Modern Basque nationalism celebrates its 125 anniversary this year. In that distant 1893, Sabin Arana delivered his renowned speech to a group of friends, which turned into the springboard for Basque nationalism. The nuts-and-bolts of that address, the subject-matter, which caught on greatly, was superb, namely, we the Basques are not Spanish, neither French, and gaining independence should be the goal of the new political movement.
Despite the fact that the idea was a very good one, Arana was not its mastermind as in its formulation. As it is well known, he defined race and religion as the foundations for our Nation, sidelining language. Instead of following the Flemish and Catalan models, namely, language-based nationalisms, Sabin prioritized the Irish model, allocating language to the symbolic domain, and not to the very centre of his patriotic discourse. The consequences are well known: Basque nationalism, despite its profound impact in Basque society, has been unable to stop linguistic attrition, resulting in Basque significantly losing ground during the last 125 years.
The decade of 1950s saw the emergence of the movement EKIN, made up of young nationalists, who imbued the Basque nationalist discourse with an innovative concept: They did not assign any special value to race and religion, turning instead language into our main national feature. The groundbreaking point of view gradually opened its way in Basque society until it became an ideological mainstay of modern Basque nationalism. In present-day leftist or rightist Basque nationalism alike, hardly anyone will cite race or religion, with language taking on a prominence that it lacked 125 years ago, theoretically at least.
Another question is though the linguistic praxis of Basque nationalist parties, since most such parties and popular movements fail to assign a full priority to Basque nowadays. As brilliantly noted by Joxe Manuel Odriozola, the ethnic dimension prevails over the national dimension in their discourse. The Basque nationalist political parties are too cautious when it comes to our language, since they fear losing votes if they took strict positions in favour of our language. Some others consider that the language issue should not be emphasized until achieving independence, as if Basque were a hindrance or a burden in the path to gain independence.
Our group NAZIOGINTZA is not captive of votes; we are not constrained by any servitude to voice our opinion. Therefore we proudly proclaim the need for a new nationalism, one that will set Basque language at the centre of its discourse and political praxis, that will act consistently, one who holds the language as its main nation-building instrument, differentiating us from the Spanish and the French. A new nationalism providing Basque language with a national and practical dimension, well equipped, showing high standards of use, steering clear of an ethnic approach, a nationalism that will end our present-day diglossia status ASAP by means of everyday use. It will proclaim without hang-ups that Basque is the cornerstone of our collective identity, by proving it along operative lines, at a time when talking about identity is held almost as an offense… (Even at certain Basque nationalist circles)
The Country of Basque is our Nation, since Basque provides the name and substance to the Basque Country. The Country of Basque needs to live in Basque; failing that, it will not be the Country of Basque. Therefore, whoever acknowledges the Country of Basque, whoever wishes to be part of it, needs to live eventually in Basque across all spheres of live. That is precisely what discourages so many, not being ready to live in Basque; however, since it all boils down to determination and learning, one needs to learn well the language and get to use it efficiently. That should be the prime responsibility of anyone who feels Basque, all the more so when they claim to be Basque nationalists: GET TO LIVE FULLY IN BASQUE. We consider downright fraud a brand of Basque nationalism that does not hold Basque as an overriding concern in all domains; it is tantamount to whisky without alcohol. The group NAZIOGINTZA deems the fate of the Basque Country intrinsically linked to the future of Basque: as long as we bolster language, we bolster Nation. We consider that the way forward to underpin a future for the Basque nation and to take the relevant steps aimed at fulfilling its sovereignty.
We consider it necessary to engage in a thoughtful discussion over this topic, with our team being prepared to actively participate in that process.