I’m reading about the history of the Basque Country, and more specifically, the enormous efforts that the French state apparatus made between 1870 and 1910 to integrate – often with great violence – the rural populations into the nationalist ideology of a linguistically and culturally uniform France. This France, just like any other nation-state, was quite fictitious. Even in the mid-nineteenth century, most of its inhabitants didn’t even speak French, let alone see themselves as “French.”
But it worked. France was fashioned into a model nation-state, and the rural masses eventually came on board.
Today, just a blink of an eye later, the descendants of these rural folks who had to give up everything for the nation-state are told they are ridiculous and antiquated losers for wanting to hold on to it.
It’s just that it was all so recent. It’s not something that happened in a remote past. 1910, 1920 – there are people who are still alive who were born then. It’s a weird feeling to read about the swiftness of this process.