Eugene V. Debs

Prince and Proletaire

Written: Unknown
First Published: Unknown, Wilshire’s Magazine
Source: DEBS: His Life Writings and Speeches 1908 by The Appeal to Reason newspaper, Girard, Kansas. Page 301-304
Online Version: E.V. Debs Internet Archive, 2008
Transcribed/HTML Markup: David Walters, August, 2008
Public Domain: The E. V. Debs Internet Archive follows the advice of the original copyright (now expired and in the public domain) published in the title page of the 1908 edition: “Copyright by The Appeal to Reason: “NOTE—Copyright protection is taken upon this volume for the sole purpose of protecting the work of Comrade Debs from prejudiced misuse by pirate Capitalist publishers, and will not be invoked against Socialist and Labor Publications and Comrade publishers, they giving us notice.—Appeal to Reason

The two types represented in the above caption are brought into vivid contrast by the visit of Prince Henry to our democratic domain and the hysterical demonstrations that assail him as he is whirled from point to point in his royal carousal among the plebeians. According to reports the royalty of the old world has been totally eclipsed by the democracy of the new, and his deputy imperial majesty is fairly dazzled and bewildered by the fast and furious display in his honor. At the opera in New York he was surrounded by a palpitating wall of nude flesh, ablaze with diamonds—a scene of gorgeous, glittering splendor compared with which the courts of kings are dim as dirt.

And this is but an incident among a thousand in which our democratic (?) people of every rank and station, save Socialistic alone, abase themselves in vulgar fawning at the feet of tyranny. Shall the titled snob be blamed for holding all such flunkeys in contempt?

Who is this royal lion in the democratic den? A total stranger from an alien land. What has he done to command the reverence of a god? Ask yourself if you can answer. It is not then to the man—for he’s unknown—but to the Prince that Uncle Sam gets down full length into the dust and spreads the Stars and Stripes for royal feet to tread upon.

What difference is there between the monarchy of William and the republic of Roosevelt? Could the Lick telescope discover it?

Bear in mind that here “we” are the people; “we” live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”; “we” are all sovereigns; “we” have no classes; “we” scorn royal snobs; “we” love liberty and despise display; “we” hold “divine right to rule” in contempt; “we”-

The simple truth is we are like the rest—we have prince and pauper, power and poverty, money and misery in our capitalist republic, just as they have in their capitalist monarchy across the water.

Chauncey M. Depev has io pairs of creased trousers; many of his sovereign constituents have patches on their only pair of pants.

In our great eastern cities more than half the people live in tenements unfit for habitation, and thousands of babes, denied fresh air, die every year.

The sweating dens are packed with human vermin, but Henry, by the grace of God, will not behold the reeking ballast of the “ship of state.”

A few rods from the Waldorf in New York and the Auditorium in Chicago, are the districts of the doomed and damned. The squares of squalor and miles of misery inspire in men, instead of “Hoch der Kaiser,” the wish “to hear the nightingale sing new marseillaises” and revive the ominous notes of “La Carmagnole.”

“Thus fares the land, by luxury betray ‘d; In nature’s simplest charms at first array ‘d, But verging to decline, its splendors rise, Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise; While, scourged by famine from the smiling land, The mournful toiler leads his humble band; And while he sinks, without one arm to save, The country blooms—a garden, and a grave.’’

Not long ago the millionaires and labor leaders had a feast in New York; they met as one, and declared that henceforth they were “one and inseparable, now and forever.” President Roosevelt ratified the compact by dining the leaders at the White House. But where are labor’s representatives to the Prince Henry banquets and receptions? Have they been lost in the shuffle? Can it be that they are not fit to meet a prince? Absurd! This is a Republic; labor here is royal and wears the imperial crown. So, at least, Mr. Hanna and other poor and oppressed capitalists tell us, and surely they should know the working kings who rule them.

But again, where are the representatives of labor at these courtly social functions? Why is no American workingman allowed near the prince except as menial and spaniel, to guard his noble majesty and do slavish obeisance to his every whim?

Why is there no inch of room for labor in any house or halt, or park, or boat in all this vaunted Republic when a “prince” is guest?

Why are the working class excluded from such “public” functions as rigidly as if they wore the stripes of convicts?

Why must a prince be guarded?

On “great occasions,” such as the presence of a royal guest, the streets and alleys are reserved for the working class, and in these thoroughfares the dead—lines of the common herd are guarded with policemen’s clubs.

How melancholy to see shivering humans, packed together like cattle in a car, rend one another in mad strife to honor those who look upon them as unclean and hold them in supreme contempt!

The working class of the United States, with few exceptions, cheered and shouted for the prince as though he had been their lord and savior. He cares no more for them, this pampered prince, than if they were so many sheep or swine, for he believes that royal blood, by God’s decree, flows through his veins and that common humans are but beasts of burden.

Not long ago Ben Tillett came from England as the representative of labor. All his life he worked to help the men of toil. In point of honest worth Ben Tillett far outweighs ten thousand blooded princes. Yet workingmen, except the few, ignored him, and the scant regard they showed him is to their disgrace.

The point I make is, that from the time the ship that brought the prince touched our shore until it left again no workingman was tolerated in any banquet or reception tendered him in the name of the American people. Office—holders and politicians spouted, while capitalists lined the tables and wined and dined themselves—all of which simply proves that there are no classes in the United States, and that Socialism has no business in a republic.

The envoys for the coronation of King Edward have been announced by President Roosevelt, There will be no horny-handed prince of labor there. Whitelaw Reid, known only for being the opposite of Horace Greeley, and as small as he was great, will be our knee—breeched, official flunkey at the clowning of the king.

Of course it would not be consistent for our president to drop a crumb of comfort to the Doers.

Let it not be understood that I have the slightest feeling against Henry of Prussia; it is the prince I have no use for. Personally, he may be a good fellow, and I am inclined to believe he is, and if he were in trouble and I had it in my power to help he would find in me a friend. The amputation of his title would relieve him of his royal affliction and elevate him to the dignity of a man.

This is a necessary part of the mission of Socialism, and the revolutionary movement is sweeping over the United States as well as Germany.

It means the end of princes, the end of paupers and the beginning of Man.

“To earl attuned, the victor’s shouts
Are crossing o’er the sea;
Resounding like Jove’s thunder peals
The working class are free.”