Sunday, 21 October 2012

A company of heroes...

'A company of heroes......' Familiar with the Christy Moore song? Northamptonshire Libraries have invited me to launch my book 'Geordie's Story-the Life of Jack Brent'in the Carnegie Room at the Central Library in Abington Street on Sunday November 4th at 2pm. The small book is about my uncle Geordie,who was born in 1912 and died ,aged 39 in 1951. He was brought up in a wee village in South West Scotland, ran away to join the army,ran away from that,drifted through the depression in the 1930's and was wounded badly in a military engagement. Not a lot different from thousands of younf men, well that's true except he was wounded by a machine gunner in February 1937 in the defence of Madrid in Spain. Geordie was just one of many thousands from all over the world that volunteered to fight in the International Brigade in the defence of the elected Spanish government against the fascist insurgents led by General Franco. He was what we now call a premature anti-fascist. It is likely that the machine gunner was a German or an Italian, practising skills that they would later use all over Europe. It was during the Spanish Civil war that the fascists perfected the tactics that they would later use all over Europe.From the blitzkrieg to saturation bombing of civilian towns. Franco had no hesitation in calling on his fascist allies as well as his mercenaries from North Africa to destroy the Spanish Republic and it's legally elected Socialist government. Geordie was an ordinary working class guy, with little formal education but a clear understanding that fascism was the greatest threat to mankind. I'm not naive enough to believe that World war two could have been stopped outside Madrid, but what is clear is that had the west not believed that non-intervention and appeasement was the route then the fascists could have been delayed, and the world might have been better equipped to confront the fascist tide. The men and women who went to Spain went with no illusions, they didn't go for money or power or even glory.They went in solidarity with the people of Spain.It was a simple act of solidarity and internationalism. There were of course weaknesses within the progressive forces, the internecine conflicts between the Communists,the Trotskyists and the Anarchists did hinder the anti-fascist struggle. Yet they fought with astonishing bravery and showed a unity of purpose undimmed after seventyfive years. Geordie when he returned struggled with enormous pain for the rest of his short life.Yet despite endless hospitalisation he managed to be a Communist Party activist,managed or organise Londoners to occupy the tube stations during the blitz and as the General Secretary of the International Brigade Association campaign to free Brigaders in internment camps all over occupied Europe,save the lives of many imprisoned comrades and ensure that the British Government used the skills and experience of former Brigaders in the British army. Times have changed, and the possibility of such interventions are not really relevant any more.I remember many years ago when as an ardent young communist I was part of a group who wanted to go and fight alongside the National Liberation Front in Vietnam.We met a delightful representative of the NLF who thanked us very gently but pointed out that the Vietnamese people could really manage without us,but extra medical aid would be appreciated! Some might argue that the young jihadists who volunteer to fight in the Middle East are part of that tradition. I think not,whilst it is right to get rid of autocratic dictatorships it is not a progressive move to replace them with theocratic dictatorships.To attempt to kill a child because she wants to go to school just about sums up the monstrousness. Internationalism is no longer a question of armed struggle,but never has the world needed an internationalism more. The capitalist system is the most organised and systematic international power ever created.Capital can move its resources and power at a whim with the press of a button. We need to be able to do the same,when the powerful cabal decide to close a factory here and open one elsewhere we need to be able to mobilise,not just the workers in one factory-but worldwide and simultaneously. Effective communication is now possible, and international solidarity is essential.I have been impressed by the growth and resilience of the worldwide Occupy Movement. That is the new internationalism,that is the lesson we must try and take forward from the struggle back then. And perhaps to give more hope, what was the slogan thosebrave young women wore in Moscow when challenging Putin and the theocracy? No Paseran! Look forward to continuing this discussion on the 4th of November-its free!


  1. scroll down to john dickies block of 25 aug makes,better reading.

  2. Don't I even get capital letters on my own f**king blog!
    (Asterisks to spare your f**king blushes!)

  3. Quite interesting john, i wondered what your geordie book was about. As to your blogg above, it was going well for me untill you mentioned shutting factories. The worst one for this was a socialist called john prescott as deputy pm he pushed through auto planning consent on brown field sites.This shut just about every factory in the UK and tipped millions out of work because the asset was worth a lot more once you'd dumped the workforce element. How can he have been so stupid as to have done this?

    There is of course another book called geordie, and a film that had alistair simm in it.

  4. Anon,
    The book is a biography of my uncle George who fought in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republican Government.
    Whilst I have always had my doyubts about the socialist credentials of Lord Prescott I think it a bit harsh to blame him for the nature of international capitalism.

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  6. Can I announce with pleasure that my biography of my uncle Geordie is now published 'Geordie's Story' The life of Jack Brent and is available from Waterstones in Northampton,Pend books in Whithorn and on Amazon.
    £5.00 plus £2.00 p&p.