Early American Marxism: Document Download Page by Year: 1894

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“The Situation,” by Eugene V. Debs [pub. Aug. 1, 1894] Reprinted here for the first time is this contemporary account of the causes behind the strike of the 4,000 employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company which escalated into a massive sympathy strike embroiling a major part of the nation’s railroads. “There is not a strike on record which, upon investigation, does not disclose the fact that labor had been cruelly wronged,” Debs declares, adding that “history will declare, when peace is restored” that the 1894 strife “had its origin in the venality, despotism, and oppression of George M. Pullman.” Debs does not utter any accusation that the violence linked to the strike was related to the hired thugs of Pullman and his associates. Instead, Debs depicts violence as an inevitability in the conflict between capital and labor: “It is not only not strange but natural that in the contention for supremacy by the forces of right and the forces of the wrong, deeds of violence should sometimes occur. It is human nature—it is history, and history will repeat itself until the day of darkness comes for our land, when plutocrats are supreme, or think themselves supreme.” Debs’ outlook of the strike’s prospect is grim. “It must be said that the situation is full of premonitions that the worst has not been reached. There are no encouraging symptoms. The outlook is in all directions disheartening. Around the horizon and overhead naught but storm clouds meets the vision,” he states.