ABSTRACT

At the end of this long journey through the historical scenarios of the Basque contention and its prolegomena since the 17th century, the present seems to have recovered the past: the nature of the Basque contention in the second decade of the 21st century is not too different from the situation at the end of the 19th century, when Basque nationalism transformed an ethno-particularist identity into a socio-political movement grounded in the claim of indivisible Basque sovereignty. As the reader will remember, one of the guiding premises of this book was the rejection of the one-dimensional interpretation of the Basque contention as basically a problem of political violence. Instead, I suggested understanding the concept of Basque contention as a multi-facetted longue-durée conflict with, at least, three overlapping, but not identical dimensions. The political dimension referred to the key issue at stake, first formulated by the founder of the Basque Nationalist Party at the end of the 19th century, i.e. the claim shared by significant sectors of Basque society to be bearers of, and united by, certain ethnic, cultural and historical characteristics different from the Spanish and French, and that this particular national idiosyncrasy legitimated the Basque nation’s right to self-determination and politico-administrative independence. This political dimension immediately triggered the social dimension, as this nationalist-reductionist vision of a homogeneous nation and its struggle against Spanish (and French) subjugation clashed with the more complex reality of a pluralistic society in which different patterns of identity and ideology competed for social hegemony. This identitarian pluralism resulted in the need to broker a Basque consensus on the desired shape and scope of Basque self-government as an indispensable pre-condition for any further negotiation with the states. Finally, with the rise of violent nationalism in 1968 a third ethical dimension arose over the question of the legitimacy of the use of violence for the achievement of political goals.