79 Eugene Debs Quotes from Famous American Socialist

Eugene V. Debs, born November 5, 1855, was a pivotal labor organizer and five-time Socialist Party presidential candidate between 1900-1920.

Starting work at 14, he actively participated in labor movements, organizing the American Railway Union and leading significant strikes.

His prison term for violating the 1917 Espionage Act significantly influenced his socialist viewpoints and political endeavors.

Despite losing his citizenship in 1918 due to sedition conviction, it was posthumously restored in 1976.

Eugene Debs

Debs was known for his integrity, sincerity and powerful public speaking, contributing significantly to labor rights and socialism in America until his death in 1926.

Eugene Debs was the founding members of the ‘Industrial Workers of the World’.

Here are some of the powerful quotes by Eugene Debs.

Best Eugene Debs Quotes


Sooner or later every war of trade becomes a war of blood. ~ Eugene Debs.


The rights of one are as sacred as the rights of a million. ~ Eugene Debs.


When I rise it will be with the ranks and not from the ranks. ~ Eugene Debs.


The workers are the saviors of society, the redeemers of the race. ~ Eugene Debs.


Riches are the savings of many in the hands of one. ~ Eugene Debs.

You need at this time especially to know that you are fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder. ~ Eugene Debs.


I am for Socialism because I am for humanity. ~ Eugene Debs.

From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet I am Bolshevik, and proud of it. ~ Eugene Debs.


I would no more teach children military training than teach them arson, robbery, or assassination. ~ Eugene Debs.

Only the very ignorant and foolish believe that a president who has surrounded himself with Wall Street darlings as cabinet ministers has any serious designs on the trusts. ~ Eugene Debs.


Some go to prison for stealing, and others for believing that a better system can be provided and maintained than one that makes it necessary for a man to steal in order to live. ~ Eugene Debs.

Famous Eugene Debs Quotes

It is when you have done your work honestly, when you have contributed your share to the common fund that you begin to live. ~ Eugene Debs.


I may not be able to say all I think, but I am not going to say anything I do not think. ~ Eugene Debs.

The truth has always been dangerous to the rule of the rogue, the exploiter, the robber. So the truth must be ruthlessly suppressed. ~ Eugene Debs.

Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. He has not come; he never will come. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. ~ Eugene Debs.

As long as this great army of workers is scattered among so many craft unions, it will be impossible for them to unite and act in harmony together. Craft unionism is the negation of solidarity. The more unions you have, the less unity. ~ Eugene Debs.

Privately owned industry and production for individual profit are no longer compatible with social progress and have ceased to work out to humane and civilized ends. ~ Eugene Debs.

Nothing is more humiliating than to have to beg for work, and a system in which any man has to beg for work stands condemned. No man can defend it. ~ Eugene Debs.


Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. ~ Eugene Debs.

In all the history of organized labor, from the earliest times to the present day, no body of union workingmen ever served in a more humiliating and debasing role than that in which the railway unions appear at this very hour before the American people and the world. ~ Eugene Debs.

To stir the masses, to appeal to their higher, better selves, to set them thinking for themselves, and to hold ever before them the ideal of mutual kindness and good will, based upon mutual interests, is to render real service to the cause of humanity. ~ Eugene Debs.

Popular Eugene Debs Quotes


Capitalism needs and must have the prison to protect itself from the criminals it has created. ~ Eugene Debs.

The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose – especially their lives. ~ Eugene Debs.

A privately owned world can never be a free world and a society based upon warring classes cannot stand. ~ Eugene Debs.

The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. ~ Eugene Debs.


The most heroic word in all languages is revolution. ~ Eugene Debs.

You have got to unite in the same labor union and in the same political party and strike and vote together, and the hour you do that, the world is yours. ~ Eugene Debs.

Chicago is the product of modern capitalism, and, like other great commercial centers, is unfit for human habitation. ~ Eugene Debs.

The prison, above all others, should be the most human of institutions. ~ Eugene Debs.

In the very progress of society, the prison has in the very nature of things undergone some improvement, but there are vast stretches yet to be covered before the prison becomes, if it ever does, an institution for the reclamation and rehabilitation of erring and unfortunate men and women. ~ Eugene Debs.

Great Eugene Debs Quotes


While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. ~ Eugene Debs.

I don’t want you to follow me or anyone else. If you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of the capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into this promised land if I could because if I could lead you in, someone else could lead you out. ~ Eugene Debs.

When we are in partnership and have stopped clutching each other’s throats, when we have stopped enslaving each other, we will stand together, hands clasped, and be friends. We will be comrades, we will be brothers, and we will begin the march to the grandest civilization the human race has ever known. ~ Eugene V. Debs.

The guns on the walls that surround the prison accurately, though unwittingly, index the true character of the penitentiary in our day. ~ Eugene Debs.

I abhorred slavery in every form. I yearned to see all men and all women free. I detested the idea of some men being ruled by others, and of women being ruled by men. I believed that women should have all the rights men have, and I looked upon child labor as a crime. And so I became an agitator and this ruling passion of my life found larger expression. ~ Eugene Debs.


Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation. ~ Eugene Debs.

But, alas, this wealth, instead of blessing the race, has been the means of enslaving it. The few have come in possession of all, and the many have been reduced to the extremity of living by permission. ~ Eugene Debs.

Top Eugene Debs Quotes

The general public knows practically nothing about the prison and appears to be little concerned about how it is managed and how prisoners are treated. ~ Eugene Debs.

Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on Earth. ~ Eugene Debs.


If I were hungry and friendless today, I would rather take my chances with a saloon-keeper than with the average preacher. ~ Eugene Debs.

Wherever capitalism appears, in pursuit of its mission of exploitation, there will Socialism, fertilized by misery, watered by tears, and vitalized by agitation be also found, unfurling its class-struggle banner and proclaiming its mission of emancipation. ~ Eugene Debs.

Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. I would have you make up your minds there is nothing that you cannot do for yourselves. ~ Eugene Debs.

The protection the government owes you and fails to provide, you are morally bound to provide for yourselves… ~ Eugene Debs.


When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. ~ Eugene Debs.

Thought-Provoking Eugene Debs Quotes

What can Labor do for itself? The answer is not difficult. Labor can organize, it can unify; it can consolidate its forces. This done, it can demand and command. ~ Eugene Debs.

I know that the Kaiser incarnates all there is of brute force and of murder. And yet I would not, if I had the power, kill the Kaiser. I would do to him what Thomas Paine wanted to do to the king of England. He said, Destroy the king, but save the man. ~ Eugene Debs.

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. ~ Eugene Debs.


A prison is a cross section of society in which every human strain is clearly revealed. ~ Eugene Debs.

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence. ~ Eugene Debs.

I do not oppose the insane asylum – but I abhor and condemn the cutthroat system that robs man of his reason, drives him to insanity and makes the lunatic asylum an indispensable adjunct to every civilized community. ~ Eugene Debs.

A man should take to himself no discomfort from an opinion expressed or implied by his adversary, but it is difficult, and oftentimes humiliating to attempt to justify the kindness of one’s friends. ~ Eugene Debs.

I am guilty of believing that the human race can be humanized and enriched in every spiritual inference through the saner and more beneficent processes of peaceful persuasion applied to material problems rather than through wars, riots and bloodshed. ~ Eugene Debs.

Profound Eugene Debs Quotes

I would rather be arrested as a traitor than fight a war for Wall Street. ~ Eugene Debs.

They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. This is too much, even for a joke. But it is not a subject for levity; it is an exceedingly serious matter. ~ Eugene Debs.

I would not be a Moses to lead you into the Promised Land, because if I could lead you into it, someone else could lead you out of it. ~ Eugene Debs.

The American people can have anything they want; the trouble is, they don’t know what they want. ~ Eugene Debs.

Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on earth. ~ Eugene Debs.

I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets. ~ Eugene Debs.


Anybody can be nobody, but it takes a man to be somebody. ~ Eugene Debs.

He must have had this Wall Street gentry in mind, or at least their prototypes, for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people. ~ Eugene Debs.

The issue is Socialism versus Capitalism. I am for Socialism because I am for humanity. We have been cursed with the reign of gold long enough. Money constitutes no proper basis of civilization. The time has come to regenerate society – we are on the eve of universal change. ~ Eugene Debs.

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world. ~ Eugene Debs.

The Republican and Democratic parties, or, to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles. ~ Eugene Debs.

Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most – that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least. ~ Eugene Debs.

Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation. ~ Eugene Debs.

If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation. ~ Eugene Debs.

The class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery. ~ Eugene Debs.

Labor is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun. ~ Eugene Debs.


No war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people. ~ Eugene Debs.

If the people would but analyze the human equation of a prison they might better account for the crimes that are visited upon them in cities, towns, and hamlets, ofttimes by men who graduated with an education and equipment for just that sort of retributive service from some penal institution. ~ Eugene Debs.

So these were the 79 top Eugene Debs quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Edith Wharton quotes and Ken Kesey quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar