Basque and Catalan Ethno-Nationalistic Movements


The society and community of Spain has gone through tremendous transformations over time immemorial. The particulate transformation that this paper is interested in spans the developments that have characterised the time frame of the Françoism and the Post Francoism eon to date. The paper will zero in other dynamics of the developments and transformation that have obtained in the socio-political and economic paradigms of Spanish society. In the bloody Spanish Civil War General Franco emerged victor and implemented a dictatorship regime. Francisco Franco ruled as an unchallenged tyranny of Spin after defeating the Republican Government in 1936-39 civil war. “His rule came with the declaration of an official termination of the hostilities of the first of April 1939 and renamed the republic into the Spanish State.” (Montserrat Guibernau 2004). His aim was also to distinguish the emergent rule from the precedent monarchy as well as the republic. Franco ruled Spain from the 1939-36 civil war up to his death in November 20 1975.


Ethnonationalism has long dominated debate in political science, international relations and related domains of historical and sociological knowledge and keen interest. The roots of ethnonationalism have also been put under spotlight with some scholars citing culture as the salient root as supposed to the notions of calculation. There seems to be resonating concurrence though on the recurrent form of ethnic mobilisation. The underlying patterns develop from the unleashing of counter ethnic mobilisation efforts which tend to fuel separatism. John Hargreaves (2003) compares the support of the regional rights of the Basque and Catalan ethnicities in the premise of Spanish Concessions of 1978 with the Francophone support for Quebec sovereignty after the failure of initial efforts by the federal to foster accommodation. What sticks out in the cited scenarios is that repressive government have turned out to be in fact catalysts for even more stern reactions and resistance in defense of separatist endeavors by native communities, nationalities and ethnicities.

The rule of Franco was marked by stern repressiveness. The autonomous communities of Spain, the Catalan, Basque and Galician were denied their right to their native languages despite their size. Franco, a Galician himself made Spanish the only official language across Spain and ensured that all communities adhered to the language decree. Stone Diane (2004) delineates that although Franco’s rule was repressive, the political ideological composition of the regime unfits the regime as classifiable as fascist. The scholar details the fascism grip society with acute aims of transforming society whereas the Franco regime had no society revolutionisation and transformation in their administrative and repressive agenda. The scholar has noted quite significantly that although Franco’s regime was authoritarian and autocratic, the regime remained traditional and conservative, true to core fundamentals of precedent socio-political fabrics. Stone Diane (2004) has noted that the salient marks of Franco’s repressive regime incorporated above all authoritarianism, nationalism as well as anti-freemasonry. In his thrust to contain the country of Spain as one national Fabric, Franco disdained and dissociated with the three ideologies enlisting communism, socialism as well anarchism. Franco’s regime got leverage and support from the then anti-communist countries like Russia.

Franco’s regime was marked by strong resistance to political liberty and liberalism. In his rule his political party Movimiento Naciaonal was the only official political party. From the commerce regulatory framework the Vertical Trade Union formed in 1940 was the only legal trade Union. The formation of the trade union was spurred and influence by the insights of Jose Antonio Prima De Reveria who perceived that the class struggle predicament could be solved by grouping workers together and employers in accordance with corporate principles.

In his thrust to keep ethnicities under the leash Franco ensured that all cultural activities were censored and “Many were vehemently forbidden various grounds which could be moral or political. Franco pursued acutely nationalist principles and political ideologies in his nationalist thrust the use of native language by citizens such as Catalan, Basque and Galician were discouraged at best prohibited at worst. What has characterised the Post Franco eon up to the 1978 concessions is also the relaxation of initially stringent cultural policy. Lenski G (1994) notes that Franco has instituted a very strict cultural policy, in light of the power of culture an cultural expression in a people’s quest and pursuit for identity and civil liberties. Lenski G (1994), states that the Spanish Transition over the years was marked by a significant relaxation of the cultural policy particularly notable after the 1960s. Nonetheless even after the 1960s cultural policy relaxations, all government, notarial, legal as well as commercial documents were drafted strictly in Spanish. “Those composed in any language(s) were regarded as null and void” (Lenski, G 1994)).

In order to meaning explore the developments that have characterised the Catalan and Basque movements and their Ethno-nationalistic movements together with their autonomous communities from the Franco year to date it is imperative to underscore the political ideological aspects among other aspects of the Franco regime. This is particularly important since the Franco regime its repressive nationalist thrust inspired dissent and protracted resistance from pro-ethno-nationalistic movements typified by the Basque and the Catalan movements.

Despite being self-proclaimed monarchist, Franco did not exude any lucid intent to rein On the Spaniards as king owing much to his severed ties with the legitimate heir of the kinship throne who was Don Juan Bourbon. Ruler Franco left the throne vacant. Lenski, G (1994) M. P. Cowen and R. W (1996) note that in his reign; Franco ruled as a de facto regent. In 1947 Franco declared Spain a Monarchy through the promulgation of the Ley de Sucesión en la Jefatura del Estado act. The ruler However still did not install a Monarch but only went as far as setting the basis for his successor. This the Franco did to boost his popularity with the monarchist groupings within his Movimiento agenda. To attest to the foregoing the ruler wore the captain-general regalia which is a rank conventionally designated to the King. Franco also dwelled in royal Pardo palace and assumed the kingly custom and norm of walking beneath a canopy. Also to boost his popularity Franco made sure most of the coins of his country’s currency bore his image. It is the comprehension of the certain key aspects of the Franco regime as outlined in the foregoing that the developments of the Catalan and Basque ethno-nationalistic movements can be further explored.

The explorations of the transformations of the Basque and Catalan autonomous nationalities are also well achieved through the outlining the relationship supposed and existent, between the state and society in the understanding of socio-economic and political developmental theories particularly for developing countries. The implied position underlying this thrust is the understanding that the influence of society on the state and vice versa is unavoidable. In effectively zero in on the explorations of the supposed relationship the two; the terms ‘state’ and ‘society’ must be defined. Various contributions have been advanced as the definitions of state.

Perhaps the most appropriate one which is used in mainstream domains is that which holds that a society is body of human individuals which is peculiarly marked by patterns of relationships between the individuals which have a common and distinctive culture and value systems (Jenkins 2001, p. 54). In this domain culture is also defined as a sum of a people’s values, beliefs, norms and traditions among various aspects that relate to who the people actually are as a group or as individuals.

Culture definitions that acknowledge the estate of a people’s culture as a result of various internal and external forces will be more valuable for the purposes of this tract. From a broader perspective society has been defined as an economic, social as well industrial ensemble where-in various people(s) live together. (Jenkins 2001, 54) The members of the society may be from a different ethnic group and in some case the entirety of a society may be a collection of a particular group of people such the English or the Jews, etc. In other cases the term can be used to refer to huge population domains like the western or African society in a general sense. In the conceptual and objectives precincts of this exploration the term has been used as reference to the body of human population which falls directly under a particular state and within precise geographical parameters called countries (Franz Oppenheimer, 2001). The ways in which the Franco regime (representative of state) impacted on society are illumine. The Franco regime arrested all cultural activity in its nationalism thrust which was holistically opposed to the nationalistic endeavors of the autonomous communities some of which were known as historic states such as Basque and Catalan.

The state held its culture as cultural hostages, denying them right of free expression. From a political parlance the state influence the mutation of a dictatorship which rendered the society cultural, politically and socially circumscribed among a host of other associative attributes. Much of the developments of the Basque and Catalan autonomous nationalities from the Franco era to date have thus been shaped by unrelenting quest for separatism fueled by the repressive nature of the Franco regime.

The state can be defined as a political association with working honor and independence over a particular geographical area. The association must be representative of a populace (Peter Laslett 2001, p. 16). The scholar further outlines that these may be nation states or sub-national states or in other cases multinational states. What is important is that the state constitutes institutions endowed with power to create rules that set the framework in which the society can be governed in a desired harmonious manner. From the onset the concept of governing in its own right is a means by which the state shapes the society. (Raymond Williams, 2002, p. 43).

One useful thrust in this study thrust is to explore the manner in which the social movements) society influenced the state as represented by the Franco Regime. Substantiate the notion that society does influence the state. This can be based on the underlying understanding that the governing institutions that constitute the state are formulated and framed within the culture confines and various value systems of the society within which they function. The society here can be the global society, especially in reference to the state institutions of mature western democracies whose state institutions and statutes are based on the classic cultural concept of universalism. Cultural Universalism holds that cultures originate in one point and thus are; and must be mutually compatible. The concept embraces the notion that there is one ideal model of human rights and a global way of doing things (Culture). Universalism lies in the core of contemporary human rights statutes (Raymond Williams, 2003, p. 43).

Universalism holds in it score that there is a foundation human union which regards all individuals are entitled to basic rights regardless of their race, origins and religious beliefs or otherwise. From another perspective cultural Relativists hold that cultures are intrinsically different; that the cultures of the world can not be thought to be compatible neither can they be blended (Peter Preston, 1996, p. 21). From the foregoing perspective, it can be noted how especially mature democratic states are shaped by the global society in the premise of human rights and also how the states prepare governing concepts based on the Human Rights Charter framework. Prior to the current post-modern era, The Franco regime represented the typically culturally traditional and reserved state. Despite exuding undisputable autocratic and arguably fascist political ideologies scholars have argued that Franco maintained profound cultural conservatism and traditionalism in the social and cultural fabric of his regime.

Notably the concepts also influence the conduct of the society and hence the flow of influence is mutual between the state and the society paradigms. In states that are categorised as cultural relativist, governing principles are formulated from the premise of ‘national’ culture with no particular regards for what global culture entails or stipulates. In this case the state is shaped by the national rather than the international society. In the case of the Franco regime, international pressure did not suffice to influence Franco towards amore politically liberal system of governance that honored civil liberties. This culminated in the isolation of Spain by Western economic powerhouses.

A few countries like Portugal remained loyal and did not sever ties with Spain despite growing international community stand-off. Karen I. Vaugh (1980) notes that at another level the Basque and Catalan nationalities were regarded as historic communities (autonomous) and were thus granted more self-control such that their regional governing bodies could set up own parliament and contribute in the determination of general and national election dates. The scholar further expresses that the transformation of the communities was marked by distinguished influence of the society on the regional governing authorities (regarded as state in the state-society influence exchange conceptual framework).

Another perspr ective holds that regardless of the tenets of the relativist cultural thrust; there is no state that is immune to global influence in the wake of contemporary sweeping phenomena such as globalisation and aspects like acculturation and cultural pluralism (Cowen, 1996, p. 12). The proponents of cultural relativism pose a towering challenge to the paradigm of the universality of norms. The proponents reinforce their rejection of the fundamental position that human rights are universal without any kind of exceptions. These have based their arguments by rejecting concepts of universality proponents who present that there is theoretical junction and intellectual logic in theories presented to anchor and support the universal international human rights law (Theodore, 1974, p. 26). These have thus maintained that national states as well as societies must be free from external influences arguing that each society is entitled to its own ways of doing things, defining and protecting human rights. (Lowi, Theodore, 1974, p 26) Societies are also susceptible to the state, whose formation and functionalities must constitute the influence of its subject society.

There can be drawn important illustrations on the part of the influence that state has own society. Explorations on this perspective are based on the notion that the state uses political power to acquire wealth and power while the society uses economic means to advance and consolidate itself (Wegener et al, 1994, p. 65). In the explorations of the Franco nationalist movements versus the Basque and Catalan nationalistic movements this notion has pitted the state as the enemy of society and vice versa. The state had power over its governing instruments, the judiciary, the legislature and the executive which invented main principles on the conduct of individuals and entities for the social, political, and economic and all aspects relatable to human existence.

There is a significant thrust at exploring how the commerce and business realms (societies) are shaped by the state through the principles of the state’s institutional authorities. Scholars such as Greenwood and Hinnings (Opcit) have posited that although state institutional impact on society is not generally viewed as providing a model of organizational and individual conduct but also provides an explanation of important issues of societal economic dynamics among many others. The state institutional theorists have shown why some organizational arrangements in Spain become wide spread across sector boundaries and why organisations under autocratic institutional pressures experience particular patterns of change leading up to the devolution of the repressive force in the late 1970s. The pathway related models must thus be construed in the manner in which they illustrate the paradigms of changes and pathway chosen in relation to various dimensions that are based on Franco’s autocratic regime’s features and characteristics.

It can be mentioned that the flow of influence between the state and the society is mutual. The shape and forms of state are nonetheless more dependent on the particular ideologies of the individual state heads who for one reason or the other subscribe to particular socio-political and economic ideologies. For instance if the state head is a typical dictator, the governing functionalities of the state will acutely and highly be repressive, this has encompassing implications for the subject society. The conduct of societies, their values their aspirations, their social, economic and political activities are determined by the issues of where the state has left them with regards to the accomplishment of their ultimate goals of freedom and progression in all aspects of life (Jenkins, R, 2001, p. 24). Notably the state is in turn shaped by the pressures coming from a society that will not cease to pursue its profound goals.

The dependence theory of development on the other end comes as direct contrast to the import of the modernisation theory. Modernisation Theory holds that development and underdevelopment are determined by internal conditions within each economy pressing for partnership between the developed and underdeveloped, the dependency model of development on the other end holds that development comes from underdevelopment and that underdevelopment comes from development. The model thus is proponent to the philosophically Marxist ideas that advocate for the cutting of ties between the developed and underdeveloped countries such that the underdeveloped may focus on the internal matters to drive internal growth. An example of policies based on this model is the Import Substitution Industrialisation policy. Such a policy is feasible for protecting a developing economy on dimensions of international trade which can be plagued by ills such as currency volatility, unpredictable financial markets, etc (Lenski, G. 1974, p. 31). The Imports Substitution Industrialisation policy can be adopted by developing countries concerned most about cushioning themselves from the upheavals in global markets yet the theory does not provide much on concepts needed for multi-dimensional societal development.

The definitions of development have dominated debates in various academic and circles. Largely the meaning of the term depends on who is defining it. The western model leverages on the aspects of technological development with no particular stress on values and culture and thus, especially African views on development have been downplayed by the technology stressing definitions. In line with the foregoing renowned Africa philosopher and author Ngugi Wa’thiongo asserts the so called mature democracies hail their progress in matters of technology yet through the capitalist economic approaches, they still practice what he classifies as social cannibalism and in this conceptual premise he presents a critiquing of the pro-technology limited perspective on the broad concepts of societal development (Jenkins, R, 2001, p. 24). Scholars like Ngugi would argue therefore that societies can still be held as highly developed in consideration of their cultural and social values systems that foster egalitarianism and equal distribution of a society’s resources irrespective of levels of the particular society’s technological development. Montserrat Guibernau (2004); states that there is resonating debate on the role of Franco as ruler. According to the scholar Franco was renowned for maintaining the values and traditions of modern Europe and the argument stems from that is that despite causing the arrest of the economic development of the autonomous communities in the early years of the Francoism regime, Franco managed to preserve the traditional value systems of modern Europe social Fabric.

The defining objective was to pacify separatist drives and thus enervate the far-right. The development led to a highly decentralised nation which surpasses by the far earlier national establishments’ of the central Françoist Regime and its precedents.

One of the salient and mainstream theories of development is the modernization theory which holds that developing countries may take significant cues from the states and processes that the countries which belong to the developed world went through. In its core the theory holds that developing countries must follow the development processes and methodologies of the develop countries. Thinkers like Walt Rostow and A.F.K. Organski came up with stages of development through which every country goes through in the long process of development. The contributions of Rostow came through his popular book, “The Stages of economic Growth” which was authored in defense of free enterprise model of economics particularly for developing countries.

From another angle the modernisation theory has been relished by contributions form Samuel Huntington who presented development as a linear process that every country must go through. Developing countries have to draw form the celebrated contribution of foregoing insights which are antithetical to Classical Liberalism in their view of the state as a central player well suited to facilitate development especially in developing countries (Jenkins, R, 2001, p. 24).

Unlike the models of socialism and communism which vest much power on the people (populace) modernisation places the government at the centre to drive to multi-dimensional societal development. This places an inalienable onus and impetus for development on the state and hence governing authorities in developing countries must be the leading and the most active players in the efforts to bring about significant societal development. Despite the severed ties between Spain and Western powers, Franco’s regime maintained anti-communist stances which enable the socio-economic development of the Basque and Catalan nationalities (communities) in tandem with the outlined theory of modernisation. M. P. Cowen and R. W (1996) note that the regional bodies of government assumed the responsibility of social and economic progression instead of vesting the onus and power of developmental thrust on the populace in typical communist and socialist societal establishments.

In this phase in the Spain transition he country experienced what has been dubbed, The Spanish Miracle which is term ascribed to Spain economic boom of the period spanning 1959-1973. In this eon Spain exceeded the per capita income which separated developed countries from the underdeveloped or developing countries. The cited scholars that the boom was boosted by economic reforms modeled by the so called ‘technocrats’ installed by Franco. The technocrats are said to have out in place neo-liberal development policies from the International Monitory Fund (IMF). The scholar notes that the developments of the Basque and Catalan autonomous communities was also characterised by the dissipation of the isolationism Falangist guard.


One salient dimension of the modernisation model which is particularity significant for the developing countries is the education aspect pulled in through the contributions of Talcott Parsons’ functional sociology who outlined the properties that differentiate ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ societies. In his sociological thrust Parsons holds the aspect of education as key and indispensable in the quest to create modern individuals and societies. The foregoing insights are based on the understanding that the introduction of technology in developing economies will catalyse change and hence the central importance of the education aspect. This thrust is biased towards the theories and ideas of development. Observes that in pursuit of multidimensional a progression the transformations of the autonomous Basque and Catalan states from the past eons enlisting the Francoist reign tapped in the merits of education which significant contributed to the form of typical modern societies the communities are today.

The Autonomous Community is the initial first level political framework defining the units of the Kingdom of Spain which was set in tandem with the Spanish Constitution. The constitution of Spain recognises the rights of the ‘regions and nationalities’ to own government while also declaring the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation. Spain is made up of 17 autonomous communities which their own regional governing bodies responsible for the governing and running of public services like schools, universities, health as well as social work and services. The regional government is also responsible for the running of the rural and urban development where in some regional government cater for policing in some communities. Additionally to the Spanish Kingdom, there are two separate cities. The communities and the two cities all amount to an outstandingly decentralized country. Montserrat Guibernau (2001) notes the level of decentralisation in the County of Spain is such that government expenditure account for just 18% of public spending while the regional government account for up to 38%, on the other hand the councils account to about 13% leaving the proportion to the social security system.

The models and influence of centralism, separatism and nationalism had a significant role in eth Spanish historical transition. In the late 1970s there were growing fears that separatism would deteriorate into mammoth instability triggering a dictatorial backlash quell the fear a compromise was reached among the key political formations which took part in the drafting of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.


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