Good night, friend. In Breton.
Tuesday saw the funeral of Yann Fouéré, who died on 20th October at the age of 101. A life-long advocate of Breton and other minority rights, founder of the Movement for the Organisation of Brittany and other political and cultural movements in Brittany, co-founder of the Celtic League and the European Free Alliance, Fouéré’s most iconic contribution to political thought was the idea of ‘the Europe of a Hundred Flags’. The phrase is a translation of the original title of his 1968 book, L’Europe aux Cents Drapeaux, published in English in 1980 as Towards a Federal Europe: Nations or States?
The phrase is much more inspiring than the book, which now appears very dated. All regionalists who have not yet achieved the degree of autonomy they desire will be disappointed with the pace of change, the resurgent intransigence and tactical slyness of the nation-states and the lack of genuine interest from those now busy building a bankers’ and bureaucrats’ Europe on the ruins of idealism.
Nevertheless, we are pleased to have counted Fouéré among our allies, just as he was to give ‘Le Wessex’ an honourable mention in his magazine, L’Avenir de la Bretagne. His book was too early for us to receive a mention there. What the book does say is that the future English region-states are “foreshadowed in the eight economic regions into which England has already been divided” but that “some adjustments may be required as far as the limits of these regions are concerned”. Commenting on the situation in the late 1970s, it goes on to say that “France and Spain are lagging behind England”. Not any more!
Despite his flexibly federalist leanings, Fouéré posed a warning: “Could Zone No. 6 or the West-North-West Region kindle in the hearts of their citizens some kind of local patriotism, which is the condition of a vigorous local life? On pain of being purely artificial and devoid of every human warmth, the region-states should be inspired by a spirit of resistance to absorption and assimilation. If not, they would be like dead cells, and dead cells cannot make up a living body. They would soon be swallowed up by a unitary European state, using its centralized and despotic power to destroy the freedom of men and regions.”
John Prescott tried to give us precisely the kind of map that Fouéré condemned. We begged to differ and fought top-down regionalisation every inch of the way. We were right, and are right, in believing that when regional government finally triumphs it will not be under the logo flag of some ‘South West’ or ‘South East’ assembly but when the fiery standard of Wessex comes to be unfurled over the first gathering of our region’s Witan in near a thousand years.