“Years ago I declared that there was only one war in which I would enlist and that was the war of the workers of the world against the exploiters of the world. “
Eugene V. Debs, a prominent socialist in the early 1900’s, was opposed to war on the grounds that it was fought primarily for the interests of the rich and the powerful, but with the blood of working people. Debs also believed that war was divisive, and pit the working classes of the world against each other for the spoils of rich people.
In Debs’ own words:
In 1918, the FBI arrested Debs for violating the Espionage Act after he gave a speech condemning World War I. He was later convicted, and sentenced to ten years in prison as well as being disenfranchised for life. During the sentencing hearing, he addressed the court directly, stating:
“Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”