Usefulness of cadre-based political education In mass organizations

BY:Nathan Pope| May 16, 2024
Usefulness of cadre-based political education In mass organizations


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

Marxism, the method that we use to understand the world, reflects the movement of life. An understanding of Marxism, implicitly or explicitly, is thus required to be a successful revolutionary. This is why we find similarities between the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolution in the Philippines and the democratic confederalism in Rojava. The same is true on our level at home. The most successful organizers, even if they call themselves anarchists, engage in at least a proto-Marxist intellectual process when they derive strategies and tactics. They will often be curious people, seeking knowledge from books or other mediums about history or theory. They will strategize using a combination of this knowledge and their practical experience. And using their practical experience, they will modify their strategy. These capacities mark them as cadre.

There are other characteristics that make a cadre as well. Cadre tend to have a close emotional connection with the people they organize with, and they tend to be the ones to give their all to the struggle. But even if they are going through a period of burnout, they will keep working during the period or continue their work right after.

As people more easily fall into practice than theory, these problems tend to be theoretical. These theoretical problems could range from a simple lack of confidence to an independent, original political framework formed from the organizer’s own experience  that must be unraveled and then critiqued for its incorrect or misguided aspects. I’ve often found that true cadres always have the aspects of a correct dialectical understanding of their circumstances, even if some guidance is required to get them on a better and more efficient path.

Personalized political education is the key to solving these problems. I am in the process of learning the ins and outs of each cadre’s theoretical perspectives, often a combination of proto-dialectical materialism and some other ideas that originate from their own experience. I then find material, often written and relatively more modern than Marx and Engels, to share with them that will deepen their understanding of Marxist dialectics and attempt to correct/enhance their view of praxis while also integrating their organizing experience. Additionally, I’ll often engage in lengthy discussions with cadre about the pieces I sent. More generally, I can attempt to nudge them in a good direction via conversation that draws from my own knowledge base combined with my experiences organizing with them, seeing their methods and the problems they face .Through this whole process, I can gradually nudge people towards more effective theoretical directions.

It’s PolEd applied to organizing “proper”, being used for the development of leadership-based structures. It should be noted that I do not exclusively educate cadre, nor do I seek to develop them as the only leaders. I offer other programming to push everyone else along the path of leadership development as well. The committee seeks to have everyone be at least “protagonists” in the struggle, able to exercise a degree of independent praxis and analytical ability that they can use to be able to exercise their democratic power (within the org) to their highest capability and effectiveness. Additionally, the cadre is not an exclusive club; we always seek its expansion via a continuous process of leadership development in the chapter. Cadre-politics is simply the recognition of the propensity to leadership of some comrades as compared to others, as antidemocratic tendencies of leadership only manifests in an undemocratic context.

The goal right now is to eventually bring the cadre together, either on a committee basis or an organizational basis, into a regularly-meeting group to discuss, analyze, learn, and strategize together. Cadre tend to be leaders already, but the goal is to always have this grouping be close to formal leadership, in an advisory position. Occasionally, advisory positions can be powerless, but cadre tend to be respected enough that this would not be the case.

In terms of the CPUSA, cadre tend to have a respect for the organization in part because they realize that the party has a similar worldview to them, but mostly because its members work with them on projects. Additionally, cadre know that I am a member of the CPUSA. Like a workplace organizer recruiting their coworkers, the cadre can judge the CPUSA through my hardwork and dedication to the cause, as well as my personal connection to them. Cadre respect work and dedication far more than theoretical skill. We in the CPUSA bring both of these things.

I believe that the party could greatly benefit from a discussion around our view of this sort of cadre building, around its usefulness, its direction, and its prospects. Even if these cadre do not join the CPUSA — most are not considering it — once they are along the process of higher and independent development they will be Marxists with a great respect for the party and its members. If we speak of a united front policy, such a relationship would be incredibly useful as the struggle evolves.  Lastly, as cadre tend to be the most active and aware organizers within their sphere, there is much the party can learn from them in terms of organizing. I learn as much from the cadre as they do from me.


    Nathan Pope is a contributor to the 32nd National Convention CPUSA pre-convention discussion.

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