From Eugenbe V. Debs, Labor & Freedom, St. Louis, pp.37-39.
Originally published in Progressive Woman, December 1910.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
The children are to me a perpetual source of wonder and delight. How keen they are, how alert, and how comprehending!
The sweet children of the Socialist movement – the little lords of light and love – keep my heart warm and my purpose true. The raggedest and dirtiest of them all is to me an angel of light. I have seen them, the proletarian little folks, swarming up out of the sub-cellars and down from the garrets of the tenements and I have watched them with my heart filled with pity and my eyes overflowing with tears. Their very glee seemed tragic beyond words.
Born within the roar of the ocean their tiny feet are never kissed by the eager surf, nor their wan cheeks made ruddy by the vitalizing breezes of the sea.
Not for them – the flotsam and jetsam upon the social tides – are the rosy hours of babyhood, the sweet, sweet joys of childhood. They are the heirs of the social filth and disease of capitalism and death marks them at what should be the dewy dawn of birth, and they wither and die – without having been born. Their cradle is their coffin and their birth robe their winding sheet.
The Socialist movement is the first in all history to come to the rescue of childhood and to set free the millions of little captives. And they realize it and incarnate the very spirit of the movement and shout aloud their joy as it marches on to victory.
The little revolutionists in Socialist parades know what they are there for, and in our audiences they are wide awake to the very last word. They know, too, when to applaud, and the speaker whi, fails to enthuse them is surely lacking in some vital element of his speech.
At the close of a recent meeting in a western state the stage was crowded with eager comrades shaking hands and offering congratulations. My hand was suddenly gripped from below. I glanced down and a little comrade just about big enough to stand alone looked straight up into my eyes and said with all the frankness and sincerity of a child: “That was a great speech you made and I love you; keep this to remember me by.” And he handed me a little nickle-plated whistle, his sole tangible possession, and with it all the wealth of his pure and unpolluted child-love, which filled my heart and moved me to tears.
In just that moment that tiny proletaire filled my measure to overflowing and consecrated me with increased strength and devotion to the great movement that is destined to rescue the countless millions of disinherited babes and give them the earth and all the fulness thereof as their patrimony forever.
The sweetest, tenderest, most pregnant words uttered by the proletaire of Galilee were: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”