Spanish Republican flags on the London South Bank

Last Saturday, July 15, more than 300 people, amongst them veteran members of the International Brigades, gathered in London to pay homage to all those who went to fight Franco in the 1930s.

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 Mussolini.

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.