Everyone Must Be Replaceable; Everyone Should Be Replaced!

part of Post-ISO Reflections: Essays and proposals on democracy and organization

One of the most tremendous problems of the British SWP crisis was that the paid staff of the organization, through long years of sharing the same life conditions, became a social clique.  This is natural and inevitable.  It cannot be prevented.  It can only be disrupted, by rotating the leadership using term limits.

One terrible problem of placing no term limits on organizational staff is that the youth are often locked out of the highest positions of leadership.  They should be its majority, especially since in a healthy organization, they are the majority anyway.  To assume that age equates to superior theory or strategy is ageism.  Skills may be accumulated but those need to be democratized and shared anyway.

Some may have anxiety that an organization would collapse without its current set of leaders, but I am confident that any healthy organization has the strength to survive such a transition.  Besides, if other rank-and-file members cannot be trusted with leadership, there are deeper issues going on.  Perhaps those members have not been properly educated and should not actually be members yet in the first place.  Perhaps the party has too much attachment to every facet of its party line in order to feel safe and stable.  Maybe it should get over itself in that respect.

Of course some may object that this is disruptive to the lives and careers of people who take paid leadership positions, creating gaps in their resume that make the job market difficult.  Here I must remind everyone that being the paid staff of a leftist organization is a prestige and a privilege, which everyone is free to turn down.  Besides, many party staff keep at least part-time jobs anyway.  I suspect that really what is going on here is not any personal economic crisis that losing leadership status would create, but the mere psychological attachment of the leaders to positions they have held for possibly decades and were assuming they would keep for life.  What was once assumed is now under question.

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2 thoughts on “Everyone Must Be Replaceable; Everyone Should Be Replaced!

  1. Pingback: Post-ISO Reflections: Essays and proposals on democracy and organization | spreadtheinfestation

  2. It is difficult to select those with good leadership and reject those with poor leadership when a leadership always speaks/acts in unison (and elections for leadership are always on a slate basis). However, I think it is unrealistic to think that leadership can be totally replaced by fresh faces on a frequent basis and not have the organization suffer tremendously from idiotic amounts of duplication and constant unhelpful zigzagging.

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