Reform is to put or change into an improved form or condition; to amend or improve by change of color or removal of faults or abuses, beneficial change, more specifically, reversion to a pure original state, to repair, restore or to correct. Reform is generally distinguished from revolution. The latter means basic or radical change; whereas reform may be no more than fine tuning, or at most redressing serious wrongs without altering the fundamentals of the system. Reform seeks to improve the system as it stands, never to overthrow it wholesale. Radicals on the other hand, seek to improve the system, but try to overthrow whether it be the government or a group of people themselves.
- REFORM, v. A thing that mostly satisfies reformers opposed to reformation.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- The oyster-women lock'd their fish up,
And trudged away to cry, No Bishop.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto II, line 537.
- What sort of reformers and workers are you, that work only on the rotten material? That never think of meddling with the material while it continues sound; that stress it and strain it with new rates and assessments, till once it has given way and declared itself rotten; whereupon you snatch greedily at it, and say, Now let us try to do some good upon it! You mistake in every way, my friends: the fact is, you fancy yourselves men of virtue, benevolence, what not; and you are not even men of sincerity and honest sense. I grieve to say it; but it is true. Good from you, and your operations, is not to be expected.
- Thomas Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamphlets, Model Prisons 1850
- But he was an altered man, and he could not bear the thought of returning to a place where his repentance would be scoffed at, and his reformation disbelieved.
- A rayformer thinks he was ilicted because he was a rayformer, whin th' thruth iv th' matther is he was ilicted because no wan knew him.
- Finley Peter Dunne, Observations by Mr. Dooley (1906, reprinted 1968), p. 167.
- Contemporary man has begun to lose his naiveté as ... the deep causes of the situation in which he finds himself are becoming clearer. He realizes that to attack these deep causes is the indispensable prerequisite for radical change. And so he has gradually abandoned a simple reformist attitude regarding the existing social order, for, by its very shallowness this reformism perpetuates the existing system.
- Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation (1971), p. 48
- Government and the infrastructure of the enemy capitalist state must be destroyed to get at the heart of the problem: property relations. Otherwise there is no revolution. Reshuffle the governmental personnel and forms, without changing property relations and economic institutions, and you have produced simply another reform stage in the old bourgeois revolution
- George Jackson, Blood in My Eye (1971), p. 8
- The revolution has failed. Fascism has temporarily succeeded under the guise of reform. The only way we can destroy it is to refuse to compromise with the enemy state and its ruling class.
- George Jackson, Blood in My Eye (1971), p. 120
- The voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you may preserve.
- Thomas Babington Macaulay, speech on parliamentary reform (March 2, 1831); in The Complete Writings of Lord Macaulay (1900), vol. 17, p. 18. President Franklin D. Roosevelt paraphrased slightly "The words of the great essayist", not named: "The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve", in his address at the Democratic state convention, Syracuse, New York (September 29, 1936). The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936 (1938), p. 390.
- My desolation does begin to make
A better life.
- And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
- The best reformers the world has ever seen are those who commence on themselves.
- Attributed to George Bernard Shaw. Evan Esar, The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (1949), p. 178. Reported by Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) as unverified in Shaw's published writings.
- Because James II had attempted to destroy the institutions of the country, it long remained impossible for anyone else to attempt their reform.
- George Macaulay Trevelyan, A Shortened History of England (1959), page 352
- In dialectics, we know everything contains positive and negative attributes. Reforms can be used to advance Revolution or to forestall Revolution. Dialectics inform us that when the negative dominates the positive in reform it becomes an obstacle on the road to freedom; it must give way to Revolution.
- The capitalist press supports reform movements which forestall Revolution; these reform movements come to depend on the press and even tailor their activities to fit headlines. The capitalist press wants to intoxicate the masses with this reform movement. Intoxicated reform “leaders” believe that political power grows out of the lens of press cameras, and the more lenses, the more power. Just political power comes only from the organized masses.
- The purpose of a university should be to make a son as unlike his father as possible. By the time a man has grown old enough to have a son in college he has specialized. The university should generalize the treatment of its undergraduates, should struggle to put them in touch with every force of life. Every man of established success is dangerous to society. His tendency is to keep society as it is. His success has been founded upon it. You will not find many reformers among the successful men.
- Woodrow Wilson, “The University's Part in Political Life” (13 March 1909) in PWW (The Papers of Woodrow Wilson) 19:99
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations edit
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 660.
- Grant that the old Adam in these persons may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in them.
- Book of Common Prayer, Baptism of those of Riper Years.
- All zeal for a reform, that gives offence
To peace and charity, is mere pretence.
- William Cowper, Charity, line 533.
- But 'tis the talent of our English nation,
Still to be plotting some new reformation.
- John Dryden, Prologue to Sophonisba, line 9.
- He bought a Bible of the new translation,
And in his life he show'd great reformation;
He walkèd mannerly and talked meekly;
He heard three lectures and two sermons weekly;
He vow'd to shun all companions unruly,
And in his speech he used no oath but "truly;"
And zealously to keep the Sabbath's rest.
- Sir John Harrington, Of a Precise Tailor.
- The Bolshevists would blow up the fabric with high explosive, with horror. Others would pull down with the crowbars and with cranks—especially with cranks…. Sweating, slums, the sense of semi-slavery in labour, must go. We must cultivate a sense of manhood by treating men as men.
- Lloyd George, speech (Dec. 6, 1919).
- I do not mean to be disrespectful, but the attempt of the Lords to stop the progress of reform, reminds me very forcibly of the great storm of Sidmouth, and of the conduct of the excellent Mrs. Partington on that occasion. In the winter of 1824, there set in a great flood upon that town—the tide rose to an incredible height: the waves rushed in upon the houses, and everything was threatened with destruction. In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm, Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused. Mrs. Partington's spirit was up; but I need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington. She was excellent at a slop or a puddle, but she should not have meddled with a tempest.
- Sydney Smith, speech at Tuunton (Oct., 1831).