This piece is excerpted from internal Deep Green Resistance training materials. It was not originally written for the public, but we believe it will be useful for our readers.
In the formation of the cadre we need, there is a lot to be learned, mostly technical and knowledge-based. For some reason, in our country, there seems to have been little focus on “formation,” or the development of revolutionary character.
To some extent this aspect of struggle was subsumed by the religious left here (ie MLK, the Berrigans, etc.). Che’s writings on the mystique of Socialism and the development of cadres are well known. Another case in point is Carlos Fonseca and the mystique of Sandinismo. In this country we have the Black Panther Party and the Combahee River Collective, and more recently Chris Hedges’ and Derrick Jensen’s writings.
What should our cadres embody and aspire to, in addition to the technical and political knowledge required? How do we bring our best selves to this struggle? “The personal is the political,” while grounded in feminism, can also shed light on other aspects of human relations.
Characteristics of a Good Cadre
- Honesty and integrity
- Work ethic (focus, follow-through, and dependability)
- Determination in the face of difficulty
- Cheerfulness and humor (essential in hard times)
- Willingness to do one’s fair share and to sacrifice
- Willingness and ability to learn
- Caring and respectful toward others
- Ability to acknowledge mistakes and self-critique
- An understanding of what ‘community’ is and means
- Dignity, humility, and honor
- Discernment and wisdom
- A sense of duty and responsibility
- A commitment to equality and justice
- Intellectual and political engagement
- Capacity for love and tenderness
- A sense and understanding of what ‘Solidarity’ is and means
- Self-awareness and self-reflection.
- Recognize and regulate your needs (self-care).
- Ability to understand how one’s childhood development has influenced one’s adult life experiences.
- Ability to look back and analyze your relationships as an insight to your character.
- Mindfulness and awareness practice.
- Ability to process grief appropriately and thoroughly.
- Practicing forgiveness.
- Exercise regularly for mind/body health.
- Practice decolonizing your mind through a variety of means, not just intellectually. Listen to Dr. Michael Yellowbird – and John Trudell.
Emotional Fitness in the Group / Community
The personal interactions within small groups such as affinity groups are easily affected by:
- People with un-addressed personal or mental health issues
- People currently in therapy (transference, projection)
- People in personal crisis or under severe stress
Be prepared to address and resolve the toxic components of relationships, or failing that, understand that one cannot enter into this work bringing serious unresolved personal issues.
People dealing with these issues should be prepared to step back until they are able to engage with others from a place of health.
It is mentioned in literature on the subject that small non-hierarchical groups are subject to being hijacked by a narcissistic personality type, or for that matter by others for other reasons of aggrandizement or other personal agendas.
To that end a good cadre ought to have a minimal understanding of psychology and sociology, sufficient to understand people and how they interact both in pairs and in groups. This is actually an aspect of security culture, as well as helping to insure that the group does not break up due to interpersonal dynamics.
Motivational tools in cadre development
- Revolutionary songs (pick a few and learn to sing them or play them). Some suggestions:
- Carnets, or membership cards. A carnet must be earned and conferred in a ceremony. Note: the card can pose a security risk.
- Heroes and martyrs (must be dead, no personality cults)
Keeping Each Other Emotionally Health
- Mutual aid
- Friendships and buddy system
- Time for R&R
Cadres are responsible for moving an organization forward, and are expected to be dedicated to their respective organization. For this reason, it is important that cadres demonstrate certain characteristics to benefit the moveement.