Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are Leaders Good and Necessary ? From Miners Next Step of 1912

This is not a double question, since if leaders are necessary, they [are] perforce good. Let us then examine the leader, and see if he is necessary. A leader implies at the outset some men who are being led; and the term is used to describe a man who, in a representative capacity, has acquired combined administrative and legislative power. As such, he sees no need for any high level of intelligence in the rank and file, except to applaud his actions. Indeed such intelligence from his point of view, by breeding criticism and opposition, is an obstacle and causes confusion. His motto is, "Men, be loyal to your leaders." H[i]s logical basis: Plenary powers. His social and economic prestige, is dependent upon his being respected by "the public" and the employers. These are the three principles which form the platform upon which the leader stands. He presents, in common with other institutions, a good and a bad aspect.


  1. Leadership tends to efficiency One decided man, who knows his own mind is stronger than a hesitating crowd. It takes time for a number of people to agree upon a given policy. One man soon makes up his mind.
  2. He takes all responsibility As a responsible leader, he knows that his advice is almost equivalent to a command, and this ensures that his advice will have been carefully and gravely considered before being tendered.
  3. He stands for Order and System All too frequently, "What is everybody's business is nobody's business," and if no one stands in a position to ensure order and system, many things are omitted which will cause the men's interest to suffer.
  4. He affords a standard of goodness and ability In the sphere of public usefulness there is a great field of emulation. The good wishes of the masses can only be obtained by new aspirants for office showing a higher status of ability than the then existing leaders. This tends to his continued efficiency or elimination.
  5. His faithfulness and honesty are guarded Hero worship has great attractions for the hero, and a leader has great inducements on this side, apart from pecuniary considerations to remain faithful and honest.


  1. Leadership implies power Leadership implies power held by the Leader. Without power the leader is inept. The possession of power inevitably leads to corruption. All leaders become corrupt, in spite of their own good intentions. No man was ever good enough, brave enough, or strong enough, to have such power at his disposal, as real leadership implies.
  2. Consider what it means This power of initiative, this sense of responsibility, the self respect which comes from expressed manhood, is taken from the men, and consolidated in the leader. The sum of theirinitiative, their responsibility, their self respect becomes his.
  3. The order and system The order and system he maintains, is based upon the suppression of the men, from being independent thinkers into being "the men" or "the mob." Every argument which could be advanced to justify leadership on this score, would apply equally well to the Czar of all the Russias and his policy of repression. In order to be effective, the leader must keep the men in order, or he forfeits the respect of the employers and "the public," and thus becomes ineffective as a leader.
  4. He corrupts the aspirants to public usefulness He is compelled in order to maintain his power, to see to it that only those, who are willing to act as his drill sergeants or coercive agents shall enjoy his patronage. In a word, he is compelled to become an autocrat and a foe to democracy.
  5. He prevents solidarity Sheep cannot be said to have solidarity. In obedience to a shepherd, they will go up or down, backwards or forwards as they are driven by him and his dogs. But they have no solidarity, for that means unity and loyalty. Unity and loyalty, not to an individual, or the policy of an individual, but to an interest and a policy which is understood and worked by all.
Finally he prevents the legislative power of the workers.

An industrial vote will affect the lives and happiness of workmen far more than a political vote. The power to vote whether there shall or shall not be a strike, or upon an industrial policy to be pursued by his union, will affect far more important issues to the workman's life, than the political vote can ever touch. Hence it should be more sought after, and its privileges jealously guarded. Think of the tremendous power going to waste because of leadership, of the inevitable stop-block he becomes on progress, because quite naturally, leaders examine every new proposal, and ask first how it will affect their position and power. It prevents large and comprehensive policies being initiated and carried out, which depend upon the understanding and watchfulness of the great majority. National strikes and policies, can only be carried out, when the bulk of the people see their necessity, and themselves prepare and arrange them.

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