Thought we’ve spoken on many occasions of the deep pro-European sentiment of the Basque who were committed to democracy and the sovereignty of our Nation, we’ve never dedicated an entry especially to the Europe Day. This is the day to remember the Schuman Declaration, made on May 9, 1950, and to celebrate the idea of a united Europe.
As we’ve said when discussing those “Basques who built Europe“; the role of the Basque Government, and its headquarters on Rue Marceau in París, in the first steps towards the construction of Europe; the role Lehendakari Aguirre played, and his contributions to the idea of a Europe of the Peoples… Indeed, our blog is full of references to the idea of a “United Europe of Free Peoples.”
But we believe this year is special, and that’s encouraged us to write this entry dedicated to Europe Day, an entry to again call for a “United Europe of Free Peoples.”
It’s special because, on the one hand, it’s the first year when the United Kingdom is, for all intents and purposes, outside Europe. Beyond easy comments like, “sucks for them,” the consequences are serious. They’re serious for Europe because it loses one of its main members; they’re serious for the United Kingdom, because they’re soon going to realize “it’s cold outside,” and serious for clearly pro-European nations, like Scotland, which has been removed from the EU against its will.
But this year is also special because the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought previously unthinkable scenarios front and center. Not since the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968 has Europe seen a situation like the one Ukraine is living through right now. The European Union is working hard to help Ukraine as a union. The same cannot be said regarding its measures to boycott Russia in its role as invader.
And that’s where we’re seeing the seams of Europe pulled tight. This is no doubt because we have not progressed far enough in dissolving the nation-states we come from in order to become an authentic United States of Europe, where citizens and nations (not states) are directly represented.
As we discussed a few years ago, in our response to an “American Jacobin“:
“…Nation-states have been, and are, something else. They are political structures created, usually without the backing of their citizens, by forgetting or indeed trampling the cultures that make it up (by force) to come under their power, finishing off any and all who stand up to that march…
…This is what has been known for years as the “Aguirre Doctrine,” in honor of the Lehendakari of the Basque Government. Nation-states, created as power-grabbing structures, denying any other reality that was not their own, and designed under the idea that “there can only remain one,” must disappear so that the citizens of Europe can recover all their individual and collective rights. And they must do so in benefit of both the natural national communities that existed before the nation-states beat them down and of a European democratic political structure that represents all Europeans and is in charge of governing common matters…»
Today is Europe Day, and as this year’s slogan says, “The future is in your hands.” Perhaps this crisis, or rather, these crises we’ve been subjected to over the last ten years will help us understand that the best (and perhaps only) way to guarantee our future and to protect the ideas and ideals that Europe represents requires creating a (truly) united Europe of (truly) free peoples.
Undoubtedly, we’re better off now than in the 1920s, when the first notions of a federal Europe began to be heard, and certainly better off than when Victor Hugo (the author and intellectual who wrote so well of the Basques), the one who forged the idea of the United States of Europe, presented it to the French National Assembly.
Today, on Europe Day, we pay homage to its anthem, the Ode to Joy, which is part of the 4th Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. We do so with the recording of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra and the Chorus of Bilbao.
Happy Europe Day, and our warmest wishes for a united Europe of free peoples.
Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa
Mirjam Mesak, soprano
Sofia Pavone, mezzosoprano
Richard Cox, tenor
Milan Siljanov, bass
Sociedad Coral de Bilbao
Erik Nielsen, conductor