Cadre (politics)

In political contexts a cadre (/ˈkɑːdrə/, also UK: /ˈkɑːdər/, also US: /ˈkɑːdr/) consists of a small group of people. The word may also refer to a single member of such a group. In a Socialist government, a cadre is a group of people trained to carry out the goals of the Party-State and disseminate and enforce the official pedagogy. These groups are meant to stimulate loyalty and obedience to party rules and regulations by mobilizing citizens and encouraging collectivization. Cadres can be deployed in the field or employed in the office by the Party, State, or Securitate. They are often created to break apart existing class hierarchies among citizens of the Party-State.[1] Cadres were present in a number of communist countries that enforced collectivization, including Romania, Soviet Russia, and China.

Revolutionary socialist usageEdit

For revolutionary socialists (Including Leninists), and some anarchists, a cadre is a group of committed, active, and experienced intellectuals who share political beliefs and participate in the revolutionary movements they see the most promise in. It can also refer to a member of said group.[2]

Cadres in RomaniaEdit

Romania is an example of the use of cadres in communism, and an exploration of their role in Romania can give an overall picture of the importance of cadres.

A Romanian stamp that reads, "Ending the Collectivization of Agriculture."

Cadres were vital to spreading the ideology of Russian communism in Romania because cadres were the medium in which official party ideology transmits between countries. A cadre can and has been used by more countries than just Russia; their primary role makes them indispensable in ideology shift among a population. They functioned in two fashions throughout Romania (in particular), first to spread the communist ideology throughout the country and monitor communism's opinions among the rural populations to ensure that the Romanians viewed communism popularly. Collectivization relied on cadres to keep the system in order. However, due to the shortage of cadres, massive Party surveillance, and inconsistent policies produced an environment full of distrust and abuse. As a result, the cadre system self-consumed itself as frustration, distrust, and violence increased.

Collectivization in RomaniaEdit

Collectivization was a system, first implemented in Soviet Russia, of taking land from peasants for government use, and then redistributing this land into large, government run farms. This worked, to a degree, in Russia. However, in Romania this system was met with much more opposition and a lack of support from the general population. The cadres in Romania, at least at the beginning, were of a rather small number, so one of the most important cadres was an agitator, whose job it was to go around from village to village in efforts to “whip up support” for the new party.[3]

Cadre is a very general term, and refers to many positions within the communist bureaucracy, in addition to agitators, cadres were also responsible for the logistical aspects of collectivization, such as collecting quotas and getting people to join the collectives, as well as policing the state and making sure citizens were “good communists”.  To help with doing so, cadres were responsible for neutralizing the social and economic power of wealthier peasants.  They often abused their positions, either by using force to complete their objectives or using their position for political gain.  As the communist party grew in Romania, the main tasks of the cadres shifted, from focusing on the collectivization of agriculture to stirring up class warfare and separating the communist “enemies” from the “good communists.”[4]

Reasons for collectivizationEdit

In establishing the RCP, many characteristics of the Soviet model were imitated as groundwork for the Party. Because the Romanian Communist Party was politically weak, it required significant assistance from the Soviet Union. As a result, the party had many Soviet advisors within its bureaucracy, and based much of its structure on the Soviet blueprint.[1]

Collectivization also provided a seemingly easy way to unite the masses under a single umbrella of social, political, economic control as well as limit individuality. Ultimately, this served as a tool to enforce subordination under the Party.

Another key goal of the RCP was to initiate widespread intellectual reform. Such reform is mostly intangible and can thus be much more difficult to implement. As a result, by collectivizing land, the state could have greater control over class resources and exert greater overall control over every member within those classes. With such control, intellectual reform becomes much easier.

Collectivization was also an excellent way to create and subsequently destroy a class structure, especially when none already existed. For many communist countries, the Soviet Union’s ‘extensive experience in collectivizing agriculture’ served as their guiding light and provided the basic script. Its central ingredient ... was the demonization of the wealthy peasants.”[1] Class war and collectivization went hand in hand.

Who was a cadre?Edit

A cadre was "anyone directly employed by the Party-state in an official capacity". Their work included serving as "the apparatuses of Party, state, or Securitate at any level of the political hierarchy". Cadres were considered to be from healthy or unhealthy origins. A cadre from healthy origins was a poorer peasant, while a cadre from unhealthy origins was a wealthier peasant. Among the cadres, there were issues of illiteracy, lack of respect from their community, and a lack of commitment to the full ideology of communism.[5]

Recruitment problemsEdit

Initially, there was a shortage of labor supply from the cadres. Even though the population of cadres was not small, they were not able to work efficiently as most of them are uneducated. Thus, the Party required its cadres to engage more propaganda and persuade others to become cadres. This led the Party to a dilemma: it did not have enough labor, but the process of persuasion demanded labor, so that the Party ran into a further shortage. Later on, there was a variety of problems related to the recruitment of cadres. One issue was finding people who were qualified; the majority of the “healthy” population was illiterate and impoverished, and therefore had limited productivity to accomplish many assigned tasks. Similarly, the work that the cadres were expected to do was held to a high standard, and people did not want to work in a job with such high pressure. Additionally, the people who were qualified were often the educated “chiaburs” who were later labelled as “enemy” by the Party, so they were also unqualified. Another issue was the negative perception of cadres in society. Because the job came with many negative connotations, many people did not want to become cadres and being ostracized by their local community. Moreover, while the Party was always trying to find and set up its “enemies”, the Party also had a desire to purge them. Hence, this action makes even fewer people who were eligible to work as cadres (i.e. not Party enemies).[6]

Signs of bad cadresEdit

While cadres encompassed a large swaths of the population and various segments of people, all were expected to abide by a certain behavioral code. While the following signs of “bad” cadres seem broad, it is important to understand that the Romanian Communist Party was very strict in its surveillance and punishment of cadres in the efforts to root out class enemies and disloyal employees to the state.

Drinking, and other similar fraternization behavior among the cadres was frowned upon by the Party. Drinking and alcoholism could open up the cadres to bribery and undermine their ability to enforce quotas and collectivization. Similarly, any horizontal exchanges were deemed unacceptable by the Party due to the vertically integrated state structure. This included sexual solicitation and theft. Cadres were also expected to uphold family values by remaining monogamous and refraining from divorce. Finally, cadres were discouraged from using excessive violence/force when not necessary because it violated the Party's doctrine of "free consent."[1]

What did cadres do?Edit

The main function of cadres was to convince peasants to join collectives and ensure that they sign contracts stating their “voluntary” consent. They were tasked with ensuring that peasants met their quotas, and keeping detailed records and notes to report back to higher-up Party officials. Here is a list of sample Cadre responsibilities:

  • Encourage loyalty to the Party by various means of persuasion, including distributing Party propaganda to peasants
  • Cadres determined who was considered a chiabur and then created class conflict by turning peasants against the chiaburs
  • Responsible for executing Party goals at a local level and reporting to higher up Party officials
  • Enforced the Party’s moral imperatives
  • Forcing chiabur submission to the Party
  • Provide educational courses to increase literacy
  • Organized community events and organizations such as village general assemblies, the Communist Youth, and women’s organizations

Cadre policies in statesEdit

A cadre policy as a political mechanism may take one of two forms:

  1. Cadre deployment: The appointment by a government's governing party of a loyalist to an institution, as a means of enhancing public reporting-lines and ensuring that the institution stays true to the mandate of the party as elected by voters. It involves the creation of a comprehensive power-structure so that functionaries implement the policies of the party as mandated by the public. In turn, that party advances the interests of the public.
  2. Cadre employment: a process through which political parties in a democracy give effect to their policies and objectives by preferring functionaries who subscribe to the same values.

Under cadre policies, every level of government is steered by loyalists to the developmental and redress policies of the governing party. The African National Congress government in South Africa commonly practises cadre deployment to ensure that societal leaders actively implement redress policies.[citation needed] Together with Black Economic Empowerment policies, cadre policy is used to address the injustices of the former apartheid system in South Africa.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Kligman, Gail (2011). Peasants under siege : the collectivization of Romanian agriculture, 1949-1962. Verdery, Katherine, 1948-. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-4043-4. OCLC 744616945.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Kligman, Gail (2011). Peasants under siege : the collectivization of Romanian agriculture, 1949-1962. Verdery, Katherine, 1948-. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-4043-4. OCLC 744616945.
  4. ^ Kligman, Gail (2011). Peasants under siege : the collectivization of Romanian agriculture, 1949-1962. Verdery, Katherine, 1948-. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-4043-4. OCLC 744616945.
  5. ^ Kligman, Gail (2011). Peasants under siege : the collectivization of Romanian agriculture, 1949-1962. Verdery, Katherine, 1948-. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-4043-4. OCLC 744616945.
  6. ^ Kligman, Gail (2011). Peasants under siege : the collectivization of Romanian agriculture, 1949-1962. Verdery, Katherine, 1948-. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-4043-4. OCLC 744616945.
  7. ^ Twala, Chitja (2014-11-01). "The African National Congress (ANC) and the Cadre Deployment Policy in the Postapartheid South Africa: A Product of Democratic Centralisation or a Recipe for a Constitutional Crisis?". Journal of Social Sciences. 41 (2): 159–165. doi:10.1080/09718923.2014.11893352. ISSN 0971-8923.