Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs

By Eugene V. Debs | Go to book overview

SOCIALISM AND THE PRISON1

Socialism and prison are antagonistic terms.

Socialism means freedom and when the people are free they will not be under the necessity of committing crime and going to prison. Such exceptional cases as there may be requiring restraint for the protection of society will be cared for in institutions and under conditions betokening a civilization worthy of the name.

Socialism will abolish the prison by removing its cause and putting an end to the vicious conditions which make such a hideous thing as the prison a necessity in the community life.

I am aware in advance that what is said here in regard to abolishing the prison will be met with incredulity, if not derision, and that the theory and proposal I advance will be pronounced visionary, impractical and impossible. Nevertheless, my confidence remains unshaken that the time will come when society will be so far advanced that it will be too civilized and too humane to maintain a prison for the punishment of an erring member, and that man will think too well of himself to cage his brother as a brute, place an armed brute over him, feed him as a brute, treat him as a brute, and reduce him to the level of a brute.

Socialism proposes that the people--all the people--hall socially own the sources of wealth and social means with which wealth is produced; that the people, in other words, shall be the joint proprietors upon equal terms of the industries of the nation, that these shall be co-operatively operated and democratically managed; it proposes that the people shall appropriate to themselves the whole of the wealth they create to freely satisfy their normal wants instead of turning the bulk of that wealth over, as they now do, to idlers, parasites and non-producers while they suffer in poverty and want.

When the community life is organized upon a co-operative basis according to the socialistic program, every man and woman will have the inalienable right to work with the most improved modern machinery and under the most favorable possible conditions with the assurance that they will receive in return the equivalent of their product, and that they may enjoy in freedom and peace the fruit of their labor.

In such a society there will be a mutuality of interest and a fraternity of spirit that will preclude the class antagonism and the hatred resulting therefrom which now prevail, and men and

____________________
1
From Walls and Bars, Chap. 16.

-481-

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Writings and Speeches of Eugene V. Debs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xv
  • Proclamation to American Railway Union 1
  • Labor Omnia Vincit 4
  • Liberty 6
  • The Martyred Apostles Of Labor 20
  • Prison Labor - Its Effect on Industry and Trade 24
  • Outlook for Socialism in the United States 34
  • Martin Irons, Martyr 41
  • How I Became a Soclialist 43
  • Stopped the Blacklist 47
  • What's the Matter with Chicago? 50
  • The Western Labor Movement 54
  • The Negro and His Nemesis 66
  • The rape-fiend? Horrible! 73
  • The American Movement 76
  • Unionism And Socialism 95
  • The Socialist Party and The Working Class 125
  • The Federal Government and the Chicago Strike Reply to the Article on "The Government in the Chicago Strike of 1894" in Mcclure's Magazine, July, 1904, by Grover Cleveland, Ex-President of the U. S. 140
  • An Edeal Labor Press 161
  • Labor Day Greeting 163
  • Childhood 165
  • The Crimson Standard 166
  • Growth of the Injunction 167
  • Craft Unionism 171
  • Class Unionism 189
  • Revolutionary Unionism1 209
  • You Railroad Men 242
  • Arouse, Ye Slaves! 256
  • The Growth of Socialism 259
  • Open Letter to President Roosevelt 268
  • Prince and Proletaire 271
  • Roosevelts Labor Letters 274
  • December 2. 1859 279
  • John Brown: History's Greatest Hero 280
  • Looking Backward 281
  • Mother Jones 285
  • Thomas Mcgrady 286
  • Revolution 291
  • The Issue 293
  • Railroad Employees and Socialism 311
  • The Socialist Party's Appeal 317
  • Industrial Unionism 323
  • A Letter from Debs 326
  • A Letter from Debs on Immigration 326
  • Industrial Unionism 328
  • Working Class Politics 331
  • Danger Ahead 333
  • The Crisis in Mexico 337
  • Labor's Struggle for Supremacy 340
  • The McNamara Case And The Labor Movement 343
  • Sound Socialist Tactics 350
  • This is Our Year 358
  • Speech of Acceptance 361
  • Revolt of the Railroad Workers 373
  • Homestead And Ludlow 378
  • The Gunmen And The Miners 383
  • The Knights of Columbus 387
  • The Prospect for Peace 391
  • Fantine in Our Day 392
  • Letter Of Acceptance 395
  • Politicians and Preachers 398
  • Ruling Class Robbers 399
  • The Class War And Its Outlook 400
  • Tom Mooney Sentenced To Death 403
  • The I. W. W. Bogey 405
  • John Swinton: Radical Editor and Leader 409
  • The Canton, Ohio Speech 417
  • Address To The Jury 433
  • Statement To The Court 437
  • The Day of the People 440
  • Serving the Labor Movement 443
  • Sacco and Vanzetti 450
  • Woman--Comrade And Equal 453
  • The Relation of Society to the Convict 456
  • My 1920 Campaign for President 463
  • Leaving The Prison 468
  • Capitalism and Crime 473
  • Poverty and the Prison 477
  • Socialism and the Prison 481
  • Bibliography 485
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