Green Politics
File:David mcreynolds.jpeg

David McReynolds

David McReynolds (born October 25, 1929) is an American democratic socialist and pacifist activist who described himself as "a peace movement bureaucrat" during his 40-year career with Liberation magazine and the War Resisters League.[1]

Early life[]

He was born in Los Angeles to Charles and Elizabeth McReynolds. In 1951 he joined the Socialist Party of America (SPA) and in 1953 he graduated from UCLA with a degree in political science. Between 1957 and 1960, McReynolds worked for the editorial board of the left-wing magazine Liberation. McReynolds is openly gay and wrote his first article about living as a gay man in 1969. [2]

Career with War Resisters League[]

He was staunchly anti-war and a draft resister, and in 1960 joined the staff of the War Resisters League (WRL), where he would remain until his retirement in 1999 (as of 2006, he remains active within the nonviolence movement and regularly participates in WRL activities). On November 6 1965, he was one of five men who publicly burned their draft cards at an anti-war demonstration at Union Square in New York. This was one of the first public draft-card burnings after U.S. law was changed on August 30, 1965 to make such actions a felony, punishable by up to five years' imprisonment. He was close friends with Bayard Rustin[3] and other prominent peace activists, as well literary figures like Quentin Crisp.[4]

Leader with Socialist Party USA[]

After years of internal problems, the SPA suffered a three-way split in 1973. The SPA was renamed the Social Democrats USA by the right-wing leadership of former Trotskyist Max Shachtman. Michael Harrington and his followers split off to form the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (now the Democratic Socialists of America, DSA) with the purpose of "realignment". Arguably akin to the Trotskyist idea of "entrism", realignment envisioned working within the Democratic Party to pull it to the left. The left wing of the SPA, known as the Debs Caucus, including McReynolds, reconstituted the spirit of the SPA and Eugene V. Debs into the Socialist Party USA (SPUSA) that exists today. McReynolds has long been a member of both DSA and SPUSA.

McReynolds' primary theoretical contribution to socialism comes from his unique blending of a pacifist world-view with a commitment to re-distributive socialist economics. Politically, McReynolds has been a staunch anti-authoritarian and has collaborated with a diverse set of political formations on the democratic left. His widely read pamphlet, The Philosophy of Nonviolence, provides a unique window into the mind of a life-long activist wrestling with the contradictions and pitfalls which plagued the political left in the 20th century. He concludes that "...there is no living, vital philosophy which does not have 'holes' in it." Consequently, he maps out a pluralistic approach which is, on the one hand, socialist, yet is entirely engaged with thought systems as seemingly contradictory as Hindu philosophy. McReynolds concludes that a brand of pacifist-socialism is best suited for future socialist experiments since it offers the greatest opportunity to pre-figure the kinds of democratic relations necessary to create a functional and free society.

In his political career, McReynolds ran for Congress from Lower Manhattan twice and for President twice. In 1958 he ran as a write-in SPA candidate and then in 1968 as a Peace and Freedom Party candidate for Congress in the 19th district pulling in 4.7% of the vote (3,969 votes).[5] In 1980, he ran for President of the United States as the SPUSA candidate, with Diane Drufenbrock as vice presidential candidate, receiving 6,994 votes (0.01%)[6] and also becoming the first openly gay man to run for President in U.S. history.[7] Upon the request of fellow Socialists, McReynolds ran again for President as the SPUSA candidate in 2000, with Mary Cal Hollis as his running mate, receiving 5,602 votes. In both 1980 and 2000, McReynolds received the endorsement and ballot line of the Liberty Union Party in Vermont.[8]

2004 Senate Campaign[]

Main article: United States Senate election in New York, 2004

On July 10, 2004, David McReynolds announced his candidacy running on the Green Party ticket for one of the New York seats in the Senate, running an anti-war campaign against Democratic incumbent Chuck Schumer, where he pulled in 36,942 votes for 0.5% of total.

Current News[]

Today, McReynolds lives in New York City and continues to be active in the Socialist and pacifist movements through the combination of Marxist politics and nonviolence.


  1. David McReynolds, "Thinking About Retirement", Nonviolent Activist, March-April 1999 (retrieved 23 October 2006).
  2. Leaders from the 1960s: A Biographical Sourcebook of American Activism. Edited By David De Leon Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994 ISBN 0313274142 pp.215-219
  3. John D'Emilio. READING THE SILENCES IN A GAY LIFE The Case of Bayard Rustin pp. 59-68 in The Seductions of Biography. Edited: Mary Rhiel, David Suchoff, David Bruce Suchoff. Routledge, 1996 ISBN 0415910897
    "Rustin's only defender was Dave McReynolds, a younger gay staffer at the War Resisters League, whom Rustin had mentored over the years"
  4. Dave McReynolds. NOTES ON KNOWING QUENTIN. and QUENTIN CRISP: THE RADICAL, Quentin Crisp Archives (2005)
  6. 1980 Presidential General Election Results
  7. Kari Lydersen. David vs. Goliath. In These Times. Vol. 24, No. 10 (2000).
    On his 1980 presidential run: "He was among the first openly gay political candidates [for any office], having come out in WIN magazine in 1969, and though he doesn't see himself as a "gay and lesbian candidate," he has continued to work for gay rights."
  8. Vermont November 2000 General Election



  • David McReynolds. We Have Been Invaded by the 21st Century. Praeger (1970) ISBN 129915879x
  • David McReynolds. Queer Reflections. New Politics, Vol XII, no. 1 2008.
  • Paul Buhle. David McReynolds:Socialist Peacemaker, Non-violent Activist, March-April 1999.
  • Bennett, Scott H. Radical Pacifism: The War Resisters League and Gandhian Nonviolence in America, 1915-1963. (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2003). ISBN 0-8156-3028-X.
  • Dan Vera. Being Peaceful: An Interview with David McReynolds. White Crane; Summer 2003, Issue 57, p4-10.

External links[]

Template:Start box Template:S-ppo Template:Succession box Template:Succession box Template:Succession box Template:End box