You who have your lives to lose

The truth has always been dangerous to the rule of the rogue, the exploiter, the robber

Here’s a bunch of things in a row to piss you off of your ass. Thank you as always for your support.

A century and a year ago today on November 2, 1920 Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs won nearly a million votes for the presidency. Debs had run multiple times before and had had a similar showing in 1912 but this time was different as he was imprisoned inside of the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary on election day. Debs had been convicted two years earlier for speaking out against U.S. involvement in World War I which was a crime under the Sedition Act of 1918. His trial was by many accounts a farce and proved little aside from sometimes or often times rather that our nobel impartial judges are huge pieces of shit.

The specific speech that Debs was condemned to ten years in prison for (his sentence was commuted by Warren G. Harding in 1921) was given in Canton, Ohio in 1918. That day Debs spoke the truth which has always been a tricky thing to do in this country. It’s supposed to be the one main thing we’re entitled to do but entitled and allowed to do are very different things.

“The truth has always been dangerous to the rule of the rogue, the exploiter, the robber,” he said. “So the truth must be suppressed.”

He went on like so:

Wars have been waged for conquest, for plunder. In the middle ages the feudal lords, who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine—whenever one of those feudal lords wished to enrich himself, then he made war on another. Why? They wanted to enlarge their domains. They wanted to increase their power, their wealth, and so they declared war upon each other. But they did not go to war any more than the Wall Street junkers go to war. The feudal lords, the barons, the economic predecessors of the modern capitalist, they declared all the wars. Who fought their battles? Their miserable serfs. And the serfs had been taught to believe that when their masters declared and waged war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another, and to cut one another's throats, to murder one another for the profit and the glory of the plutocrats, the barons, the lords who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell.

Me, a guy who just watched Dune last night: This reminds me of Dune.

And so:

The master class has always declared the war; the subject class has always fought the battles; the master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, and the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose—including their lives. They have always taught you that it is your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at a command. But in all of the history of the world you, the people, never had a voice in declaring war. You have never yet had. And here let me state a fact—and it cannot be repeated too often: the working class who fight the battles, the working class who make the sacrifices, the working class who shed the blood, the working class who furnish the corpses, the working class have never yet had a voice in declaring war. The working class have never yet had a voice in making peace. It is the ruling class that does both. They declare war; they make peace.

“Yours not to ask the question why; Yours but to do and die.”

That is their motto, and we object on the part of the awakened workers.

If war is right, let it be declared by the people—you, who have your lives to lose; you certainly ought to have the right to declare war, if you consider war a necessary.

I try not to lionize any politician too much but Debs is certainly up there at the top although to be honest that’s probably because while I try not to lionize any author too much Kurt Vonnegut was himself constantly lionizing Debs so we’re kind of dealing with an Inception scenario here.

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