Who Needs Leaders?
In July several members of the local Camden branch attended the SWP annual “Marxism” event which brings together thousands of workers for a series of lectures and debates. We felt this would be a good opportunity to discuss the Socialist Party’s politics and opposition to the SWP.
During the day we had a literature stall and distributed copies of the Socialist Standard and other Socialist Party literature. We also handed out 400 copies of a leaflet detailing our criticism of the SWP.
Before distributing the leaflet we wondered if its content and tone might elicit a hostile response from SWP members. However, when challenged as to the truth of the statements they were not denied and were even endorsed by one or two SWP members who fully approved of the authoritarian nature of their party, with its central committee meetings in private, issuing orders to its followers in the branches.
Other workers we spoke to were less happy with this dictatorial arrogance and gave a favourable response to our ideas on democratic organization with its emphasis on total accountability and absence of leaders.
As a propaganda exercise we felt the day was successful and we were encouraged by the positive response from many workers to the Socialist Party’s case. The next step will be to convince them of the need to join with socialists to organise democratically for socialism. We can then tell the central committees with their self-appointed leaders that they are not required.
Below is the text of our leaflet…
Nearly everyone attending this event agrees that capitalism stinks. The world needs to be changed and that won’t be done by the Labour Party. What we want is a world for the workers.
To get a decent world we need to organise for it. The organisers of this event say that they are revolutionary socialists. But there are some questions you should ask them:
What is socialist about joining a party which has a minority who are leaders and a majority who are merely the rank and file followers?
What is revolutionary about supporting the Labour Party every time there is an election?
Why do these so-called socialists accept Lenin’s view that workers are too stupid to bring about socialism themselves and must be led to revolution by reform-advocating intellectual leaders?
Why are meetings of the SWP’s leaders closed to the public—and to members who aren’t leaders?
Why should you join a party which orders its members about like a religious sect, even forbidding them to speak to certain opponents?
What is the point of rejecting authoritarian Tory liars and then jumping into bed with authoritarian Leninist manipulators?
We in the Socialist Party are hostile to the politics of the SWP. We reject its vanguardism, its worshipping of dead Russian rulers, its dogmatic Trotskyist religion and, above all, its contempt for democratic debate. Our opposition is not just another sectarian squabble whereby one leftist group claims to be a better leader than the other. We are not leaders. We are not looking for followers. Unless workers understand, want and organise for socialism it is not going to happen.
We urge you to ask the questions listed above to the organisers of this event. Ask and keep on asking until they give you satisfactory answers.
We invite you to find out more about the Socialist Party by writing to us and requesting some free socialist literature which is not Leninist or reformist, but is Marxist and revolutionary. You have nothing to lose by seeing what we have to say. Unless, of course, you are ready to be fitted with political blinkers—in which case, have a good time this week.