Saturday, November 5, 2016

Happy Birthday Eugene V Debs

Eugene Victor Debs, born this day in 1855, got involved in the labor movement as a young man while working as a clerk in a railroad office and eventually became head of and/or founded some of the most powerful unions in the US, including eventually the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World.

Originally a Democrat he turned to Socialism after doing a lot of reading while serving time in prison for his union activities, and five times was the presidential nominee of the US Socialist Party, a legitimate force in those days, electing hundreds of people to local and state offices and a few to congress.

It took courage to be a union member then, when the government routinely sent out federal troops to violently break strikes, or if they didn't, the bosses sent out armed thugs like those from the infamous Pinkerton Agency to beat or murder strikers with impunity. But those union struggles gave us the standard of living we have in America today, which we are pissing away, incidentally, by not being as radical and active as this nation's workers were in Debs' time.

Debs died in 1926 but is remembered and revered by many on the Left, including former NBA star and long-time radical Bill Walton, who, besides  being famous for his days playing for UCLA and the NBA, spoke out against the Vietnam War when it wasn't very cool for people like him to do that. Walton in 2013 took his friend Larry Bird and his wife to see the Eugene V Debs home and museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, where Bird went to college, while they were there for the unveiling of a statue of Bird at the University of Indiana.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post about Mr. Debs, one of the true 'old breed'. I think I mentioned in the past, before we stopped correspondence, that my grandfather was a wob, working in the woods of Oregon.

    Also, I've been an admirer of Walton for years, enjoyed watching him play and the interplay between him and Coach Wooden. And his 'social conscience' you reference in his opposition to many government policies.
    He's said that Coach was a big influence on his life and views. They remained friends, Wooden was in some ways his mentor.
    And Larry looks good.

    I lived in Portland, was up at the medical center on pill hill during the championship season, '76. Rumors abound about whether or not 'Tanya', aka Patty Hurst, was in hiding in his NW Portland house for some months when she was on the run.