LEADERS um #archive

Um artigo do Organize nº29 de 1993 sobre liderança.

MOST PEOPLE ON the left would argue that democracy is infinitely preferable to fascism and many working class people died in what they saw as a fight against the tyranny of fascism. However, this supposed alternative also takes away our liberty in perhaps a more Insídious manner because of the smoke-sereen it hides behind.
One of the main distinctions between the two is the use of naked force by fascism as opposed to the subtle brainwashing which is used in a democracy. One method is blatant and crude, the other, subtle and sophisticated but achieving the same goal: our passive acceptance of a system that oppresses us. A main part of this menacing strategy is the cult of Ieadership, a cuIt which is incompatible with the establishment of a society based on freedom and equality.
In any spectrum of human intelligence, there is a wide range of abilities with most people falling somewhere in the middle, withjust a few 'geniuses' and 'idiots'. Therefore, when it comes to transforming society, the collective inteIligence, knowledge and experience far outweighs the contribution of a few 'geniuses'.
Despite this wealth of abilities, human history has been marked by the usurpation of struggle and movements for social change by leaders who claim to 'know best'. It has been, and still is, a painful historical struggle of men and women to gain freedom from the political, economic and spiritual shackles which have bound them, But time and time again, having rid themselves of one tyranny, people have replaced it with another. Afraid to use their new foundfreedom, they hold up their wrists to some new jailer. If anarchist communism is to be achieved and capitalism overthrown, then we must do much more than get rid of the obvious sources ofoppresssion. The working class must also transform itself as individuals so as to reject Ieaders and any new tyranny.

It is not surprising that people are so willing to submit to leaders. Capitalist socíety is organised so as to bleed us of our capacity to think for ourselves and take control of our own lives. This learned passivity manifests itself on the most subtle psychological levels. Individuals have a need to indentify with something so as to gain some kind of recognition and importance.
If the individual begins to question aspects of group behaviour or to challenge the informal leadership structure, then he/she is rejected and loses group membership, a traumatic experience for many. The same analysis could be applied to many political groups of the Communist Party in the 1950´s. Though groups may profess an antagonism to capitalist society, they actually incorporate and crystallise its values.
The most prevalent manifestation of these latent tendencÍes is the universal demand for leadershìp. Schools and youth movements are urged to train children for the 'task of leadership'. Job references need to refer to the applicant's 'leadership qualities', Workers are asked to chose their leaders in the form of union representatives. Political parties from the Conservatives to the extreme left select their leaders and then voters have to chose which arnong them is to make decisions for the mass of the population. Thus, the cult of leadership pervades the whole of society.


Before we examine what is involved in this general desire for leadership, let us distinquish a quality which is often confused with leadership: individual initiative. This is fundamentally the impulse to originate, to construct and, in relation to others, to elicit their approval. It is a self-expressive impulse which has nothing in common with the will to power. This realisation ofthe self, the expression of the uniqueness ofthe individual is one of the most essential features of an anarchist communist society and must be preserved at all costs. However, the individual can only realise him/herself in the community and not in spite of this cornmunity. This distinction is important because in the first place the Indìvìdual becomes part of the pattem of society but does not submerge his/her identity whereas in the second case the individual loses his or her individuality.
We are told we need leaders because there would be no discipline. It is assumed that without anyone telling us what to do, we would not know how to behave. But as anarchists we believe that human beings are naturally cooperative and that it is capitalist society and leaders who foster aggressivity and selfish competition.
We are often drawn to charismatic individuals who we allow to lead us, but we must be aware of the techniques that these individuals employ. Their claim to have the answers to our problems is a sham, the truth hidden behind demagogic rituals.
Another distraction is the claim by many parties on the left that what we need is better leaders. In other words, they would make better leaders. But this is another dangerous díversion, for what we need is no leaders, not better ones.

The social hierarchy that we accept as a natural order is just as unnatural and illogical as government. There are no 'natural' leaders only a ruling class which has grabbed power and uses this power to exploit and dominate the mass of the population. Social classes are not ordained by nature but the historic product of an exploitative society. Unfortunately this acceptance of hierarchy has tiltered down to all levels of society and even exists in the organisations that workers create to challenge the system.
Collective responsibility is the alternative to leadership and the counterpart to equality. If we are to succeed in building an anarchist communist society, then the working class must learn to rely on itself. And, each individual in that class must be prepared to take responsibility and participate in the transforrning of society. The revolution must therefore be not only against the ruling class but against leaders and hierarchy at all levels of society and most irnportantly, against our own passivity.