Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Eugene V. Debs, Socialist

Another Ohio Blogger suggested we google "Eugene V. Debs + Canton" for the irony in Obama's final plea to Ohioans to send him to the White House. So I looked through a Deb's speech from 90 years ago, 1918. It does have a certain flow, a ring, a familiarity, doesn't it? Except Debs was a bit more humble than Obama.

Ah! Tovarishch [Товарищ], it makes my heart sing as I march to the machine-tractor station for the motherland with the other kolkhoznitza [колхозница] and Obama's mellifluous tones in my ears.

    "Socialism is a growing idea; an expanding philosophy. It is spreading over the entire face of the earth: It is as vain to resist it as it would be to arrest the sunrise on the morrow. It is coming, coming, coming all along the line. Can you not see it? If not, I advise you to consult an oculist. There is certainly something the matter with your vision. It is the mightiest movement in the history of mankind. What a privilege to serve it! I have regretted a thousand times that I can do so little for the movement that has done so much for me. The little that I am, the little that I am hoping to be, I owe to the Socialist movement. It has given me my ideas and ideals; my principles and convictions, and I would not exchange one of them for all of Rockefeller’s bloodstained dollars. It has taught me how to serve—a lesson to me of priceless value. It has taught me the ecstasy in the handclasp of a comrade. It has enabled me to hold high communion with you, and made it possible for me to take my place side by side with you in the great struggle for the better day; to multiply myself over and over again, to thrill with a fresh-born manhood; to feel life truly worthwhile; to open new avenues of vision; to spread out glorious vistas; to know that I am kin to all that throbs; to be class-conscious, and to realize that, regardless of nationality, race, creed, color or sex, every man, every woman who toils, who renders useful service, every member of the working class without an exception, is my comrade, my brother and sister—and that to serve them and their cause is the highest duty of my life."

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