1940s >> 1943 >> no-469-september-1943

Leadership

One of the main arguments of the opponents of the S.P.G.B. is that which accuses us of being “dreamers” because we claim that the working class are intelligent enough to establish Socialism without the use of leaders.
In actual fact, Socialists not only deny the necessity of leaders in the Socialist movement but declare that Socialism cannot be established until workers have dispensed with the notion of leadership.
The legend of leadership is as old as society. Throughout the ages, men in their struggle for survival have continually turned to the strongest and the wisest among them for inspiration and courage in their battles with nature and with each other. To-day, however, when all men have access to the knowledge needed for the achievement of Socialism, and the necessities of life are produced in abundance, there is no longer any need for “chieftains” and “kings.” The minimum knowledge that a wage slave requires before he is fitted to take his place in the revolutionary struggle is easily obtained, and well within the range of proletarian comprehension.
A worker must know he is poor and why, and he must then find the solution to his economic problems. What does this imply? The knowledge of a Marx, an Engels or a Hegel? Certainly not! and it is sheer impudence and indeed megalomania, when politicians claim that by trusting them, the workers will in consequence become free men. The Socialist Standard has continually attacked and exposed these “pseudo-Socialists,” who are among the working class’s greatest enemies.
We have stated that the workers must emancipate themselves, and establish the new society, not with the aid of “leaders,” but in spite of them!
A worker must know he is poor because he sells his labour power to a master for wages; which at all times are at a subsistence level. He must know that in capitalist society wealth is produced for sale at a profit. He must realise that the capitalists are able to live in abundance because of the poverty of the masses, and that the latter are dispossessed of the goods they produce by masters who in the main take no part in production, but who nevertheless own and control all wealth.
When he assimilates that basic knowledge he will then have the mental equipment to immunise himself to the false slogans mouthed by the so-called political and religious leaders. He will treat with contempt the rogues and fools who said he was too ignorant to know the solution to his own social problems.
The conclusions he will draw are Socialist conclusions, and he will realise the necessity of organising for political action within the ranks of the workers’ own party, the S.P.G.B. By capturing control of the State machine, workers will abolish private property, and convert the means of producing wealth into the property of society as a whole. This will end for all time poverty, social degradation and war.
Such, then, is the minimum knowledge that the exploited class need to acquire. With it, Socialism will be something easily understood, enthusiastically acclaimed; and the worker will laugh disdainfully at the futile and absurd idea of the “necessity of leaders.”
Pibroch.