Eugene V. Debs

Louis Tikas
Ludlow’s Hero and Martyr


From Eugene V. Debs, Labor & Freedom, St. Louis 1916, pp.33-37.
Originally published in Appeal to Reason, September 4, 1915.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

“And now that the cloud settled upon Saint Antoine which a momentary gleam had driven from his sacred countenance, the darkness of it was heavy cold, dirt, sickness, ignorance and want, were the lords in waiting on the saintly presence nobles of great power all of them; but most especially the last. Samples of a people that had undergone a terrible grinding and regrinding in the mill, and certainly not in the fabulous mill which ground old people young, shivered at every corner ... The mill which had worked them down was the mill that grinds young people old; the children had ancient faces and grave voices; and upon them, and upon the grown faces, and plowed into every furrow of age and coming up afresh, was the sign, Hunger. It was prevalent everywhere. Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon the poles and lines; hunger was patched into them with straw and rags and wood and paper; hunger was repeated in every modicum of fire-wood that the man sawed off; hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the baker’s shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; hunger was shred into atoms in every farthing of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.
“Its abiding place was in all things fitted to it. A narrow winding street, full of offense and stench, with other narrow winding streets diverging, all peopled by rags and nightcaps, and all smelling of rags and nightcaps, and all visible things with a brooding look upon them that looked ill. In the hunted air of the people there was yet some wild-beast thought of the possibility of turning at bay. Depressed and slinking though they were, eyes of fire were not wanting among them; nor compressed lips, white with what they suppressed; nor foreheads knitted into the likeness of the gallows-rope they mused about enduring or inflicting.” A Tale of Two Cities.

In these ghastly colors Charles Dickens painted the picture of poverty and its starving victims in France on the eve of the French revolution, and yet, “every wind that blew over France shook the rags of the scarecrows in vain, for the birds, fine of song and feather took no warning.” Then the storm broke and the pent-up furies were unleashed ; the day of reckoning had come at last and the crimes of the centuries, inflicted without mercy upon the long-suffering people, were wiped out in the hearts’ blood of their aristocratic and profligate oppressors and despoilers.

The bloody revolution of a century and a quarter ago in France fills uncounted pages in the world’s history, but its terrible warning to the lords of misrule and despoilers of the people has been in vain. Today as ever the greed and avarice of the ruling class blind them to their impending fate and drive them to their inevitable doom.

In the state of Colorado in “our own free America” the conditions that make for savage and bloody revolution are ripening with incredible rapidity and the lurid handwriting of fate is already upon the wall, but the Rockefellers and their capitalist cohorts, stricken blind as the penalty of their insatiate greed, are unable to see it.

That the monstrous crime of Ludlow, the fiendish destruction of the tented village, the wanton killing of the homeless, hunted, hopeless victims – half-clad, famishing, terror-stricken and defenseless – bludgeoned, bullied, shot down like dogs, and their wives and suckling babes roasted in pits before their eyes – that this appalling massacre, without a parallel in history, did not infuriate the suffering and persecuted victims of capitalism’s worse than satanic ferocity, fire their blood with the tiger-thirst for revenge, and drench the despotic and shameless state with blood is one of the miracles of patience and submissiveness of the exploited, downtrodden, suffering masses.

The tragic story of Ludlow, the hideous nightmare of the infernal regions of the Rocky (feller) Mountains – written in the violated wombs of shrieking mothers and the spattered life-drops of their murdered babes – has yet to be traced on history’s ineffaceable pages. The blood of the twenty-three innocents who perished there will be the holy fount of the writer’s inspiration whose fire-tipped pen will give to the world this tragic and thrilling epic of the embattled miners in the mountain ramparts of Rockefellerado.

In the story of Ludlow, Louis Tikas, the intrepid leader, the loyal comrade, the noble-hearted Greek who fell the victim of gunmen-brutes in military uniform while pleading that the women and children be spared, takes on the robes of deity and joins the martyrs and heroes of history. The rifle-butt that crushed his noble head and silenced his brave and tender heart gave his soul to the cause he loved and his name to the ages.

The lion-hearted Greek is at rest, but the cause he lived and died for goes on forever!

Louis Tikas was educated, cultured and refined, a graduate of the University of Athens; yea, he was more than that, he was a MAN! His heart was true as his brain was clear; he followed the truth and he loved justice; he sided with the weak and ministered to the suffering, even as his elder brother had in the days when other pharisees crucified the Son of Man for loving his despoiled and despised fellow-men.

Louis Tikas made Ludlow holy as Jesus Christ made Calvary!

He was the loyal leader of the persecuted colony ; the trusted keeper of the tented village. He was loved by every man, woman and child, and feared only by the fanged wolves and hyenas that threatened to ravage the flock.

Strong as a giant yet gentle as a child; utterly fearless yet without bravado, this great and loving soul cast his lot with the exiled slaves of the pits and kept his vigil over the defenseless women and children of the village as a loving mother might over the fledglings of her brood.

Is it strange that they loved him, trusted him, and that in the hour of their deadly peril they looked to him to shield them from their brutish ravishers?

In this tragic hour Louis Tikas measured up to the supreme stature of his noble manhood. He knew his time had come and with a smile upon his lips and without a tremor in his sinews, he faced his cruel fate. He asked no quarter for himself, but only begged that mothers and babes be spared; and with this touching plea upon his lips and the love of his people in his soul and beaming from his eyes, he was struck down by the hired assassins of the Arch-Pharisee and passed to martyrdom and immortality.