Skip to main content

Chapter 12 - The Social Revolution

Reprinted herewith is a classic anti-war article by the redoubtable Eugene V Debs, the great American Socialist - September 11, 1915

Since my characterization of the soldier, in the jingo press, I have been asked if I was opposed to all war, and if I would refuse to be a soldier and fight under any circumstances and to make my answer thru the Appeal to Reason. NO: I am not opposed to all war, nor opposed to fighting under all circumstances, and any declaration to the contrary would disqualify me as a revolutionist.

When I say I am opposed to war, I mean ruling class war for the ruling class is the only class that makes war. It matters not to me whether this war is offensive or defensive or any other lying excuse that may be invented for it, I am opposed to it and I would be shot before I would enter such a war.

Capitalist wars for capitalist conquest and plunder must be fought by the capitalists themselves so far as I am concerned, and upon that question there can be no misunderstanding of my position. I have no country to fight for, my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world. I would not violate my principles for God, much less for a crazy Kaiser, a savage Czar, a degenerate King, or a gang of pot bellied parasites. BUT: while I have not a drop of blood to shed for the oppressors of the working class, and the robbers of the poor, the thieves and looters, the brigands and murderers whose misrule is the crime of the ages. I have a heart full to shed for their victims, when it shall be needed in a war for their liberation.

I am not a capitalist soldier, I am a proletarian revolutionist. I do not belong to the army of the plutocracy but to the irregular army of the people. I refuse to obey any command to fight from the ruling class, but I will not wait to be commanded to fight for the working class. I am opposed to every war but one. I am for that war heart and soul, and that is the world-wide war of the social revolution. In that war I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make it necessary even to the barricades. That is where I stand and where the Socialist party standsor ought to stand, on the question of war.

Tom Scribner's note: This, by old Gene Debs on September 11, 1915 and they are my sentiments exactly!