Eugene Debs Died for our Sins


By Richard Eber

Even in the times of Cancel Culture, where Leftist extremists are trying to change the past by eliminating historical figures they don’t care for; there are certain truths that never change.  One such principle is that history like geology always repeats itself.

With this in mind, we take a look at the Progressive political movement in California and the rest of the country.  While the likes of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandra Ocasio- Cortez (AOC), Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, and the California legislature act as if they are offering an exciting new socialistic vision.  In reality, it is hardly that.

These individuals offer a brand of semi-Marxism that reminds us of Eugene Debs, who helped in 1905 to found The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which were commonly termed “Wobblies”.  This organization once had 150,000 members.  Their message of social equality and revolution principally appealed to oppressed workers during America’s industrial revolution.

The residual effects of the Red Scare after WWI, the rise of the Soviet Union, and the Wobblies objections to the American Federation of Labor (AFL) being too conservative, basically put the organization out of business by the early 1930’s.

Their leader Eugene Debs, who actually ran for President more often than Joe Biden, summed up his view of the world in saying:

“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.”

As with Mr. Debs, the foundation of the Progressive political movement today is based upon income redistribution, utilizing socialism and Marxist ideology to achieve these objectives.  In this model, the central government takes on more responsibility for achieving the happiness of people.  The influence of money generated by capitalism is reduced because most profits of business are given back to the central government in the form of higher taxation.

If one takes a look at Biden-Harris Green New Deal Infrastructure plans, Eugene Debs, were he still living, would be proud of this proposal if implemented that includes:

  • Corporate taxes would almost double to help finance $6 trillion of new spending. In addition the super wealthy would pony up most of what they make personally to the IRS.
  • Cradle-to-grave assistance starting with free preschool, child care, college loan forgiveness, government medical care, 12 weeks of family leave, etc., would become a human right.
  • The central and state governments rather than the free market would determine where people live.  Single family homes as they are known today would become a relic of the past.
  • More of the economy than even now would be generated by the government.  Decision making on a local level no longer might be relevant as political power would almost all reside in Sacramento and Washington D.C.

If this sounds more like a Five Year Plan concocted by the old Soviet Union rather than a glimpse of the future in the land of the free and the brave, then perhaps I should be rethinking the contents of the pipe I’m smoking from these days.

If the plans of Joe Biden-Kamala Harris, ATC, and Bernie team seems to be far out in “Left Field”, just take a look what is going on in the California legislature with new housing bills.  Most of this legislation emanates from the unholy big city duo of State Senate leader Toni Adkins (D-San Diego), Housing Committee Chair Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco)

They believe control for urban planning should reside with Sacramento rather than locally where residents are calling the shots.  Among the worst of this year’s bills are:

SB-9 Authored by Atkins, it ends single-family zoning to allow up to 6 units where 1 home is currently located. This bill which is similar to defeated SB-1120 last year gives developers the right to destroy single family neighborhoods without getting approval from local government. It allows for 4 foot backyards and no parking requirements if the structures are within one half mile of a bus stop. The collateral damage these new structures would have on a community is not addressed in the bill

SB-10 This Weiner measure is similar to SB-1120 that was voted down last year. SB 10 lets a simple majority on a city councils override CEQA to allow 10-unit pricey market-rate apartments almost anywhere. Even worse this anti-environment bill enables city councils to override voter approved zoning and urban limits.

Other horrible pieces of legislation include AB-1322 that allows the State Attorney General to pressure cities and counties to exercise state housing policies.  It hopes the threat of litigation will make sure they cave in much like the way cities were forced to accept district elections.  SB-7 (Atkins) allows developers to ignore CEQA if they include a small number of affordable units within a $15 million project. Again, this is similar to SB-995 which failed in the last legislative session.

SB-6, SB-478, AB-1401, AB-989, and AB-1398 are more of the same.  They mostly represent the State taking over local planning decisions with legislation that has been voted down several times the past few years.

Gavin Newsom and his progressive cohorts just do not care. As stalwart Socialist-Marxist Lite Democrats, they feel no obligation to listen to the voices of suburban families who prefer not to be governed by city slicker politics.

Unfortunately these Golden State Democratic legislators face virtually no repercussions from voters because Republican opposition is virtually nil.  Unlike the Wobblies, who were quickly rejected by for being too radical, this group does pretty much what they please. Unlike Democrats in Congress, they do not face the wrath of voters in the mid-term elections in 2022.

Despite their early demise, Wobblies of yesteryear should be proud of what they accomplished.  Much of what they and Robert La Follett’s Progressive movement ideas can be found in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal

Unlike what transpired 100 years ago, radical Wokes of today have the failures of communism, socialism, and totalitarian regimes to recount the failures of the past. Even with most of the media acting as Progressive cheerleaders, we have to ask how come they just do not get it?

Hopefully, history will end up repeating itself to bring down this Leftist juggernaut.

Published with Author’s Permission

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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