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Favorable or Unfavorable #228: Eugene V Debs


Favorable or Unfavorable #228: Eugene V Debs  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #228: Eugene V Debs

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EV Debs started off as a populist Democrat, similar to Weaver and WJ Bryan. He became a socialist while in prison when visitor Victor Berger handed him a book by Karl Marx.

Debs became a major leader for midwest industrial workers, especially railroad workers who worked long hours, with low wages, and often in dangerous conditions. The combination led to a low quality of life, no family time, increased alcohol use, etc. Whether one is friendly to Socialism or not, Debs should get credit for exposing issues for American workers and contributing to reform to make the life for workers better. 

Debs 6% in 1912 is pretty impressive considering he was battling for the nomination with three other candidates (all Progressive to some degree--w/ Taft the most conservative). If the election were Taft vs Alton B Parker (a Bourbon Dem), I could see Debs getting 20% perhaps. Debs was a main factor for the 1912 ultra-Progressive election because Wilson, TR, and Taft realized the needed to adopt progressive policies to stave off Socialism. FDR's New Deal was partially done for the same reason. I argue they're still Socialistic in the sense they're inspired by it. 

Debs, like most strike leaders and participators, was subject to arrest. His 1918 arrest was for opposing the draft during wartime. Debs obviously didn't support Germany, but he opposed being being forced to fight in a war against their will. 

I'm surprised by the Harding-Debs relationship. He was twice invited to the White House, once while in prison and as soon as he was released from prison. Imagine if a Republican president from the 21st century did this? A lot of that probably has to do with the Cold War not having yet existed, so we don't have people conflating all Socialism w/ Communism. 

His actions:

Debs, Eugene V 1888 Recently an IN state pol as a Dem, takes part in 10-month Burlington RR strike
Debs, Eugene V 1893 A founder of one of the first US industrial unions, American Railway Union
Debs, Eugene V 1894 Gains national attention for leading the Pullman Strike, which affected 27 states; Broken up by Cleveland and serves 6 months prison time
Debs, Eugene V 1896 Supports WJ Bryan for pres after Cross of Gold speech
Debs, Eugene V 1897 Leaves Dems to become a Socialist (converted by Victor Berger) and founds Social Democracy of America
Debs, Eugene V 1898 Founding member of the Social Democratic Party
Debs, Eugene V 1900 Socialist pres nom
Debs, Eugene V 1901 Founding member of the Socialist Party of America
Debs, Eugene V 1904 Socialist pres nom
Debs, Eugene V 1905 A founding member of the IWW
Debs, Eugene V 1908 Socialist pres nom
Debs, Eugene V 1912 Socialist pres nom, gaining 6% of the PV (the high point of US Socialism in history)
Debs, Eugene V 1916 Declines to run for pres to run for US Congress in IN instead but loses
Debs, Eugene V 1918 Arrested and imprisoned by Wilson admin for violating Espionage Act by encouraging resisting the military draft
Debs, Eugene V 1920 Socialist pres nom, running his campaign from prison
Debs, Eugene V 1921 Released from 10-year sentence by Harding (not pardoned as is generally believed) and is recieved at the White House by Harding
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I think Debs is almost completely a force for good. He was well-intentioned, even if he was an ideological outlier. I'm not a Socialist in the sense that I believe in private ownership/property and individualist success/wealth -- both so long as they contribute back to society via taxes, ethical behavior, and support reform that lifts those less successful than them. I am attracted to Scandinavian socialism and most of the Bernie Sanders variety. 

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4 minutes ago, vcczar said:


I don’t particularly find anyone favorable when they end up in jail. Rabble rouser on strikes, and his disingenuous notions that WW1 was a “Capitalist War” are completely uneducated, and ludicrous. Nevertheless, his efforts to combat child labor are good, but it’s an obvious effort of good for the time.

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I remember our history textbook in high school had Harding's quote on the matter, which basically amounted to wanting to see what the big deal was in person, which tbh is probably the most favorable thing Harding has ever done in my book.

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