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Playing With / The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized

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Basic Trope: La Résistance gets its hands dirty during the war.

  • Straight: Bob is a resistance fighter in a Liberation Front-led revolution against the Imperial Empire of Troperitania. During the war, he watches some of his comrades commit war crimes.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: The Liberation Front's Revolutionary Army, while a bit tough when regarding captured enemies and local population, doesn't commit large-scale atrocities.
  • Justified:
    • The Rebel Leader cannot be everywhere at once, so it would be unfair to expect them to know what all their soldiers are doing at all times.
    • The Revolutionary Army is poorly disciplined, and often so poorly supplied that stealing from civilians is the only way to get food.
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    • In this story, Hobbes Was Right and any attempt to overthrow the tyrannical government of The Empire is doomed to devolve into mindless brutality and therefore not worth pursuing.
    • The Revolution is initially on the path of reform and peaceful protests but is crushed so brutally by The Empire that people start to accept that Violence Is the Only Option, and those who were moderate (friends of the original protestors and reformists) go radical.
    • While some of the Liberation Front's soldiers are in it for the cause, there are also plenty of amoral mercenaries as well as thugs who only signed on to get a chance to murder and pillage.
    • The revolution has been dragged out for so long that most of the Liberation Front's new recruits were children when the revolution started, and as a result, they don't really understand the reasons behind the revolt beyond "overthrow The Empire" and unquestioningly buy into everything that they're fed. As a result, they are far more heavily radicalized.
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    • The Liberation Front is fighting for an inherently unjustifiable cause such as the "right" to own other humans as slaves, "freedom" from the rule of a benevolent King/Emperor/Queen/Empress/other ruling class who happens to belong to a racial/cultural/religious group they consider "unworthy", "evil", and/or "oppressive", or the removal of a Rags to Royalty monarch in exchange for one of "proper" birth, or just for the sake of seizing power for themselves. Or even all of the above. In other words, the rebels were the villains from the start. It's not hard to resort to bad methods when starting with bad intentions.
  • Inverted: The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
    • However, there are still some monsters in the Revolutionary Army who do commit atrocities when encountered.
    • The Empire itself was formed from a revolution that was every bit as brutal as the autocratic state it is now.
    • An actual revolution rises up, and becomes just as bad as the fake one.
  • Parodied: The Resistance Liberation Front's Rebel Leader literally Eats Babies, and says stock freedom fighter lines in-between zapping innocent loyalists' homes and random imperial troops with holy light. When asked what The Empire did that was so bad, they avoid the question by a Non-Answer/Concepts Are Cheap/Meaningless Meaningful Words or just "selective deafness" instead of actually providing a real answer.
  • Zig Zagged: Given that the revolution happened hundreds of years ago, it's hard to tell what really happened. Some say the revolution was peaceful and lead to a period of prosperity, other say that the rebels were decent people even if they did deal out harsh justice to the worst of the offenders, others says the revolution was a bloodbath and the new regime was cruel and oppressive.
  • Averted:
  • Enforced:
  • Lampshaded: "You know, after what I know you've done in the name of rebellion... are you really that different from the Empire you're fighting against?"
  • Invoked: Ivan, a high ranking member of the Liberation Front, explicitly orders his men to commit atrocities and purposely obstructs any chance for a peaceful resolution. The reason is that he wants to strike fear into his enemies, and believes the best way of doing this is by eating children.
  • Exploited: The Empire captures rebel atrocities on film and uses it in propaganda to paint the Liberation Front as being Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Defied:
    • The Rebel Leader holds their subordinates to a strict code of ethics, and any of their soldiers caught committing an atrocity is tried and executed.
    • The United Nations sent Peacekeepers into the The Empire and established safe zones during the early stages of The Rebellion, making it abundantly clear that atrocities from either side would not be tolerated.
  • Discussed:
    Soldier Tim: Tom, what if we're the bad guys? I mean, The Emperor is kinda harsh-
    Soldier Tom: Are you kidding?! Those Liberation Front bastards murdered every man and raped every woman in my village and called it "recompense" for not siding with them! Any side opposing these brutes is the side I want to be on!
  • Conversed: "The day that made me leave the Liberation Front and flee the country is still burned into my nightmares. We had captured a loyalist town that we suspected had been feeding information to the Empire about revolutionary activities in the area, and we needed to know what they had been telling them. No one would talk. So we marched a crowd of people to the town square, picked people at random, and necklaced them in front of the crowd and forced them to watch until people started talking. That was when I knew that whatever we were fighting for didn't matter. That we had become pure evil. I'll still remember the screams and the stench of burning rubber and flesh. Whatever better tomorrow we wanted to create would exist because of our evil, and I could not live in that world with the knowledge of what I had been a part of."
  • Implied:
  • Deconstructed:
    • The Revolution becomes so brutal that it is worse than the Empire it is fighting against, and as such the civilian populace wholeheartedly support the latter. The atrocities of the Liberation Front cause Imperial soldiers to become fanatical; they're not just fighting because The Empire pays well, they're fighting to avenge the murder of loyalist civilians. The Revolution becomes so brutal that both The Empire and its civilian population fight against it with everything they have, causing it to fail. The Resistance itself gains an almost Nazi-like level of infamy, to the point where even millennia later "Resistance fighter" is a byword for evil.
    • The leaders of the Revolution come to accept some form of violence, but they do this in the hope of controlling the direction of the movement, and preventing the truly bloodthirsty activists from coming to power. They believe that they can control the violence and kill fewer people by condoning some forms of violence, and they will even make sure to make some high profile rescues and pardons of prominent victims to show that the violence is only done by "radicals". Once their base is secure, the executioners are submitted to a purge, a show trial, and a Historical Villain Upgrade, and the Revolutionary regime that follows quietly rewrites history to paint itself and the movement as cleaner than it really was.
    • The Rebel Leader is an Honor Before Reason hero, and as such is utterly horrified by how brutal their subordinates are. They can't prosecute the rapists and the child-killers because attempts to do so are blocked by their more radical subordinates. Finally, in a last-ditch gamble to reign in his uprising, the Rebel Leader surrenders to The Empire — not out of a change of heart, but rather in an attempt to shame the rebellion into adopting less ruthless methods. It fails, and the very same radicals they were trying to shame instead either paint them as a coward and a traitor (at best) or falsely claim that they turned himself in in exchange for the false-promised release of rebel Prisoners Of War (using him as a Martyr to inspire even more atrocities.)
  • Reconstructed:
    • Even with its atrocities, the Liberation Front is still the lesser evil than The Empire. Most of the victims were the wealthy and prominent and as such have access to publicists who will cry for them rather than the masses they leeched off. The new system is flawed and imperfect but has more opportunities and scope of advancement for more people than the old regime.
    • While that particular revolution was defeated, The Empire still has serious problems and there will likely be another one down the road. When it does come, the new Rebel Leader learns from the mistakes of his predecessors and ensures their soldiers obey The Laws and Customs of War.
    • The Emperor and other leaders of the Empire note that, as extreme as the rebels were, they had some legitimate grievances. As such, they set about reforming the empire with the hope of the citizenry, creating a Velvet Revolution of sorts.
  • Played For Laughs: Liberation Front's fighters detonate nuclear arms in major Imperial cities — killing millions of innocent civilians — simply because the Emperor's Voice is slightly annoying. When asked about The Empire's actual transgressions (slavery, secret police, hereditary monarchy, etc.), La Résistance state that they can live with those so long as they "don't have to put up with that annoying voice!".
  • Played For Drama:
    • The story kicks off when Liberation Front soldiers murder Henry's entire family — along with every single civilian in New Tropeburg, his home town — simply because the Rebel Leader deemed that city guilty of supporting The Empire and wished to Make an Example of Them. The rest of the story follows Henry and his fellow survivors making their way through the war-torn Troperitania in the hopes of reaching a Refugee Camp or another country border. Along the way they encounter many more Liberation Front atrocities and even ambush and kill off their Death Squad.
    • Bob is a member of the aristocracy or even the royal family of Troperitania who has to run for his life now that the revolution broke out and all the nobles are hunted by Angry Mobs or the new regime's State Sec.
    • Bob is a revolutionary who is generally fairly moderate, dislikes getting his hands dirty, and is greatly dismayed by some of the more brutal things he has seen his fellow revolutionaries do, but he has seen The Empire do some truly unspeakable things that make even the worst of what his peers have done pale in comparison, and he grows steadily more radicalized out of necessity and anger until he becomes his own antithesis and worse, all while being utterly convinced of his own moral infallibility. By the end, the man who used to be the first to call his peers out for something horrible that they did is the man who is notorious even among his peers for massacring prisoners, selling people into slavery (including selling women to sex traffickers), and using child soldiers.

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