In 1920, Eugene V. Debs, in the last of his five campaigns for president, received nearly a million votes, even though he was serving a ten-year jail sentence for sedition. This engrossing documentary recounts the Indiana-born Debs’s remarkable life and heroic character, including his early years as a railroad worker, his rise as a labor organizer, his conversion to socialism, his co-founding of the IWW (aka Wobblies), his outspoken pacifism during World War I, his persecution by the government, his legendary skill as an orator, and his ability to reformulate Marxist ideas in accessible American and Christian terms. The film connects Debs to a once-vigorous tradition of working-class, Midwest-bred populism and points out his crucial influence on New Deal policies such as social security and workers’ rights that are still crucial (if gravely threatened) today. n)
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