Ethnicity and violence : the case of radical Basque nationalism
The aim of this thesis is to study the role of ethnicity in ETA's 35 year campaign of political violence. I argue that both Francoism and a long tradition of Basque radical nationalism are important in understanding ETA's emergence. In this tradition Spain and the Spaniards (regardless of their political regime) are blamed for the continuous decline of the Basque nation. In order for the Basque nation to return to its glorious Golden Age, it is argued, the Basques need to expel the Spaniards using whatever means are necessary. I maintain that Basque radical nationalism precedes ETA by at least 60 years. It was the founder of Basque nationalism, Sabino Arana, who looked nostalgically at the Basque past and first proposed a racially pure Basque nation with his motto 'Euzkadi is the land of the Basques'. He also drew on a previous tradition of myths, memories and symbols which depicted Basques as a chosen and noble people who spoke a divine language. All these myths, which gave the Basques a distinct sense of identity, were mobilised by Arana in order to construct a radical project for the secession of the Basque Country. The nationalist discourse they created was based on a Basque Golden Age which was followed by a long period of decline caused by Spaniards. Finally, a renewal of the nation would come when Basques achieved their political independence. This radical discourse was in a minority until 1968 when ETA committed its first killing. However, Francoist repression 'proved' to all Basques that Arana was right: the Basques were oppressed by the Spaniards and in order to be free they needed to get rid of the Spaniards, by violent means if necessary. Following the teachings of Sabino Arana, members of ETA started a campaign to liberate the glorious Basque nation from the decadent Spanish nation. By promoting a Manichean dichotomy between Basques and Spaniards, ETA managed to use violence as an effective ethnic boundary. Nowadays, radical Basque nationalism has an estimated support of 13% of the Basque electorate. There is nothing to suggest that this is going to change radically in the short-term.