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Brittany. Breizh. Nationalism in Brittany: left and right, cultural, political. Territorial integrity. One of the major complaints by all the Breton parties and movements has concerned the territorial integrity of Brittany.

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brittany

Brittany

Breizh

territorial integrity
Territorial integrity
  • One of the major complaints by all the Breton parties and movements has concerned the territorial integrity of Brittany.
  • During the occupation 1940-44, the Petain government divided the historical Brittany into two parts.
  • No French government has ever reunited these two ‘regions’ into its original form.
  • The old capital of Brittany Nantes is no longer in Brittany.
the return of nationalism after wwii
The return of nationalism after WWII
  • In the immediate aftermath of the war, nothing seems to have remained of the earlier nationalist ambitions.
  • The mainstay of Breton culture was its traditionalist base, which was now collapsing under the weight of social change and reform as well as economic restructuring.
  • As we have seen, political nationalism did not take root in the post-war period, but cultural versions of ‘nationalism’ did.
  • Although, the indifference of the State, and lack of interest of the population at large were serious obstacles.
the return of nationalism after wwii1
The return of nationalism after WWII
  • In fact, within this domain, there were two conflicting groups:
  • Those who wanted to promote traditional culture in the way it had been pre-war (pardons, fest-noz)
  • And those who wished to use traditional culture as a vehicle for promoting a sense of Breton nationalism.
the return of nationalism after wwii2
The return of nationalism after WWII
  • As we have seen, the post-war period eventually saw the creation of several nationalist or quasi-nationalist movements in the political sphere, culminating in the late 60s and early 70s with the FLB.
  • The rebirth of political nationalism in Brittany can be dated to the mid 50s with the return of Yann Fouéré.
  • He instigated the movement known as the M.O.B.
  • Yann Fouere (1910-2011) had been in exile in Ireland, and had recently been acquitted of charges made following the war.
the mob
The MOB
  • Le Mouvement pour l’Organisation de la Bretagne
  • 1957
  • It was more of a movement than a political party.
  • It stood for a Federalist France.
  • Its membership was very diverse: Gaullist, regionalist, nationalist.
  • After 1964 it became more radicalised, after many younger members formed the UDB.
  • Nations proletaires v nations bourgeoises
the return of nationalism after wwii3
The return of nationalism after WWII
  • MOB perhaps inevitably in the climate of the 1950s seems in its heyday conservative and certainly not separatist.
  • The emphasis was largely on institutional reforms within the French State rather than major social reforms.
  • Its major mistake was not to align itself with the agricultural sector, where most of the political life of Brittany was centred.
  • By 1964 however the movement had split into two factions.
the emsav
The Emsav
  • The word Emsav is used in Brittany to refer to the various political and cultural movements that especially characterize the pre-war and post-war periods in Brittany.
  • Much of the Emsav’s activities in the 60s and 70s centred around music (fest-noz), dances, and language (learning Breton).
  • Breton language magazines, journals (Al Liamm, Bleun Brug, Ar Falz).
  • Ar Falz was anti-nationalist and pro-Republican.
  • Per-Jakez Helias.
u d b
U.D.B.
  • The Breton Democratic Union (Unvaniezh Demokratel Breizh, Union Démocratique Bretonne) is the main autonomist and regionalist party in Brittany (Bretagne administrée) and Loire-Atlantique.
  • It advocates devolution for Brittany as well as the promotion of the Breton language and its associated culture.
slide15
UDB
  • It was founded mainly by young people in 1964 who wanted a party that would be both ‘Breton and socialist’.
  • Until the 1970s the party was on the extremes of the socialist range. Their analysis of Brittany was one that saw Brittany as an internal colony of France.
  • They were however very critical of the FLB (1968-1972) describing the actions of the latter as ‘adventurism’.
  • The party really grew in the 1970s, but at the same time they became more centrist in political terms.
slide16
UDB
  • By the end of the 1970s they moved noticeably further away from the Emsav with its traditionalism, and sought to find new members in the ranks of the traditional left.
  • By allying themselves with socialists and communists, they managed to gain a few seats in town elections.
  • In so doing the victory of the socialist Francois Mitterand in 1981 was politically a challenge for the UDB which had now less emphasis on its nationalist roots.
  • In 1984, a faction left the party and formed Frankiz Breizh.
slide17
UDB
  • Despite this setback, the party revived by the end of the 80s.
  • In the 1990s it really began to make some progress.
  • In the regional elections it obtained 4% of the vote. (not much!)
  • The UDB changed its ideology to one that emphasised Europe, the environment, and Brittany as well in an optimist way. Talk of Brittany as a colony went, and Brittany became for them a developing post-colonial people.
slide18
UDB
  • By 2001, the party now had some 100 municipal councillors, often second choices using the French list system of voting.
  • Given the political climate in the decades following the WWII, the UDB is considered a ‘respectable’ party.
  • The reaction of other Breton political and cultural formations to the UDB is often very critical.
slide19
UDB
  • In the regional elections held in 2004, the UDB gained three seats which was quite a breakthrough.
  • In 2010 they won four seats as well in the Regional Council of Brittany.
  • More on the Conseil regional de Bretagne later.
  • That said, it should be noted that
direct action the flb right then left
Direct Action: the FLB- right then left
  • Clandestine action was by no means new in Brittany.
  • The Gwenn ha Du movement in the 1930s had caused a number of symbolic explosions to statues etc.
  • The continual problem of fractured political groupings in Brittany led some to lose confidence in legal constitutional action (political parties) as means of ‘liberating the Breton people’.

EXTREMISM IN BRETON POLITICS

the origins of the flb
The origins of the FLB
  • Undoutedly the FLB as a Breton terrorist movement, had its origins in the M.O.B movement and grew out of the radicalization of that movement after the schism had divided it.
  • The first bombings in the 1966-68 period were fairly amateurish (stolen explosives, private financing).
  • In the first instance, the members of the FLB were radicalized rightwing nationalists, not unlike that of the pre-war Gwenn ha Du movement.
direct action the flb
Direct Action: the FLB
  • This development was accelerated by economic factors.
  • The loss of many Breton-held companies.
  • The deterioration of Breton culture and language (1970s)
  • The growth of military installations in Brittany.
  • This was interpreted as an increased state intervention into Breton life.
  • The sense that Breittany was fragmented.
direct action the flb1
Direct Action: the FLB
  • Action by the FLB began in 1966. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the sous-prefecture of Saint-Nazaire, French flags were burnt.
  • The culprits were arrested and given a prison sentence.
  • In the same year, a fire bomb was set off in the tax-offices of Saint-Brieuc. In a communique, the FLB referred to the French ‘occupying forces’.
direct action the flb2
Direct Action: the FLB
  • An increase in the number of bombings during 1967.
  • They released ther communiques from an office in Dublin through the intermediary of the National Committee of Free Brittany.
  • 1968 saw a an increase in violence. |Prefertures, tax-offices are damaged in bomb attacks.
  • Large amounts of explosives were stolen from the army in early 1968.
direct action the flb3
Direct Action: the FLB
  • In a reference clearly inspired by the existence of the IRA, those involved in the FLB describe themselves as being part of the (either) Republican (or) Revolutionary Breton Army.
  • The destruction of the police headquarters in Saint-Brieuc meant that the FLB now reached the international news.
  • The Bretons themselves seem not to have greeted these events with hostility.
  • This was also the period of the May demonstrations in Paris in 1968.
direct action the flb4
Direct Action: the FLB
  • The May 1968 events in Paris and elsewhere in the country practically brought France to a standstill.
  • In the elections held in France soon afterwards, the FLB and ARB demanded the full control of their affairs for the Breton people.
  • They described themselves as ‘nationalists’, socialists, who saw the Bretons as a colonised people.
  • They rejected state controlled socialism, and regarded Breton socialists who were not pro-independence as ‘traitors’ and ‘hypocrites’.
direct action the flb5
Direct Action: the FLB
  • A vast wave of arrests followed, and some fifty members of the FLB were charged and expected to go on trial.
  • Those accused came from all walks of life (students, managers, priests, workers, artists)
  • Further arrests took place in anticipation of the visit of the French president General De Gaulle.
  • He ordered the cessation of arrests (especially of priests).
direct action the flb6
Direct Action: the FLB
  • He had come to Brittany to announce the holding of a special referendum on the issue of ‘regional reform’.
  • Many of the prisoners held in prison in Paris go on hunger strike to obtain the status of political prisoners.
  • Many of those held in Paris were eventually released.
  • The referendum was a failure, and led to the depart of General De Gaulle.
direct action the flb7
Direct Action: the FLB
  • With the release of many of the presumed members of the FLB, only 16 remained in detention.
  • Demands were made for an immediate amnisty for those remaining, as well as the administrative reunification of Brittany. And the creation of a ‘regional Assembly’. However, the victory of the Gaulliste candidate Georges Pompidou meant that these ideas would not see the light of day.
  • This regional assembly –with restricted powers would only come into being in 1998.
direct action the flb8
Direct Action: the FLB
  • One important Breton politician R.Pleven became the minister for justice.
  • There was a realization that in Brittany there had been a massive swing away from the post-war mindset.
  • The government decided to abandon the prosecution against the remaining FLB detainees, together with an amnesty.
  • That way, they avoided the holding of a massively politicized trial. (Brittany versus the French State).
direct action the flb9
Direct Action: the FLB
  • It is interesting that public opinion had in large measure become favorable towards those held in prison.
  • Even the main French political parties had evolved in the way they described the FLB
  • ‘terrorists of doubtful origin’, ‘individuals receiving their orders from abroad’, ‘good lads who have become disappointed’, ‘sincere militants’.
  • By the middle of the 1970s there were no longer a force to be reckoned with.
yann kel kernalegen 1976
Yann-KelKernalegen 1976
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG-W_HgEhZo&feature=related
the change of ideology in the flb
The change of ideology in the FLB
  • This latent conservatism was replaced by a new generation of FLB members in the early 70s who were clearly more socialist, even radically.
  • The conflict with the French State now was redefined in terms of a combat against capitalism (banks, large companies).
  • But by the mid 70s, there was even a more away from such symbolic direct action, inspired as it was by the Irish example (IRA), and now looked towards implanting more successfully breton nationalism in the local population.
the change of ideology in the flb1
The change of ideology in the FLB
  • In this sense the FLB moved from the Irish example to the lessons given by Basque Nationalism.
  • Here the emphasis was on generating a movement of collective resistance against the State, going beyond the military struggle but rather campaigning on various fronts (political, military, cultural and social).
  • This saw the beginnings of the ARB (Armée révolutionnaire bretonne) which committed some 100 bomb attacks in the 1970s., including one in the Chateau of Versailles in Paris.
flb on utube
FLB on uTube
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQlv8tWANJ4
the flb arb
The FLB/ARB
  • By 1978, it had become clear that the movement had become further radicalized.
  • It now combined separatist nationalism with socialism with a Breton face. It defended the ‘revolutionary armed struggle’ across the world, it fought ‘imperialist oppression’, and the exploitation of Brittany and the dismantlement of Breton culture (and language).
the flb arb explosion in the chateau de versailles
The FLB/ARB explosion in the Chateau de Versailles
  • http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7fviv_flb-arb-1978-tarzherezh-kastell-ver_news
the aftermath of the flb
The aftermath of the FLB
  • As a movement which drew enormous attention in Brittany and France, its lasting impact on the working classes in Brittany was limited and largely symbolic.
  • Nationalism remained relatively marginalized.
  • It was not negligeable however, since at least part of its ideology was accepted by the nationalist groupings and the Emsav.
  • The reaction of the population was not necessarily hostile, but its support was patchy.
  • By the beginning of the 1980s, the FLB was a spent force with the arrival of a leftist government in Paris. (Mitterand).
the flb still active
The FLB still active?
  • « Le Front de libération de la Bretagne se réveille. »
  • Headline in the French newspaper Libération 5 November 2011.
adsav
Adsav
  • http://www.adsav.org/
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W6UCnOmUxY&feature=related
  • The return of the Breton Blackshirts?
adsav1
Adsav
  • Adsav (renewal) was created in January 2000.
  • One of their first acts was to bombard towns and villages with posters with slogans in Breton and French saying ‘Brittany for the Bretons’, Brittany First’.
  • They developed an extreme right discourse, and allied themselves with similar movements in other parts of Europe.
  • They do however reject the French extreme right (FN).
  • One idea taken from these other extremist movements is that the problems faced by Brittany will only be resolved after an ‘ethnic war in Europe’.