Sunday, February 24, 2008

Eugene V. Debs

Eugene V. Debs

"A spellbinding campaigner, Debs talked socialism in an American idiom, making Marxism understandable and persuasive to many ordinary citizens." (America, p. 532)

Eugene V. Debs is known for his role in making Marxist socialism appealing to the American people. His union involvement began in 1880 when he worked for a craft union for skilled workers in the railroad industry. He then moved on to work with the American Railway Union, an industrial union (industrial unions organized all workers, not just skilled workers). After a 6- month stay in prison for his involvement in the Pullman strike (see post entitled "Pullman Strike"), Debs became a radical and a Socialist.
In 1901, Debs helped start the Socialist Party of America and devoted the rest of his life to the propagation of socialism in the United States. He was the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party five times. As is stated in the quote above, Debs was a convincing speaker and knew how to take Marx's ideas of a revolution to abolish private ownership and the establishment of a classless society and make them easy for the people of the U.S. to understand and accept. His intense devotion to socialism and his tireless efforts to propagate it in this country strengthened the influence of socialism in the U.S.

1 comment:

A. Mattson said...

A good post.

Debs was a railroad worker who became radicalized during strikes led by the American Railway Union and especially the Pullman Strike. He moved beyond the reformist goals of the trade union movement (AFofL) and decided that the system itself needed to be changed to state ownership of industry (socialism.)