Bob Doyle's 2006 Irish tour - his speech
I have prepared something to say to you all, but I’m not as strong as I used to be, so I will read what I can, but please bear with me if I hand over to my comrade Harry Owens, should I need to. I’d like to tell why I’m here.
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, when young poets, like Byron in Greece, fought and died in a foreign land for a noble cause. Perhaps you have come to see me, a decrepit romantic relic. But I am not here to indulge in emotional memories, though I have many memories of comrades and events that affect me deeply.
I am not here to make you sad with tragic recollections of a heroically fought war, or to make you happy with my survival into old age.
I am here to make you 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.
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 captialism, like Chavez 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.
Speech given by Bob Doyle, September 16th. 2006 at his Belfast book launch in the John Hewitt
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