There is one political party that takes the issue of leadership seriously and since its formation over a hundred years ago, it has had no leader - The Socialist Party of Great Britain
Working class emancipation necessarily excludes the role of political leadership. Even if it could be conceived 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 Party is a leader-free political party where its executive committee is solely for housekeeping admin duties and cannot determine policy or even submit resolutions to conference (and all the EC minutes available for public scrutiny access on the web as proof of our commitment to openness and democracy.) All conference decisions have to be ratified by a referendum of the whole membership. Even our General Secretary has no position of power or authority over any other member. Despite some very charismatic writers and speakers in the past, no personality has held undue influence over the Party
A real democracy is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of leadership. It is about all of us having a direct say in the decisions that affect us. Leadership means handing over the right to make those decisions to someone else. We don’t vote for leaders to implement this or that decision; we vote according to our ideological inclinations to give them a “free hand” to make decisions. The point is that the very mechanism of decision-making we have today is a product of the social system we live under. The market economy, with its built-in contradictions and conflicting interests, has massively complicated the process of decision-making itself. It has moved it further and further from the ambit of “ordinary people” as the system itself has become more and more globalised. It is this that has made the paper pledges of our elected leaders seem increasingly irrelevant and ineffectual
Democracy and majority decision-making must be the basic principle of both the movement to establish socialism and of socialist society itself. It is not the party’s task to lead the workers in struggle or to instruct its members on what to do in trade unions, tenants’ associations or whatever, because we believe that class-conscious workers and socialists are quite capable of making decisions for themselves. For the left-wing organisations, all activity should be mediated by the Party (union activity, neighbourhood community struggles, etc.), whereas for us, the Socialist Party is just one mode of activity available to the working class to use in their struggles.
If a majority of workers really were as incapable of understanding socialism as many on The Left maintain, then socialism would be impossible since, by its very nature as a society based on voluntary cooperation, it can only come into being and work with the conscious consent and participation of the majority. Socialism just could not be imposed from above by an elite as envisaged by the Left. Democracy is not the mere counting of noses; it is the only principle of organisation compatible with a class-free society.
The Socialist Party is like no other political party in Britain. It is made up of people who have joined together because we want to get rid of the profit system and establish real socialism. Our aim is to persuade others to become socialist and act for themselves, organizing democratically and without leaders, to bring about the kind of society that we advocate. We reject the idea that people can be led to socialism. Socialism will not be established by good leaders but by thinking men, women and children. There can be no socialism without socialists.