The Future Belongs to Us
AS THIS SECOND General Convention of the National Alliance comes to a close, we have before us a prospect which is a great deal brighter than the one we had at last year’s convention. That is because the Alliance has finally begun to move forward. After years of trying to do things quickly and getting almost nowhere, we decided to do things right, no matter how long it takes, and then we began making progress.
If I were superstitious, I might say that someone up there has been trying to tell us something by that. But I’m not superstitious. I know the reasons for our progress. The most important of those reasons is our National Office manager, Rosemary Rickey. In the nine and one-half months that she has been here, she has wrought a transformation which made our progress possible.
Another important reason is all our faithful members who have been with us for several years, and who didn’t give up, who didn’t desert us when, for years at a time, there was very little progress. They have the sort of faith which will also be needed in the years ahead — though, hopefully, not because progress will be as slow as it has been in the past. I expect us to keep picking up speed, now that we have our wheels off the runway, so to speak, but there will be other problems, I guarantee you.
And the whole future progress of the Alliance, just like our progress in the last year, depends on the maintenance of faith and on finding new people like Rosemary.
A lot of people, including some of our own members, seem to think that progress is something that just happens. They receive their copies of National Vanguard each month, and they tell us how pleased they are with the way things are coming along. I don’t believe it occurs to them that each time we’re able to take a significant step forward, it’s because somebody comes to us and volunteers to do the work necessary to take that step. And when we go a long time without taking a step, it’s because we’re already working at full capacity and no one new has come to us and given us the additional capacity that we need in order to do more.
What we get all the time is people coming to us and asking, why don’t you do this, or why don’t you do that, as if we’d never thought of doing such a thing ourselves and were perfectly satisfied to just keep on doing nothing more than we always had been.
The people who make those suggestions will often wring their hands at the thought of how much more we could be accomplishing now if only we were carrying out the important programs they tell us about. They can visualize all the details: just how we would win thousands of new members, how we would multiply the circulation of National Vanguard many times over, how we would gain vast influence. But what most of them do not see is themselves doing the work required to implement their programs.
But by no means is it always that way. Last night I had the pleasant experience of having a member tell me of an extremely good idea for a new Alliance project. And the person who suggested it offered to do most of the work needed to carry it out. The National Office staff will somehow make time for doing its share of that work. And I believe you’ll all be seeing the results of that offer within the next few months.
I can divide all the people who come to see me about new Alliance projects, in fact, into two groups: those willing to do the work or put up the money or whatever else is required — and those who want to watch from the sidelines and offer advice while someone else does what’s required.
And one of the things which gives me the greatest hope for the future is the increasing proof I have been able to see all around me, not only at this convention but throughout the past year, that a growing portion of our members are in that first group: the doers, the volunteers, the ones who always think in terms of our Alliance, our newspaper, our progress; the ones who will accept personal responsibility for the task we are all faced with.
When Don Trainor came to me from Chicago about six months ago and told me that he thought there were excellent prospects for Alliance organizing in that city, he didn’t stop there; he volunteered to try to get that organizing started, with his own resources.
When Alan Balogh saw similar opportunities in Philadelphia, he didn’t just tell me about it and then wait to see what I’d do. He told me about it and then began doing something himself — on his own time and with his own money.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have started mentioning names, because there are so many other people here who also deserve credit that this little speech could run on quite a bit longer than I intend it to. But the point is that none of these people are doing what they are because they want credit, because they want their names mentioned. They’re doing it because they’ve accepted, on an individual basis, the responsibility for our task.
And there is nothing more important for our success than that, nothing which holds greater promise.
In any organization, one runs into the danger of a sense of divided responsibility: a sort of lazy, comfortable feeling that there are plenty of people around, so somebody will do what needs doing — somebody else that is. But leaders don’t think that way. Leaders step forward and pick up the load, whether the others around them are willing to do the same or not.
It cannot be stressed too often that our whole emphasis, at this stage of our development, is on building an organization of leaders, of people who will accept individual responsibility for whatever the Alliance has to accomplish, whether recruiting in Philadelphia, or buying a computer for handling National Office mailings, or doing office work.
And if we continue to be as successful as we have during the past year in recruiting people with a strong sense of individual responsibility, then nothing can stop us — because the future belongs to those who are willing to accept the responsibility for it.
This article was transcribed from the book, The Best of Attack! and National Vanguard Tabloid 1970-1982, edited by Kevin Alfred Strom, 1984.
(from National Vanguard No. 72, 1979)