On the Question of Leadership in a Leaderless Movement

Update: 6/6/2012
1st Posted 10/23/2011

I am an empathetic supporter of the #Occupy Wall Street Movement and of #Occupy Sacto here in Sacramento, California. The last few months Occupy Sacto  has been inactive. At first it was quite a splash. Folks went to City Hall Council Meetings, there were some arrests for illegally camping in the downtown park, then it eventually faded away from the scene.

I was born, bred and raised in Sacramento, the Capital of California. Being a Chicano, I refer to this city as Sacra for short.

I want to type here about the whole concept of having a ‘leaderless’ movement. At first thought the idea of a ‘leaderless’ movement seems mad if not illogical. How can you have a movement without any leaders? Who do the followers follow? Who’s in charge?

In the past with other groups we have seen how so-called leaders often get corrupted, are subject to arrogant ego-inflation and have been known to act in arbitrary dictatorial ways harmful to the people they are suppose to lead. Many leaders become corrupt, patriarchal or even matriarchal with egomaniac illusions of grandeur ~ believing their own hype. We do not need a parental figure in a leadership position of authority. There is a built-in mistrust of leaders and politicians among many. Even the concept of organization is suspect. Who holds the money bag?

In an ideal world our best ideals and values should lead us forward into a better world. Who needs leadership when we all know what we are doing and where we are going? Ideals such as democratic centralism, consensus building and respecting the opinions of those involved in any decision making process should be observed. Obviously we are not in an ideal world here now. Thus, we do need active leadership today, even if only on an informal basis.

At the core essence of our original being I believe we are humane by nature. By nature we should have care, concern and compassion for all living beings in our lives, regardless of any personal orientation. We should be motivated by pure love, though it is hard for one to love one’s enemies. Nevertheless, even our enemies have humane rights. This natural essence of being humane has been systematically conditioned out of us. We have been raised in a sick society under a cruel government that is actually inhumane in the way it treats its own citizens. For example, it is insane that in the world’s richest country, we have homeless refugee families wandering about in the streets with all their paltry belongings in shopping carts with no place to call home, no safe sanctuary, especially on cold dark nights.

In a rational response to unjust social conditions, social movements are born to address these unjust and inhumane social conditions. In this New Millennium we still function as herd animals. There is safety and security in being in a herd. We follow leaders, whether they are official leaders or have come to the forefront of social movements because of their capacity to inspire, lead forth, work hard and find solutions to problems. Leaders helps keep the roaming herd together.

Even the concept of a ‘movement’ should be analyzed deeper as not all of us involved in any social movement necessarily move together in tight cohesive uniformity with each other, as the term movement implies. Some move ahead on their own, others lag behind in the march. Many of us are not on the same page, the same book or even in the same library! Still others love to argue and debate when collective action is called for in a given situation.

In the process of struggle, we need to develop a new vocabulary when we are in new situations. We should not mindlessly just accept old definitions for old realities. Life is in a constant state of flux or flow. Thus, we have the right to create new definitions for new realities as we use the power of the word to describe our general situation.

We live in connected reality, that is, all realities are connected in one way or another. Understand that all different subjective realities in the mind are interconnected at one level, dimension or another in life, especially on a quantum micro level.  There is no separate objective reality unto itself. There is no ‘out there’ out there. We are all upon Mother Earth together for better or worse. We are in this things of ours we call life on the same planet. We had best learn how to get along with each other in peace and harmony as we are already an endangered species of life. Thus, life is a matrix in the context of connected reality.

A democratic social matrix must allow for the open expression of our unique individuality as human beings without getting into the cult of any kind of ‘hero worship’. Adolf Hitler was able to come to power because at the time he filled a real empty vacuum in the psyche of the German people after Germany’s defeat in World War I. Hitler was a great orator with his public speaking skills, though he was merciless towards those who opposed his authoritarian style of leadership. Unchecked leadership could have disastrous consequences. Better to have the vision of foresight than to learn from a hideous hindsight.

We should see history as a guide to action, not a crystal ball. Thus, any valid social matrix should be governed be the principles of centralized democracy, ruled by the consensus of the majority involved and not be authoritarian in its performance. Bigger is not always better. No one mortal being is Boss.

We must always respect the opinions of the minority, heed warnings and continually strive to build an inclusive democratic consensus in any democratic social matrix. Our striving for a genuine democracy should not be something that we lightly take for granted. What is your definition of democracy? We should be consciously striving for a true democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. Not the sham that so-called democracy has become inside the United States.

We are now ruled by the monopoly capitalist corporate ruling class with a two-headed monster governing electoral politics called the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It is ultimately the Electoral College that determines the outcome of Presidential elections, not the popular vote. There is no direct democracy where the candidate who wins the most votes in a Presidential Election actually gets into office. Recall: in 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote, not Fuhrer Bush!

If we look at the Arab Spring of uprisings in the Middle East last year we saw natural leaders came to the forefront in their liberation struggles, especially in Egypt. To be sure, Egypt still has not undergone a relevant revolution in terms of a transformation of property relations from the ‘haves’ to the ‘have-nots’. Our Egyptian comrades are still striving to implement the revolution via a complete seizure of state power by the representatives of the masses, so revolution in Egypt is not a done deal. Revolution is unfinished business.

We can now see more clearly than ever that the scope and range of revolution must be global in order to have full effect. Monopoly capitalism with its Empire building is global in nature and already rules the global economy. We are in a global struggle worldwide!

On the question of leadership in a so-called leaderless movement we should see the contradiction in terms. We require wise central leadership at one level or another to succeed. Geronimo was not an elected chief but is seen as having been one because of his skills and talents as a true warrior in battles. What would of happened in the Cuban revolution without the presence of Che Guevara, though he was not even Cuban? Natural leaders come to the forefront in any significant social endeavor and are forged ‘in the process’ of on-going struggle.

It is not only a question of leadership or not, but what kind of leadership we are to have. Leadership could be bad leadership and lead the people astray up a dead end to their doom. It is really a question of the actual working nature of leadership in a given set of social conditions. What kind of leadership do we want as a collective and what do we expect from leadership? There is no cut and paste template for revolution. Good leaders come out of the complex process of struggle, need to learn from past mistakes and should remain open to creative constructive  criticism. No one is above criticism. No one.

Ideally, leadership should be collective leadership, be recognized and respected by others and instill a unified common purpose among the people. True leadership must lead with wisdom, energy and compassion. Leadership must be held accountable and ultimately responsible for the success of failure of any valid social movement or matrix. Leadership should be in charge of the safety and security of those considered to be followers. Safety first!

Ideally, we should first let our humane ideals lead us forward. However, not all of us are truly humane and connected reality for us is not now governed by our high ideals. Remember we have been raised in a sick inhumane society. We have inherited character defects and shortcomings from our twisted sick environment. We should see ourselves as co-creators of humane consciousness and humane development, not mere blind followers playing ‘follow the leader’. Our lives are at stake here. Every one of us should be the leader of our own independent life in light of our personal existential situation. Every follower is a potential leader and every leader must also be a follower of a collective consensus in a viable democratic social matrix.

All of us involved in a social democratic matrix should be natural leaders, followers, helpers, coordinators and networkers ~without inflated egos causing divisions. We all need each other in the humane family of humankind to assure our collective independence.

Gradually, we are humbly learning how true democracy and collective consensus works today. At times we can agree to disagree, still keep working together and allow space for future analysis and debate. If matters do not go your way do not be childish, take your toys and go home ~ if you have one. No one alone has all the answers. If we think we know everything we can learn nothing.

Let us work together to help create a brave new world where people can breathe free air, where our basic survival needs are met and where we are given the resources to develop our potential as humane beings in one family of humanity. Unity is strength! Harmony is power!

http://occupywallst.org/ @OccupyWallSt

http://www.occupysacto.org @OccupySacto

http://www.occupydavis.org @OccupyDavis

http://www.safegroundsac.org/ @SafeGroundSac

Venceremos! Che Peta

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s