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Julius Falk

Youth and Student Corner

World Federalism in the Student Field

(27 June 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 26, 27 June 1949, p. 3
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Prominent among campus political organizations today are various groups of students working for “world federation.” On campus they are represented by the Student Division of United World Federalists, and to a lesser degree by World Republic.

These organizations have mushroomed in the last two years, but their growth has tapered off somewhat recently. UWF has a chapter on almost every large campus in the country, and it is quite conspicuous where it is active. It claims 9,000 members on 250 campuses.

The ability of UWF to attract arch-conservatives, liberals of the ADA stripe, Stalinoids, religious anarchists, and social-democrats is explained by the broad and meaningless policy of the organization. On one campus a statement by a UWF chapter on world peace received endorsement or some favorable action by the Young Republicans, Students for Democratic Action, Young Progressives, an independent socialist group, and a pacifist club. Due to the effort of the industrialists and corporation lawyers in the national office, the UWF has gained “respectability” and now has little difficulty drawing support from the middle class.

Most of these supporters of “world federation” are liberals fearful of the coming war between the two imperialist camps and fed up with the traditional diplomatic methods. They are yet unable to see the real causes of war, but reach out for any “new” solution that appears. Most of them have no difficulty supporting the World Federalist statement of policy, and hence are willing to pay their dues in the hope that they are helping to establish peace.

Section of Student Membership Dissatisfied

Based on their broad support, the national officers proceed on. a very particular program of action. The statement “the world must be united politically” is interpreted by the officers to mean: the world must be united by pressure on the president and Congress to confer with Russia. Moscow and Washington, plus their respective satellites, should then agree upon a convention of the UN to make out of that body a “world government.”

A section of the student membership is dissatisfied with this narrow approach. Some of them agree with the World Republic group in pressuring for a “People’s Convention” of elected delegates from all countries, and others have a revolutionary approach.

These groups have been quite vocal at conventions and other official gatherings of UWF, but have been unable to inform the general membership of their existence. This bureaucratic censorship is due to the monopoly of communication by the national administration in its official position.

It is with these members that socialists should be concerned. Most of the students, although generally dissatisfied with various aspects of the UWF program have not evolved a crystallized position of their own. There are some who believe that effective political action can only be accomplished by the working class and definitely oppose the effort toward a world government resulting from a deal between Wall Street and Stalin.

Socialists should be alert for these members as they are usually very close to a third-camp position. Individual members and possibly entire chapters can be brought closer to a socialist position on the war if we can provide the answer to their search for peace.

Social-Democratic Sad Sacks on Campus

A meeting under the auspices of the Social-Democratic Federation was held on June 9 in Berkeley just off the University of California campus. The. occasion was the 25th anniversary of the New Leader, Social-Democratic weekly publication.

There were two speakers for the evening. The first was Robert A. Gordon, an economics professor from the University of California, who is also an important figure in the local ADA and a member of its national executive board. His speech was primarily a frank admission of the lack of drive, selflessness and initiative in the liberal movement today.

The second speaker, Prof. Brandt from Stanford University, who is a former official In the German farm cooperative movement, gave a ridiculous performance. He first praised the New Leader and then gave a right-wing Christian-Democratic line, finally ending up by speaking in favor of a constitutional monarchy for Germany!

All in all, the meeting provided pretty sad specimens of people who fawn on American imperialism and call themselves socialists. In the question period which followed the speeches, the discussion revolved around the slogans “Neither Washington Nor Moscow” and “A Labor Party Now”, which were raised by individuals in the audience.

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