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 Latinrevolutio which means "a turn around") is a significant change that usually occurs in a relatively short period of time.
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.
Revolutionaries do not make revolutions! The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and when they can pick it up. Armed uprising by itself has never yet led to revolution.
Morally, it is wrong to suppose the source of evil is outside oneself, that one is a vessel of holiness running over with virtue. Such a disposition is the best soil for a hateful and cruel fanaticism. It is as wrong to impute every wickedness to Jews, Freemansons, "intellectuals," as it is to blame all crimes on the bourgeoisie, the nobility, and the powers that were. No; the root of evil is in me as well, and I must take my share of the responsibility and the blame. That was true before the revolution and it is true still.
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.
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 most heroic word in all languages is REVOLUTION.
This means we must subject the machine—technology—to control and cease despoiling the earth and filling people with goodies merely to make money. The search of the young today is more specific than the ancient search for the Holy Grail. The search of the youth today is for ways and means to make the machine—and the vast bureaucracy of the corporation state and of government that runs that machine—the servant of man.
That is the revolution that is coming.
That revolution—now that the people hold the residual powers of government—need not be a repetition of 1776. It could be a revolution in the nature of an explosive political regeneration. It depends on how wise the Establishment is. If, with its stockpile of arms, it resolves to suppress the dissenters, America will face, I fear, an awful ordeal.
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.
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.
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.
As it was 189 years ago, so today the cause of America is a revolutionary cause. And I am proud this morning to salute you as fellow revolutionaries. Neither you nor I are willing to accept the tyranny of poverty, nor the dictatorship of ignorance, nor the despotism of ill health, nor the oppression of bias and prejudice and bigotry. We want change. We want progress. We want it both abroad and at home—and we aim to get it.
Lyndon B. Johnson, remarks to college students employed by the government during the summer (August 4, 1965); in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, book 2, p. 830.
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 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.
Duc de Liancourt to Louis XVI (July 14, 1789). Found in Carlyle's French Revolution, Part I, Book V, Chapter VII.
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.
Keep this straight in your head: we are not fighting an alien invasion — we're leading a revolution. And today the battle begins.
But above all, what this Congress can be remembered for is opening the way to a new American revolution—a peaceful revolution in which power was turned back to the people—in which government at all levels was refreshed and renewed and made truly responsive. This can be a revolution as profound, as far-reaching, as exciting as that first revolution almost 200 years ago—and it can mean that just 5 years from now America will enter its third century as a young nation new in spirit, with all the vigor and the freshness with which it began its first century.
Richard Nixon, State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress (January 22, 1971); in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1971, p. 58.
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.
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.
Many of the world's troubles are not due just to Russia or communism. They would be with us in any event because we live in an era of revolution—the revolution of rising expectations. In Asia, the masses now count for something. Tomorrow, they will count for more. And, for better or for worse, the future belongs to those who understand the hopes and fears of masses in ferment. The new nations want independence, including the inalienable able right to make their own mistakes. The people want respect—and something to eat every day. And they want something better for their children.
Adlai Stevenson, The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson (1974), vol. 5, p. 411. First published in Look (September 22, 1953), p. 46, in the concluding article in a series about his five-month trip around the world.
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.