Last Saturday, July 15,
more than 300 people, amongst them veteran members of the International Brigades,
their relatives, friends and general public, gathered in the heart of London to
remember and pay homage to all those who, seventy years ago and following the
dictates of their internationalist hearts and minds, left everything to fight
for socialism in a Spain devastated by the fascist troops of Franco, Hitler and
The event, which has become a regular occurrence, took place on the South
Bank, by the International Brigades Memorial, which is located beside the
London Eye. For first time since these remembrance days have been held, a
representative of the Spanish government, in the person of its ambassador to London, was present.
The ambassador was greeted by a "That's not our flag, Mr Ambassador" from
someone in the crowd. This was a clear reference to the fact that his assistant
was carrying the monarchist flag. The ambassador then went on to express his
thanks for the courage and generosity of the men and women who, from the British Islands,
went to Spain
to assist in the fight against fascism.
He went on to point out the betrayal of the Western democracies, which
diplomatically isolated the Spanish Republic, actually siding with the fascist regimes of
Italy and Germany.
The most striking thing was the fact that in not one of the speeches,
neither the ambassador's nor those given by representatives of the
International Brigades Trust, was there any mention of the struggle for
socialism, but only references to democracy and freedom.
However, the ultimate goal that the hearts of those who formed the
international brigades harboured was socialism. The International Brigades were
organised by the Communist International (Comintern) which, although by then
already in the hands of Stalin and its bureaucratic clique, represented for
many workers around the world the traditions of Lenin, October and the
conquests of the revolution.
It is true that the Comintern, guided by the narrow interests of the Moscow
bureaucracy, took the route of Popular Frontism
and that the official line was the defence of the bourgeois Spanish Republic,
thus digging up the corpse of the Menshevik theory of the two stages.
In spite of this, to reduce the reasons and motives of those who gave their
lives in Spain – who thought that by their
actions they were advancing the cause of socialism – to a mere defence
of a bourgeois republic is the grossest misrepresentation
of reality. It is a most politically perverse misinterpretation.
The event ended with the eyes of many of the present bathed in tears and,
paradoxically, despite the silence over any reference to socialism, the Internationale
was sung and the fists of those who, in their youth, raised them in Spain against
fascism and for socialism were raised once again.