During World War I, Eugene V. Debs saw socialism as the “star of hope” that might redeem a world wracked by violence. Read his message of renewal as we leave a war-torn year behind and head into a new one.

American labor activist and socialist leader Eugene V. Debs in 1921. (Buyenlarge / Getty Images)

The men and women who have had visions, who have dreamed dreams, have led in the world’s progress toward higher and better things. These prophets and seers — for such they have been — have always been regarded in their day as dreamers and enthusiasts, visionary and harmless, and but little attention has been paid to their visions and dreams until in a latter day and generation they were triumphantly realized.

Victor Hugo had a vision of a day when war would be no more. He dreamed the poet’s dream of a world without forts and arsenals, without soldiers and sabers, without bullets and bayonets — a world wherein peace, enduring peace, should prevail to the utmost boundaries. He prophesied that “a day will come when bullets and bombs shall be replaced by ballots, by the universal suffrages of the people . . . when a cannonball shall be exhibited in our museums as an instrument of torture in war, and men shall marvel that such things could ever be.”

Yes, the time will come when “men shall marvel that such things could ever be.” The time is already here when millions are marveling that such monstrous things as war and massacre, destruction and desolation, deliberately plotted by the same human beings, are still possible upon the earth.

While war remains, savagery still rules, and our vaunted civilization is the most stupendous delusion that ever deceived and betrayed the human race.

But the day of peace is dawning. The present bloody war proclaims it. The earth rocks with the fury of the awful carnage, but out of the appalling welter of blood and desolation rises the bright star of hope.

The war is the prelude to socialism, and socialism will bring enduring peace to a distracted world!

Republished from the New York Call.

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