Debs Interview With Steffens


"As an agitator, Debs is without a peer in his party.  When   he speaks, he crouches at times, brandishes his arms wildly, paces back and forth on the platform and raises his voice almost to a shriek.  He is passionate and fiery and reckless, carried away by his own eloquence.  His speeches are full of invective, and yet his friends profess to find in him the tenderest of hearts and an all-embracing love of mankind."

Debs with Crowd.jpg (11754 bytes)

In 1908, Lincoln Steffens interviewed Debs.  Current Literature continues:

"In his interviews, Steffens remarked: 'But Debs, you must admit that you Socialists preach class war, and that engenders hate.'  Debs rose to his full height (he is long and lanky and lean) and said earnestly:


'No, no!  We do not preach hate; we preach love.  We do not teach classes; we are opposed to classes.  That is Capitalism again.  There are classes now and we say so.  Why not ?  It is true, terribly true.  But it exactly that we are trying to beat.  The struggle of the best men now is to rise from the working into the exploiting class.  We teach the worker not to strive to rise out of his class; not to want to be an employer; but to stay with his fellow-workers and by striving all together, industrially, financially, politically, to learn to cooperate for the common good of the working class to the end that some day we may abolish classes and have only workers--all kinds of workers, but all producers.'"

Source: Current Literature 53(1912): 36-37