Online Facebook groups don’t have democratically elected leaders. Leaders are self-appointed. Nepotism, being a minority, or being really good at creating visual propaganda are what it takes to make a moderator . Naturally, the people who have a fetish for bossing people around end up in leadership positions. There is a growing complaint in the leftbook space that almost every group starts or eventually ends up with extremely heavy-handed or literal Stalinist moderators. Given the undemocratic nature of these groups, this shouldn’t be surprising. The mods, often chasing the rhetoric of their fellow literal Stalinist mods, really like to joke about throwing people in labor camps. There was a period of 6–7 months where you couldn’t avoid seeing at least one “lol you go to gulag”, joke in the course of one discussion.
Protecting democracy is important; that’s why leadership needs to maintain its backbone and not be cowed into retreating from building a mass socialist organization of working people, which yes, requires accountable leadership to ensure popular mandates are obtained, and critically, are acted on. Working people want to be in an organization where they have agency in setting the agenda, but also one that puts their limited time to valuable use and gets results. What we need is a plan to reach out to our hundreds of disengaged members and move them on a program; what we do not need is more meetings to satisfy a small group of members who value process at the expense of broad involvement.