January 8, 2010

Revolutions & Revolutionaries

Note: This entry is designed to gather into one place the aphorisms in which Gómez Dávila mentions revolutions and revolutionaries. Other aphorisms relevant to the topic of revolutions and revolutionaries might be found under the heading of Marx & Marxists and Progress & Progressives.


Useless, like a revolution. (#1,024)

Revolution is progressivist and seeks the strengthening of the state; rebellion is reactionary and seeks its disappearance.
The revolutionary is a potential government official; the rebel is a reactionary in action. (#1,439)

Victorious revolutions have been outbursts of greed. Only defeated revolutions tend to be insurrections of the oppressed. (#2,135)

The war in the Vendée is the only political conflict that arouses my complete sympathy without troubling my reason. (Bastille Day)

After every revolution the revolutionary teaches that the true revolution will be tomorrow’s revolution.
The revolutionary explains that a despicable villain betrayed yesterday’s revolution. (#20)

The militant communist before his victory deserves the greatest respect.
Afterwards, he is nothing more than an overworked bourgeois. (#25)

The revolutionary attitude of modern youth is unequivocal proof of their aptitude for a career in administration.
Revolutions are perfect incubators of bureaucrats. (#782)

A youth’s revolutionary activity is the rite of passage between adolescence and the bourgeoisie. (#1,795)

A bureaucratic destiny awaits revolutionaries, like the sea awaits rivers. (#1,228)

Bureaucracies do not succeed revolutions by coincidence.
Revolutions are the bloody births of bureaucracies. (#971)

It is not so much the plebeian merriment that revolutions unleash which frightens the reactionary as the zealously bourgeois order that they produce. (#1,826)

The revolutionary’s picturesque outfit changes colors imperceptibly until it matches the severe uniform of a police officer. (#1,827)

Revolution—every revolution, revolution per se—is the matrix of bourgeoisies. (#899)

Revolutions do not solve any problem other than the economic problem of their leaders. (#1,525)

Revolutions are carried out in order to change the ownership of property and the names of streets.
The revolutionary who seeks to change “man’s condition” ends up being shot for being a counter-revolutionary. (#2,523)

They speak emphatically of “transforming the world,” when the most to which they can aspire is to certain secondary remodelings of society. (#2,797)

Revolutionary opinions are the only career, in contemporary society, which assures a respectable, lucrative, and peaceful social position. (#730)

Nothing softens up the bourgeois more than a revolutionary from a foreign country. (#1,290)

Today’s revolutionaries are just impatient heirs.
Revolution will be spoken of seriously when the “consumption” they hate is not just someone else’s consumption. (#919)

Every revolution makes us nostalgic for the previous one. (#406)

The struggle against injustice that does not culminate in sanctity culminates in bloody upheavals. (#54)

Every rebellion against the order of man is noble, so long as it does not disguise rebelliousness against the order of the world. (#528)

An historical period is the period of time during which a certain definition of the legitimate prevails.
Revolution is the transition from one definition to another. (#901)

No one rebels against authority, but only against those who usurp it. (#726)

The first revolution broke out when it occurred to some fool that law could be invented. (#900)

Virtue that does not doubt itself culminates in attacks against the world. (#308)

Every individual with “ideals” is a potential murderer. (#618)

A simple fit of impatience often soon bridges the distance between utopia and murder. (#2,713)

The shamelessness with which the revolutionary kills is more frightening than his killings. (#1,504)

Power corrupts no one without fail except the revolutionary who assumes it. (#1,542)

The individual today rebels against immutable human nature so that he might refrain from amending his own correctable nature. (#210)

Popular disturbances lack importance so long as they do not become ethical problems for the ruling classes. (#146)

Concessions are the steps up the gallows. (#1,067)

Reforms are the entrance ramps to revolutions. (#1,993)

When economic and social revolutions are not simply ideological pretexts for religious crises, after a few years of disorder everything continues as before. (#1,018)

Whoever inquires into the causes of a revolution should never infer them from its effects.
Between the causes of a revolution and its effects are whirlwinds of accidents. (#1,291)

Revolution is a permanent historical possibility.
Revolution does not have causes, but occasions it takes advantage of. (#2,221)

True revolutions do not begin with their public outbreak, but rather end with it. (#1,019)

Every episode of a revolution needs a partisan to relate it and an adversary to explain it. (#2,058)

Those who defend revolutions cite speeches; those who accuse them cite facts. (#2,749)

When individual envies come together, we customarily christen them “noble popular aspirations.” (#364)

The atrocity of the act of revenge is proportional not to the atrocity of the offense, but to the atrocity of the man taking revenge.
(For the methodology of revolutions.) (#225)

Stupidity is the mother of revolutionary atrocities.
Savageness is only the godmother. (#1,298)

The revolutionary is, basically, a man who does not suspect that humanity can commit a crime against itself. (#762)

Revolutions are more a subject for sociology than for history.
Manifestations of those depths of human nature that nothing educates, nothing civilizes, nothing ennobles, revolutions despoil man of his history and return him to bestial behaviors. (#2,243)

“Liquidating” a social class, or a people, is an undertaking that angers no one in this century but the intended victims. (#254)

Tyrannies have no more faithful servants than revolutionaries who are not protected against their inborn servility by witnessing a firing squad at a young age. (#281)

The revolutionary does not discover the “authentic spirit of the revolution” except before the revolutionary tribunal that condemns him. (#1,665)

Youths are not necessarily revolutionary but rather necessarily dogmatic. (#1,534)

Revolutionary intellectuals have the historic mission of inventing the vocabulary and the themes for the next tyranny. (#443)

Every revolution exacerbates the evils against which it breaks out. (#1,243)

Will the revolutionary learn some day that revolutions prune rather than uproot? (#1,401)

Democratic revolutions begin the executions as they announce the prompt abolition of the death penalty. (#315)

The fervor with which the Marxist invokes the future society would be moving if the rites of invocation were less bloody. (#1,430)

The leftist screams that freedom is dying when his victims refuse to finance their own murders. (#375)

Man pays for the intoxication of liberation with the tedium of liberty. (#396)

What most likely is upon us is not a revolutionary terror, but a counter-revolutionary terror implemented by disgusted revolutionaries. (#1,077)

To be a revolutionary one must be a little daft; to be a conservative, a little cynical. (#1,027)

Stupidity is the fuel of revolutions. (#1,252)

Even though history does not have laws, the course of a revolution is easily foreseen, because stupidity and madness do have laws. (#2,222)

Between the causes of a revolution and its realization in actions ideologies insert themselves which end up determining the course and even the nature of events.
“Ideas” do not “cause” revolutions, but channel them. (#2,748)

Revolutions have as their function the destruction of the illusions that cause them. (#1,621)

For the true results of a prior revolution, let us consult the revolutionaries who are preparing the next one. (#2,008)

The authentic revolutionary rebels in order to abolish the society he hates; today’s revolutionary revolts in order to inherit one he covets. (#407)

Revolutionaries do not destroy anything, in the end, except what made the societies against which they rebel tolerable. (#1,046)

Even when it is right, a revolution solves nothing. (#1,618)

Revolutions are not the locomotives but the derailments of history. (#1,171)

Revolutions destroy nothing of nations except their souls. (#1,207)

Revolutions bequeath to literature only the laments of their victims and the invectives of their enemies. (#1,658)

The lie is the muse of revolutions: it inspires their programs, their proclamations, their panegyrics.
But it forgets to gag their witnesses. (#1,666)

Great democratic upheavals do incurable harm to the soul of a people. (#1,419)

A civilization’s memory resides in the continuity of its institutions.
The revolution that interrupts a civilization's memory, by destroying those institutions, does not relieve society of a bothersome caparison that is paralyzing it, but merely forces it to start over. (#1,130)

Revolutionary agitation is an endemic in the cities and only an epidemic in the country. (#1,479)

Repentant, like a victorious revolutionary. (#1,034)

The left’s ideas produce revolutions; revolutions produce the right’s ideas. (#1,515)

Reactionaries are recruited from among the front-row spectators of a revolution. (#1,325)

The most convinced reactionary is the repentant revolutionary, that is to say: the man who has known the reality of the problems and has discovered the falseness of the solutions. (#2,163)

The reactionary is the guardian of every heritage.
Even the heritage of the revolutionary. (#1,623)

Compared to so many dull intellectuals, to so many artists without talent, to so many stereotyped revolutionaries, a bourgeois without pretensions looks like a Greek statue. (#871)

A “revolutionary” today means an individual for whom modern vulgarity is not triumphing quickly enough. (#2,807)

Neither a revolutionary's eloquence, nor love letters, can be read by third parties without laughing. (#1,238)

A motto for the young leftist: revolution and pussy. (#1,083)

Revolution already seems to be less a tactic for executing a plan than a drug for fleeing from modern boredom during one’s spare time. (#1,897)

When a revolution breaks out, the appetites are placed at the service of ideals; when the revolution triumphs, ideals are placed at the service of the appetites. (#2,747)

Revolutions swing back and forth between puritanism and debauchery, without touching civilized ground. (#1,383)

The looks of the participants in candid photographs of revolutionary scenes seem half cretinous, half demented. (#1,678)

Latin American revolutions have never sought anything more than to hand power over to some Directoire. (#830)

Revolutions are frightening, but election campaigns are disgusting. (#1,444)

The progressive clergyman, in revolutionary periods, ends up dead, but not as a martyr. (#1,251)

Absolute revolution is the favorite topic of those who do not even dare to protest when they are trodden on. (#1,614)

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