Quotes: The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized

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    Comic books 

There's one hole in every revolution, large or small Ö people. No matter how big the idea they all stand under, people are small and weak and cheap and frightened. It's people that kill every revolution.
Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan

Idealists and reformers all become executioners in their turn. The road to utopia ends with the steps of the scaffold, the endless moment of the guillotine.
Grant Morrison, The Invisibles Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution

    Film — Live action 

The appalling thing about fascism is that you've got to use fascist methods to get rid of it. We've all got a bit of it in us, and it doesn't take a lot to bring it to the surface.
Doctor Fletcher, It Happened Here

It's easy to know what you are against, but quite another to know what you are for.
—Damien O'Donovan, The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Martin Luther: You think this is my work?! This is never my work!
Spalatin in Mob: No...it's the people's work!
Martin: The people's work?
Mob: (falls silent)


We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.
O'Brien, 1984

    Live-action TV 

Which "side" are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We're evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go.
Colonel Saul Tigh of the New Caprican Resistance, Battlestar Galactica.

Blake: I meant what I said on Goth, Avon. We are not going to use Star One to rule the federation. We are going to destroy it.
Avon: I never doubted that. I never doubted your fanaticism. As far as I am concerned, you can destroy whatever you like. You can stir up a thousand revolutions. You can wade in blood up to your armpits. Oh, and you can lead the rabble to victory, whatever that might mean. Just so long as there is an end to it.


You picked a fight
I pick dynamite
—"I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good", Steve Taylor

I raise my flag and dye my clothes
It's a revolution, I suppose
We're painted red to fit right in
Imagine Dragons, Radioactive

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know, we all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction,
Don't you know that you can count me out
—"Revolution", John Lennon

You talk of overthrowing power with violence as your tool
You speak of liberation and when the people rule
Well ain't it people rule right now, what difference would there be?
Just another set of bigots with their rifle-sights on me
—"Bloody Revolutions", Crass.

    Stand-up comedy 

Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?

    Video Games 

You see, The Founders ain't nothing but weeds: Cut'em down, they'll just grow back. If you wanna get rid of the weed, you got to pull it up from the root.
Daisy Fitzroy, Bioshock Infinite

    Western Animation 

In war, ideals can be corrupted.
Optimus Prime, Transformers Prime

    Web Original 

Che did indeed kill people. He killed enemy soldiers on the battlefield, like any professional soldier of any nation. He killed undisciplined guerillas who would abuse their power and terrorize the populace, raping and killing peasant women and children. Che also killed soldiers of Batistaís army for heinous war crimes, and members of the hated secret police, the Bureau of Repression of Communist Activities, who were known for their brutality and use of torture....Usually, what happens is that, in the case of the Russian Civil War and the Cuban Revolution, the reactionary faction in power is brutal and uses atrocious methods to eliminate the rebel threat like torture. The rebels are then forced to become just as bad if they want to secure victory. Violence breeds violence.

According to official North Korean mythology, Kim Il Sung, the 'Great Leader,' is immortal, arose from the grave to be with us forever, and lives in the hearts of every Korean, who all bubble over with intense love and adoration toward Him, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. According to everyone else, he was a failed guerrilla leader who spent much of WWII unsuccessfully attempting to free Korea from the iron fist of the Japanese so it could be seized by the iron fist of Kim Il Sung instead.

Certainly the riots were tremendously self-defeating. There is no reasonable way to claim that they were not in part, indeed, in a substantial part motivated by little more than outright anger and destructiveness. Many, indeed the overwhelming majority of people directly harmed by the riots were by any sensible standard innocent victims. And no sensible theory of political activism can really conclude that indiscriminate smashing of stuff is going to get you much of anywhere.

All of which said, in practice there is something grimly inevitable about riots — a toxic mixture of poverty, degradation, and summer heat that periodically and predictably combusts. 58% of those arrested in connection with the riots came from the poorest 20% of areas of England. This fact speaks volumes about the causes of the riots. And perhaps more to the point, it is not necessarily reasonable to expect peopleís howl of outrage at the apparent and hopeless dead end that is their life to be orderly and productive.
Dr. Phil Sandifer on the 2011 England riots

    Real life 

The passions of a revolution are apt to hurry even good men into excesses.

The Frenchman came to remove our fetters. But he took our boots instead.
—Polish peasants in the path of Napoleon Bonaparte, from 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski.

To destroy that enemy, by some means or other, the force opposed to it should be made to bear some analogy and resemblance to the force and spirit which that system exerts.
Edmund Burke on the Jacobins

The vessel of Revolution can arrive at port only on a sea reddened by torrents of blood.
Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

If you took the most ardent revolutionary, vested him in absolute power, within a year he would be worse than the Tsar himself.
Mikhail Bakunin

A few years from now, I told him, perhaps others would be killing each other for anti-nationalist ideals. Then they would laugh at our own killings just as we had laughed at the Byzantines. These others would indulge in mutual slaughter with the same enthusiasm, though their ideals were new. Warfare under the entirely fresh banners would be just as disgraceful as always. They might even rip each others' guts out then with religious zeal, claiming that they were 'fighting to end all fighting.' But they took would be followed by still others who would laugh at them with the same gusto.
Stratis Myrivilis, Life in the Tomb

The future fascists will call themselves anti-fascists.

Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—the one who wanted to help the Black Muslims and the whites get together—and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I've lived to regret that incident...I did many things as a Black Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then (like all Black Muslims), I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years. That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I'm glad to be free of them.

I do say that I am in favor of the return of the guillotine and that is for the worst of the worst of the guilty. I first would allow the guilty bankers to pay, you know, the ability to pay back anything over $100 million [sic] personal wealth because I believe in a maximum wage of $100 million. And if they are unable to live on that amount of that amount then they should, y'know, go to the reeducation camps and if that doesnít help, then being beheaded.

Take these guys in what are called the 'militias' — I mean, obviously they're not militias in the Second Amendment sense: 'militias' are things raised by states, these are just paramilitary organizations.... They don't read the "Fortune 500" and put together an analysis of what's really going on in the world, all they've had rammed to their heads is, "The Federal Government's your enemy."
Noam Chomsky

The conservatives are now tending toward fascism ó crack down on dissent, support your local police, disobey the Supreme Court ó while the New Left wants to destroy the entire system. Emotionally, Iím drawn to the New Left. I would certainly go to the barricades for any movement that wants to sweep away the Pentagon, Time interviews, and frozen French fried potatoes. But what is to take its place? The New Left not only have no blueprint, they donít want a blueprint. Letís just see what happens, they say. Well, I can tell them what will happen: first anarchy, then dictatorship. They are rich in Tom Paines, but they have no Thomas Jefferson.
Gore Vidal, Playboy 1969