Intercollegiate Socialist Society
The Intercollegiate Socialist Society was a leftist group founded in 1905 by writers Upton Sinclair and Jack London, both of whom were members of the Socialist Party of America. It was active until 1921, when the word "socialist" had become a liability.
In 1921, the group changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy.
Upton Sinclair issued a call for the formation of a group:
In the opinion of the undersigned the recent remarkable increase in the Socialist vote in America should serve as an indication to the educated men and women in the country, that Socialism is a thing concerning which it is no longer wise to be indifferent. The undersigned, regarding its aims and fundamental principles with sympathy, and believing that in them will ultimately be found the remedy for many far-reaching economic evils, propose organizing an association, to be known as the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, for the purpose of promoting an intelligent interest in Socialism among college men, graduate and undergraduate, through the formation of study clubs in the colleges and universities, and the encouraging of all legitimate endeavors to awaken an interest in Socialism among the educated men and women of the country.
The founding members include Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Clarence Darrow, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Graham Phelps Stokes, William English Walling, B. O. Flower, Leonard D. Abbott, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and Harry W. Laidler.
Purpose and Criticism
Upon its inception, the ISS faced criticism that it "aims to imbue the minds of the rising generation with socialistic doctrines".
Responding to this criticism, one of the Founding members, Thomas Higginson, wrote that the purpose of the Society was to ensure that "this tendency should be studied seriously and thoughtfully, not left to demagogues alone. For this purpose our foremost universities should take the matter up scientifically, as has been done for several years at Harvard University, where there is a full course on "Methods of Social Reform - Socialism, Communism, the Single Tax." etc., given by Professor T.N. Carver."
One response to this explanation noted that at an International Congress of Socialist Students and Graduates, Professor Enrico Ferri from Palermo University of Italy stated the following: "We should introduce Socialism into the students' minds as a part of science, as the logical and necessary culmination of the biological and sociological sciences. No need of making a direct propaganda which would frighten many of the listeners. Without pronouncing the word Socialism once a year I make two thirds of our students conscious Socialists."
The ISS attracted many of the best minds of the time. Initially, the ISS had difficulty making its way into colleges across the country, but they met with success through the proliferation of affiliates.[Citation Needed]
In 1921, a vote was held to which Harry W. Laidler announced: "the members of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society had declared themselves in favor of the change in name and purpose." In November, 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."
The League would later rename again, leading to the formation of SDS and the Weather Underground.
Intercollegiate Socialist Society
↳ League for Industrial Democracy → → →
↳ Student League for Industrial Democracy (1932) → American Student Union
↳ Student League for Industrial Democracy (1945) → Students for a Democratic Society
↳ Weather Underground
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