League for Industrial Democracy

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The League for Industrial Democracy was a leftist group that came into existence in 1921 when the Intercollegiate Socialist Society re-named itself. It was active until the 1930s, when Socialists mostly left the party, joined the Democractic Party and supported the New Deal Coalition. The group did not cease to exist however, it remained alive by the charity of a few of its remaining leaders.[1]

The League for Industrial Democracy had few initiatives during the 40's and 50's, however, they did reconstitute their student wing in 1945 which was called the SLID, or Student League for Industrial Democracy.


Name Change

In 1921, a vote was held to which Harry Laidler announced: "the members of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society had declared themselves in favor of the change in name and purpose."[2] In November[2][3], the organization officially became the LID and set its sights beyond college campi. They also presented their new guiding principle: "Education for a New Social Order Based on Production for Public Use and Not for Private Profit."[3][4]

Gentle but Deadly

The League chose their new guiding principle because they believed it to be "gentle but deadly". Arthur Gleason[5], a member of the League's Executive Committee[2] said:

Only one main idea is in sight with driving force and the power to capture the imagination of men. That idea concerns itself with changing the basis of civilization. It is the idea of production for use. Production for use is a seemly phrase, so sound that sections of the church have accepted it, so far-reaching that it will bring down the walls of Jericho. It is gentle and deadly. It says that the present order is ethically indefensible and economically unsound.[6]

Student League for Industrial Democracy

Formed in 1945[1], the SLID(And LID) had a major breakthrough when they merged with another little group called the "Schactmanites" who were led by Max Shachtman. One of the promising new radicals that came into the group was Michael Harrington. In the early 60's, the SLID changed their name to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and became the genesis of the New Left campus unrest of the 1960s.

Important members

Important members of the LID include:


  1. 1.0 1.1 (2007) Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working-class History, Volume 1. New York: Taylor & Francis, 795-796. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "I.S.S. Gives Way to New League for Democracy", New York Call, November 19, 1921. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Brick and Clay Record: A Semi-monthly Record of the World's Progress in Clayworking..., Volume 68, 852. 
  4. "PLAN TO WIN STUDENTS TO 'NEW SOCIAL ORDER'; League for Industrial Democracy Speaker Calls Agricultural 'Bloc' Communistic.", New York Times, January 1, 1922. 
  5. (1922) Machinists' Monthly Journal, Volume 34, 161. 
  6. (1921) The New Republic, Volume 27, 73. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 (1922) The challenge of waste, 2. 
  8. STUART CHASE, 97; COINED PHRASE 'A NEW DEAL'. New York Times (1985).
  9. Kurtz, Stanley (2010). Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism. Simon and Schuster, 31. 
  10. Horowitz, David (2006). The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party. Simon and Schuster, 85. 
  11. Everything you need to know about the war on poverty. Washington Post (January 8, 2014). “"Many historians, such as Harrington biographer Maurice Isserman, credit Harrington and the book [The Other America] (which John F. Kennedy purportedly read while in office, along with the MacDonald review) with spurring Kennedy and then Johnson to formulate an anti-poverty agenda"”
  12. (1967) The Socialist Party of America: A History, 56. 
  13. DeSilver Legacy Society. ACLU.

See also

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