Bob Doyle: We face the same enemies today

Post date: 24/11/2023

For young people today the International Brigades may seem like part of distant history. But the problems faced by the Brigaders – 40,000 from all over the world – are still with us. This is a key reason why the IBMT exists today.

Dublin-born volunteer Bob Doyle (1910-2009), who lived and worked most of his life in London, explained things when he spoke in Belfast in 2006 at the launch of his book, ‘Brigadista: An Irishman’s Fight Against Fascism’… 

Some of you may wonder why a 90-year-old veteran of a war that happened a long time ago in a far off country is here speaking to you today. Some of you who know a little about the Spanish Civil War may see it as a glamorous episode in working-class history. Perhaps you have come to see me, a decrepit romantic relic… 

I am here to make your blood boil with anger. The powers that supported Franco in Spain are still active, and today their reach is global. The same US corporations that supplied the fascists with oil in Spain are today pilfering the oil of the Iraqi people. 

Bob Doyle (seated) with fellow International Brigade veterans Jack Jones (left) and Jack Edwards at the unveiling of the International Brigade memorial in Writers' Square, Belfast, in 2007.

The British government that lied to the people while secretly giving financial credits and hypocritically allowing arms to be smuggled to the Spanish fascists is the same government that lied about weapons of mass destruction and led the British people into a war that they did not want. 

Those who lie and cheat in order to hold on to power, who exploit child and slave labour in the third world to make yet more profits, who torture, murder and massacre in defence of “their interests” – they are still in control… When I am told that Spain was the last noble cause, I know that I am speaking to someone who doesn’t want to see the obvious truth.

In 1936 there were many apologists for racism and oppression who did not want to see fascism for what it was. Today the fight against those who put profit before people is just as intense, and the stakes are higher than ever. 

We must make common cause with those in the third world who are now in the front line, as Spain once was. 

No more Kenyan peasants must be forced off their land and into urban slums so that supermarkets can sell cheap roses and out-of-season strawberries. No more Congolese child soldiers must kill and be killed so that Nokia can sell ever cheaper mobile phones.

Those who stand up to corporate global capitalism, like Chávez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba, must be defended. Those whose greed would destroy our environment, with catastrophic consequences for humanity, must be defeated. It is indeed a noble struggle and it will not be over until the liberation of the entire human race.

La lucha continúa.

With thanks to Lynda Walker of the Belfast-based International Brigade Commemoration Committee. Main photo: Richard Baxell.

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