Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs

By Eugene V. Debs | Go to book overview

THIS IS OUR YEAR1

It is now thirty-seven years since I became active in the labor movement. These years have all been crowded with struggle, with defeat and disappointment, but there has never been an hour when there was any thought of surrender. Now at last the labors of all these years are coming to fruition. We have a real labor movement and its power was never so great, nor its promise so bright as it is today.

When we first began to organize the workers the employing class stamped out the unions with an iron heel. Later they began to realize that the unions were bound to come, and they then began to patronize them. They could not crush them and so they resolved to control them in their interests. We have passed through these stages of union progress and have now reached a point where the workers are organized and control their organization in their own interests.

It is true that this work of organization is far from complete, but it is also true that it is in a healthier and more promising state than ever before since it was first begun.

The workers now realize that they have got to build their organization themselves, that it has got to be built from the bottom up, and that it must include them all. This knowledge had to come to them through painful and costly experience, but they have it and it is of priceless value to them. In proportion as they have lost faith in their former "leaders" they have acquired faith in themselves. And faith is what the workers now need most of all, faith in each other, faith in the working class, and faith in the coming triumph that is to rid the world of wage slavery and usher in the full-orbed day of freedom and social justice.

The late national convention of the Socialist Party did more to renew and vitalize the faith of the organized workers in themselves and in the future than any similar gathering ever held in this country. The delegates met under difficulties which threatened to divide if not disrupt the party. There were those who freely predicted another split. But the convention proved that it had the capacity to deal wisely with the gravest questions which confronted it, and that however great the differences might be, or how acutely factional feeling might become, the genius of revolutionary solidarity was triumphant and henceforth the workers were united for the great struggle and no power on earth could ever tear them asunder.

The Indianapolis convention proved that the Socialists are now

____________________
1
Intemational Socialist Review, July, 1912.

-358-

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