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Recruit Training and Enculturation

New recruits need two kinds of training. On one hand, they need cultural training, that is, they need to develop a shared culture with the other members of their group so that everyone can work together smoothly. On the other hand, they need training in the specific skills needed for their work. Some of the shared culture comes from a culture of resistance, and some is on a group-by-group basis. Many of the basic skills for resistance are also common across different groups.

This suggests the need for a sort of “basic training for activists,” which would be generally available—and strongly encouraged—for people who want to be part of a culture of resistance. Some skills that belong on the list are already taught in many nonpolitical settings. And conversely, some political groups seem ignorant of key skills needed for successful resistance.

Skills that are legal and should be ubiquitous in a culture of resistance include the following:

Some of these skills are technical, and so can be readily learned from many sources. Others are deeply political in nature, and need to be taught by people with a commitment to aboveground organizing—probably the people we’d call cadres.

Firearms training should be pretty much universal in a culture of resistance. The potential self-defense applications of this are one aspect; that’s not the most important reason. It’s difficult to make an informed choice on whether or not to own guns if you don’t actually know the rudiments of how to use them. Handling guns is important in demystifying them, because anyone who comes up against power is going to encounter guns (or at least the implicit threat of their use) sooner or later. All this is also important for understanding the history of a culture that has spread and gained power through violence. You cannot truly understand the history of power in this culture—and the history of armed or even unarmed resistance to that power—without handling a firearm. Trying to develop resistance strategy without knowing how to fire a gun would be like trying to understand the impact of communication on human society without ever having spoken or written a word.

If these skills become commonplace in resistance cultures then very little “remedial” training will be required for new recruits. That will allow resistance cadres, especially underground cadres, to focus on training the particular skills needed for their strategy and tactics.