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Civil war(s) November 4, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Intriguing book review in History Ireland this last month by Eoin Dillon of Bill Kissane’s Nations Torn Asunder – The Challenge of Civil War.

In it he writes that:

According to Kissane… scholarly interest in civil war now outstrips that in revolution and inter-state war. Wars that may be classified under the rubric of civil, internal or new – a paradoxically globalised form of civil war are likely to predominate over big inter-state wars of rate foreseeable future, thus ensuring no fall off in interest.

Just to be clear Kissane’s definition as describe by Dillon is as follows:

1) At the opening rivals are subject to a common authority

2) both sides are highly organised militarily

3) there is a de facto territorial division between the two sides.

Casting one’s mind over our own civil war all three conditions held for at least some of the conflict. Can a civil war exist absent that? And what does it become? For example, was the conflict in the North a civil war or something different? And Dillon asks useful questions..

Ultimately civil wars are fought to win control of a state or to exit from the control of one state to form another. This puts the state at the centre of any understanding of what civil war is. But what is a state?

Is that another discussion entirely?


1. Joe - November 4, 2016

‘Our’ civil war was a civil war in that it was two factions from the same people or nation fighting it out. The Spanish civil war likewise.
The recent conflict in the north was not a civil war because it was armed groups ‘representing’ two different peoples or nations fighting it out. Similarly the recent conflicts in the former Yugoslavia were not civil wars.


Dr.Nightdub - November 4, 2016

Similarly, I’ve always maintained that the previous conflict in the North, from 1920-22, was not a civil war because when it began there was no separate northern state in existence. It was part of the same War of Independence that was waged down here, it just didn’t end in 1921 with the Truce / Treaty, but in fact intensified during the first half of 1922.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - November 5, 2016

I think that’s a very fair analysis. What I often think is how civil war frames can be used to on occasion to diminish what was a process of seeking independence both politically and militarily pushing it conceptually into an ‘incorrigible Irish always at war with one another’ even if the definition of ‘Irish’ seems to be oddly fluid.


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