Territory and Terror: Conflicting Nationalisms in the Basque Country

By Jan Mansvelt Beck | Go to book overview

6

Euskadi as a weak proto-state

The fragmentation of Basque society

'Basque society' is a much-frequented point of reference in the narratives of politicians of all orientations south of the Pyrenees. Basque society is often presented as a personalized symbol as if it were a human being with ideas, opinions and a concrete pattern of behaviour. When ETA abolished its cease-fire on 29 November 1999 it wanted 'to communicate its analysis and decision to Basque society'. On the same day PNV's president of the Basque Autonomous Community, Ibarretxe, assured the public that 'Basque society would no longer tolerate a scene of violence' (El País 29 November 1999). Gara, the radical nationalist newspaper, stated that 'in the educational sphere we are suffering from the most important hispanizing aggression of this country, although Basque society has repeatedly opted for education in Euskera' (23 May 2001). Previously, Otegi, spokesman for the radical nationalists, argued that 'Basque society has to lay a proposal on the table … in favour of the rights of the prisoners' (Gara 5 June 2001). Moreover, politicians of 'Spanish' parties like PP or PSOE often claim that 'Basque society' has opinions or sentiments that may be more pluralist than the imagined societal feelings of the nationalists. In Deia on 12 February 2001, the socialist leader Redondo wanted to underline that it is possible to build a Basque country but that he denounced a nationalism that gave 'a [false; JMB] uniform and static image of the Basque society'. Evidently, the personalized 'Basque society' feels and thinks differently about politics according to the political affiliation of the spokesperson. Speaking in the name of all Basques is thus not only a feature of radical nationalists of ETA, as assumed by Zulaika and Douglass (1996:57) or Wieviorka (1997:312), but also an almost daily feature of the rhetoric of both Spanish Basque and Spanish politicians. Under the surface of the nationalist imagery of a unified and homogeneous people there has always been internal debate and tension about the political line to be followed. A multitude of splinter groups emerged from ETA during the 1959-86 period, reflecting the organization's internal struggles (Sullivan 1988), and after recent schisms within Batasuna the 'Aralar' and 'Zutik' movements can be added to these. The PNV, the nationalist party that attracted the most votes, also has a history of internal disputes and secessions.

These allusions to fragmentation will be developed in two directions. In the first

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Territory and Terror: Conflicting Nationalisms in the Basque Country
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures x
  • Tables xi
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The French-Basque Experience 19
  • 3 - The Spanish-Basque Experience 41
  • 4 - Euskal Herria 77
  • 5 - Basque Nationalism 97
  • 6 - Euskadi as a Weak Proto-State 126
  • 7 - The Spatial Dimension of Violence 176
  • 8 - Conflict Solutions 205
  • Conclusion 225
  • Bibliography 233
  • Index 253
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