Young Socialist Alliance Records, 1954-1992


The Young Socialist Alliance was formed as a result of the regroupment of the non-Communist Party Left during the 1950s. Leaders in this movement included Tim Wohlforth and Shane Mage of the Young Socialist League, as well as young members of the Socialist Workers Party and former members of the Communist Party. In 1957 this loose coalition of socialist youth met and launched the monthly radical newspaper, The Young Socialist. Gradually clubs formed to support the distribution of the paper and to discuss their political beliefs, and in December 1958 a meeting at Detroit called for the formation of a national organization. This organization, the Young Socialist Alliance, was formed on April 15-17, 1960 in Philadelphia. Although organizationally independent, the YSA maintained a close relationship with the Socialist Workers Party, and YSA members campaigned for SWP candidates, followed its lead on most political issues, and raised funds by selling SWP publications.

In the early 1960s YSA supported the Cuban revolution and worked with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee to mobilize opposition to U.S. policies toward Castro. The Cuban revolution proved one of the most divisive issues in YSA history, and in 1963 minority elements headed by Wohlforth and James Robertson were expelled from the party. The YSA was also active in the civil rights movement in the South, but the issue which had the greatest impact on the YSA was the Vietnam War. Beginning early in the 1960s and continuing through the 1970s YSA assumed a leadership role in organizing national anti-war demonstrations. Using the organizational structure of its local and regional membership, its strict adherence to the strategy of non-exclusion, and its willingness to work with other organizations opposed to the war, the YSA was able to influence the direction of the broad student opposition to the war. As a result YSA reached its peak membership (1372) in 1975.

Declining membership during the next fifteen years placed an increasing burden on the organization, and, in response to a motion from the SWP Political Committee, the YSA voted to dissolve and unite with the SWP in 1992.