Famous Revolutionary Quotations by Alex McGuigan

Collated throughout this article are some of the author’s favourite revolutionary quotes, although it must be added that to include every significant relevant quotation would be a project that would far exceed the boundaries of a blog. The revolutionary quotes are very roughly sorted into sections. There are some of the best known quotes from Revolutionary Socialists such as: MarxEngelsLenin, Mao, Stalin and Trotsky. Elsewhere there are quotes from Irish Republican Revolutionaries, beginning with Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken and Robert Emmet, to more contemporary revolutionaries, such as Bobby Sands, Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey and Seamus Costello

.Lastly, there are quotes from socialist revolutionaries of the Americas, who include the universally famous Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, IWW Union organizer Joe Hill, Malcolm X, Huey P Newton and SubComandante Marcos of the EZLN. Hopefully the collation of these revolutionary quotes in a single article will be of use to those interested in the prophetic words of those who like Irish Marxist and Easter 1916 Rebellion leader, James Connolly, regularly spread “the divine gospel of discontent.”

One of the most significant revolutionary quote can  be found inscribed on the tomb of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery, London which I have had the pleasure of visiting. The quote declares:

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it!”

Irish Republican Quotes

“Our freedom must be had at all hazards. If the men of property will not help us they must fall; we will free ourselves by the aid of that large and respectable class of the community – the men of no property.” (Theobald Wolfe Tone)

“To break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils and to assert the independence of my country- these were my objectives. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter – these were my means” (Theobald Wolfe Tone)

“The rich will always betray the poor.” (Henry Joy McCracken)

“Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dares not vindicate them, let no prejudice or ignorance asperse them… When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written”(Robert Emmet)

“The principle I state, and mean to stand on is this, that the ownership of Ireland, moral and material, up to the sun and down to the centre is vested in the people of Ireland.” (James Fintan Lawlor)

“Educate, that you might be free. We are most anxious to get the quiet, strong minded people who are scattered throughout the country to see the force of this great truth.” (Thomas Davis)

“They have done their worst, and continued to deny me even the privileges accorded to the common herd . . . but I am sustained by the consciousness of my imputed ‘crime’ being an honourable one!” (Michael Davitt, Dartmoor prison, 1867)

connolly - Copy

“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs ” (James Connolly)

“If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of
our prisons or graves we will still evoke a
spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps,
raise a force that will destroy you! We
defy you! Do your worst”
 (James Connolly)

“Whoop it up for liberty!………… After Ireland is free, says the patriot who won’t touch socialism, we will protect all classes, and if you won’t pay your rent you will be evicted same as now. But the evicting party, under command of the sheriff, will wear green uniforms and the Harp without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the roadside will be stamped with the arms of the Irish Republic. Now, isn’t that worth fighting for?” (James Connolly)

“We believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times” (James Connolly, 1915)

“There are in every generation those who shrink from the ultimate sacrifice, but there are in every generation those who make it with joy and laughter and these are the salt of the generations”(Patrick H Pearse)

“From death springs life and from the graves of great patriots springs a great nation” (Patrick H Pearse)

“Ireland unfree shall never be at peace” (Patrick H Pearse)


“The ending of partition was inevitable because Ireland was one nation by history and tradition , by facts of race, geography, and economy “ (Seamus Costello)

“we must make no secret of the fact that we are a revolutionary party , prepared to give leadership on the streets as well as in the elected chambers & that we are out for a revolutionary state” (Seamus Costello)

“It did not seem to me that prejudice, poverty, discrimination, repression and racism were confined to the North of Ireland. I could see them everywhere I spoke and still cannot comprehend the mentality that argues that I should have pretended not to see them, because it wasn’t my business” (Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey)

“Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their
own particular part to play. No part is too great
or too small, no one is too old or too young to do
 (Bobby Sands)

“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken” (Bobby Sands)

“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” (Bobby Sands)


“Let the Fight go on” (Patsy O’Hara – INLA Hunger Striker)

“We must be vigilant that we don’t sink into the morass of sectarianism, mixing, pettiness etc. We must not get involved in unprincipled slagging matches etc or into positions that are sectarian, anti-revolutionary, morally damaging that give succour to the enemy & that confuse & divide the working class ” (Thomas ‘Ta’ Power – INLA Guerilla)

“Are we amateurs and not professionals? We know the lessons of history, we know the mistakes and we either act accordingly or collapse. Salvation lies in clarity and the courage to implement change” (Thomas ‘Ta’ Power – INLA Guerilla)

CHE 01

Quotes From American Revolutionaries

“Don’t mourn, Organise” (Joe Hill – IWW Union Organiser, USA)

“We have no right to believe that freedom can be won without struggle” (Che Guevara)

“I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting” (Che Guevara)

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall” (Che Guevara)

“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man” (Che Guevara)

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything” (Malcolm X)

“Capitalism is a stupid system, a backward system” (Stokely Carmichael)

“I also know that while I am black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that.Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me” (Stokely Carmichael)

“I knew that I could vote and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived” (Stokely Carmichael)

“I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people” (Stokely Carmichael)

Huey Newton

“Any unarmed people are slaves, or are subject to slavery at any given moment” (Huey Newton)

“Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny” (Huey Newton)

“I do not expect the white media to create positive black male images”(Huey Newton)

“I expected to die. At no time before the trial did I expect to escape with my life. Yet being executed in the gas chamber did not necessarily mean defeat. It could be one more step to bring the community to a higher level of consciousness” (Huey Newton)

“I have the people behind me and the people are my strength” (Huey Newton)

“I think what motivates people is not great hate, but great love for other people” (Huey Newton)


Some of us imagined that the Sandinista Front would arrive in columns, or something like that. It wasn’t until later we realized that we were the Sandinista Front; they would show us what to do, but it was us, alongside them; we were the ones who had to fight.” (‘Felix’ Anonymous combatant)

SubComandante Marcos EZLN

“What we’re going to do is shake this country up from below, pick it up and turn it on its head” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“We learned a long time ago that we should never subject ourselves to the schedules of the powerful. We had to follow our own calendar and impose it on those above” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“Surely the agents of the government, businessmen and political parties have sent to inform you what happens here. After hearing us and hearing you, they will write in their report a false alarm. There’s nothing to be worried about. The suspects are crazy and they haven’t noticed each other. End of report” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“What follows is not a new political party on the left, but a huge front made up of political and social organizations” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“We have to make sure of our place in society as indigenous Indians that we have won. In Mexico, there are movements, there are revolutions and change, but for the indigenous nothing changes” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“The movement is growing, more people are coming in, we are getting to know people that we did not know before” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

 Quotes From Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” (Karl Marx)

“Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution”(Karl Marx)

“Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite” (Karl Marx and Freidrick Engels)

“Political economy regards the proletarian like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being. It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables, politics, and the beadle” (Karl Marx)

“The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property” (Karl Marx)

“In a higher phase of communist society… only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be fully left behind and society inscribe on its banners: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (Karl Marx)

“An Ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”(Friedrich Engels)

Lenin and Trotsky

Quotes From Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese Communist Revolutionaries

“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Bah, tombstones are only good for pigeons to sit on” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Any cook should be able to run the country” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations? It cannot” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Capitalists are no more capable of self-sacrifice than a man is capable of lifting himself up by his own bootstraps” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Crime is a product of social excess” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Democracy is indispensable to socialism” (Vladimir Lenin)

“Despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle. The modern industrial proletariat does not belong to the category of such classes” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Every cook has to learn how to govern the state” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Fascism is capitalism in decay” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism, we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“If Socialism can only be realized when the intellectual development 2of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“It is impossible to predict the time and progress of revolution. It is governed by its own more or less mysterious laws” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed”(Vladimir I Lenin)

“No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses”
(Vladimir I Lenin)

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“England is nothing but the last ward of the European madhouse, and quite possibly it will prove to be the ward for particularly violent cases” (Leon Trotsky)

“If we had had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes” (Leon Trotsky)

“If we had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes” (Leon Trotsky)

“In a serious struggle there is no worse cruelty than to be magnanimous at an inopportune time” (Leon Trotsky)

“Insurrection is an art, and like all arts has its own laws” (Leon Trotsky )

“Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one’s enemies” (Leon Trotsky)

“From being a patriotic myth, the Russian people have become0 an awful reality” (Leon Trotsky)

“Ideas that enter the mind under fire remain there securely and for ever” (Leon Trotsky)9

“Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” (Joseph Stalin)

“History shows that there are no invincible armies.” (Joseph Stalin)

“Print is the sharpest and strongest weapon of our party” (Joesph Stalin)


“Without a People’s army, the people have nothing.”  (Mao Tse Tung)

“Soldiers are the foundation of an army; unless they are imbued with a progressive political spirit, and unless such a spirit is fostered through progressive political work, it will be impossible to achieve genuine unity between officers and men, impossible to arouse their enthusiasm for the War of Resistance to the full, and impossible to provide an excellent basis for the most effective use of all our technical equipment and tactics.” (Mao Tse Tung)

“The enemy advances, we retreat. The enemy camps, we harass. The enemy tires, we attack. The enemy retreats, we pursue.” (Mao Tse Tung)

“Wherever our comrades go they must build good relations with the masses, be concerned for them and help them overcome their difficulties. We must unite with the masses, the more of the masses we unite with, the better”  (Mao Tse Tung)

“You can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win.”  (Ho Chi Min)

“Write in such a way as that you can be readily understood by both the young and the old, by men as well as women, even by children”  ( Ho Chi Min)

“Love other human beings as you would love yourself”  (Ho Chi Min)


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