In the immediate aftermath of World War I, Hughan and the WRL's early members summed up their sense of the League’s mission by declaring that if enough people stood in total opposition to war, governments would hesitate—or even be unable—to make war. Between the two world wars, the WRL supported conscientious objection, opposed conscription, and, as World War II loomed ever closer, stood for the increasingly unpopular position that war would not solve the problem of fascism. Although WRL’s analysis of strategies and tactics continues to evolve and grow, our absolute commitment to resisting all war and the causes of war has never wavered.
After the United States declared war, once again, hundreds of pacifists were imprisoned for refusing to fight. This time, however, the pacifist movement was more organized, and pacifists, along with the rest of the world, were more aware of the nonviolent struggle for India’s liberation, as led by Mohandas K. Gandhi. While still incarcerated, many of the COs turned to nonviolent resistance (primarily in the form of hunger strikes) to achieve such goals as racial integration in the federal prisons. When the war ended, many of the newly released prisoners joined WRL, bringing with them their new consciousness of, and commitment to, nonviolent direct action. Some older pacifist resisted the new ideas, but within a decade, the League was re-oriented toward “Gandhian nonviolence as the method for creating a democratic society free of war, racism, sexism, and human exploitation.”