Eugene V. Debs and the Idea of Socialism


Article by Howard Zinn • The Progressive • January 1999

We are always in need of radicals who are also lovable, and so we would do well to remember Eugene Victor Debs. Ninety years ago, at the time The Progressive was born, Debs was nationally famous as leader of the Socialist Party, and the poet James Whitcomb Riley wrote of him:

As warm a heard as ever beat
Betwixt here and the Judgement Seat.

Debs was what every socialist or anarchist or radical should be: fierce in his convictions, kind and compassionate in his personal relations.

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