The Article written by Hasier Arraiz in BERRIA on July 20 has received many answers (Pako Sudupe, Xabier Muguruza….) and NAZIOGINTZA also wishes to give our opinion. Although in his article Arraiz mentions various ideas, we will focus on what he affirms regarding identity, although the use of the term “disloyal” does not seem appropriate to us either.
It seems good and healthy for Arraiz to mention any of the gaps that his political party has (although he does not implicitly say so, that is how we interpret it). Moreover, being Arraiz the former spokesman for SORTU and a prominent activist of that political party, we should consider his opinions a reflection of what is brewing inside that party. We must confess, however, that we do not know if those opinions are the official line of SORTU or just the ideas of a party member. Yes, it seems that Arraiz criticizes SORTU’s policy regarding the Basque language, but that criticism does not direct it to a specific political cause: “Suddenly Basque has disappeared from the agenda and the centre of the political debate,” he tells us.
But has Basque disappeared from the agenda on its own? Is there no politician responsible for it ? To give an example, does Arnaldo Otegi, who in his Twitter account recommended for this holiday to read four books, all four in Spanish, have no political responsibility? We already know that nobody throws stones at their own roof, but the criticism should have been more specific.
On the other hand, some of Arraiz’s proposals are interesting: “a powerful network is very necessary to be able to live life through the Basque language. A network that permits the use of Basque in different areas of life and that puts at the centre of our lives the need to live through Basque. If today, Basque is not at the centre of our lives, if Basque is not at the centre of the public space of Euskal Herria (the Basque Country), hardly anyone will feel the need to use the language”.
We totally agree. Similarly, we positively value the invitation to work and increase the social prestige of Euskera: “all the institutions of our country have responsibility for this task: the educational system, the business world, sports groups (and especially sports companies), social groups, the world of science and technology, the media, the cultural industry, and so on.” Still, for us that is not enough. In daily political activity, the Basque language must have recognition and be defended. To cite an example, the movement to euskaldunise the health system “Aintzat” needs public support, and there the PNV and SORTU have a big job to do. We have been demanding the same thing for a long time with regard to defending the Basque national sports teams.
In order to do all that, Arraiz asks for a great change of parameters: “I bring the Basque language to the centre of the debate, I place it in those parameters, away from the identity axis, or at least not only based on it”. Let’s see, “away from the identity axis” or “not only based on it” are not synonymous, with which are we to agree? In fact, when in 2011 the armed struggle disappears and SORTU takes a new strategic line, the one that prioritises “accumulation of forces” and “pluralism”, it is at base underestimating the national identity, and that for a colonised people (not that we know if they admit that we are colonised) is the beginning of their death. Therefore, in NAZIOGINTZA we do not admit any parameter distant from the identity axis.
Arraiz also speaks about the composition of the Community, but when mentioning the characteristics of that Community, the SORTU member uses the aforementioned phrase: “away from the identity axis, or at least not only based on it”. What Community do we want to create? What national community can be created without identity? From our current political community without sovereignty we also want to remove our identity? What are all these complexes to talk about identity? In our opinion, colonised peoples should not have so many qualms to talk about identity.
We do not understand the treatment that a sector of Basque nationalism wants to give to the central column of our nationality, that is, to our language. It seems that they want to turn our language into a simple means of communication devoid of identity and feeling. Give it a simple instrumental value. But for us, it is evident that Basque is much more than that. Euskera is the element that gives us a separate identity (it makes us Euskaldunes), but also a collective identity: Euskal Herria is the People of Euskera. The fundamental element that makes us Nation. Because Euskera, in short, gives Euskal Herria a name and essence.
Therefore, Basque is not a simple instrument of communication, such as English (lingua franca) or Esperanto, but the fundamental element that gives personality to our people. Let us remember the words of Txillardegi (1966): “What does Euskal Herria do? What gives you your own personality? What does our Nation do? What sets us apart? What gives us the Basque soul? Basque language, and nothing else. ”
We cannot share, therefore, Arraiz’s proposition, the proposition that he wants to “move away from the identity axis.” To deny identity is to deny our national essence, and we do not share that. On the contrary, we say loudly and without complexes that Basque language gives us individual and collective identity. Attempting to give Basque a simple instrumental value is a great mistake, and this explains why, for example, many of the young people who learn Basque in school show so little use of Basque in the street, because of neglect of their motivation.
For NAZIOGINTZA, any member of a colonized people who is aware of that colonization must first of all weaken all their ties with the coloniser, and – as far as possible – break them. And for this, the most direct path is to recover the marginalised and oppressed language, and organise their own communication in that language, always following a clear national line.