THE AMERICAN LEAGUE AGAINST WAR AND FASCISM AND THE EMERGENCY PEACE CAMPAIGN 1933-1939
The American League Against War and Fascism was organized in September 1933 at a United States Congress Against War. The stimulus came from Europe where communists, socialists, liberals, and pacifists were beginning to work together in the face of the fascist threat. The United States Congress in 1933 was patterned after a World Congress Against War held in Amsterdam in 1932. Fascism had accomplished what no amount of ideological argument could do: it brought the socialists, communists and liberals together into a united front. Although their alliance was unstable and there were frequent quarrels, the American League prospered. By 1935 it could claim a rank and file membership of over two million through its affiliated organizations, which were particularly extensive in organized labor and in Protestant denominations.
The Emergency Peace Campaign, which Chatfield's history calls "the greatest single pacifist effort" between the World Wars, was established in 1935 as a ruling class response to the peace mobilization on the Left. It was intended to provide an anti-communist peace movement for liberals and conservatives. The Campaign grew out of a meeting of ruling class leaders described by Chatfield as "distinguished almost to a fault. These men, in their dinner jackets and black ties, were educators, editors, lawyers, or political figures. They typified conservative internationalists." Faced with a growing Left, their object "was not to stem the tide but...swerve it into the true channel of international cooperation." At its peak in 1931 the Campaign had developed workers and committees in some 2,000 towns and cities and it had a list of sponsors that represented all sectors of the nation's establishment.
The two organizations represented different class interests. The American League Against War and Fascism, though it attempted to attract as broad a following as possible and included many members of Roosevelt's Cabinets, was based primarily in the working class and its leadership was largely socialist and communist. By 1937, its Communist Party members boasted that 30 percent of the entire organized labor movement was represented in the League, and labor delegates occupied 413 of the 1416 seats at the national convention. Afro-Americans were also well represented in both the leadership and rank-and-file delegates. The Emergency Peace Campaign, on the other hand, drew mostly from the middle and upper classes and obtained little support from organized labor.
The programs of the two organizations reflected their different class interests. The League declared that "both war and fascism were organized by the same people for the same purpose - the preservation of their power and privilege" and it proposed to "withdraw from the war system the services and support of the masses, particularly the workers and farmers." The Emergency Peace Campaign took an isolationist position that sought to "promote international economic justice and keep a neutral America out of foreign wars."
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