Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Steve Fullarton;- The Last Surviving Scottish International Brigader Dies

The last surviving Scot to have fought in the Spanish Civil War has passed away in an Edinburgh care home at the age of 87. Steve Fullarton was one of several hundred Glaswegians who travelled to Spain to fight the Fascists led by General Franco. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve in a commemoration of the Battle of the Ebro three years ago, I was struck by his immense fortitude and good humour staying chipper and cheery despite a gruelling sun beating down on us throughout the lengthy ceremonies and speeches.
The contribution of the International Brigades to the fight against Fascism in the 1930's was one of the greatest examples of International working class Soldarity of all time. Volunteers from 52 countries came to the assistance of Spain's government forces who were facing defeat by the fascists of General Franco. Among the International Brigades were several thousand British, among those around 500 Scots and a high proportion of those Glaswegians - like Steve Fullarton who travelled to Spain from his home in Shelttleston at the age of 18. Speaking in 2003, he said: "I was angry at what I saw in the newsreels, the bombing in Spain, so it was a short step for me to go from collecting food to volunteer for the International Brigades and that is how I became involved."
Steve was shot in the leg during the battle of Ebro but recovered. He passed away at the age of 87 on Friday. However, 65 of his fellow Glaswegians perished in Spain fighting a war they believed was between right and wrong, between democracy and totalitarianism.
The statue of the Republican heroine Dolores Ibarruri or La Pasionaria stands at Glasgow's Custom House Quay. As the last of the International Brigade left Barcelona, she bade them farewell and thanked them for their efforts. She said "You can go with pride. You are history. You are legend...we will not forget you."
Comrade Fullarton's funeral will take place in Edinburgh on Friday.


Martin Spillane said...

Some Remarks On Yet Another Anticommunist Article Concerning Communist Solidarity With The Spanish Republic In The Spanish Civil War

This is a reference to the article by Flynn in the right-wing American Spectator here. It is an anticommunist attack on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade memorial unveiled in San Francisco on March 30, 2008.

Conservative and liberal criticisms of the International Brigades normally focus their attack on the fact that the Communist International and the Soviet Union, lead by Stalin at the time, were by far the major force supporting the Republic generally. This is usually collapsed into something like "the International Brigades were fighting for Stalin," as Flynn does here.

I have written a little about this issue in some earlier publications. In 2003 I dealt with some of the arguments often marshaled by anticommunists in my review of Ronald Radosh's book Stalin Betrayed. In 2004 I discussed "Fraudulent Anti-Communist Scholarship From A "Respectable" Conservative Source: Prof. Paul Johnson."

In the March 2005 issue of The Volunteer I published a letter on what I see as a shamefaced attitude about the leading role of the Soviets and Stalin* himself.

In February 2008 I reviewed Cecil Eby's book Comrades and Commissars: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War (2007) in The Volunteer. Eby abandons all attempt at objectivity in order to give free rein to his strong anticommunist biases. As I show, this ruins his research.

In March 2008 I published a lengthy examination of the death of Oliver Law, commander of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion for four days in July 1937 and object of a racist smear by a number of anticommunists. I showed that this story is a fabrication -- in plain language, a lie -- made up by William Herrick and eagerly swallowed and repeated by anticommunist journalists and "researchers" who never bothered to look for the evidence.

But the "anti-Stalin" issue requires a lot more scrutiny.

The conservative, liberal, left-liberal, Trotskyist, and Fascist political interpretations of the Spanish Civil War (SCW) all agree in one respect: their assessment of Stalin. According to all of them, Stalin was bad, bad, BAD. And therefore, everything "he" did was "evil". This is Flynn's view, but it's not his alone. It is common to writers and historians of all these viewpoints -- conservative, liberal, left-liberal, Trotskyist, Fascist. And many Marxists have been persuaded, intimidated, or otherwise convinced to accept and repeat this interpretation.

And so the International Communist Movement (ICM) was "evil", since Stalin headed it. And everything the ICM did was "evil" too -- including support for the Spanish Republic. In this false view the International Brigades were, at best, "dupes", fighting for a little "Stalinist dictatorship" in Spain instead of for an independent liberal capitalist Republic.

There is, of course, much more to say about this, and in my view a discussion of this subject would be a healthy and potentially useful thing. In such a discussion I would insist that there is no reason to apologize for the leading role of the USSR and Stalin's important support.

Since the end of the Soviet Union a huge number of formerly secret Soviet documents have been published, mainly in Russia. This evidence shows that most of the anti-communist, and specifically anti-Stalin, allegations that have long been taken as "proven" are, in reality, not true.

For example, Nikita Khrushchev’s infamous "Secret Speech" of 1956 is a complete fabric of falsehoods. Not a single allegation Khrushchev made in that Speech is true.

And that is just the beginning. Specifically, many, or most, or perhaps even all, of the accusations and allegations made against the communist parties, the Soviets, and Stalin, concerning their actions during the SCW are false.

Nobody's perfect, and the IBs, communists, Soviets, and Stalin weren't, either. That they made errors is a given. No human endeavor is without error.

However, the Soviets, the Red Army advisors, the NKVD, and the IBs, all acted responsibly. Specifically:

* The communists did NOT prevent a social revolution from taking place in Spain in the 1930s, as alleged by many anarchists and Trotskyists, including George Orwell.
* The anti-Trotsky campaign was based on the reality that Trotsky was collaborating with Germany and Japan, as alleged by defendants such as Karl Radek in the Moscow Trials. There is lots of information about this now.
* Nazi and Franco agents did indeed participate in the planning of the "May Days" revolt in Barcelona in 1937.
* The Soviets did not "rob" the Spanish Republic, as alleged by Gerald Howson, by taking far more value in gold than the military goods and services it rendered.
* R�my Skoutelsky’s research has shows that there is NO evidence that Andr� Marty ever shot anybody, or had anyone shot, in Spain at all. Yet Anthony Beevor’s recent and highly dishonest book The Battle for Spain repeats the old falsehoods that Andr� Marty was the "butcher of Albacete" and had 500 people shot (p. 161), though Beevor has no evidence for any of it! (Marty was the Communist International's political leader of the international forces fighting for Spain).

Flynn’s article goes far beyond slandering the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the International Brigades, the international communist movement, and Stalin personally to include Harry Bridges, W.E.B. DuBois, and Paul Robeson in his attack. In this view all of these men, and many others, were "communist dupes", or something. As, according to this view, are the historians like Peter Carroll whose writings, while balanced, fail to condemn the IBs.

Articles like Flynn’s have currency and influence because there is little attempt to refute the falsehoods – particularly those falsehoods that concern the Soviet Union’s role -- which he cites as fact. It would be good to discuss this question.

Grover Furr


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