And then, sir, there is this consideration: that if the abuse be enormous, nature will rise up and, claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system.

—Samuel Johnson, 1791

Revolutionaries are greater sticklers for formality than conservatives.

—Italo Calvino, 1957

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative on the day after the revolution.

—Hannah Arendt, 1970

The children of the revolution are always ungrateful, and the revolution must be grateful that it is so.

—Ursula K. Le Guin, 1983

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.

—Benjamin Franklin, 1776

Those who give the first shock to a state are the first overwhelmed in its ruin; the fruits of public commotion are seldom enjoyed by him who was the first mover; he only beats the water for another’s net.


—Michel de Montaigne, 1580

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made—through disobedience and through rebellion.

—Oscar Wilde, 1891

If there was ever a just war since the world began, it is this in which America is now engaged.

—Thomas Paine, 1778

Revolution begins in putting on bright colors.

—Tennessee Williams, 1944

Revolutions never go backward.

—Thomas Skidmore, 1829

Revolution can never be forecast; it cannot be foretold; it comes of itself. Revolution is brewing and is bound to flare up.

—Vladimir Lenin, 1918

Rebellion is no less a sin than divination.

—Book of Samuel, c. 550 BC

The only justification of rebellion is success.

—Thomas B. Reed, 1878

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

—John F. Kennedy, 1962

The main object of a revolution is the liberation of man, not the interpretation and application of some transcendental ideology.

—Jean Genet, 1983

In revolutions men fall and rise. Long before this war is over, much as you hear me praised now, you may hear me cursed and insulted.

—William Tecumseh Sherman, 1864

The brutalities of progress are called revolutions. When they are over we realize this: that the human has been roughly handled, but that it has advanced.

—Victor Hugo, 1862

If not us, who? If not now, when?

—Czech slogan, 1989

Every revolution by force only puts more violent means of enslavement into the hands of the persons in power.

—Leo Tolstoy, 1893

Make the revolution a parent of settlement and not a nursery of future revolutions.

—Edmund Burke, 1790

An oppressed people are authorized, whenever they can, to rise and break their fetters.

—Henry Clay, 1842

No one makes a revolution by himself, and there are some revolutions which humanity accomplishes without quite knowing how, because it is everybody who takes them in hand.

—George Sand, 1851

There is a kind of revolution of so general a character that it changes the mental tastes as well as the fortunes of the world.

—La Rochefoucauld, 1665

It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

—Dolores Ibárruri, 1936

The peasants alone are revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The starving peasant, outside the class system, is the first among the exploited to discover that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possible coming to terms. 

—Frantz Fanon, 1961

Revolutions are not made by men in spectacles.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1871

Insurrection of thought always precedes insurrection of arms.

—Wendell Phillips, 1859

All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door. The violence of revolutions is the violence of men who charge into a vacuum.

—John Kenneth Galbraith, 1977

All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the state.

—Albert Camus, 1951

Insurgents are like conquerors: they must go forward; the moment they are stopped, they are lost.

—Duke of Wellington, c. 1819

All revolutions devour their own children.

—Ernst Röhm, 1933

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 their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.

—Abraham Lincoln, 1861

Who draws his sword against his prince must throw away the scabbard.

—James Howell, 1659

To cast aside obedience, and by popular violence to incite revolt, is treason, not against man only, but against God.

—Pope Leo XIII, 1885

The successful revolutionary is a statesman, the unsuccessful one a criminal.

—Erich Fromm, 1941

To escape its wretched lot, the populace has three ways, two imaginary and one real. The first two are the rum shop and the church; the third is the social revolution.

—Mikhail Bakunin, 1871

Revolutions are always verbose.

—Leon Trotsky, 1933

The surest guide to the correctness of the path that women take is joy in the struggle. Revolution is the festival of the oppressed.

—Germaine Greer, 1970

Revolutions are celebrated when they are no longer dangerous. 

—Pierre Boulez, 1989

Governments are not overthrown by the poor, who have no power, but by the rich—when they are insulted by their inferiors and cannot obtain justice.

—Dionysius of Halicarnassus, c. 20 BC

I have been ever of the opinion that revolutions are not to be evaded.

—Benjamin Disraeli, 1844

I began revolution with eighty-two men. If I had to do it again, I do it with ten or fifteen and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action.


—Fidel Castro, 1959

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

—Marcus Tullius Cicero, 63 BC

Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny, they have only shifted it to another shoulder.

—George Bernard Shaw, 1903

All men recognize the right of revolution, that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.

—Henry David Thoreau, 1849

The spirit of revolution, the spirit of insurrection, is a spirit radically opposed to liberty.

—François Guizot, 1830

All civilization has from time to time become a thin crust over a volcano of revolution.

—Havelock Ellis, 1921

Revolutions are not about trifles, but they are produced by trifles. 

—Aristotle, c. 350 BC