Joti Brar: How can workers learn the truth if everyone is too scared to tell it?

We must respect the workers enough to believe they are capable of learning and we must create opportunities for them to do so.

One essential truth that needs to be grasped by workers in the imperialist countries is the connection between our class enemies’ strength and their looting and suppression of the oppressed peoples abroad.

The World Anti-imperialist Platform (the Platform) participated in the anti-imperialist congress organised by the Kommunistische Organisation (KO) in Berlin from 6 to 8 October.

At the congress, members of the Platform took part in panel discussions on imperialism and war, touching on the Ukraine war, national-liberation movements, the relationship between anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, how we can unify the struggle worldwide, and more.

During the event, a solidarity demonstration for Palestine was held in response to the developing situation in Gaza.

Joti Brar, vice-chair of the CPGB-ML, spoke in her capacity as a spokesperson of the Platform. We reproduce her brief contribution to the panel below.

What should be the focus of our work today?

What is the essential political task and strategic orientation for communists and progressive forces in the current stage of struggle?

If we want to work out what our most important task is at any particular moment, we must be able to recognise which contradictions are the most fundamental and important and from there work out who are our main enemies and who are our allies.

Today, the main contradiction in the world, the one that is most decisive in shaping all events and the balance of class forces, is the conflict between the imperialist and the oppressed countries.

This means that our main aim at the present time must be strengthen the anti-imperialist movement and the role of communists within that movement.

And just as we use the communist forces to enhance the anti-imperialist movement, we must use the progress and limitations of the movement against imperialism to help workers everywhere understand the need for socialism to completely and finally solve their problems – and to understand the fundamental connection between those two struggles.

And all the time we are doing these things we must work to maximise the discipline, unity and dedication of the Marxist forces by strengthening our ideological foundations. For true steel and commitment in the struggle comes from iron discipline, and iron discipline is voluntary; it is based in a strong theoretical understanding of the need for our struggle to be carried through to the finish no matter the obstacles.

In this way, we will gain experience in waging the anti-imperialist struggle in such a way as to maintain our communist identity and analysis – we will learn how to cooperate with allied forces without becoming subservient to them. And the communists will earn the appreciation and respect of the masses.

We must put individual and collective study at the heart of everything we do so that we are able to deeply understand and to popularise scientific socialism – in leaflets, newspaper columns and brief speeches as well as in longer presentations and theoretical works.

We must use every means possible and every important event to help workers understand how crisis and inequality are built into the system of capitalist production. To help them see that only socialism will allow them to escape poverty and war. That capitalism means a permanent downward spiral for the masses.

And we in the imperialist countries must take every opportunity to expose to workers the connection between our class enemies’ strength and their looting and suppression of the oppressed peoples abroad.

To do all this we need to let go of fear or of a desire to be respectable. Our message will never be acceptable to the ruling class, and this means it will also not be acceptable to the social-democratic and opportunist left either.

Therefore to make progress we must give up on the idea of pleasing the media or the fake left. We must let go of our fear of the hysterical attacks of the bourgeois media, or the angry response of brainwashed workers to truths that challenge the bourgeois-defined worldview.

We must respect the workers enough to believe they are capable of learning when given the opportunity. And we must remember that the job of creating that opportunity is ours. Workers will certainly learn nothing if everyone is too scared to tell them what they need to hear, whether it is about the Soviet Union, the GDR, Marxist economics, imperialist relations or anything else.

We must also let go of the fear of seeming ‘unrealisable’ or ‘unrealistic’ in our demands. Of course, we do not want to make our movement ridiculous by Trotskyite-type demands for a general strike every time workers are in dispute. But if we believe a demand is the correct one, even if our small forces are as yet unable to bring it about, we should still be working to put it into workers’ minds and helping them think about the first step towards realising it in practice.

For example: one of our demands in Britain is that there should be an active campaign of non-cooperation against Nato and the imperialist war machine in Britain. We want the working class to refuse to cooperate and thus actively sabotage the war effort. The first step towards achieving this is helping them realise that this is something that needs to be – and could be – done, and they need to be organised in a way it can be achieved.

Our party works hard to propagate the information about why this task is necessary and what its execution would look like. We explain that a first step is building organisation that has the power to take such action. And we have written model motions for members and supporters to take into trade unions and other working-class organisations.

Even if they are initially defeated, by bringing these demands before the delegates, such motions can spread awareness of our analysis and programme and force the social-democrats to debate them and justify their refusal to countenance the actions we propose.

These are small steps in raising the consciousness and activity of the masses to the required level that even the smallest organisation can take.

Overall, I would say: we must not be afraid to act. While patience has been important in conditions of slow development, we should always be ready to change course if our actions are not having the intended consequences.

We must not be scared to make an alliance we might be attacked for, and we must not be scared to break an alliance that isn’t working.

And we must never be scared to see or admit to our mistakes; mistakes are how we learn.

We must assess and re-assess our work constantly and always bear in mind the ultimate goal of all our work. We must ask ourselves every day, individually and collectively: will this activity take us even a tiny step closer to socialism?


Comrade Joti also gave a longer presentation on the history of the world communist movement, which will be printed here soon.