Revolutionary Character Development and Emotional Fitness Bruce Lee Motivation Deep Green Resistance

Emotional Fitness and Revolutionary Character Development

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)
  • Bravery
  • 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
  • Generosity
  • Intellectual and political engagement
  • Capacity for love and tenderness
  • Loyalty
  • Militancy
  • Sobriety
  • A sense and understanding of what ‘Solidarity’ is and means

Aspirational Components

  • 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

Keeping Each Other Emotionally Health

  • Mutual aid
  • Friendships and buddy system
  • Time for R&R
  • Elders

“Cadres form the backbone of a resistance organization.” (Aric McBay, Deep Green Resistance)

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.

6 thoughts on “Emotional Fitness and Revolutionary Character Development”

  1. This strikes me as too idealistic. Battling this culture will be done by the wounded. They have the motivation. It took decades to screw me up and decades to reassemble. A better approach might be to recognize our short comings and trust the group to balance is out. That would require great patience and honesty. My membership would come with the footnote, “some assembly required”.

  2. Agreed Dennis. I can identify with your assertion regarding the decades it took to get screwed-up, then the harder decades of disassembling, unlearning the miseducation, then reassembling something else – hopefully an improved version !

    It’s all a continuous work-in-progress, for the self-aware anyway, so there’s never going to be the perfect soldier for the cause as seems to be demanded by the “Emotional Fitness” strictures.

    I think perhaps the piece intends to perhaps pre-empt emotionally unbalanced full-blown delusional nutters from joining, but then if you are an emotionally unbalanced full-blown delusional nutter you’re unlikely to be take note !

    It means well enough, but as you suggest needs to be less idealistic

    1. Good points, but the piece is meant as an aspiration, as the name says as a “development,” as you say, a continuous work-in-progress. We are fully aware there will never be the perfect soldier for the cause, but by recognizing ideals and values we share and intentionally creating a culture of striving for them we set clear goals for our community.

  3. this is beautiful ideas and i hope for the best.
    but on a personal level its very depressing. i’ve been rejected and ejected by so many social groups. including “visionary” and most especially “radical feminist” and womens consciousness groups. which i was hoping would introduce me to women who want to change the world, etc etc.
    how can a lonely person with very poor social skills offer any help?
    is there any validity in voluntary human extinction (on the level of individual choice suicide) for those who cannot actively help due to having very poor social skills, and who also dont want to continue contributing to the problem (such as by working for wages, or spending money, or consuming food and air and taking up space)?
    i read a website about this, advocating human extinction for the purposes of saving the earth, and it did make a pretty good point.
    how can a lonely person with very very poor social skills offer any help? i might not be alone in this question. there are possibly very many of us who have nothing to offer and no reason to live.
    of course it is awful and inaccurate to ever tell another person that they are useless. we never know what meaning another persons life might hold.
    but what of those of us who might be, in fact, useless, and know it?
    (in my case, by the way others have reacted to me, i can infer that i have nothing to offer.)
    giving up, putting the earth’s pain out of my mind, and going back to living the wages / purchasing / watching tv life would be morally wrong, now that i know better

    1. Do not give up. Everyone is capable of learning and changing. And we don’t need less good-hearted people who understand what is needed in the world. These people are the most valuable, even when—like so many of us—they are traumatized. Even if organizing in groups is beyond you, there are many solitary ways to contribute to social movements. For example: writing and various forms of speaking and communication, graphic design, art, fundraising and donating, tithing a portion of your income, research and spreading important information, gathering supplies and sending to resistance groups, etc.

  4. Sarah, anybody who can see through the propaganda, is valuable. Maybe it is just one person who needs a hand. Maybe a chunk of nature.
    I live near a badly managed piece of sagebrush desert. The fires burn off the sage brush and the BLM replanted bunch grass for cattle. So I’ve adopted a tiny little chunk and transplanted some sagebrush. I’ve learned a little about native species and gone on hikes to fine seeds, to plant. Doesn’t really matter to anyone I know. Kinda makes me weird. I just needed to feel I was doing something valuable.
    In a hunter, gather existence a two year old would be helping to gather or carry berries. He would be raised feeling, knowing he is valuable. Our modern world has made kids worthless, a burden. How do we change this? I don’t know, I just know the more people trying the better the chance.

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