Hal Draper

Enlist in the SWP to Fight
Against Imperialist War

International War Crisis Spurs National Campaign of S.W.P.
for a People’s Vote on War as an Answer to the War-Makers

(25 August 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 62, 25 August 1939, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

“OUTLOOK BLACKEST SINCE 1914” headlines the New York Times. It is referring to the immediate prospect of war.

Our Party has a modest qualification to make. The outlook for the future cannot be reckoned only in terms of the jockeying of the two imperialist alliances.

There is a THIRD power in the world – the revolutionary working class. Its voice is weak now, but IT WILL BE HEARD – as it was in 1917 and 1918 when it spoke out with the million-tongued voice of the masses and changed the course of world history.

That is why our Party anticipated the present war crisis by launching: a National Anti-War Campaign on August 1. That is why our recent National Convention took as its key-note the struggle against war. As the war-makers mobilize their armies, so we, must mobilize ours.

Our Party is the Anti-War Party. We say that not as a boast but as the statement of a responsibility. No one is seriously competing with us for the possession of that dangerous post.

To the worker who reads the newspaper headlines with growing dismay and fear, we say: HERE IS YOUR PLACE IF YOU WANT TO ENLIST IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST WAR!

The Anti-War Party presents an Anti-War Budget of $10,000. That is one-two-hundred-thousandth of the last Roosevelt pro-war budget. Your money’s worth for this sum is the building of a fighting force such as did NOT exist in 1914 – AGAINST WAR.

In answer to the war moves of the rulers, the Anti-War Party calls for a mass campaign around the slogan “LET THE PEOPLE VOTE ON WAR”. Rally the masses, who want peace, against the behind-the-scenes maneuvers of the boss government in Washington! While the trenches are being prepared for the cannon-fodder, Roosevelt denies the people the right to decide on the most vital issue before them.


Minneapolis carries the War Referendum Campaign onto the air waves!

Station KSTP (NBC) has agreed to carry the program provided that an opposition speaker has equal time. Other local stations are still to be heard from.

The branch Radio Committee has the following advice to offor other sections that wish to go and do likewise: “It would seem that the way to get radio time is much like the way to get an Appeal sub – ASK FOR IT!”

At the same time, $15 is sent in for the Anti-War Fund, and the organizer reports that 2,200 Socialist Appeals were distributed by 16 comrades on Sunday, August 13 to workers’ homes. A good anti-war meeting was held on the campus of the University of Minnesota by the Socialist Club, and the program of open-air meetings is in full swing, with two such meetings held during the past week.


On Sunday, August 13, the branch held an outdoor meeting at which speeches were made in both Finnish and English.

We are also in receipt of the Co-op Informer, published by the United Cooperative Society in the locality, which has a strong Finnish cooperative movement. This issue is Vol. I, No. 1 and contains a discussion article on Cooperatives and War which comes out strongly in favor of giving the people the right to vote on war. “Every cooperative should discuss this vital question,” it adds.


The branch across San Francisco Bay comes through with a report which is late but welcome. Writes Organizer Bill Morgan on Oakland’s campaign activities:

  1. A weekly outdoor meeting with full branch mobilization and sale of Appeals, pamphlets and circulation of petitions. This is something new here and we are pioneering.
  2. Indoor mass meeting on Sept. 15.
  3. Assessment of $1 on each branch member, and circulation of collection cans at street meetings; house-to-house work every Sunday and at union meetings, etc.
  4. We will immediately purchase our full quota of pamphlets with the aim of increasing the quota before the campaign is over.
  5. Each comrade is responsible for securing one Appeal sub. We have about 18 comrades and so ought to double our quota on this.
  6. We expect to increase our Appeal bundle order by 15 within a week (our quota is 10).
  7. The branch Executive Committee is in full charge of the campaign and each member is heading one or more of the sub-committees – pamphlets, petitions, etc.

OK, Bill. Now some cash – ON THE LINE ...

St. Louis

The St. Louis local held an outdoor social affair on August 12 and seilds in the proceeds ($10) for the Anti-War Fund. Other social affairs are planned.

A local membership meeting of the two branches was held on August 15 and a thorough discussion of the campaign plans was had. “We are practically certain to have our $50 in by September 15,” writes the branch secretary, Comrade Burbank. The pamphlet will be sold on the downtown streets.


Chicago lifts itself out of the 00.00 class in the Anti-War Fund drive, and Organizer Al Gates reports on progress:

  1. A city campaign committee of five has been set up to organize the campaign in Chicago.
  2. A campaign bulletin has been mailed out to all members, including specific quotas and assignments for each branch. Each branch has assigned comrades to take charge of the work in the locality. During the period of the campaign, each branch is instructed to put it as the first item of the agenda at every meeting.
  3. During the campaign, each branch is to hold at least one indoor meeting, and at least one street meeting a week, as well as one money-raising social affair for the Fund.
  4. Chicago sets itself a recruitment quota of 10 new members by September 15.
  5. The South Side branch reports 50 pamphlets sold, an increase of the Appeal bundle order from 17 to 25, and TWO NEW MEMBERS RECRUITED.


“We are carrying our campaign directly to the workers with a house-to-house campaign,” writes the Reading branch. “Quite a number did not sign the petition because they felt it would not have any effect on Congress, but they bought our pamphlet and told us to come around later.”

We can tell the Reading comrades that it is NOT true that Congress would pay no attention to petitions. Even if it does not affect their vote, they get plenty worried by the evidence of the mass feeling on this question. At the Senate hearings on the war referendum which were held last May, the most frequent reference was made to the available testimony on the popular demand for this measure. In any case, the petition is a means of bringing the question forcibly to the attention of the workers.

“We are getting much experience doing this work,” continues Reading, “and I believe we will win members to our ranks.” – This hits the two main organizational objectives of the campaign, aside from its goals in political agitation and action. These are: the training of the party in mass campaign activity, and recruitment.

Success along these lines means an important step forward toward a campaign party of mass agitation and action.

Lynn, Mass.

We are anxious to print new ideas in methods of work which have been developed by individual branches, and here is one from Lynn. The secretary writes:

“Please send us about 50 more petitions. We are experimenting on a form of chain letter with the petitions besides the routine house-to-house canvassing which, though very slow, is very fruitful.”

That is all we are told but we would like to hear more about this experiment and its results, as well as any other projects which branches have developed.

TOLEDO ... promises $10 in the next mail and asks for more petitions because their sheets are all filled out ... Suggests another pamphlet on war.

DETROIT ... has sent in for three successive orders on the pamphlet “Let the People Vote on War”, to the tune of a 470 total. This brings them over their assigned quota of 450.

PAMPHLET DRIVE ... Pioneer Publishers reports that pamphlet orders already sent out to the branches now amount to over 8,200.

Last updated on 10 March 2016