Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Cult Of Leaders

A BBC journalist writes from Egypt that "This is a leaderless revolution, so the usual government tactics don't work. There is nobody to buy off, lock up, or scare away."

The world is obsessed by leaders and leadership.If only we had the right people in charge, everything would be better. Or would it? It doesn't seem to matter how many political, religious or other leaders are exposed as liars and frauds, nothing seems to dent the idea of leadership as a practical and reliable method of organising human affairs. Is this because we believe that some (mostly) men are just superhuman, or because we are over-rating the few and under-rating the many?

It's because we can't let go of the past. Yes, we've had to fight all the way to survive. Yes, we've had slavery of one sort or another and, yes, we've been dominated by priests, kings and presidents for all our written history.Wherever the darkness of poverty, inefficiency, despair and degradation existed in the land, leaders were the solution. Things can get better, things must get better, but only if the resolute will of a Great Leader can be brought to them.
We're in a new era now, the post-scarcity era, and we don't need to fight anymore, but we haven't woken up to the fact. We still think we have to dominate everything, including each other. Our social systems, our behaviour, the cast of our ideas are all predicated on the inevitability of competition for wealth and favour, on the need for leaders and followers. We are still hypnotised by the historic glare of power and domination, lulled and gulled by the soft insistent tones of our leaders that they and their ilk are as inevitable as the stars in the sky, that leadership, the power of it, and the competition for it, are as natural as birth, sex and death.

Each of us can be our own leader. The greatest command is that over oneself. Our capitalist world, controlled by a few rich people and their minions, has done its level best to school out of us the very things which make us such a great species in the first place--initiative, experimentation, imagination, diversity. It won't work for ever. The leaders we are asked to support, and sometimes choose between, are a myth, created and maintained by - leaders. They are poor examples of honesty, integrity, or even of humanity. They are not interested in truth, justice, or any of the grand notions they will spout about. They exist, have always existed, will always exist, for one purpose only: to line their own pockets and empty yours. They are parasites on the social body, unwanted, unnecessary and destructive. To follow leaders is to hand over your heart on a platter, with knife and fork attached. It is an admission of defeat, acceptance that you are inadequate, in and of yourself. It is an act of submission and indeed an act of cowardice.

Socialists are their own leaders, and they follow nobody but themselves. Working class emancipation necessarily excludes the role of political leadership. Even if we could conceive of a leader-ridden working class displacing the capitalist class from power such an immature class would be helpless to undertake the responsibilities of democratic socialist society.The socialist revolution (and subsequent operation of socialist society) requires the conscious political understanding and democratic action of the majority of the working class rather than organisation by a political leadership with a set of passive followers. We believe that leaders are inherently undemocratic.

Socialism--common ownership in a global democracy--could not work with people unwilling or unable to think for themselves, to take responsibility, or to co-operate, but fortunately it doesn't have to. Human beings are better than that. We can think, and we can co-operate, and we don't need the bigots of the Right to tell us we are not worthy of making our own decisions, nor do we need the appointees of nebulous religions claim divine authority to impose their will upon us, nor do we need rescuing by some "heroic" and entirely untrustworthy vanguard of the Left.

The Socialist Party argue we are capable, as workers, of understanding and wanting socialism. We cannot see any reason why our fellow workers cannot do likewise. Further, since the majority are capable of actively building socialism, there is no need for a leadership to impose it upon them. The only way for humanity is to step aside from the vicious deception of leaders and their telling us what we need. For that to happen the majority need to become conscious of their real interests. A socialist revolution, a democratic revolution without leaders, is an urgent necessity—before leaders lead us nowhere, or worse.

We have seen an undoubted decline in confidence in leaders. The task of socialists is to further undermine the shaky ideology of capitalism, to challenge the ideas which encourage the majority to continue propping up this system, and to clearly put forward the case for a moneyless, wageless, stateless and classless world society. Our aim is to persuade others to become socialist and act for themselves, organising democratically and without leaders, to bring about such a society. The Socialist Party is an organisation of equals.

No Muslim Brotherhood. No ElBaradie. The workers must learn to trust only in themselves. They must themselves realise their position and decide the line of action to be taken. They must elect their own delegates to take orders, not to give them! It is useless for the workers either to "trust" leaders or to "change" them. The entire institution of leadership must be swept by the board.Only we , by acting together, without leaders, can end the whole profit-driven, market system. Organised on that basis, refusing to be tricked and bluffed by promises or stampeded into violence by threats, and only then will we emerge victorious from the age-long struggle.

"I don't want you to follow me or anyone else. If you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of the capitalist wilderness you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into this promised land if I could, because if I could lead you in, someone else could lead you out." Eugene V. Debs

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