Revolution

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There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence. ~ Charles A. Reich

Revolution (from Late Latin revolutio which means "a turn around") is a significant change that usually occurs in a relatively short period of time.

Quotes[edit]

We used to think that revolutions are the cause of change. Actually it is the other way around: change prepares the ground for revolution. ~ Eric Hoffer
The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints. ~ Will Durant
At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. ~ Che Guevara
The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free. ~ John F. Kennedy
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. ~ John F. Kennedy
A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all. ~ John F. Kennedy
A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — But a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability. ~ Robert Kennedy
Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right. ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.
  • The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
  • Revolution requires extensive and widespread destruction, a fecund and renovating destruction, since in this way and only this way are new worlds born
  • The peoples' revolution .... will arrange its revolutionary organisation from the bottom up and from the periphery to the centre, in keeping with the principle of liberty.
    • Mikhail Bakunin, Program and Object of the Secret Revolutionary Organisation of the International Brotherhood (1868)
  • I realized that the only purpose to revolution is to be able to love who you want, how you want, when you want and where you want...
  • A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
    • Napoleon Bonaparte. Journal of International Affairs, By Columbia University. School of International Affairs, 1976, pg 94.
  • The first duty of society is to give each of its members the possibility of fulfilling his destiny. When it becomes incapable of performing this duty it must be transformed.
  • Revolution: Political movement which gets many people´s hopes up, let´s even more people down, makes almost everybody uncomfortable, and a few, extraordinarily rich. It is widely held in high regard.
  • There are seasons, in human affairs, of inward and outward revolution, when new depths seem to be broken up in the soul, when new wants are unfolded in multitudes, and a new and undefined good is thirsted for. There are periods when...to dare, is the highest wisdom.
  • An oppressed people are authorized, whenever they can, to rise and break their fetters.
  • The French Revolution qualitatively transformed all aspects of human culture, including science, for better or worse. The institutional ideological changes wrought in French science by the Revolution and its aftermath shaped the subsequent course of modern science everywhere. The essential underlying factor, as the Hessen thesis maintains, was the victory of capitalism, which the Revolution consolidated. The new social order spread to Europe and the rest of the world, everywhere subordinating the further development of science to capitalist interests.
    • Clifford D. Conner, A People's History of Science (2005)
  • The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints.
  • The two great conceptual revolutions of twentieth-century science, the overturning of classical physics by Werner Heisenberg and the overturning of the foundations of mathematics by Kurt Gödel, occurred within six years of each other within the narrow boundaries of German-speaking Europe. ...A study of the historical background of German intellectual life in the 1920s reveals strong links between them. Physicists and mathematicians were exposed simultaneously to external influences that pushed them along parallel paths. ...Two people who came early and strongly under the influence of Spengler's philosophy were the mathematician Hermann Weyl and the physicist Erwin Schrödinger. ...Weyle and Schrödinger agreed with Spengler that the coming revolution would sweep away the principle of physical causality. The erstwhile revolutionaries David Hilbert and Albert Einstein found themselves in the unaccustomed role of defenders of the status quo, Hilbert defending the primacy of formal logic in the foundations of mathematics, Einstein defending the primacy of causality in physics. In the short run, Hilbert and Einstein were defeated and the Spenglerian ideology of revolution triumphed, both in physics and in mathematics. Heisenberg discovered the true limits of causality in atomic processes, and Gödel discovered the limits of formal deduction and proof in mathematics. And, as often happens in the history of intellectual revolutions, the achievement of revolutionary goals destroyed the revolutionary ideology that gave them birth. The visions of Spengler, having served their purpose, rapidly became irrelevant.
  • Every revolution was first a thought in one man's mind; and when the same thought occurs to another man, it is the key to that era.
  • The succeessful revolutionary is a statesman, the unsuccessful one a criminal.
  • A non-violent revolution is not a program of seizure of power. It is a program of transformation of relationships, ending in a peaceful transfer of power.
  • Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.
  • A great revolution is never the fault of the people, but of the government.
    • Goethe, Conversations with Goethe, 1824.
  • The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it drop.
    • Che Guevara. "Che Guevara: Revolutionary & Icon", by Trisha Ziff, Abrams Image, 2006, pg 69.
  • At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. Perhaps it is one of the great dramas of the leader that he or she must combine a passionate spirit with a cold intelligence and make painful decisions without flinching. Our vanguard revolutionaries must idealize this love of the people, of the most sacred causes, and make it one and indivisible. They cannot descend, with small doses of daily affection, to the level where ordinary people put their love into practice.
    The leaders of the revolution have children just beginning to talk, who are not learning to call their fathers by name; wives, from whom they have to be separated as part of the general sacrifice of their lives to bring the revolution to its fulfilment; the circle of their friends is limited strictly to the number of fellow revolutionists. There is no life outside of the revolution.
    In these circumstances one must have a great deal of humanity and a strong sense of justice and truth in order not to fall into extreme dogmatism and cold scholasticism, into isolation from the masses. We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.
    • Excerpts from the two paragraphs above have sometimes been quoted in abbreviated form: At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality... We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.
    • Variant translation: One must have a large dose of humanity, a large dose of a sense of justice and truth in order to avoid dogmatic extremes, cold scholasticism, or an isolation from the masses. We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity is transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.
    • Che Guevara, Man and Socialism in Cuba (1965), A letter to Carlos Quijano, editor of Marcha a radical weekly published in Montevideo, Uruguay; published as "From Algiers, for Marcha : The Cuban Revolution Today" (12 March 1965); also published in Verde Olivo, the magazine of the Cuban armed forces "Socialism and Man in Cuba" - Variant translation by Margarita Zimmermann
  • State authority can never be an end in itself; for, if that were so, any kind of tyranny would be inviolable and sacred. If a government uses the instruments of power in its hands for the purpose of leading a people to ruin, then rebellion is not only the right but also the duty of every individual citizen.
  • Revolution is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve. Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory.
  • When hopes and dreams are loose in the street, it is well for the timid to lock doors, shutter windows and lie low until the wrath has passed.
  • We used to think that revolutions are the cause of change. Actually it is the other way around: change prepares the ground for revolution.
  • The first duty of a revolutionist is to get away with it. The second duty is to eat breakfast. I ain't going.
    • Abbie Hoffman, spoken to police immediately prior to his 1968 arrest in Chicago; quoted in Marty Jezer's biography of him, "Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel".
  • The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
  • Perhaps a revolution can overthrow autocratic despotism and profiteering or power-grabbing oppression, but it can never truly reform a manner of thinking; instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones they replace, will serve as a leash for the great unthinking mass.
  • A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.
  • A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — But a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.
  • You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit or it is nowhere.
  • Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right — a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.
  • This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.
  • Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
    • Mao Zedong, as quoted in "Che Guevara: Revolutionary & Icon" (2006) by Trisha Ziff, p. 66.
  • The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man. Unless he understands this, he does not grasp the essential meaning of his life.
  • The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.
    • George Orwell, in a letter to Malcolm Muggeridge (4 December 1948), published in Malcolm Muggeridge : A Life (1980) by Ian Hunter
  • Most anarchists believe the coming change can only come through a revolution, because the possessing class will not allow a peaceful change to take place; still we are willing to work for peace at any price, except at the price of liberty.
  • Everywhere revolutions are painful yet fruitful gestations of a people: they shed blood but create light, they eliminate men but elaborate ideas.
  • There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence. It is now spreading with amazing rapidity, and already our laws, institutions and social structure are changing in consequence. It promises a higher reason, a more human community, and a new and liberated individual. Its ultimate creation will be a new and enduring wholeness and beauty — a renewed relationship of man to himself, to other men, to society, to nature, and to the land.
    This is the revolution of the new generation.
  • A revolution is sometimes necessary, but if revolutions become habitual the country in which they take place is going down-hill
  • Everything is being televised so you won't be able to tell where the Revolution is. "Who's revolting? Well, I don't know, what's on the other channel?"
  • Similar though Marx and Thoreau may be in their accounts of the consequences of living in a society defined by money, their suggestions for how to respond to it are poles apart. Forget the Party. Forget the revolution. Forget the general strike. Forget the proletariat as an abstract class of human interest. Thoreau's revolution begins not with discovering comrades to be yoked together in solidarity but with the embrace of solitude. For Thoreau, Marx's first and fatal error was the creation of the aggregate identity of the proletariat. Error was substituted for error. The anonymity and futility of the worker were replaced by the anonymity and futility of the revolutionary. A revolution conducted by people who have only a group identity can only replace one monolith of power with another, one misery with another, perpetuating the cycle of domination and oppression. In solitude, the individual becomes most human, which is to say most spiritual.
    • Curtis White, “The spirit of disobedience: An invitation to resistance,” Harper’s, April 2006, pp. 37-38

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 672-73.
  • Revolutions are not about trifles, but spring from trifles.
  • A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power.
  • Voulez-vous donc qu'on vous fasse des révolutions à l'eau-rose?
    • Do you think then that revolutions are made with rose water?
    • Sebastian Chamfort to Marmotel, who regretted the excesses of the Revolution.
  • Ce n'est pas une révolte, c'est une révolution.
    • It is not a revolt, it is a revolution.
    • Duc de Liancourt to Louis XVI (July 14, 1789). Found in Carlyle's French Revolution, Part I, Book V, Chapter VII.
  • Je suis le signet qui marque la page où la révolution s'est arrêtée; mais quand je serai mort, elle tournera le feuillet et reprendra sa marche.
    • I am the signet which marks the page where the revolution has been stopped; but when I die it will turn the page and resume its course.
    • Napoleon I, to Count Molé.
  • Revolutions are not made; they come.
  • Revolutions never go backward.
  • I know and all the world knows, that revolutions never go backwards.
  • O God! that one might read the book of fate,
    And see the revolutions of the times
    Make mountains level, and the continent
    Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
    Into the sea!
  • Seditiosissimus quisque ignavus.
    • The most seditious is the most cowardly.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV. 34.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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