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A revolution is not a dinner party


They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

From the infamous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, which Patrick Henry delivered to the Virginia Convention in 1775. Based on the power of this speech, a resolution was passed to send Virginia’s troops to the Revolutionary War.

After the signing of the Treaty of Paris granted the United States independence, British soldiers evacuated and a victorious George Washington and his troops reclaimed New York.

Patriots punish loyalists by stringing them up from a Liberty Pole. The Sons of Liberty, a secret organization of patriots, erected Liberty Poles throughout the Thirteen Colonies as symbols of defiance to British rule.

In what is widely thought to be a doctored propaganda photo, Lenin addresses a huge crowd in Red Square on May Day, 1919. It is believed that either the crowd was embellished or that Lenin was superimposed against the enormous mob.


But meanwhile, the crowd in front of the Embassy grew ever denser, all the trams had stopped, the bridge was a seething mass of people, and several private motors that passed were held up by soldiers who turned out the occupants without any ceremony and themselves took possession of the cars, swarming into them like a lot of insects, five or six inside, two on either step, two or three on the box, two more lying along the mudguards. And presently two fully-armed regiments came marching across the bridge, carrying banners inscribed in flaring white letters with “Down with the Capitalist War! Down with the Upper Classes! Long live Anarchy! Bread, Peace, Freedom!”

Meriel Buchanan describes the Russian Revolution in her memoirPetrograd: The City of Trouble.

The Bolshevik party stormed Petrograd in the autumn of 1917 and succeeded in overthrowing the Russian Provisional Government. The October Revolution led to the Russian Civil War, which culminated in the defeat of Russia’s czarist autocracy and the creation of the Soviet Union.

Suddenly a noise arose somewhere and began to grow, spread and roll ever nearer. And in its multitude of sounds, fused into a single powerful wave, we immediately sensed something special, unlike the previous noises – something final and decisive. It suddenly became clear that the end was coming… The noise rose, swelled and rapidly swept toward us in a broad wave… And poured into our hearts unbearable anxiety, like a gust of poisoned air… It was clear: this is the onslaught, we are being taken by storm… Defense is useless – sacrifices will be in vain… The door burst open…

Former Minister of Justice of the Russian Provisional Government, Pavel Maliantovich, describes the storming of the Winter Palace inWitnesses to the Russian Revolution, edited by Roger Pethybridge.


A revolution is not a dinner party or writing an essay or painting a picture or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.From a report on the peasant movement in Hunan, penned by Chairman Mao Tse-tung in 1927.


Because of the growth in government taxation, the rise in rent and interest demanded by the landlords and the daily spread of the disasters of war, famine and banditry are everywhere, and the peasant masses and the urban poor can hardly keep alive. Because the schools have no money, many students fear that their education may be interrupted; because production is backward, many graduates have no hope of employment. Once we understand all these contradictions, we shall see in what a desperate situation, in what a chaotic state, China finds herself. We shall also see that the high tide of revolution against the imperialists, the warlords and the landlords is inevitable, and will come very soon. All China is littered with dry twigs which will soon be aflame. The saying, ‘A single spark can start a prairie fire,’ is an apt description of how the current situation will develop. We need only look at the strikes by the workers, the uprisings by the peasants, the mutinies of soldiers and the strikes of students which are developing in many places to see that it cannot be long before a “spark” kindles “a prairie fire.”

From a 1930 letter Chairman Mao Tse-tung wrote to his comrades in the Communist Party of China.

After India gained independence from Britain in 1947, the subcontinent was divided into two nations: largely Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. After the partition major riots broke out along the borders of the new countries.


The dominant impulse under British rule was that of fear, pervasive, oppressing, strangling fear; fear of the army, the police, the widespread secret service, fear of the official class; fear of laws meant to suppress, and of prison; fear of the landlord’s agent; fear of the moneylender; fear of unemployment and starvation, which were always on the threshold. It was against this all-pervading fear that Gandhi’s quiet and determined voice was raised: Be not afraid.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India.

Protesting the British Salt Tax, which made it illegal for Indians to sell or produce salt, Gandhi and a group of satyagrahis (nonviolent activists) embarked on a 240-mile Salt March. Gandhi was arrested after 23 days, but the march prompted a series of protests against British colonialism throughout the country.


In May 1968, the Situationist-inspired Paris riots set off “a chain reaction of refusal” against consumer capitalism. Art students demanded the realization of art; music students called for “wild and ephemeral music;” footballers kicked out managers with the slogan “football to the football players; ”gravediggers occupied cemeteries; doctors, nurses and the interns at a psychiatric hospital organized in solidarity with the inmates. For a few weeks, millions of people who had worked their whole lives in offices and factories broke from their daily routines and… lived.

Kalle Lasn, Culture Jam[cherry_banner image=”4868″ title=”Adbusters #82″ url=”″ template=”issue.tmpl”]Endgame Strategies[/cherry_banner]