31 May 2014

Jesus was not a Jew

Jesus (Yeshu bar Yosef) of Nazareth was not a Jew.  He was a Galilean.  True, he followed the Torah and the Prophets and the Writings, went to synagogue, attended the temple in Jerusalem for major feast days when possible, and probably wore a tallit with tzizit and tefellin in his wrist and head daily but he was not a Jew. In first century Roman Palestine, what you believed religiously did not matter as much as where you were born (unless you were born in the Diaspora) and to whom you were born.

To be a Jew in Roman Palestine meant first of all to be from Judea, the core Judea, not the expanded version which took in Samaria, Philistia, Idumea, and Nabatea.  Jews, or Judeans, looked down their nose at Galileans almost as much as they did at Philistians, Idumeans, and Nabateans, though not as much as they looked down on Samaritans.  The name Galilee derives from Galil ha-Goyim, “District of the Gentiles”, and its population was a mix of forced colonists deported by the Hasmoneans, descendants of converts, and Gentiles.

Before its conquest by the Hasmoneans, Galilee had been the southern territory of the Arabic kingdom of Iturea in much of southern Syria, whose territory was conquered by Aristobolus I along with Galilee, with the requisite, for Hasmonean tyrants, forcible conversion of the populace.  There is not inconsiderable chance that Jesus could have been part Arab.

In addition, one had to be not just from Judea but of the correct ethnicity, because in the first century Judea took in the formerly independent territories of the Idumeans, Nabateans, and Philistians.  Those groups followed the Torah, most also the Prophets and the Writings, went to synagogue, and attended major feasts at the temple in Jerusalem, but were not considered entirely kosher because their immediate ancestors had been forcibly converted under the Hasmoneans, who were even more tyrannical and fratricidal than their Herodian successors.

Since we’re on the subject of 1st century ethnic groups in Palestine…

The Samaritans in the middle, between Judea and Galilee, followed the Torah but not the Prophets or the Writings, went to their own synagogues, and attended major feasts in their own temple atop Mt. Gerizim, destroyed in 110 BCE by the Hasmoneans but rebuilt by Herod the Great in 10 BCE. 

The main reason for the spiteful, vindictive attitude of most if not all 1st Jews towards the Samaritans had to do with the northern kingdom having been the senior and historically wealthier and more cosmopolitan of the two Hebrew/Israelite kingdoms.  Under the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian empires, Yehud, the southern realm, was governed as a sub-province appended to and subordinate of Samerina, the northern realm.  That situation changed briefly under Alexander, but resumed under the Ptolemies.

In inscriptions and surviving papyri, Samerina is also known as Bit Humria, or House of Omri, while Yehud is also known as Bit Dawid, or House of David, though this junior kingdom was at first simply known as Teman, Hebrew for “the south”.

The Jewish sect of the Pharisees, which also had adherents among the Galileans, used the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, and included the Mishna, or Oral Torah, in its teachings. It was divided into two factions itself, Beth Hillel and Beth Shammai, with Beth Hillel the dominant of the two, with its head holding the title of Nasi, head of the Great Sanhedrin.

The Jewish sect called Bene Sedeq accepted the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, but not the Mishna; their “descendants” became the Karayim.

The Jewish sect of the Essenes, which probably had adherents in Galilee since it certainly did in Damascus, used not only the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, but a number of other sacred scriptures as well.  Their main cult center seems to have been the large commune at Qumran, but enough of them visited Jerusalem to have their own gate.

Not all 1st century Jews subscribed to the Prophets and the Writings.  The Jewish sect of the Sadducees, like its Samaritan neighbors, accepted only the Torah.  However, its adherents worshipped at the temple in Jerusalem and traced their ethnicity matrilinealy like the rest of the Jews as well as the Galileans where the Samaritans traced their ethnicity patrilinealy.  Its head was the high priest and necessarily tied to the temple cult.

Hellenistic Jews used the Septuagint, a Greek-language version of the Tanakh translated in Alexandria and used throughout the Diaspora which included several books and passages not found in the Hebrew Tanakh or Aramaic Targum of Palestine.  Diaspora Samaritans had their own translation into Greek of the Torah.

The bitter rivalry between Jews and Galileans, even within the same sects, lasted at least through to the end of the Great Jewish Revolt (66-73 CE), or at least the end of its major phase, the fall of Jerusalem.  One of the main handicaps suffered by the rebels was the fratricidal infighting among their four or five major factions.  Two of these were rival factions of Zealots, one from Judea and the other from Galilee.

The sect of the Sadducees disappeared with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, and the Essenes soon after the destruction of their base at Qumran in 68 CE.  The Samaritans lost their own temple again in 67 CE, but they did not go away.  Of the two power centers of the Jews at the turn of the era, only the Great Sanhedrin in the hands of the Pharisees and Beth Hillel was left after the Jewish Revolt to shape mainstream Judaism for the future.

The distinctions between Jews and Galileans vanished after the Bar Kokbha War 130-135 CE, when nearly all the elite remaining in Judea were deported to Galilee along with the permanent move of the Great Sanhedrin and seat of the Patriarchate to there in 140 CE.

Contrary to popular belief, the Samaritans, who in ancient times were equally numerous with the Jews and Galileans combined, did not simply vanish.  Many became Christians or Gnostics, with the latter eventually conforming under the Roman Empire.  Following the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, the great majority converted to Islam, especially after the Abbasids gained the Caliphate.  Around a thousand Samaritans remain, half in the State of Israel and half in Nablus in the West Bank of Occupied Palestine.

30 May 2014

The real threat

The other day current POTUS Obama declared that the biggest threat to the United States of America and to the world is terrorism.

Really, Mr. POTUS?  When my chances of being killed by a rogue cop overreacting to an exponential degree with virtual impunity are greater by a factor of ten or a hundred than being killed by a terrorist, the chimera of “terrorism” is not the greatest threat to my health, safety, and well-being. 

And if that were true, Mr. POTUS, then why did you allow agents of your government to back down from doing their jobs in the face of white right-wing American terrorists in Nevada?  What would have happened if POTUS Eisenhower had backed down when Orval Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to enforce segregation in that state’s schools? 

Fortunately, we didn’t have to learn the outcome of that because Eisenhower not only nationalized the Guard but sent in the 101st Airborne.

In truth, the biggest danger to the U.S.A. and the world is not terrorism but the uninhibited power and de facto legal immunity of those who have produced and are still producing the Great Recession and whom people such as POTUS Obama have bent over backwards to protect from us, the outraged 99%. 

Well, theoretically “99%”.  Let me explain. 

True, the 1% at the top of the pyramid nationally and globally control a mega-glutton’s share of the wealth of the nation and the world.  They are the masters.  But the masters can’t do it by themselves.  As Turkish journalist Nuray Mert noted, “It is those who choose their well-being and careers over matters of principle who create an autocrat, not vice versa,” only in this case substitute “oligarchy” for “autocrat”. 

Because the 1% needs the next 10% to keep them in power.   So really what we have is an outraged 89% with 10% covering the backsides of the 1%, like the current POTUS and COTUS did with the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  That, of course, was in addition to the $485 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed under the previous POTUS and the secret no interest $7.7 TRILLION (that’s twelve zeroes, folks) in loans to national and global financial houses in 2008 under the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility of the Federal Reserve.

When he was still Malcolm X, the prophet Malik el-Shabazz frequently told the parable of the house Negro and the field Negro.  Were he still around today, he would call the outraged 89% of us field slaves and that other 10% the house slaves.  What the 10% and the 89% have in common is that both groups are slaves, virtual and de facto maybe rather than literal and de jure, but slaves nonetheless.  Both are proletarii.

Since the current $COTU$ has grossly expanded the definitions of corporations as persons and money as speech, each of we average citizens (or is it subjects now?) only amount to about three-fifths of a person anymore, so the description fits.

Marx called that 1% at the top of the nation and of the world the “finance bourgeoisie”, as opposed to the “industrial bourgeoisie” and the “rentier bourgeoisie”.  One factor Marx got really wrong was that he never foresaw the supremacy of that sector of the bourgeoisie over the other two.  He may not have carried is historical dialectic back far enough, because the ultimate roots of the world’s banking system lie during the centuries of crusades, quests, and pilgrimages in the methods of moving money around internationally developed by the Knights Templar.

That is not a conspiracy theory reference.  The KT were not mystical Illuminati and they had to develop some manner of moving vast amounts of wealth safely across hundreds and thousands of miles of often extremely dangerous land in Europe and West Asia and the pirate-infested Mediterranean Sea.  That’s how and why the modern banking system came into being. 

So a millennium thence, their financial elite descendants, released in Clinton’s administration from the final bonds of the financial safety net enacted under the New Deal, went on an unprecedented avaricious binge of fraud and excessive consumption, and when everything fell apart because of their profligacy, they hand us the bill, all of us, here in America and across the world, urging “austerity” and promoting destruction of programs for the general welfare while declaring, “By God, you better not raise taxes!”.

Money as speech, corporations as people, politicians sponsored by business interests as literally as NASCAR drivers…the KT were at least honest in their financial dealings, also competent and shrewd; too good at it, at least for the King of France and the Vatican, and look at what happened to them.  Now, I’m not saying we should try the financial gods of Wall Street for heresy and burn them at the stake, but where’s an enraged Galilean prophet with a whip when you need one?

Mr. POTUS, if you really believe “terrorism” is the biggest threat to our country, you really need to read an essay I wrote a few years back called “Shadow of Fear in the Aftermath of 9/11”.  We have done far worse things to ourselves, to our country, to our freedom, and to our own souls than anything Osama bin Laden and his minions could ever do.

28 May 2014

Tennessee legislature's latest homophobic absurdity

I had not realized until a couple of days ago that our most honorable governor of this our fair Tennessee had signed a most unnecessary piece of so-called ‘legislation’ entitled ‘Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act’.  But sign it he did, on this past 10 April.  Another vulture feather in the coonskin cap of the “Greatest State in the Land of the Free” to go along with the one awarded for the thankfully failed “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. 

It is the latter failed attempt at making homophobic bigotry not merely acceptable in the halls of Tennessee schools but real official policy and praiseworthy behavior that gives insight into the real motivations behind the former.  To protect not religious speech but hate speech.  Not a defense of anyone’s rights but of social dominance orientation and sociopathic entitlement.

Let me give y’all an example of how things could easily play out under this ill-conceived and completely unnecessary “law”.

Throughout my time at East Brainerd Elementary School, first through sixth grades, a teacher from outside came into our class once a week for Bible lessons.  Yes, this was at a public school, from fall 1969 to summer 1975.

I am NOT endorsing this; absolute separation of church and state is something I have always believed in and advocated even at my most religious.  Growing up I considered myself Republican because that’s what my parents were.  I even helped campaign for Reagan in 1980, mostly because a girl I had a crush on in Mr. Cousin’s American Government class was campaigning for Carter.  Then the Moral Majority and similar groups came to the fore soon after the election, and I left.

Part of the reason I didn’t see a conflict with having a Bible teacher in our public school at the time was that my teacher in first and second grade at the school was also my Sunday School teacher at St. Martin’s Episcopal.  Both, incidentally, were within easy walking distance of our house on Walnut Grove/North Joiner Road.

One of my most memorable arguments (there were several) with this Bible teacher at school came when I was in sixth grade.  This was either in the fall of 1974 or the spring of 1975.  Mrs. Genung was our regular class teacher, and Malcolm Defriese was still principal back then, still had his grocery at the Crossroads in Westview. 

The argument was over her assertion that black skin was the “Mark of Canaan” that all blacks wore as the stain of the sin of Canaan’s father Ham against Noah.  I objected rather strenuously, and when my mom arrived at school after being called there (something she was not unfamiliar with), she backed me up.

My point in telling this story is to point out that under our legislature and governor approved ‘Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act’, if a student made that assertion in a class speech or even before the whole school assembly, that assertion would be protected, and if part of an oral report could not be automatically failed.

Some might call the Tea Party Republicans who have taken over the GOP of our fair state as well as our entire government the American Taliban, Tennessee Chapter.  In truth, however, they are nothing more than old unredeemed Bourbon Democrats recycled through a Tennessee Walking Horse.

No doubt part of their illogic is based on claims that they have to defend Christianity from a nonexistent war against it.  However, first, that is not and never has been at any time a function of government in the United States of America.  Second, there is no “war on Christianity”.

Christianity is no more under attack in this country than George Zimmerman (murderer of Trayvon Martin) and Michael Dunn (murderer of Jordan Davis) were when they were still sitting in their cars.  No more than the ante-bellum property rights of slave owners.  No more than white supremacists to discriminate against Afro-Americans in the days of the Jim Crow South.

First the Tennessee legislature passed a law which was signed by the governor allowing the bullying of gay kids in schools in the name of protecting religious speech, but I didn't protest because none of my kids were gay.

Then the Tennessee legislature passed a law which was signed by the governor allowing the bullying of Muslim kids in schools in the name of protecting religious speech, but I didn't protest because we're not Muslim.

Then the Tennessee legislature passed a law which was signed by the governor allowing the bullying of Latino kids in schools in the name of protecting religious speech, but I didn't protest because we're not Latino.

Then the Tennessee legislature passed a law which was signed by the governor allowing the bullying of kids of trade unionists in schools in the name of protecting religious speech, but I didn’t protest because I’m not in a trade union.

Then the Tennessee legislature passed a law which was signed by the governor allowing the bullying of Jewish kids in schools in the name of protecting religious speech, but I didn’t protest because I’m not Jewish.

Then the Tennessee legislature passed a law which was signed by the governor allowing the bullying of mixed race kids in schools in the name of protecting religious speech, and I finally took notice, because my kids are Irish-Kapampangan-Scottish-Sangley-English-Tagalog-Cherokee-Spanish, but when I looked around, no one was standing behind me to back me up.

An injury to one is an injury to all.  Whoever harms the least of these little ones, it would be better for them to have a millstone to be tied around their neck and be drowned the sea.

Bullying is an act, not speech.

22 May 2014

Wisdom of Jedi Master Vergere

Vergere was a character created for the New Jedi Order series, which was perhaps the best series of the whole Star Wars Expanded Universe.  One of the particularly intriguing features of the NJO series was that the various authors seemed willing to step outside the simplistic moral box of good/evil, light side/dark side, white hat/black hat.  This culminated with the penultimate NJO novel, The Unifying Force.  The characters were more ambiguous morally, more real, for a more mature audience.

Vergere, a Fosh female Jedi Knight who came up under the Old Republic and kidnapped by a species alien to the Galaxy, was the character who introduced this new view of the Force to the Masters, Knights, and Padawans of the New Jedi Order (the Order of the New Republic itself, as opposed to the series) and to Star Wars fans.  It was a welcome breath of fresh air.  For me, the overall message of the NJO series is best expressed in a quote from Alexandr Solzhenitsyn in his book, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956:

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Alas, GL shit-canned all that by insisting there was an actual Light Side and Dark Side to the Force and everything was all good and all evil, much to the disappointment and really pissed-offness of many fans of the EU, especially of the NJO. In the later Legacy of the Force series, he made sure its authors turned Vergere into a full-fledged Sith.

GL and his acolytes at Lucasarts had a similar reaction to the humanizing of Clonetroopers and Mandalorians in the Republic Commando series, which never got finished due to disagreements between its sole author, Karen Traviss, and Lucasarts.

However, none of that matters since Disney, which owns the franchise now, has decreed none of it ever happened, even in a fictional universe.  Kind of like the way the reboot of the Star Trek franchise wiped out two or three hundreds years of history (I am a fan of the new as well as the old, btw).

Now, without further ado, the quotes of Jedi Master Vergere, whom I and other NJO fans have promoted to that rank.

The first is from James Luceno’s The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos I: Hero’s Trial.

 “The Force is a sword with two edges.  Cut one way and vanquish.  But be careless on the backswing, or allow your mind to wander, and you risk undoing all you’ve accomplished.”

The rest of are from Matthew Stover’s The New Jedi Order: Traitor.

“Out of control is just code for ‘I don’t want to admit I’m the kind of person who would do such things.’ It’s a lie.”

“The most valuable lesson one can teach a fanatic is that fanaticism is self-defeating.”

“Questions are more true than answers, because all the answers fall short of the truth: this is the beginning of wisdom.”

“A master of defense is one who is never in the place that is attacked.”

“A right that is given is as useless as a virtue that is given. Rights are used, or they have no value, just as virtues must be performed.”

“Freedom is always alarming.”

“Orders not backed by force are only suggestions.”

“You feel empty. You feel alone.  Lonely.  Almost frightened, but also strong, yes?  The name for what you are feeling is freedom.  How did you expect it to feel?  You are free, and that can be lonely, and empty, and frightening.  But it is also powerful.”

“This is the shameful secret of the Jedi: There is no dark side.  The Force is one.  The Force is everything and everything is the Force.  The Force does not take sides.  The Force does not even have sides.”

“Light and dark are no more than nomenclature: words that describe how little we understand. What you call the dark side is the raw, unrestrained Force itself: you call the dark side what you find when you give yourself over wholly to the Force. To be a Jedi is to control your passion, but Jedi control limits your power. Greatness requires the surrender of control.  Passion that is guided, not walled away.  Leave your limits behind.  If your surrender leads to slaughter, that is not because the Force has darkness in it.  It is because you do.  The only dark side you need fear is the one in your own heart.”

“The truth is greater than the words we use to describe it.”

“Why is a question that is always deeper than the answer.  Perhaps you should ask you should ask instead: what?”

“What distinguishes a flower from a weed is only this: the choice of the gardener.”

“Sith?  Jedi?  Are these the only choices?  Dark or light, good or evil?  Is there no more to the Force than this?  What is the screen on which light and dark cast their shapes and shadows?  Where is the ground on which stands good and evil?”

“Everything I tell you is a lie.  And the truth.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Another Old Republic Jedi expressed views of the Force almost identical to those Vergere in Medstar II: Jedi Healer, by Michael Reeves and Steve Perry, set in the Clone Wars.  This time it was Padawan Bariss Offee, who at the end of the novel gained her Knighthood and the title Jedi.

“Feelings don’t come with ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ labels. You feel how you feel. You are only responsible for how you act.”

 “Jedi refer to the ‘light side’ and the ‘dark side’, but really, these are only words, and the Force is beyond words.  It is not evil, just as it isn’t good—it simply is what it is.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The following is a dialogue between Vergere and Jacen Solo when he was a prisoner of the Yuuzhan Vong (in Traitor) in which her wisdom can’t really be separated.

Vergere: “What is pain for?  Do you ever think about that, Jacen Solo?  What is its function? Many of our more devout masters believe that pain is the lash of the True Gods: that suffering is how the True Gods teach us to disdain comfort, our bodies, even life itself.  For myself, I say that pain is itself a god: the taskmaster of life. Pain cracks the whip, and all that lives will move. The most basic instinct of life is to retreat from pain. To hide from it. If going here hurts, even a granite slug will go over there; to live is to be a slave to pain. To be ‘beyond pai’' is to be dead, yes?”

Jacen: “Not for me," Jacen answered dully, once his throat opened enough that he could speak. "No matter how dead you say I am, it still hurts.”

Vergere: “Oh, well, yes. That the dead are beyond pain is only an article of faith, isn't it?  We should say, we hope that the dead are beyond pain--but there's only one way to find out for sure.”

Jacen: “I don't think anything. I just want it to stop.”

Vergere: “I am such a fool.  All this time, I had thought I was speaking to an adult.  Ah, self-deception is the cruelest trick of all, isn’t it?  I let myself believe that you had once been a true Jedi, when in truth you are only a hatchling, shivering in the nest, squalling because your mother hasn’t fluttered up to feed you.”

Jacen: “You...you...How can you... after what you’ve done...”

Vergere: “What I have done?  Oh, no no no, this is about what you have done.”

Jacen: “I haven’t done anything!”

Vergere: “Exactly. Is that not the infant’s tactic? To wail, and wail, and wail, to wriggle its fingers and kick its heals...hoping an adult will notice and care for it?”

Jacen: “What can I do?”

Vergere: “Certainly, among your options is continuing to hang in this room and suffer.  And so long as you do that, do you know what will happen?”

Jacen: “"What?”

Vergere: “Nothing.  Oh, eventually, you’ll go mad, I suppose.  If you’re lucky. Someday you may even die.  Of old age.”

Jacen: “Is that why you keep coming here? To gloat? To humiliate a defeated enemy?”

Vergere: “Am I gloating? Are we enemies? Are you defeated?”

Jacen: “I don’t understand.”

Vergere: “That, at least, is very clear. I give you a gift, Jacen Solo. I free you from hope of rescue. Can you not see how I am trying to help you?”

Jacen: “Help? When we talk about the kind of things you’ve done to me, help isn’t the word we use.”

Vergere: “No? Then perhaps you are correct: our difficulties may be linguistic. When I was very young, I came upon a shadowmoth at the end of its metamorphosis, still within its cocoon.  I had already some touch with the Force; I could feel the shadowmoth’s pain, its panic, its claustrophobia, its hopelessly desperate struggle to free itself.  It was as though this particular shadowmoth knew I was beside it, and screamed out to me for help.  How could I refuse?  So I gave it what you mean by help: I used a small utility cutter to slice the cocoon, to help the shadowmoth get out.”

Jacen: “"Oh, you didn't, did you? Please say you didn't.”

Jacen: ‘You can’t help a shadowmoth by cutting its cocoon.  It needs the effort; the struggle to break the cocoon forces ichor into its wing veins.  If you cut the cocoon—

Vergere: ‘The shadowmoth will be crippled. "Yes. It was a tragic creature--never to fly, never to join its fellows in their nightdance under the moons. Even its wingflutes were stunted, and so it was as mute as it was planetbound. During that long summer, we sometimes heard moonsong through the window of my bedchamber, and from my shadowmoth I would feel always only sadness and bitter envy, that it could never soar beneath the stars, that its voice could never rise in song. I cared for it as best I could-- but the life of a shadowmoth is short, you know; they spend years and years as larvae, storing strength for one single summer of dance and song.  I robbed that shadowmoth; I stole its destiny... because I helped it.”

Jacen: ‘That wasn’t helping. That’s not what help means either.”

Vergere: “No? I saw a creature in agony, crying out in terror, and I undertook to ease its pain, and assuage its fear.  If that is not what you mean by help, then my command of Basic is worse than I believed.”

Jacen: “You didn't understand what was happening.”

Vergere: “Neither did the shadowmoth.  But tell me this, Jacen Solo: if I had understood what was happening--if I had known what the larva was, and what it must do, and what it must suffer, to become the glorious creature that it could become--what should I have done that you would call, in your Basic, help?”

But tell me this, Jacen Solo: what should I have done that you would call help?”

Jacen: “I suppose the best help you could offer would be to keep the cocoon safe.  Hawk-bats hunt shadowmoth larvae, and they especially like newly cocooned pupae: that's the stage where they have the most stored fat.  So I guess the best help you could offer would be to keep watch
over the larva, to protect it from predators--and leave it alone to fight its own battle.”

Vergere: “And, perhaps, also to protect it from other well-intentioned folk—who might wish, in their ignorance, to ‘help’ it with their own utility cutters.  And also perhaps, you might stop by from time to time, to let the struggling, desperate, suffering, creature know that it is not alone. That someone cares. That its pain is in service of its destiny.”

Jacen: “Yes...”

Vergere: “Then, Jacen Solo, our definitions of help are identical.”

21 May 2014

Ukraine and Iran

There is a history going back nearly two centuries, some might say a millennium, underlying current events between Russia and Ukraine, as well as an aspect that could effect what in some quarters is currently one of the most important issues in international relations.

First, the history.

EuroMaidan was not a plot by Western imperialists to get one up on the center of power of the former Soviet Union, as too many talking heads of the neoleft either wearing Moscow-colored glasses or simply unable to climb out of a paradigm that no longer exists protest.  Nor was it a plot engineered by rightists in Ukraine to create a fascist anti-Semitic Russophobic state as the Kremlin and its propaganda outlets and its sycophants proclaim. 

These two views of events are as patronizing and condescending as any of the worst of those more upfront and bald in their imperialist intent and sentiment.

No, EuroMaidan was a popular uprising initiated by the people of Ukraine for a variety of reasons, chief of which were the rampant political and financial corruption of those in power, the worsening economic situation in the country.  The final straw that broke the camel’s back was the prospect of being dragged into an inescapable orbit around the power from whose gravity well it had escaped in 1991 when its kleptocratic president threatened submission of the country to Czar Vladimir in the form of joining the Putin/Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union.  That’s why the rising in November.

The protestors are still camped out on the Maidan, because they do not trust or have much love for those who returned to power.  They want their country back from all the oligarchs, not just the ones recently kicked out but their successors as well.

A thousand years ago, Kiev was the center of power in Eastern Europe north of the Roman Empire governed from Constantinople (“Byzantine” is a misnomer, a neologism coined a century after it fell).  With the rise of various empires, wars, migrations, and invasions its star fell while that of Moscow rose.  Eventually, Ukraine came totally within the Russian Empire.  Peter the Great was the first to order its “Russification”, but he recommended that it be carried out slowly and subtly, like first having ethnic Russians migrate there. 

The strategy worked remarkably well and by the twentieth century, Ukrainian nationalism was buried deep.  Increasing repression banished the Ukrainian language from public life and printing in the Ukrainian language was outlawed.  Ukrainian schools were eventually banned in the mid-1800’s and the formerly autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church was subordinated to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow.

Then came the February Revolution in 1917, followed by the October Revolution the same year, the latter actually more of a coup d’etat by the Bolshevik Party.  As part of its program to gain the loyalty of the disparate peoples of the former Russian Empire, the Bolshevik Central Committee launched a propaganda program promising non-Russian nationalities a certain amount of autonomy in a Bolshevik utopia.

When Stalin, the former Bolshevik Commissar of Nationalities, years later announced his policy of “socialism in one country”, he included in it an unwritten but no less intense policy of Russification.  Among other features, this meant that the Russian language was the sole official language throughout the USSR and “nationalist deviations” would be stamped out.  This process was most intense in Ukraine, and included the decimation of party members of the Ukraine SSR to half in two separate purges, 1929-1934 and 1936-1938.

The most horrific act toward accomplishing complete Russification in Ukraine was the 18-month famine engineered in 1932 and 1933, in which at least 3.5 million, and possibly as many as 7 million, perished.  The latter figure exceeds the death toll for Jews under the Nazi regime 1933-1945 and was carried out in much less time.  Ukrainians call this atrocity the Holodomor (“Extermination by Hunger”).

Don’t just take my word for it.  Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent  who had fought with the Polish Army against the Germans then escaped when that collapsed, referred to what happened in Ukraine as genocide.  He later became the founder of the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in 1948.

Lemkin actually coined what was then the neologism “genocide” in his important 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.  In addition to the then ongoing slaughter of Jews, Roma, Poles, and others, he cited as examples the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the Holodomor.  For Lemkin, genocide went beyond just the killing of mass numbers of people to include the intention destruction of their culture, suppression of their language, and dissolution of their national life.

Ukrainian nationalism remained submerged until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.  The new nation suffered the same corruption and insane mismanagement of former state resources as Yeltsin and his younger former KGB protégé Putin allowed in Russia which has led to two revolutions, first the Orange Revolution of 2003 and now EuroMaidan.  In 2003, once what they thought was a better government was installed, the protestors went home.  With that experience in the rear view mirror, this time they have stayed out.

The turbulent past is the main reason so many in Ukraine support Svoboda, the right-wing party pandering to extreme anti-Russian xenophobic chauvinism.  It is important to point that although members took part in EuroMaidan, they neither initiated it nor led it, and while many of its members are part of the current caretaker government, they do not dominated it and its members who are officials hold only less important posts, except for one.

Contrary to widespread belief, fomented both by Putin’s Wurlitzer and the lazy mainstream media broadcasting without fact-checking, the new Ukrainian government did not outlaw Russian.  What the MP’s voted on was to overturn a law granting Russian and three other languages status as official state languages.  However, Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting president, vetoed that.

Now, to other issues in international relations and how they might be affected.

Three years into its independence, the same year Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa, Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons for destruction.  As part of the agreement for it to do so, the United States, United Kingdom, and Russian Federation Statement guaranteed its borders, its sovereignty, and its economic independence in the Trilateral Statement, with France and China giving their assent and support.

The only other nation known to have voluntarily surrendered its nuclear arms is the Republic of South Africa.  It ended its nuclear program, which had been covertly supported by the State of Israel, and dismantled its six devices in 1989.

The Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin has violated this agreement on several occasions in as many ways possible, perhaps most egregiously in the invasion and conquest of Crimea and its absorption into its borders, but also in its repeated economic extortion of its neighbor.

Here’s something to think about…

But first, let me point out that I don’t give a damn, a shit, a flying fuck, or a rat’s ass whether or not the Islamic Republic of Iran has nukes or not.  I mean, I hate that anyone at all has them because any use of them in any circumstances whatsoever, especially just to show a rival that one has the will to deploy them, is a crime against humanity. 

Iran doesn’t have them now and its programme is many years away from achieving that.  But as much as I despise Iran’s mullahs and what they have done to the country and its people, Iran’s leaders are not nearly as dangerously psychopathic as the current leaders of Israel, which has hundreds of nukes, and even they haven’t used them. 

Now, suppose you are a leader of Iran in talks with five world powers who are trying to convince you to give up attempts to begin creating a nuclear arsenal.  The five powers promise that they will guarantee your country’s safety against all enemies in return for this, just like they promised the same to Ukraine in 1994.  Given the aggression of Russia, the apathy of China, and the impotence of the USA, the UK, and France, how likely do you think Iran’s leaders will trust such guarantees of protection for an agreement to come to pass?  Yea, me either.

14 May 2014

For Nakba Day

This isn’t meant to be a coherent essay so much as a collection of my status updates and my descriptions of and comments on various posts made to Facebook.  I wanted it all in one place to post for Nakba Day.

“Occupied Palestine” is that portion of the Levant east of Jordan, west of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Lebanon, and north of the Sinai. Everything within those parameters is Occupied Palestine.

We need to come up with a word stronger than apartheid for Israel's treatment of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Apartheid is how they treat Palestinians (and Africans, and Maghrebic, Mizrahic, and Sephardic Jews) within the recognized borders of the State of Israel. How it treats Palestinians beyond that approaches how the Nazis treated Jews before the camps.

The "two-state solution" is not a solution but a mirror of the bantustans of apartheid South Africa, of which the State of Israel was the most staunch ally, to the extent of sharing nuclear weapons technology with it. The West Bank looks pretty much the same as the territory on the other side of the Apartheid Wall [carved up with Palestinians shoved into tiny corners], and Palestine's southwest is a de facto Gaza Ghetto equal in deprivation but twice the size of the one in Warsaw during occupation of Poland by the Nazis.

Saying, “There shouldn't be a ‘Jewish' State” is the same saying as “There shouldn’t be an ‘Aryan’ State” or There shouldn’t be an an ‘Anglo-American’ State” or There shouldn’t be a ‘Persian’ State’.  No nation-state has the right to exist for the purpose of elevating those of one ethnic group above all others inside its borders with the eventual goal of eliminating those other groups.

Imagine if 21st century Germany declared itself the homeland to all Germanic people and gave ethnic Germans outside its borders more rights than non-ethnic citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany.  Now, imagine that ethnic Germans had an automatic right-of-return to Germany with instant citizenship provided they were Lutheran or Catholic but required all those not of ethnic German descent and/or non-Lutheran, non-Catholic to go through an arduous approval process that lasts for years.  Furthermore, imagine the passports of the Federal Republic of Germany listing its citizens not simply as “German” but by nationality and/or ethnic-religious group, so that you get “German Lutheran”, “German Catholic”, “Jew”, “Turk”, “Irish”, “Druze”, “Ethiopian”, etc.  Outraged yet?  Welcome to the State of Israel, just switch the names “Jew” for “German” and “Orthodox” for “Lutheran” and “Catholic”.

Every time officials of the State of Israel whine about a two-sided story to the latest atrocity its government, military, or imperial colonists being condemned by governments and news organizations across the globe, I can't help thinking that I didn't realize there were two sides to ethnic-cleansing.  Were there two sides to the Holocaust?  Were there two sides to Jim Crow?

There are few things I despise more than pseudo-history. It's one of the reasons I have little respect for any religion's sacred scriptures as history.  None of them are history from that religion's POV as much as they are historical fantasy.

Using the Bible as a benchmark for studying the history of Palestine is like using the movie "Birth of a Nation" as a foundation for studying the history of the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

Xenophobic bigotry is not the same as true religion, though it too often passes for it, even in the eyes of religious adherents who despise it.  That's true whether you're talking about the Zionist Jewish State or the Muslim nation of Malaysia or Catholic Vatican City or Putin’s Orthodox Russian Federation or Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood or Turkey under Erdogan and the AKP or Buddhist Sri Lanka or Buddhist Burma or Hindu India or the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or the Islamic Republic of Iran or the Salafi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the Catholic Republic of Ireland or the Catholic Republic of El Salvador or the Catholic Republic of Spain or the Protestant State of Texas.

Since most Palestinians in the West Bank descend primarily from Samaritan forebearers, is it fair to say that Zionists are anti-Semtic?

One of the chief reasons European Jews began seeking a homeland of their own in the latter decades of the 19th century was that traditionally Jews in Europe were forbidden by law from owning land.  Thus the Zionist movement, which first set its sites on Uganda before turning to Ottoman-occupied Palestine.  Wanna guess how much land a non-Jew is allowed to own in the State of Israel under current law?  If you said zero, you are correct.

Palestinians of 2014 envy Catholics in Northeast Ulster of 1968.  Calling for a two-state solution in the Southern Levant is like calling for a two-state solution in Northeast Ulster.

In Israel, Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jews have the same status roughly as Scottish Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other Dissenters (non-Catholic non-Anglicans) had in Ireland prior to repeal of the Penal Laws.  Meaning, they don’t suffer under as many legal disabilities as Muslims and Christians (except, in the latter case, of visiting members of the rabid Christian Right who rabidly support the most extreme Zionism), but their marriages by their own rabbis aren’t recognized so their children are illegitimate under the law.  is a little funny since Zionism sprang from the Haskala and therefore shares a common origin with Reform Judaism.

Buying products from Israel, especially coming from Occupied Palestine, is the same as buying blood diamonds.

At the height of the Second World War, Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish Polish soldier who had evaded capture and made it to the USA in 1941 published a book in 1944 called Axis Rule in Occupied Europe describing what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, Roma, Poles, and other groups, which he defined as genocide.  In it he described genocide as:

“Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.

“Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population which is allowed to remain or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and the colonization by the oppressor's own nationals.”

Both these passages describe exactly what the State of Israel has been doing to the people of Palestine since 1948.

While Lemkin was the driving force on the Convention and Punishment of Genocide in 1948, it was much watered down from his wishes.

Lemkin’s criticisms of the genocide of Ukraine carried out by Stalin in the 1930’s, suddenly very topical at the moment, are less well known than his criticisms of the Nazi Reich, but they are a subject for another essay.

Saya'ty yawmana.

03 May 2014

Timeline of Irish republicanism

Mostly taken from my “Timeline of the Pretanic Isles, in context”, this focuses on the history of republicanism in Ireland and outside events immediately affecting that direction of that.

(when Irish republicanism was Protestant)

1778 – Establishment of the first Irish Volunteers, which remain as a force until 1793; in the beginning the members are almost entirely Protestant and Dissenter, with Protestant Ascendancy leaders, but gradually Catholics are admitted as well.

1782 – Henry Grattan persuades the London Parliament to grant the Dublin Parliament greater powers.

1784-1786 – Third wave of Whiteboy activity in Ireland.

1784 – Organization of the Catholic Defenders and of the Protestant (Anglican) Peep O'Day Boys in Co. Armagh.

1789-1794 – French Revolution.

1791 – Publication of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man

Society of United Irishmen founded by Theobald Wolfe Tone and Thomas Russell, both from the Established Church of Ireland, at the invitation of a group of Belfast Presbyterians. 

1792 – Two groups calling themselves the Friends of the People Society are organized in London and in Edinburgh respectively, the latter by Thomas Muir, under the inspiration of Thomas Paine.

1795 – United Irishmen change their goal to complete sovereignty. 

The Peep O’Day Boys reorganize as the Orange Order to oppose both the United Irishmen and the proposed Union of the Dublin Parliament with that of London; membership is limited to members of the Church of Ireland.

1797 – Organization of the United Englishmen. 

Rising of the United Scotsmen.

1798 – First Rising of the United Irishmen, under Tone.  It includes the short period of the Republic of Connacht.  After the defeat of the main forces, those left continue as guerrillas in some places until 1804.

1800 – United Irish Rising in Newfoundland.

1801 – Act of Union, uniting the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland.  The realm is now known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1803 – Second Rising of the United Irishmen, under Robert Emmet.


1817 – The Ribbon Society first makes its presence felt in the countryside of Ireland.  Their activities continue past mid-century.

1822 – The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) is established.

1823 – Daniel O’Connell establishes the Catholic Association in Dublin for emancipation from the Penal Laws.

1829 – The Catholic Relief Act passed this year (there have been others in previous years) removes most of the remaining Penal Laws.

1830-1836 – The Tithe War in Ireland against the Church of Ireland, primarily supported by the Ribbonmen.

1834 – Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and other “Dissenters” first admitted to the Orange Order.

1836 – Organization in New York City of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), which later spreads to Ireland.

1840 - O'Connell founds the Repeal Association with an aim toward repealing the Union of Parliaments of 1800.

1841 – Repeal of the Union Movement is formed; Young Ireland Movement is later formed for more radical goals and actions.

1845-1849 – The Great Irish Potato Famine.  Due to a blight on the potato crop, the staple of the Irish diet, between 1 1/2to 2 million Irish starve to death even while enough food to feed the entire country twice over is exported from the country by the corporate interests which control the island’s trade, with another 1 million emigrating to other countries.

1847 – The Irish Confederation is organized, with Young Irelanders as its backbone.

1848 – Young Ireland Rising, part of the Springtime of Nations, the revolts in France, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Venetia, Italy, Sicily, Rome, Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Schleswig, Wallachia, Moldavia, and Rumania.


1858 – Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa begins organizing the Phoenix National and Literary Society, which later merges with the IRB.

The Fenian Brotherhood (FB) is organized in America and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in Ireland.

1862-1865 – The American Civil War.  Immigrant Irish, many of them republican, fight on both sides of the war, mostly for the Union.

1866 – FB splits into the O'Mahony (or Presidential) Wing and the Roberts (or Senate) Wing.  The O'Mahony Wing is later known as the Savage Wing.

1866-1871 – The Fenian Raids into Canada by the U.S.-based and FB-sponsored Irish Republican Army.  The first of these in 1866 led directly to the formation of the Dominion of Canada, uniting the previously independent colonies of British North America.

1871 – The Church of Ireland is at last disestablished by Parliament. 

1873 – Home Rule League founded.

1876 – The CnG, the IRB, and the Australian Irish community establish the Revolutionary Directory, with three representatives each from the CnG and IRB, plus one from the Australian Irish expat community.

1879 – Irish Land League founded.

1880 – Fenian Brotherhood finally collapses.

1882 – Irish National League reorganized as the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP); Irish Unionist Party founded in opposition.

1882-1883 – Campaign of the Invincibles, led by O’Donovan Rossa.

1884 – Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) founded.

1889 – The Socialist International is organized in Paris.

1892 – John Redmond assumes leadership of IPP.

1893 – Gaelic League founded by Douglas Hyde, a Protestant from County Roscommon.

1896 – Irish Socialist Republican Party founded by James Connolly.

1899-1902 – Nationalist and Unionist Irish and Irish-Americans fight on the side of the Afrikaaners against the British during the Second Boer War in the Irish Transvaal Brigade and the Second Irish Brigade.

1900 – Maud Gonne organizes Inginidhe na hEireann to promote Irish culture and nationalism among Irish women.

1901 – The United Irish League of America is founded to support the goals of the Irish Parliamentary Party. 

1905 – Sinn Fein Party founded.  Ulster Unionist Council founded.

1907 – The Ancient Order of Hibernians splits between the AOH (Irish-American Alliance), mostly in America and tied to Clan-na-Gael (and known simply as AOH-American Alliance in Ireland), and AOH (Board of Erin), mostly in Ireland, which came to support the IPP.


1908 – Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) founded by James Larkin.

1909 – Na Fianna Eireann founded by Constance Markievicz and Bulmer Hobson to promote nationalist ideals among boys and adolescent young men.

James Larkin founds the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).

1910 – Clan na Gael Girl Guides founded by the Kelly sisters May and Elizabeth with the same purpose for girls and adolescent young women as Na Fianna Eireann for boys.

1911 – Delia Larkin, her brother James, and Rose Hackett organize the Irish Women Workers Union (IWWU) in Dublin.

1913 – Ulster Volunteers founded by Edward Carson and James Craig under the Ulster Unionist Council.  Irish National Volunteer Corps (INVC) is founded by John Redmond in response to Carson and Craig.  Irish Citizen Army founded by Jack White, James Larkin, and James Connolly.  The Hibernian Rifles are also started by J. J. Scollan of AOH (AA) this year.

1914-1919 - The Great War, also known as the First World War.

1914 – INVC splits into the “National Volunteers” under Redmond, who supports Great Britain during WWI, and the “Irish Volunteers” under Eoin MacNeill.  Cumann na mBan is founded by Kathleen Clarke, Shora MacMahon, and others, with Jennie Wyse-Power is elected President; two years later CMB officially becomes the women’s auxilary of the Irish Volunteers.  The Citizen Army Scouts youth adjunct to ICA is organized by Seamus MacGowan based on his group the Irish National Guard, a breakaway from the Fianna Eireann, with help from Constance Markievicz and Michael Mallin.

1916 – The Easter Rising by the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic (“Saorstat Eireann”) and the Army of the Irish Republic composed of the Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army, Fianna Eireann, Cumann na Bann, AOH’s Hibernian Rifles, and a single company (Craughwell, Galway) of the National Volunteers.  Though most of the major action takes place in the City of Dublin, provincial units rise in Cos. Louth, Meath, Wexford, Galway, and Cork, with members of Cumann na mBan providing support in every area of operation and every post or garrison inside Dublin City.

After the Rising, the Friends of Irish Freedom is founded in America to support the republican prisoners-of-war from the Easter Rising in the aftermath of the sixteen executions which follow.

1919-1922 – Irish War of Independence, with the Irish republican side directed mostly from behind the scenes by the IRB under its President, Michael Collins.

1919 – Irish Volunteers officially become the Irish Republican Army, and includes a Scottish Brigade.

1920 – The RIC organizes the RIC Reserve Force (Black and Tans), the Auxiliary Division (Auxies), and the Ulster Special Constabulary (A-, B-, and C- Specials, USC) to provide support against the IRA.

1921 – Anglo-Irish Treaty; Partition of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State or “Saorstat Eireann”.  The Supreme Council of the IRB, with one exception (Liam Lynch) votes to accept the Treaty.  The CnG does likewise; however, it splits into a Devoy wing and a McGarrity wing called Clan na Gael Reorganized.

1922-1923 – Irish Civil War.

1922 – The IRA divides into the Free Staters and the Irregulars, both using the names IRA until the Free State forces officially change their English designation to Irish Defense Forces; however, both continue using the Irish designation Óglaigh na hÉireann.  Redmondites returning from service with the British army on the continent are recruited en masse into the IDF.  The Royal Ulster Constabulary is established in Northeast Ulster.  Michael Collins dies in a firefight in County Cork.


1923 – The IRA reorganizes itself as a clandestine organization, allied with Sinn Fein as its political arm.  Pro-Treaty former members of Sinn Fein under William Cosgrave form the Cumann na nGaedheal.

1924 – The IRB votes to dissolve, after which the Devoy wing of CnG does likewise; the McGarrity wing, however, continues on as the sole CnG.

1925 – The IRA severs its relationship with Sinn Fein. 

1926 – CnG formally associates with the reorganized IRA. 

Eamon DeValera establishes the Fianna Fail to contest elections, which later separates completely from the IRA.  The A- and C-Specials of the USC are disbanded.

1927 – The London government changes its name to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

1929 - Roddy Connolly organizes the Workers Defense Corps, which is proscribed two years later.

1931 – Peadar O’Donnell and others organize Saor Eire as a left-leaning nationalist political party, but the effort fizzles.

1932 – Hundreds of working-class Catholics and Protestants across Northeast Ulster unite to form the Outdoor Workers Relief Committee; in spite of massive assaults by the B-Specials on Shankhill Road and Falls Road, the resulting strike is successful and the movement spreads.  Richard Mulcahy and others form the Army Comrades Association, made up of former IRA men who supported the Treaty side during the Civil War, to provide support for former Free State soldiers and to protect Cumann meetings from attack by members of the IRA.

1933 – Eoin O'Duffy is expelled from his post as head of the Garda Síochána, then takes over the ACA and changes its name to the National Guard (aka Blueshirts).  When that is banned a few months later, the former ACA members, Cumann na nGaedheal, and National Centre Party band together to form Fine Gael.

1934 – O’Donnell and his allies reorganize under the name Republican Congress and are expelled from the IRA, which splits down the middle.  The RC eventually gains adherents even in the Shankill section of Belfast, and includes a delegation from Shankhill calling themselves the James Connolly Club in its march at Bodenstown this year, but collapses two years later due to lack of funds.

The RC included as its armed wing a revived Irish Citizen Army, which split into two factions the following year, both of which faded with the parent organization.  

1935 – O’Duffy loses control of Fine Gael and withdraws from it, founding the National Corporate Party (aka Greenshirts).

1936-1939 – Republicans and loyalists fight in the Spanish Civil War in the same unit of the International Brigades (many in the Connolly Column), while Blueshirts and Greenshirts under O’Duffy fight on the side of Franco’s Nationalists.

1939-1945 – The Second World War.

1939-1940 – IRA’s Sabotage Campaign in England.

1942-1944 – IRA’s Northern Campaign in the Six Counties.

1946 – On the heels of the Second World War, IRA leader Sean MacBride organizes the leftist republican Clann na Poblachta.

1949 - Brendan O'Boyle, formerly of IRA's Northern Command, organizes Laochra Uladh, which ended with his death in action in 1955.

1950 – An Irish Republican Brotherhood is formed in Dublin and disbanded by Cathal Goulding the next year.

1951 – Liam Kelly organizes Saor Uladh after being expelled from the IRA.  Raymond O'Cianain's Arm na Saoirse is absorbed into IRA.

1953 – Kelly establishes Fianna Uladh as the political wing of Saor Uladh.

1955 - The Christle Groups forms around its eponymous founder, Joe Christle, after he is expelled from IRA.  The group allies with Saor Uladh.


1956-1962 – IRA’s Border Campaign.

1956 – IRA publishes its first Green Book, in which individual members are referred to as Guerrillas. 

Ian Paisley forms the Ulster Protection Action (UPA).

1957 – Richard Behel founds the Saor Eire Action Group.

1966 – Gusty Spence establishes the (new) Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).  

UPA (1956) becomes the Protestant Unionist Party (PUP).

Ian Paisley forms the Ulster Constitution Defense Committee (UCDC) and its paramilitary arm, the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV).  The UPV dissolves in 1969.

William McGrath organizes the loyalist paramilitary Tara.

1967 – Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association is organized.

Saor Eire, with a Trotskyite orientation, is organized by former IRA members headed by ex-Dublin Brigade OC Frank Keane.  Not the same as Saor Eire Action Group.


1969-1998 – The Troubles.

1969 – The Battle of the Bogside. 

The IRA splits into two, the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) and the Reorganized IRA following the “Provisional” Army Council (later called the Provisional IRA or PIRA). 

Foundation in the USA of the Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID) by Martin Galvin.

John McKeague forms the Shankill Defense Association (SDA), the major forerunner to the later UDA.

1970 – A split in republican ranks over policy in Northeast Ulster and the turn toward Marxism-Leninism results in an Official Sinn Fein and a Provisional Sinn Fein. 

The Ulster Constabulary's B-Specials are dissolved and most former members join the new Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR).

George Green organizes the Ulster Special Constabulary Association (USCA) as a pressure group then paramilitary from former members of the B-Specials.  It goes defunct by 1977.

The small loyalist paramilitary Protestant Task Force (PTF) forms.  It disbands in 1976.

1971 – The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) succeeds the PUP (1966). 

Beginning of internment of both republican and loyalist suspects in the cages at Long Kesh.

Provos wishing to carry out sectarian attacks against Protestants organize the Red Flag Avengers (RFA) in Belfast, and remain active thru 1976.

The Ulster Defense Association (UDA) forms as an umbrella for groups such as the SDA, with the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) as its paramilitary arm.

Billy Hull organizes the Loyalist Association of Workers (LAW) to work within the trade unions.  It ceases to exist in mid-1974.

The Irish Citizen Army (2) forms in Belfast and Newry, but dies out by the mid-1970s.

1972 – The 1st Battalion of the Royal Parachute Regiment fires on a NICRA civil rights march in the city of Derry, killing fourteen and wounding many others, an incident now known as Bloody Sunday.

John McKeague organizes the (new) Red Hand Commando (RHC), largely made up of personnel from his former group, the SDA.  Later in the year, it affiliates with UVF but remains a separate organization.

The Army Council of the Official IRA declares a unilateral ceasefire.

Tinnelly's Brigade forms in south Co. Down out of OIRA volunteers opposed to the Official Army Council's ceasefire.  It remains active for two years.

Bob Marno organizes the Orange Volunteers (OV1) paramilitary vigilante group from militant members of the Orange Order.  It is defunct by the 1980s.

William Craig forms the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP), or Ulster Vanguard, from dissidents of the UUP, with a paramilitary wing, the Ulster Volunteer Service Corps (UVSC).

Peter Brush organizes the loyalist paramilitary Down Orange Welfare (DOW), but it is defunct by the end of 1977.

1973 – Harry West organizes the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC), with the UUP, DUP, and VUUP as the main member organizations, with several others such as the LAW and the DOW.

The Ulster Army Council (UAC) forms as an umbrella for loyalist paramilitaries.  Its members are UDA, UVF, RHC, UVSC, OV (1), DOW, and USCA.

The Ulster Citizen Army (UCA) forms from members of UDA who want to pursue a less anti-Catholic and more left wing loyalist ideology, but it doesn't last the year.

The Sunningdale Agreement attempts to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland.  It is supported by the SDLP, the UUP, and the Alliance Party.  It is opposed by republicans, loyalists, and all other unionists.

1973-1978 – Activities of the South Derry Independent Republican Unit, which includes Francie Hughes, Dominic McGlinchey, Thomas McElwee, Joe Sheridan, Ian Milne, et al.

1974 – Three simultaneous bombings in Dublin and another in Monaghan one and a half hours later, the work of the UVF, kill 33 and wound over 300.

Seamus Costello organizes the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

Harry Murray forms the Ulster Workers Council (UWC) to replace the defunct LAW.

The Ulster Workers Council Strike destroys the Sunningdale Agreement.

In the wake of the strike, the UAC reconstitutes as the Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC).  It includes the members of its predecessor and later the USC (1977).

The UVSC collapses later in the year.

The Armagh People's Republican Army (APRA) is founded in Co. Armagh and remains active into 1977.

1975 – A group from Saor Eire breaks away, calling itself Saoirse Eire, when the former decides to dissolve itself.

An independent republican outfit called the South Armagh Republican Action Force (SARAF) becomes active and remains so for the next three years.

Near the end of the year, secret talks take place between the ULCCC and the PIRA Army Council through intermediaries Desmond Boal and Sean MacBride, with the top leaders on both sides fully informed; the talks eventually reach an agreement to a mutual ceasefire and joint demand for British Army withdrawal, but are scuttled by a second workers strike orchestrated by Paisley for unrelated reasons.

1976 – Under recommendation from the Gardiner Committee, British Secretary of State Merlyn Rees orders an end to Special Category Status for political prisoners in Northern Ireland beginning 1 March. Kieran Nugent, the first prisoner to arrive in the H-Blocks at Long Kesh under the new rules, refuses to wear prison clothes, beginning the blanket protest, which many loyalists join.

1977 – Official Sinn Fein becomes Sinn Fein-The Workers’ Party.

The Provos issue a new Green Book which refers to members as Volunteers, revives the term Oglaigh na h’Eireann, and reorganizes the order of battle from brigades and battalions into smaller Active Service Units.

Frank McManus, Fergus MacAteer, and John Turnley establish the Irish Independence Party (IIP), which is largely a merger of the Unity Party and the Nationalist Party.

The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC), a subcommittee of the UUUC (1973), establishes the loyalist vigilante group Ulster Service Corps (USC).

1978 – Beginning of the no wash protest and later the dirty protest in the republican wing of the H-blocks and of Armagh Women's Prison, where many of the inmates have already joined the blanket protest.

VUPP (1972) dissolves.

UDA chairman Andy Trie initiates the organization of the New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG), with Glen Barr as chairman.

1979 – Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) is organized in the Shankill as the political arm of the UVF. 

1981 – The Hunger Strike for political status takes places in the republican wing of the H-blocks at Long Kesh, with seven PIRA and three INLA prisoners dying. 

The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) is organized as the political arm of the UDA/UFF.

The loyalist paramilitary Tara collapses at the end of the year due to seizure of its major arms cache and involvement of its leader, McGrath, in the Kincora scandal.

1982 – SF-WP becomes simply the Workers Party.

1983 - The Catholic Reaction Force of INLA dissidents forms in Co. Armagh.

1986 – The Gerry Adams wing of the Provisional Republican Movement launches a successful coup d’etat against the national leadership, which then forms Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) and the Continuity IRA (CIRA) to oppose Adams’ abandonment of abstentionism. 

The DUP founds Ulster Resistance in opposition to the Anglo-Irish agreement. 

Persons expelled or forced to resign from the INLA form the Irish People’s Liberation Organization (IPLO), which serves mostly as a vehicle for criminal profit.

About a hundred Provo prisoners in the H-Blocks resign in protest over the movement's abandonment of abstentionism, and later in the year many of these form the League of Communist Republicans (LCR), which last about five years.

The Ulster Movement for Self-Determination forms, calling for an independent Ulster including the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, plus Cos. Donegal, Monaghan, and Cavan in the Republic of Ireland.  It dissolves into the UIC in 1988.

1987 - Formation in America of the National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) by Michael Flannery, George Harrison, Joe Stynes and others, to provide American support for RSF.

Dessie O'Hare forms the Irish Revolutionary Brigade (IRB) as a splinter from INLA.

Revolutionary Struggle, a small leftist republican outfit with paramilitary capability, forms in Dublin.

1988 – The Ulster Independence Movement (UIM) forms in Northern Ireland, initially as the Ulster Independence Committee (UIC) until 1994.

1989At the end of the year, the Irish National Congress (INC) is organized to commemorate the Easter Rising, but after that continues as a non-party, non-sectarian vehicle to campaign on various left republican issues.

1991 – The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) forms as an umbrella group for UDA, UVF, and RHC.  Its governing board includes liaisons from those paramilitaries as well as from UDP and PUP.

1992 – The UDR is amalgamated with the Royal Irish Regiment. The IPLO is wiped out by PIRA after a number of clashes.

1994 - The Irish National Republican Army organizes this year, but later dissolves to join the CIRA.

The CLMC, led by Gusty Spence, announces a cease-fire.

1996 – Billy Wright secedes from UVF and organizes the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

Frank Curry, expelled from the RHC, and other dissidents loyalists begin operating under the name Red Hand Defenders (RHD), but they don't really organize until an influx of dissident loyalists from UDA and LVF opposed to the GFA join them in 1998.

1997 – A group of OIRA members secede to form the Official Republican Movement over the direction the Workers’ Party is then taking. 


1998 – The PIRA and the INLA both announce cease-fires, ending The Troubles.

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is signed by the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sinn Fein, UUP, DUP, SDLP, Alliance, PUP, UDP, the Labour Coalition (in Northern Ireland), and the cross-community Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition.

The Real IRA (RIRA) forms under Michael McKevitt from PIRA dissidents opposed to the GFA, with an allied political arm, 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM).

The CnG splits into Republican CnG and Provisional CnG factions; eventually both fade into virtual nonexistence.  A group calling itself by the old name Fenian Brotherhood later organizes hoping to replace the two dying organizations, but its efforts never amount to much.

Dissident loyalists opposed to the GFA from the Orange Volunteers.  Members are believed to come from UDA, LVF, and the Orange Order.

Formation in America of the Irish Freedom Committee (IFC), based on the former Chicago camp of NIFC, to support the 32CSM. 

A bombing carried out by RIRA in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, kills 29, including one woman pregnant with twins, and injures 220.

2000 – The UIM (1988) dissolves, with most members joining David Kerr's new Ulster Third Way (U3W), publisher of Ulster Nation.  U3W, loosely affiliated with the neo-Confederate movement League of the South in the U.S., dissolves in 2005.

2001 – The RUC is incorporated into the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). 

The magazine The Blanket is founded in Belfast to provide alternative views from across the political spectrum to not only events in the Northeast and the rest of Ireland, but in the rest of the world as well.  It is published in print and online.

The UDP dissolves near the end of the year.

2002 – At the beginning of the year, the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) is organized to replace the UDP.

32CSM/RIRA dissidents, including Michael McKevitt and Bernadette Sands-McKevitt, renounce violence and along with others form the New Republican Forum.

2005 – Former members of the CIRA form the Oglaigh Na hEireann (Continuity ONH or ONH1), but it disappears by 2009.

The PIRA disarms.

Disaffected republicans in the Belfast area. mostly ex-Provos, form the paramilitary Saoirse na hÉireann (SNH).

2006 – Dissidents from PIRA, INLA, and CIRA form the Irish Republican Liberation Army and the Continuity Liberation Movement.  

Dissidents from PIRA form an Independent Republican Unit, modelled on the one from South Derry in the early days of the Troubles.

Republican socialist dissidents from Sinn Fein form “eirigi”.

The Republican Defense Army (RDA) breaks away from PIRA.

2007 – A group calling itself the Real Ulster Freedom Fighters appears.

The UDA/UFF and the UVF both announce the demilitarization of their respective groups.  The UDA's East Antrim Brigade breaks away from its parent unit, but continues to use the name UDA in its title.

The Republican Network for Unity (RNU) forms to oppose the PRM’s support for the PSNI.

The Republican Defense Association forms from volunteers expelled from the 2006 RDA.

The (new) Irish Republican Brotherhood forms in Dublin.

2008 – The Republican Defense Association and Republican Defense Army are formed in Northeast Ulster.  The Blanket ceases publication.

The Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) forms in Derry from former PIRA volunteers.

Saor Uladh forms in West Belfast and North Armagh.

The print and online magazine The Blanket is replaced by The Pensive Quill.

2009 – The Irish National Liberation Army disarms.

The UVF announce they have destroyed  their entire armament while the RHC and UDA announce they have destroyed a large part of their arsenals and will continue until they are all gone.

A split in the RIRA leads to the formation of Oglaigh na hEireann (Real ONH or ONH2), a name available since ONH1 has by this time ceased to exist.

The 1916 Societies begin to form around the slogan, "One Ireland, One Vote".

The Real Continuity IRA (RCIRA) breaks away from CIRA and allies with RSF.

The 1916 Societies form to push for Irish Unity as outlined in the Proclamation of 1916.

2010 – The Official IRA decommissions its arms.

2011 – The PIRA dissolves.

The Occupy movement begins at Liberty Square in Manhattan, then spreads world-wide, including Dublin, Belfast, Galway, Cork, Letterkenney, Limerick, and Waterford.

2012 – The RIRA, RAAD, and disaffected former Provos in East Tyrone come together in summer as the New Irish Republican Army (New IRA or NIRA).

2014 – Gerry Adams, current leader of Sinn Fein, former COS of PIRA, former commander of PIRA’s Northern Command, and former leader of the Belfast Brigade’s security unit, is arrested in connection with the murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of ten killed in 1972, a few days after the arrest of Ivor Bell, OC of the Belfast Brigade at the time of the murder.  He is subsequently released.

2015 - The IRSP publishes a paper from an internal discussion declaring that the CIRA, RIRA, and ONH should end their armed struggle.

Action Against Drugs, made up of former Provos, announces its presence with the assassination of former Provo and ex-DAAD member Kevin McGuigan and formally in the Irish News.

A series of unfortunate events forces the PSNI to admit that not only does the PIRA still exist, but that it is still armed.

2016 - The political party Saoradh, supported by the New IRA, is established.

2018 - The ONH (Real ONH or ONH2) announces an end to its armed campaign.

Mostly taken from my “Timeline of the Pretanic Isles, in context” (http://notesfromtheninthcircle.blogspot.com/2012/02/timeline-of-pretanic-isles.html).