent interest in political affaire.
Iheballot of united labor expresses the people's will and the^people's will is the supreme law of a free nation. The ballot means^that labor is no longer dumb, that at last it has a voice, that it may^be heard and if united must be heeded. Centuries of struggle and^sacrifice were required to wrest this symbol of freedom from the^mailed clutch of tyranny and place it in the hand of labor as the shield^and lance 01 attack and defense. I he abuse and not the use of it is^responsible for its evils. The divided vote of labor is the abuse of the^ballot and the penalty is slavery ami death. The united vote of those^who toil and have not will vanquish those who have and toil not and^solve forever the problem of democracy.
TheHistoric Struggle of Classes.
Sincethe race was young there have been class struggle*. In^every state of society, ancient and modern, labor has been exploited,^degraded and in subjection. Civilization has done little for labor ex^^cept to modify the forms of its exploitation. Labor has always been^the mudsill of the social fabric^is so now and will be until the class^struggle ends in class extinction and free society.
Societyhas always been and is now built upon exploitation^the^exploitation of a class^the working class, whether slaves, serfs or^Wage-laborers, and the exploited working class in subjection have^always been, instinctively or consciously, in revolt against their op^^pressors. Through all the centuries the enslaved toilers have moved^slowly but surely toward their final freedom.
Thecall of the Socialist partv is to the exploited class, the work^^ers in all useful trades and professions, all honest occupations, from^the most menial service to the highest skill, to rally beneath their^own standard and put an end to the last of the barbarous class strug^^gles by conquering the capitalist government, taking possession of^the means of production and making them the common property of^all. abolishing wage-slavery and establishing the co-operative com*^mon wealth. The first step in this direction is to sever all relations^with capitalist parties. They arc precisely alike and I challenge their^most discriminating partisans to tell them apart in relation to labor.^The republican and democratic parties are alike capitalist parties^^differing only in being committed to different sets of capitalist inter^^ests^they have the same principles under varying colors, are equally^corrupt and are one in their subservience to capital and their hostility^to labor. The ignorant njofkingnian who supports either of these^parties forges his own fetters and is the unconscious author of his^own misery. He can and must he made to see and think and act^with his fellows in supporting the party of his class and this work^of education is the crowning v irtue of the Socialist movement.
Letus briefly consider the republican party from the worker's^standpoint. It is capitalist to the core. It has not and cannot have^the slightest interest in labor except to exploit it. Why should a^workinguian support the republican party^ Why should a millionaire^support the Socialist party^ For precisely the same reason that all^the millionaires are opposed to the Socialist partv, all the workers^should be opposed to the republican party. It is a capitalist party, is^loval to capitalist interests and entitled to the support of capitalist^voters on election day. All it has for workingmen is its ^glorious^past^ ami a ^glad hand'- when it wants their votes. The republican^partv is now and has been for several years in complete control of^government. What has it done tor labor! What has it not done for^capital^ Not one of the crying abuses of capital has been curbed^under republican rule. Not one of the petitions of labor has been^granted. The eight-hour and anti-injunction bills, upon which or^^ganized labor is a unit, were again ruthlessly slain hv the last con-^great In obedience tO the capitalist masters. David M. Tarry has^greater influence at Washington than all the millions of organized
workers.Read the national platform of the Republican party and^see if there is in all its bombast a crumb of comfort for labor. The^convention that adopted it was a capitalist, convention and the only^thought it had of labor was how to abstract its vote without waking^it up. In the only reference it made to labor it had to speak easy so^as to avoid offense to the capitalists who own it and furnish the^boodle to keep it in power. The labor platforms of the republican^and democratic parties are interchangeable and non-redeemable. They^both favor ^justice to capital and justice to labor.^ This hoary old^platitude is worse than meaningless. It is false and misleading and^so intended. Justice to labor means that labor shall have what it
EUGENEV. DEBS, SOC
produces.This leaves nothing for capital. Justice to labor means^the end of capital. The old parties intend nothing of the kind. It is^false pretense and false promise. It has served well in the past. Will^it continue to catch the votes of unthinking and deluded workers^^\\ hat workinguian had part in the republican national convention or^were honored by it^ The grand coliseum swarmed with trust mag^^nates, corporation barons, money lords, stock gamblers, professional^politicians, lawyers, lobbyists and other plutocratic tools and iner-'^cenaries. but there was no room for the horny-handed and horny*^headed sons of toil. They built it. but were not in it.
Comparethat convention with the convention of the Socialist^party, composed almost wholly ^ f workingmen and women and con^^trolled wholly in the interest of their class. Hut a party is still better^known by its chosen representativ es than by its platform declarations.^Who are the nominees of the republican party for the highest offices^in the gift of the nation and what is their relation to the working^class^ First of all. Theodore Roosevelt and Charles VV. Fairbanks,^candidates for president and vice president, respectively, deny the^class struggle and this almost infallibly fixes their statu-; as friends of^Capital and enemies of labor. They insist that thev can serve both;^but the fact is obv ious that only one can be served and that one at the^expense of the other. Mr. Roosevelt's whole political career proves it.^The capitalists made no mistake in nominating Mr. Roosevelt. They^know him well and he has served them well. They know that his^instincts, associations, tastes and desires are with them, that hi is^in fact one of them and that he has nothing in common with the^working class. The only evidence to the contrary is his membership^in the brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, which seems to have^come to him co-incident with his ambition to succeed himself in the^presidential chair. He is a full-tledged member of the union, has^the grip, signs and passwords, but it is not reported that he is attend^^ing meetings, doing picket duty, supporting strikes atid boycotts and^performing such other duties as his union obligation impose-.
When CX-President] Grover Cleveland violated the constitution^and outraged justice by seizing the state of Illinois by the throat and^handcuffing her civil administration at the behest of the crime-stained^trusts and corporations, Theodore Roosevelt was among his most^ardent admirers and enthusiastic supporters, lie wrote in hearty^Commendation of the atrocious act. pronounced it most exalted pa^^triotism ami saiil he would have done the same thing himself had he^been president. And so he would and so he will! How impressive^to see the rough rider embrace the smooth statesman! Oyster Hay-^ami Buzzards' Hay! ^Two souls with but a single thought, two^hearts that beat as one.
Thereis also the highest authority for the statement charging^Mr. Roosevelt with declaring about the same time he was lauding^Cleveland that if he was in command he would hav e such as Alt geld,^Debs and other traitors lined up against a dead wall and shot into^corpses. The brutal remark was not for publication but found its^way into print and Mr. Roosevelt, after he became a candidate, at^^tempted to make denial, but the distinguished editor who heard him^say it pinned him fast, and the slight doubt that remained was dis^^pelled by the words themselves, which sound like Roosevelt and bear^I the impress of his war like visa^ .
hollowingthe Pullman strike in 1804 dure was an indignant^and emphatic popular protest against ^government by injunction.^^which has not vet by any means subsided. * Mgauized labor was. and^is. a unit against this insidious form of judicial usurpation as a means^of abrogating constitutional restraints of despotic power.
Mr.Roosevelt, with his usual zeal to serve the ruling class and^keep their protesting slaves in subjection, vaulted into the arena ami^launched his vitriolic tirade upon the mob that dare.! oppose he di^^vine decree of a corporation judge.
Menwhoobjed to what thev style 'government, bj injunction,'^^said he. ^are. as regards the essential principles ^f government, in
heartysympathy with their remote skin-clad ancestor-, who lived in
caves,fought one another with stone headed ases and ate ttl^ am
mothand woolly rhinoceros. 'They are riangerou* whenever there
1Continued un I'aire .;