Studies in Leadership: Leadership and Democratic Action

By Alvin W. Gouldner | Go to book overview

Leadership and Democracy in the Collective Settlements of Israel1

BY LEWIS S. FEUER

THE COLLECTIVE settlements of Israel, the so-called kibbutzim, are a laboratory for the study of the problems of a democratic socialist society. Until now, most of our sociology of socialist life has been limited to the data of Soviet experience. The Israeli collectives, how- ever, have been a going concern for some time; indeed, several of them were founded prior to the Soviet revolution. The Jewish settle- ments were founded under material conditions which were less favorable than those afforded by the Russian soil. Nevertheless, the dominant patterns of human relations as they have evolved on the kibbutzim lead one to envisage socialist life more hopefully.

The Webbs have noted that the directive functions of Soviet socialism are concentrated in what they call the "vocation of leader- ship." A group of "super-citizens" are selected whose lives are dedi- cated to the unswerving adherence to and execution of the "General Line."2 It is characteristic of this theory that it tends to produce what might be called a "doctrinal aristocracy," one which regards the people as its raw material for social reconstruction. Lenin's conception of the communist party was that of a vanguard which would bring socialist consciousness to the masses; he held that left to themselves the masses would not possess the creative resources adequate to an envisagement of socialism.3 The vanguard, however, in its developed

____________________
1
This is a previously unpublished paper.
2
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Soviet Communism: A New Civilization? ( New York, 1936), I, p. 339.
3
V. I. Lenin, What Is to Be Done? ( New York, 1929), pp. 32-33.

-363-

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