Basque Nationalism and Political Violence: The Ideological and Intellectual Origins of ETA (Paperback)


by Cameron Watson.
(Occasional Papers Series, no. 14).

This work seeks to interrogate the relationship between ideas and action through a historical account of how images of violence and warfare pervaded the discourse of Basque nationalism—principally through the parameters of the hegemonic Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV or Basque Nationalist Party)—from its foundation in the 1890s through the mid-twentieth century. Ultimately, it argues that a culture of political violence emerged within the Basque nationalist movement that eventually resulted in the creation of ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna, Basque Country and Freedom) in 1959. However, the undertone of violent struggle in substate Basque nationalism was itself a response to the aggressive statist nationalism of Spain, a country whose problematic transition to modernity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries engendered multiple forms of social, political, and structural violence within its own borders and beyond. The work views Basque political violence, then, as the contemporary manifestation of a past cultural experience, based on a problematic dialogue with the emergence of modern Spain. Yet it does not limit its explanation of ETA’s emergence to the Spanish context alone. Rather, it emphasizes the transnational context in which nationalist movements emerge and develop. Specifically, in the Basque case, and at varying times, the national struggles of Cuba, Morocco, and Ireland were extremely influential. Moreover, the immediate origins of ETA were strongly influenced by post–World War II intellectual currents, from existentialism to the liberating theories of anticolonial nationalist movements.

332 pp., index; paper (ISBN 978-1-877802-76-8), $29.95.

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