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Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)

Vincent Tirelli


In 1960 the leaders of the reformist-oriented Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID) decided to change the name of the organization to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). By the end of the decade SDS would become the largest, most influential student political group in the United States, its members organizing and protesting against poverty and racism, and notoriously resisting the war in Vietnam and US imperialism. SDS was a central force in the growth of the New Left in the US, and, like the movement of which it was a part, it was full of contradictions and turmoil. The parent organization of the SDS, the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), was a social democratic association formed in 1921, growing out of the embers of Upton Sinclair's Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which was founded in 1905. Tensions between the SDS and the LID evolved over time as the social and political order of the 1960s took shape. The primary conflicts between parent and offspring revolved around the issue of communism, with the older generation being socialist, liberal, and largely comprised of veteran anti-communists such as Sidney Hook, Daniel Bell, and Michael Harrington. The LID policy was opposed to working with communists and did not tolerate them in their association. The younger generation was less concerned with these distinctions and developed a new attitude that, though ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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