Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cameth the hour ~ Eugene V. Debs

"Cometh the hour, cometh the man" - that concept appeals to me. I think it originated, though not in those exact words, in Sir Walter Scott's novel Guy Mannering. There's a wee flavour of astrology about it. It has been known to work too, not always, but on many occasions. It's as though a communal need gathers critical mass and draws to it the right man/woman to deal with a serious or dangerous situation.

In the USA one such guy, in my not so humble opinion, was Eugene Debs. “A dynamic and visionary leader of the 19th century railroad workers; preeminent spokesman for the Socialist labor tradition; beloved by those whose lives he touched.” He came along when things in the USA were getting badly out of balance with the increase in industrialisation. Workers were being exploited, poverty was rife, inequality reigned. Debs didn't make it to the presidency, in spite of running in 1900, 1904, 1908 1912 and 1920 as Socialist Party candidate.His last campaign had to be conducted from behind prison bars, while serving a 10 year sentence for opposing America's entrance into World War I and denouncing the Espionage Act (designed to silence all anti-war sentiment). He was released under under a general amnesty on Christmas Day 1921 by Warren G. Harding.

Eugene Debs' noble ideals were noted and absorbed; some things improved then, and later, because of his efforts.

The late Howard Zinn's 1999 article, Eugene V. Debs and the Idea of Socialism is a good read, I shall take the liberty of using an extract from it here.
Debs was what every socialist or anarchist or radical should be: fierce in his convictions, kind and compassionate in his personal relations. ........................
In the era of Debs, the first seventeen years of the twentieth century-until war created an opportunity to crush the movement-millions of Americans declared their adherence to the principles of socialism. Those were years of bitter labor struggles, the great walkouts of women garment workers in New York, the victorious multiethnic strike of textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the unbelievable courage of coal miners in Colorado, defying the power and wealth of the Rockefellers. The I.W.W. was born-revolutionary, militant, demanding "one big union" for everyone, skilled and unskilled, black and white, men and women, native-born and foreign-born.

The following paragraph I found surprising, particularly the part about our state, Oklahoma. Things have changed beyond recognition here. News came yesterday of a plan by the Oklahoma Tea Party to raise a "constitutional" armed militia here to oppose the Federal government: see here:

More than a million people read Appeal to Reason and other socialist newspapers. In proportion to population, it would be as if today more than three million Americans read a socialist press. The party had 100,000 members, and 1,200 office-holders in 340 municipalities. Socialism was especially strong in the Southwest, among tenant farmers, railroad workers, coal miners, lumberjacks. Oklahoma had 12,000 dues-paying members in 1914 and more than 100 socialists in local offices.

And the following states exactly my own view (thank you Mr. Zinn, RIP)

The point of recalling all this is to remind us of the powerful appeal of the socialist idea to people alienated from the political system and aware of the growing stark disparities in income and wealth-as so many Americans are today. The word itself-"socialism"-may still carry the distortions of recent experience in bad places usurping the name. But anyone who goes around the country, or reads carefully the public opinion surveys over the past decade, can see that huge numbers of Americans agree on what should be the fundamental elements of a decent society: guaranteed food, housing, medical care for everyone; bread and butter as better guarantees of "national security" than guns and bombs; democratic control of corporate power; equal rights for all races, genders, and sexual orientations; a recognition of the rights of immigrants as the unrecognized counterparts of our parents and grandparents; the rejection of war and violence as solutions for tyranny and injustice.

There are people fearful of the word, all along the political spectrum. What is important, I think, is not the word, but a determination to hold up before a troubled public those ideas that are both bold and inviting-the more bold, the more inviting. That's what remembering Debs and the socialist idea can do for us.
Eugene V. Debs was born on 5 November 1855 in Terre Haute, Indiana. I can find no time of birth for him on-line, which I find surprising; Astrodatabank doesn't even have an entry for him.
So, a 12 noon chart must suffice. Ascendant degree/sign is unknown as is Moon's degree, though Moon would be in Virgo until 8pm and Libra afterwards.

Debs' natal Sun was in passionate, magnetic Scorpio. I've noticed that Scorpio input can often translate into personality as someone who has an exceptional ability to use words to their most mesmerising effect - Carl Sagan springs immediately to mind. Debs certainly had this very special talent.

Outer planets Pluto (ruler of his Scorpio Sun) and Uranus the rebel planet were both in Taurus and loosely opposing his Sun/Mercury. This opposition reflects a dynamic push-pull between two transformative outer planets in the rather stubborn conservative sign of Taurus against his Sun (self) and Mercury (mental processes ) in passionate, determined Scorpio. Debs, fortunately, was able to harness this dynamic to draw the best from both.

The other outer planet, Neptune (imagination, dreams, creativity) lay in its own sign, Pisces in harmony with Debs' Scorpio Sun, and forming a wide Grand Trine with the addition of Saturn in the last degree of Gemini, about to move into Watery Cancer. The near-trines here are too wide to be strong aspects however, but the planets are in harmony. Neptune and Saturn in harmony bring the stability and common sense of Saturn into the often foggy dreams of Neptunian imagination. That's good! I'd guess this Water "circuit", and the fact that Debs' had no planets in the more potentially aggressive Fire signs, accounts in part for his reputation as a gentle, kindly guy. Howard Zinn starts the article linked above thus:

We are always in need of radicals who are also lovable, and so we would do well to remember Eugene Victor Debs.....Debs was nationally famous as leader of the Socialist Party, and the poet James Whitcomb Riley wrote of him:
"As warm a heart as ever beat
Betwixt here and the Judgment Seat."
These words from Eugene Debs himself are what endear him to me:

"If you go to the city of Washington, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of congress, and mis-representatives of the masses claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad that I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks."

Back my first thought: "Cometh the hour, cometh the man" - where is such a mortal in 2010? I suspect that "the hour" is nigh!


Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks for the intro to this wonderful man, T.
I was struck, upon reading your thoughtful post, that how little has changed from when he was around.
Theocorporatocracy still rules the day and the poor are no longer merely downtrodden, they are without expectation of betterment when there are no fearless leaders like Debs to shine HOPE on their plight.
Was it ever thus?

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Yes - that's what prompted me to post about Debs. Things have changed in some respects - poverty in the USA isn't as intense, working conditions aren't as dreadful, in comparison with how they were then. But still the same pattern persists and, as you say, there seems little hope of it changing for the better without the emergence of another strong, sincere leader with no ties to the corporations or religion.

I think there will be someone though, in the future, not sure how far ahead. Things are not bad enough yet, the communal need hasn't reached that critical mass.

Valus said...

Hi, I discovered Debs today (from a Chomsky documentary), and am eating up his quotes wherever I can find them on the internet. Stumbled on your blog post here while searching for his natal chart, and love it, especially the article by Zinn. Thanks for posting this. Oh, but Debs' Saturn does not trine his Neptune or his Sun; only his Jupiter in Aquarius.

Twilight said...

Valus ~~~ Hi there and thanks for reading and commenting here. :-)
Debs is a political hero of mine.

Erm let's the chart aspects you mention that are not as I posted....Saturn trine Neptune & Sun. I do believe the trines are there, but agree they are too wide to be strong aspects. My software lists them, but I've noticed before that this software tends to be too generous with their trines. ;-) 8 degrees is usually max, 10 in some cases. These are more than that, of course, but I guess we could say they are still in harmony. (Saturn does widely trine the two planets, out of sign, Saturn being in the last few minutes of Gemini, about to move into Cancer.)

Thanks for pointing that out - I'll look to amend somehow - possibly by adding the word "wide".

mike said...

Thanks for providing the link to your Debs post, Twilight...I should have known you had covered this topic! It's interesting that he was not lost in the continuance of it is 2013 and he is well remembered for his efforts. I'm intrigued by his Pluto-North Node tight conjunction...a mark that would indicate influential fate of the masses, possibly, and he has that in spades.

In your post for November 16, 2013, I linked the Wiki quote showing that the younger amongst us are much more favorable to the socialist concept. Any of our contemporaries interested in socialism will find Debs front and center of their research.

Twilight said...

mike ~ In the floundering boat of US politics, when feeling seasick I always go to Eugene Debs to regain my, erm, composure, when all I've wanted to do is barf. :-)

Yes, a new generation will (I hope) help turn things around, especially when a few of them get their voices.
This is exactly where people like Russell Brand can help bring it on.