Radical Pacifism: The War Resisters League and Gandhian Nonviolence in America, 1915-1963 [Bennett]


This deeply researched book is the first history of the War Resisters League, an organization that represents the major vehicle of secular radical pacifism in the United States. Besides opposing all U. S. wars and championing conscientious objection to these wars, Scott H. Bennett shows how the WRL -- led by its colorful members -- functioned as a "movement halfway house," assisting and influencing a variety of social reform groups and campaigns. He devotes special attention to WWII conscientious objectors (COs) who staged dramatic wartime work and hunger strikes in Civilian Public Service camps and prisons against Jim Crow, censorship, conscription, and other policies.

These radical COs moved the postwar WRL in new directions -- and transformed radical pacifism. By recovering the important links between the WRL and the peace, civil rights, civil liberties, and antinuclear movements, Bennett demonstrates the social relevance and political effectiveness of radical pacifism. He emphasizes the WRL's most important legacy its promotion, legitimization, and Americanization of Gandhian nonviolent direct action, which infused the postwar peace and justice movements.