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Brothers and Sisters, what are your real desires? Sit in the drugstore, look distant, empty, bored, drinking some tasteless coffee? Or perhaps Blow It Up Or Burn It Down … You can’t reform profit capitalism and inhumanity … Just kick it till it breaks. The Angry Brigade, Communique 8
It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is to change his opinion at the same moment. There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must cooperate with each other to the final establishment of any principle; and therefore those who may happen to be first convinced have not a right to persecute others, on whom conviction operates more slowly. The moral principle of revolutions is to instruct, not to destroy. Thomas Paine, First Principles of Government, 1795
A share in two revolutions [France & USA] is living to some purpose. Thomas Paine
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 overthrow it. Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address
This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour on which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism. Gloria Steinem
It still would be years before I understood the seriousness of my change of view. Much later, I recognized it in Revolution, the essay of Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, who describes the moment when a man on the edge of a crowd looks back defiantly at a policeman – and when that policeman senses a sudden refusal to accept his defining gaze – as the imperceptible moment in which rebellion is born. ‘All books about all revolutions begin with a chapter that describes the decay of tottering authority or the misery and sufferings of the people’, Kapuscinski writes. They should begin with a psychological chapter – one that shows how a harassed, terrified man suddenly breaks his terror, stops being afraid. This unusual process – sometimes accomplished in an instant, like a shock – demands to be illustrated. Man gets rid of fear and feel free. Without that, there would be no revolution. Gloria Steinem, Revolution from Within
For a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights. B R Ambedkar
What is a labour victory? I maintain that it is a twofold thing. Workers must gain economic advantage, but they must also gain revolutionary spirit, in order to achieve a complete victory. For workers to gain a few cents more a day, a few minutes less a day, and go back to work with the same psychology, the same attitude toward society is to achieve a temporary gain and not a lasting victory. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
I was only a working-class boy from a Nationalist ghetto. But it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom. Bobby Sands
The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first. Jim Morrison
I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it. Niccolo Machiavelli
It’s usually called the agricultural revolution. But I think it’s something much wider – the biological revolution. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 2/13: The Harvest of the Seasons, BBC 1973
Revolutions are not made by fate but by men; sometimes they are solitary men of genius. But the great revolutions in the eighteenth century were made by many lesser men banded together. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 8/13: The Drive For Power, BBC 1973
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the Communist Manifesto didn’t create the revolutions in Europe, but they gave it the voice. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 12/13: Generation Upon Generation
I always knew the Sixties wasn’t a revolution. It really was just a bunch of university students with wealthy parents having fun. John Lydon
The number of bits to which we have access has grown dramatically. Computers can now store and process enormous amounts of information extremely rapidly. In our time a revolution has begun. A revolution perhaps as significant as the evolution of DNA and nervous systems and the invention of writing. Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Cosmos: The Persistence of Memory, PBS 1980
This revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind: free intellectual energy. It’s very crude today, yet our Macintosh computer takes less power than a 100-watt bulb to run it and it can save you hours a day. What will it be able to do 10 or 20 years from now, or 50 years from now? Steve Jobs
The journey to the guillotine and to the World War would start with the dreams of a philosopher. But not any old philosopher. Jean-Jacques Rousseau who was here ... just outside Paris, reshaped the mental habit of an entire generation, turning them from creatures of thought to creatures of feeling ... And the British couldn’t get enough of it. Simon Schama, A History of Britain s3e1: Forces of Nature, BBC 2002
Men of feeling in tune with the rhythms of nature. What appealed to men and women of feeling in the English provinces was Rousseau’s belief that urbanity, the graces and fashions of Metropolitan life were symptoms of everything that was rotten about the old world, the cosmetic mask behind which lurks the poxy disfigurement of a deceitful vicious terminally-diseased nation. ibid.
But when the lynching started [Edmund] Burke decided the revolution was above all an act of violence ... Democracy? Mobocrasy more like, said Burke. Heads stuck on pikes, the law of the lynch mob – we don’t want that here. ibid.
In August 1792 the monarchy had been overthrown and a revolutionary republic created in its place. ibid.
Fourteen hundred men and women held in Paris prisons were demonised as a fifth column and butchered in cold blood. ibid.
A time for all radicals to ask themselves difficult questions. How could you remain a cheerleader for revolution knowing now what you knew? Having seen the dreams turn to violence and bloodshed? The poet William Wordsworth had been as fervent as anyone in the early days of revolution hope. Now those hopes were turning to doubts. ibid.
Thousands of people reacted to Peterloo by throwing themselves into campaigns of action. Crusades which they embarked on with religious fervour. Those that laboured for change did so now not only in secret political clubs, but in the light of churches and chapels. Their targets were unnatural institutions – the monopoly of the Church of England, the ban on Catholic voters in Ireland. In the manufacturing towns a hue and cry to have their own MPs ... In 1830 a new Revolution in France and a wave of violence in the English countryside meant the votes for change could not be postponed. The Whigs took office for the first time since before 1789 as the champions of reform without revolution. ibid.