Saturday, July 05, 2008

Only sheep need leaders

From the Independant

"Do you find yourself staring at the television and pining for a good leader – a person who will rise and make the world right again? Do you long for a Mandela, a Churchill, a Gandhi? Then grow up. Our political debate – what passes for it – increasingly focuses on a search for an elusive Messianic leader who will show us the way. This is the opposite of rational politics...

...Apartheid was not just a system of laws; it was an economic system where a tiny white elite owned almost everything. By 1990, the elite realised they could no longer maintain the laws – but they fought desperately to maintain economic control. They demanded that the land and resources they had stolen from poor blacks be recognised in the constitution as theirs, and never redistributed. They demanded that the new democracy pick up all of apartheid's debts, making spending to lift up the poor majority impossible. They demanded the recognition of "intellectual property rights", making the distribution of cheap Aids drugs unaffordable. They demanded their apartheid finance minister and head of the Central Bank continue in position. Western governments, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank piled in behind them in support.

Mandela agreed to it all. He discreetly buried the ANC's Freedom Charter, with its commitments to clean water, free healthcare and land for all. The result is that today whites own 70 per cent of the South African economy, despite being only 10 per cent of the population. Mandela believed this deal was the only way to prevent white flight and increase poverty. But he was wrong. Since the fall of apartheid, average life expectancy has fallen by 13 years. The black unemployment rate has doubled. This isn't because white ruled ceased; it is because it continues today, with a new black corporate logo..."

Socialists have always been wary of placing our faith , more importantly , placing our political power into the hands of individuals . The American socialist Eugene Debs who several times stood for the presidency of the United States tried to make workers aware of the danger of trusting leadership .

" I never had much faith in leaders. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week...I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks. "

and again more poignantly he also said:-

"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."

Today , the World Socialist Movement doesn't have a leader, and nor do any of the Companion Parties, because leadership is undemocratic. If there are leaders, there must be followers: people who just do what they are told.
In the World Socialist Movement, every individual member has an equal say, and nobody tells the rest what to do. Decisions are made democratically by the whole membership, and by representatives or delegates. If the membership doesn't like the decisions of those it elects, those administrators can be removed from office and their decisions overridden.
Only when people have real, democratic control over their own lives will they have the freedom that is socialism.

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