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League for Industrial Democracy

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Title: League for Industrial Democracy  
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League for Industrial Democracy

The League for Industrial Democracy's George Meany (front and center).

The League for Industrial Democracy (LID), formerly the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, came into being in 1921 when members decided it was time to change the group's name to become more inclusive, but also to reflect a new organizational perspective.[1]


Intercollegiate Socialist Society

The I.S.S. was founded in 1905 by a group of notable socialists, and its stated purpose was to "throw light on the world-wide movement of industrial democracy known as socialism."[2]

Name Change

In the spring of 1921, the ISS held a vote regarding the name and goals of their organization. Harry Laidler announced: "the members of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society had declared themselves in favor of the change in name and purpose."[3] In November,[3][4] the organization assumed its new name and enlarged its scope to addressing society at large. They also presented their new guiding principle: ""Education for a New Social Order Based on Production for Public Use and Not for Private Profit."[4][5]

Early Years

In its early years, the LID addressed societal problems such as poverty, child labor, work conditions, and poor housing conditions. It became the base for leftwing intellectuals, otherwise known as New Deal. Throughout its history, the LID has called itself a proponent of the labor movement. The group saw this movement as a progressive force that is misunderstood by intellectuals. The goal of this is to break down these perceived boundaries and to promote "education for increasing democracy in our economic, political, and cultural life"[6]

The LID literature portrays the organization as a progressive and socialist group; however, in recent history, the League has shifted its roots. Today's affiliates are mostly anti-communists and focus their energy on democracy building in places such as Eastern Europe, Africa, and Central America, while paying very little attention to its domestic program.[7]

Student affiliates

1932 poster for League for Industrial Democracy, designed by Anita Willcox during the Great Depression, showing solidarity with struggles of workers and poor in America

Its campus presence waned until the Student League for Industrial Democracy in 1933. This merged with the Communist National Student League in 1935 to create the popular front American Student Union. LID activity on campus remained somewhat dormant until 1946, when the Student League for Industrial Democracy was reconstituted.


The LID has been actively supporting the

The League is a membership organization. Fees range from $5 to $25 per year, while lifetime memberships are $500.

Students for a Democratic Society

On January 1, 1960 the SLID changed its name to the Students for a Democratic Society and began to take a more radical direction. At Port Huron in 1960, Tom Hayden clashed with Michael Harrington and Tom Kahn over the Port Huron Statement's

  • identification with students raised in some "degree of comfort" and its criticism of labor unions and working-class culture (which was viewed as upper middle-class elitism by LID officers Harrington and Kahn),
  • its espousal of participatory democracy and dislike of formal offices (which was seen as potentially undemocratic and lacking accountability),
  • its anti-anticommunism and its welcoming the participation of a few members (or former high-profile members) of the Communist Party USA

By 1965, SDS had separated from the LID, but it ended national activity in 1969, after it had been taken over by Maoist groups, some of which advocated and committed political terrorism.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^ The New York Times, January 28, 1919
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Associations, Section 9, Public Affairs Organizations, 1989.
  7. ^ AIFLD in Central America: Agents as Organizers (Albuquerque, NM: The Resource Center, 1987)
  8. ^

Further reading

  • Bernard K. Johnpoll and Mark R. Yerburgh (eds.), The League for Industrial Democracy: A Documentary History. In three volumes. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980.
  • Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS. New York: Random House, 1973.

External links

  • League for Industrial Democracy
  • Intercollegiate Socialist Society (1905 - 1921). Online documents at Early American Marxism site. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
  • Thirty-five years of educational pioneering; L.I.D. celebrates past achievements and asks "Where do we go from here?"
  • Forty years of education, the task ahead
  • The L.I.D.: fifty years of democratic education, 1905-1955.
  • The challenge of change and conflict in American society The proceedings of the 70th annual conference of the League for Industrial Democracy held in New York City on May 2 and 3, 1975.
  • Guide to League for Industrial Democracy. Pamphlets, 1922-1978. 5266. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
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