It was a popular trope in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The flying saucer has landed, a subtle mechanism whirrs as a panel in the seemingly unblemished hull lifts revealing a portal. From the shadowy interior steps a green bug-eyed creature/silver suited figure who in perfectly enunciated (probably American) English demands, “Take me to you leader!”
The context for this B movie/pulp fiction was a mix of the beginnings of space exploration in the setting of the cold war. It also reveals the persistence of the concept of THE LEADER. Such a leader might be either malevolent or benign, or an amalgam of both, depending on perspective.
Hitler and Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt were both still fresh in popular consciousness, each considered to have played crucial roles that determined how the lives of whole populations were to be led.
Today the fascination with leadership remains: if only the right one could be promoted, or so it seems. Leaders can be characterised or stigmatised by a single word such as populist. In a democratic sense a popular leader is good, surely? Perhaps not when populist is characterised as pandering to the base instincts of the barely politically literate proles.
So, efforts need to be made to select the good leader to carry society forwards, or such is the implication. The problem, though, is not some perceived stupidity of the proles who are in this usage a sub-section of the working class.
Proles, of course, is merely an abbreviation of proletarians, a word not much in common parlance these days. It does not, however, refer to a section of the working class, but to the class in its entirety, a class to which the overwhelming majority of the population belong.
Working class/proletarian is defined by relationship to the means of wealth creation, a relationship of subservience. Not possessing the means to create wealth, this class must sell the only thing it does own, its labour power.
Labour power is the element required by the exceedingly small minority who do own and control the means of wealth production. Those means remain useless without the necessary labour power to activate them. No labour power – no wealth.
If the means of wealth production was taken into the ownership of the working class, then members of that class would collectively possess all the elements required to produce for the needs of society, a socialist society.
Therefore, what’s required is a socialist leader, right? Wrong! The very concept of such a leader is contrary to socialism. Leadership in this sense requires the working class to be passive, taking no responsibility for its own interests beyond marking a cross on a ballot paper.
Leaders are a capitalist phenomenon. No matter how sincere they may be in wishing to enact radical change, they can only do so with the confines set by capitalist necessity to pursue profit. As socialism will be the abolition of the profit motive no leader can be in such a position.
The working class is the only force that can bring socialism about on its own behalf. Those political groups who style themselves socialist continue the process of delusion by promoting support for a “socialist leader/party” such as Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.
It matters not one jot how sincere Corbyn is, no one is capable of acting on behalf of the working class, the class must act for itself. The only proper leadership socialists can offer is the true meaning of education, that is, to lead out, bring forth the potential, presently latent, in the working class to liberate itself from capitalism.