Competing National Ideologies, Cyclical Responses:
The Mobilisation of the Irish, Basque and Croat National Movements to Rebellion Against the State


Peter Anthony Ercegovac


A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy.

Department of Government and Public Administration,
University of Sydney,
March 1998.
Emended edition, March 1999.



The 1960s was to herald a significant change in the political environment of modern Europe. Established means of seeking political redress through traditions of parliamentary enfranchisement and elite consolidation was to be met by a new challenger from the peripheries of established nation-states. At the core of these changes was the re-emergence of national movements and nationalism, as an ideology, as a means of addressing the perceived state engendered marginalisation of peripheral communities. The failure of ‘Social Movement’ theory to deal with movements that would proffer an ideological alternative was to leave a gap in the discipline vis-à-vis state centralisation and peripheral oppositional mobilisation.

‘Social Movement’ theory’s two predominant paradigms of ‘Resource Mobilisation’ and ‘New Social Movement’ theory would fail to adequately expplain the emergence of movements that were not mono-generational in nature. The former’s negation of ideational movement mobilisation, and the latter’s downplaying of the state, was to ignore two factors in the mobilisation of peripheries to rebellion. That is the state and the political opportunity structures formed in the processes of state transition in creating on going cycles of reform-protest-reform that are necessary to continued heightened levels of peripheral mobilisation.

In this thesis I will explore the role of the state as a catalyst for movement mobilisation, through the dynamic process of state centralisation and reciprocal peripheral actvism against the centre. What emerges is a parallel, yet interdependent, development of centre-periphery mobilisation. The state, hence provides the frame in which the challenge from the periphery occurs and also the ideological preconditions for peripheral counter movement mobilisation. Nationalism, as such, provides a social movement with an ideological and strategic link with past conflicts that allow protest communities to attain a level of historicity and continuity that more traditional forms of social movements would find difficult to achieve. It is within the cyclical formation and re-formation of state that political opportunity structures emerge between expanding and consolidating state centres and reactionary peripheries.

What develops is a reciprocal shaping and reshaping of centre-periphery identities, as movements tend to expand their own repertoire and demands according to those employed by the elites they oppose. A ‘mimicking’ of the ‘other’ that allows for the state to re-place itself at the cetre of any future resolution of the conflict. This thesis proposes to demonstrate national movements are but children of this process of continuous state ideological development, which formulates contentious repertoires as alternatives to state organisational options. In studying the Rpeublican Irish, Basque separatist and Croatian national movements since the 1960s to the present, I wish to show how all these mobilisations are by-products of the very state identities they refute.

It is the inability of the Northern Irish, Spanish and Yugoslav state centres to provide a more inclusive doctrine of state that led to the initial mobilisation against the centre. Yet it is this failure to incorporate newly polarised peripheries that feeds the cycle of reciprocal centre periphery development. With each new encroachment of the centre upon the periphery, the periphery ‘mimics’ the centre until one of two events occur, ie, the startifaction of the crisis, and a perpetuation of conflict that has little chance of resolution; or the successful attainment of statehood. The nation is henceforth to be interpreted as a vehicle to sociteal liberation as long as it has a target in the state to justify its existence. Thus, the mobilisation of the national movement to rebellion cannot emerge without the dynamic and reciprocal development of the state centre and periphery.



Title Page | Introduction | Chapter I | Chapter II | Chapter III | Chapter IV | Chapter V | Chapter VI | Chapter VII | Chapter VIII | Chapter IX | Chapter X | Chapter XI | Chapter XII | Conclusion | Footnotes | Bibliography


Copyright © Peter Ercegovac
Published with Permission of author by The Nationalism Project, Madison, WI. 1999.
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