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Conscience, Comrades, and the Cold War: The Korean War Draft Resistance Cases of Socialist Pacifists David McReynolds and Vern Davidson


  • Scott H. Bennett


This article examines the Korean War draft resistance cases of David McReynolds and Vern Davidson and their challenge to the Selective Service Act of 1948, which granted conscientious objection status to religious but not secular objectors. McReynolds and Davidson were active in Los Angeles socialist and pacifist youth circles. In short, this article is about comrades whose secular, socialist pacifist / radical pacifist convictions led them to dissent from and resist the Cold War and Korean War. This article contributes to the scant literature on conscientious objection and draft resistance during the Korean War. It also provides new evidence to substantiate the “long sixties” thesis that locates the origins of the sixties in the 1950s, or earlier, and argues that the fifties contained radical dissident elements, including a little-known socialist pacifist current, that resisted the dominant culture and provided a seedbed for social and legal change in the sixties and seventies.