Harvard's equivalent to the man on the street is going through tough ideological days this spring. A University which even in normal days is a pretty politically conscious group has become, in this year of National elections and International crisis, a sounding-board for almost every shade of political opinion from the Free Enterprisers to the Communists.
At latest count, there were no less than 15 active groups, some devoted to lectures and discussions, some permanent action committees, and the rest made up of a bevy of temporary candidate-backers. By the end of the term there may well be more, and though the National Conventions in June will bring some of these activities to a sudden end, the political renaissance of the College as a whole shows no signs of petering out.
It was not ever thus. At the end of the war, existent organized groups were small and stagnant, as well as definitely limited in appeal. The most prominent of these were the Conservative League and the Liberal Union, neither of which had either large membership or large following.
Split in '46
At that time, the Liberal Union was dominated by a small but fervant group of radical left-wingers, who followed much the same line now taken by the HYD. In the fall of 1946, an incoming group of members objected to the AYD domination, and forced a new election, at which time a non-AYD slate was voted in.
The issue came to a head with the formation nationally of ADA, a specifically non-Communist organization pledged to the extension of "the Roosevelt-Willkie tradition." To join this group, HLU had to amend its constitution, and, further, join SDA (ADA's student branch), as individuals. This latter provision met with strenuous objection from the AYD sympathizers, but after several ballots the motion was passed and HLU settled into its current "Roosevelt-Willkie" tradition, joining SDA last fall. HLU's affiliation with this group is loose, the Harvard branch maintaining autonomy with occasional SDA aid.
At present, the HLU consists of about 100 dues-paid members, under the Presidency of Frederick D. Houghteling '50. He outlines the policy of his organization, which he classifies as "latter-day New Dealers" as devoted to the holding back of totalitarianism from either the Right or the Left by developing the "third force."
Domestically, the HLU policy may be broadly defined as pledged to the continuation of "progressive" social reforms at home. More specifically, its belief is in enough government control of industry to forestall boom and bust cycles in economy. HLU has implemented these beliefs by campaigning against the Taft-Hartley act last spring, working in recent elections, (usually for Democratic candidates) and bucking for the return of price control.
Houghteling is careful to point out that HLU has no blueprint for society--its aim is specific action on specific issues. Within the year, this group has done such things as collect signatures for a pro-Marshall Plan petition, organized the New England youth-division of the National Council Against Conscription, and sponsored several discussion panels on issues of the day. It has also been active on local issues--the Club 100, aid to striking unions, and testimony on several recent state bills in conjunction with the Civil Liberties Union.
Elsenhower vs. Douglas
Recently, it has entered the National political fray. Houghteling himself was instrumental in founding the student movement to draft Eisenhower for the presidency, (to break Truman, he explains) but the club as a whole voted last month to support Justice Douglas. The split is purely a tactical one--"expediency versus idealism," as Houghteling explains it--and is by no means a permanent breach.
Although the Liberal Union has a few Wallaceites within the fold, most College opinion to its Left is channeled either through the Committee for Wallace or the HYD.
The former group, headed by Emmanuel Margolis 1G, plans to become a permanent institution here whether or no Wallace wins the '48 election. "Because," Margolis explains, "there is a need for a permanent, really liberal party in this country. Both the Democrats and Republicans are bankrupt, and we aim to point that up."
Margolis started the Harvard Committee for Wallace last October, before the national movement got underway. Since then its activities have been ceaseless: it organized an anti-UMT rally, helped initiates the recent Save The Peace Rally, played host to a convention of New England Students for Wallace in February, as well as cooperating with the Cambridge Progressive party on local elections. At present, its chief efforts are in the direction of petitioning to put Wallace's name on the Massachusetts ballot.