The Campus Strikes Against War. Joseph P. Lash.

The Campus Strikes Against War

New York: Student League for Industrial Democracy, n.d. [1934]. First Edition, First Printing. 8vo (9 x 6 inches; 230 x 150 mm), 11, [1] pages, in illustrated stapled wrappers. An account of nationwide antiwar strikes on university campuses on April 13, 1934, with black-and-white photographs of the strike action at several schools. The strikes were organized by the Socialist-led Student League for Industrial Democracy (publisher of this pamphlet) and the Communist-led National Student League. The author, Joseph P. Lash, headed the Socialist organization. The pamphlet recounts the strike action at various campuses, especially at Columbia, Hunter, and City Colleges in New York, where organizers said 15,000 students had walked out of their classrooms. Students protested compulsory enrollment in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and supported the "Oxford Pledge," meaning they would not support government in the event of war. At 11 a.m. on the day of the strike, students cut their classes and attended one-hour campus demonstrations. "They cheered speakers who denounced war, attacked militarism and imperialism, and adopted resolutions embodying the so-called Oxford pledge against war," The New York Times reported in a front-page article the next day. The Times also reported that "disorders" occurred at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, where right-wing students clashed with demonstrators. "The Cambridge meeting ended in a barrage of grapefruit and onions, the Baltimore affair in a stream from a fire hose which dispersed both pacifists and patriots," The Times said. "Trouble at other colleges and universities was confined to boos, catcalls and noisy disputes between student factions." (The New York Times, April 14, 1934, page 1.) The emergence of this protest movement represented a radical shift in American student politics. (See Mari Jo Buhle, et al., Encyclopedia of the American Left, University of Illinois Press, 1992, pages 752-755, for an excellent discussion of the growth of the student movement.) During the prosperous 1920s, students were mostly indifferent or even hostile to the Left. But then the Depression struck. The Left increasingly gained sympathizers because the economic crisis seemed to confirm the radicals' critique of American capitalism. And students were worried about the possibility of another war, given the world situation: Hitler's rise to power, Mussolini's increasingly aggressive Fascism, and, Japan's invasion of Manchuria. Moreover, many students were swayed by revisionist historians' explanations of the origins of American involvement in World War I: to protect the profits of bankers and arms makers. Indeed, this pamphlet suggests an awakening of American students: "Our strike shattered the granite-like indifference of the American student.... The American student is on the move." (page 11). That was certainly true, as there were even larger antiwar student strikes in the following years. OCLC shows only three institutional holdings of this 1934 pamphlet: Duke, London, and Oxford. Another pamphlet, with the same author and title but running 46 pages, appeared the following year and is more widely held by institutions. There were no other copies in commerce as of December 1, 2019. Seidman L99 (Joel Seidman, editor, Communism in the United States--A Bibliography, Cornell University Press, 1969). A rare pamphlet documenting the political awakening of college students during the dark years of the Depression. RARE. Item #2135

CONDITION: Soiling and creasing to wrappers, staples rusted. About Very Good.

Price: $250.00

See all items in Radicalism, War and Peace
See all items by