Why You Should Vote for Socialism - Eugene V. Debs - Recited by Cindy Sheehan
THIS IS THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THIS SPEECH!!!
There are ninety million reasons why you should vote for Socialism in America this year and every one of them is a pulsing, breathing, human reason!
You must either vote for or against your own material interests as a wealth producer; there is no political purgatory in this nation of ours, despite the desperate efforts of so-called Progressive capitalist politicians to establish one. Socialism alone represents the material heaven of plenty for those who toil and the Socialist party alone offers the political means for attaining that heaven of economic plenty which the toil of the workers of the world provides in unceasing and measureless flow.
Capitalism represents the material hell of want and pinching poverty of degradation and prostitution for those who toil and in which you now exist, and each and every political party, other than the Socialist party, stands for the perpetuation of this economic hell of capitalism.
For the first time in all history you who toil possess the power to peacefully better your own condition. The little slip of paper which you hold in your hand on election day is more potent than all the armies of all the kings on earth. To that ballot the will of despots must bow; its alchemy the mythical power of money melts away and is as the fleeting mists before the morning sun.
Upon the political battlefield the worker meets the millionaire upon terms of absolute equality.
On any chosen day, you who toil may vote out of existence the system which robs and plunders you, for you are many and your oppressors are few.
You who toil are the arbiters of your own destiny in a sense never before realized by the workers of the earth.
In a single bloodless battle you can put an end to poverty; you alone possess the key which will unlock the fetters that bind you to a life of unrequited toil.
At your command, the millions of child slaves now toiling in the factories and mines of capitalism will troop forth to joyous freedom.
Either you must vote for capitalism, with its ever increasing poverty and prostitution for the workers - with its army, its militia, its police and its courts, with which it enforces bestial conditions upon you - or else you must vote for Socialism which proclaims industrial peace in place of war - plenty in place of poverty - love and chastity in place of vice and prostitution.
I care not by what name the political parties of capitalism are called, Republican, Democrat, Progressive, they are all one and stand irretrievably committed to the preservation and perpetuation of capitalism with all its horrors of vice and corruption, in city, state, and nation.
For you, the workers of this nation, there is but one issue in this campaign and that issue is Socialism vs. Capitalism. Beside this issue all other questions pale into insignificance. In the name of civilization, Socialism challenges capitalism to justify its right to exist.
Here we have a primal political issue as incapable of misconception or misunderstanding as was the issue between the advocates of human slavery and the abolitionists of half a century ago.
Today capitalism stands stripped in all its hideous nakedness. Its political spokesmen of whatever name or brand must justify the almost universal poverty which it visits upon the useful workers of this nation. They must justify the multi-millionaire and the pauper. /they must justify the slaughter of the workers in the mines and mills, the factories and upon the railways of capitalism.
They must justify the ever present army of the millions of unemployed. They must justify the employment of millions of wives and mothers, daughters and sisters, at a wage which drives six hundred thousand of them into the brothels of capitalism.
They must justify a child slavery which chains more than two million helpless little ones to the chariot wheels of modern capitalism.
They must justify the civic and political rottenness which permeates the institutions of capitalism like a living leprosy, debauching alike the policeman on his beat and the judge on his bench.
They must justify the prostitution of the press and pulpit, of schools and colleges, which serve the interests of capitalism and thereby poison the very fountainhead of the nation's source of information and intelligence.
Beside these terrible facts of capitalism how puerile, how utterly imbecile is the chatter about the "tariff," "the control of corporations," " the dignity of the courts," "the theft of delegates to national conventions of capitalist parties" and half a hundred other so-called "issues" with which capitalism seeks to cozen the worker out of his vote!
Can you, my fellow-worker, justify a vote of confidence in capitalism in the face of this terrible indictment? Surely the daily experience of your own life and the experience of those who are dear to you is a more terrific indictment of capitalism than mortal man can pen.
In the name of peace and plenty; in the name of honor and virtue; in the name of manhood, in the name of the womanhood and in the name of the childhood of this nation, you should cast your ballot for Socialism.
In the name of human liberty Socialism invites you to rally to its standard. Behind the ramparts of capitalism, buttressed by soldiers and costs, cower the latest beneficiaries of human slavery. They are the modern captains of industry - the owners of this and every nation of earth.
As long as you must use the things they own, the modern machinery of production and distribution, just so long will you be slaves. Just so long will your wives and daughters fill the brothels of the rich. Just so long will your children be sacrificed upon the altars of human greed. Just so long will the vast army of the unemployed, our brothers, tramp the highways and byways of this nation denied even the poor privilege of earning a mere existence.
Just so long will you and your brother workers fill the jails and the asylums - the penitentiaries and the poor houses - oblations to the greed and avarice of a plutocracy, compared with which the greed of the chattel slave master was respectable.
In the name of that democracy which, in its final interpretation, spells universal brotherhood, you should vote for Socialism. It is the universal bond that binds the workers of all tongues and of every nation and its password is "Love and Liberty."
Eugene V. Debs
August 31, 1912