Revolution Quotes


  • REVOLUTIONARY: An oppressed person waiting for the opportunity to become an oppressor.
    o Rick Bayan, The Cynic’s Dictionary

  • And 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…
    o Dan Bern, “True Revolutionaries”, Smartie Mine (1999)

  • 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.
    o Alexis Carrel, Reflections on Life

  • Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.
    o John Dickinson, The Liberty Song

  • 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.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series, 1841

  • The succeessful revolutionary is a statesman, the unsuccessful one a criminal.
    o Erich Fromm Escape from Freedom, 1941

  • 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
    o Mohandas K. Gandhi, Non-violence in Peace and War, 1948

  • Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert.
    o Kahlil Gibran, The Vision

  • A great revolution is never the fault of the people, but of the government.
    o Goethe, Conversations with Goethe, 1824

  • Everywhere revolutions are painful yet fruitful gestations of a people: they shed blood but create light, they eliminate men but elaborate ideas.
    o Manuel Gonzalez Prada, Horas de lucha, 1908

  • 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.
    o Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, 1951

  • We used to think that revolutions are the cause of change. Actually it is the other way around: change prepares the ground for revolution.
    o Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time, 1967

  • The first duty of a revolutionist is to get away with it. The second duty is to eat breakfast. I ain’t going.
    o 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 wind of revolutions is not tractable.
    o Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

  • One should never put on one’s best trousers to go out to battle for freedom and truth.
    o Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People, 1882

  • 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.
    o Immanuel Kant, What Is Enlightenment

  • 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.
    o Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

  • 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.
    o Huey Newton, Revolutionary Suicide, 1973

    The Revolution will not be televised. The Revolution will be no rerun, brothers. The Revolution — will be live.

  • o The revolution will not be televised Gil Scott-Heron 1971 [1]


  • Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
    o John F. Kennedy, in a speech at the White House, 1962

  • All oppressed people are authorized, wherever they can, to rise and break their fetters.
    o Henry Clay, speech, U.S. House of Representatives, March 24, 1818

  • The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
    o Thomas Jefferson, letter, November 13, 1787

  • If the abuse be enormous, nature will rise up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system.
    o Samuel Johnson, Life of Samuel Johnson, 1763

  • No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution… Revolution is but thought carried into action.
    o Emma Goldman

  • Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.
    o Aristotle

  • Revolution is not a onetime event.
    o Audre Lorde

  • The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
    o Hannah Arendt

  • The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.
    o Stephen Jay Gould

  • The revolution […] is a dictatorship of the exploited against the exploiters.
    o Fidel Castro

  • The most heroic word in all languages is revolution.
    o Eugene Debs

  • It’s a sad and stupid thing to have to proclaim yourself a revolutionary just to be a decent man.
    o David Harris (ambiguous attribution)

  • This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can excercise their constitutional right of amending it, or excercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.
    o Abraham Lincoln

  • Too many so-called leaders of the movement have been made into celebrities and their revolutionary fervor destroyed by mass media. They become Hollywood objects and lose identification with the real issues. The task is to transform society; only the people can do that—not heroes, not celebrities, not stars. The revolutionary’s place is in the community with the people.
    o Huey Newton

  • By the end, everybody had a label — pig, liberal, radical, revolutionary […] If you had everything but a gun, you were a radical but not a revolutionary.
    o Jerry Rubin

  • Revolution is a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering.
    o Tom Stoppard

  • There can be revolution only where there is a conscience.
    o Graffiti written during French student revolt, May 1968

  • The revolution must take place in men before it can be manifest in things.
    o Graffiti written during French student revolt, May 1968

  • To be a revolutionary is first of all to make sure of permanence and of one’s good reception. After which intellectual masturbation is permitted.
    o Graffiti written during French student revolt, May 1968

  • A revolution is not a bed of roses … a revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.
    o Fidel Castro, speech, 1961

  • At last I perceive that in revolutions the supreme power rests with the most abandoned.
    o Georges Jacques Danton

  • When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.
    o Victor Hugo

  • Revolutions are the locomotives of history.
    o Nikita Khrushchev

  • The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being.
    o Emma Goldman

  • No revolution can ever succeed as a factor of liberation unless the MEANS used to further it be identical in spirit and tendency with the PURPOSES to be achieved. Revolution is the negation of the existing, a violent protest against man’s inhumanity to man with all the thousand and one slaveries it involves. It is the destroyer of dominant values upon which a complex system of injustice, oppression, and wrong has been built up by ignorance and brutality. It is the herald of NEW VALUES, ushering in a transformation of the basic relations of man to man, and of man to society.
    o Emma Goldman

  • A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
    o Napoleon Bonaparte

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