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The act of greatest subversion … is the one of indifference. A man, or a group, finds it unbearable that someone can be simply uninterested in his, or its, convictions. … There is a degree of complicity, or mutual respect, between the believer and the man who attacks his beliefs (the revolutionary), for the latter takes them seriously.
... the material bungling, the ladder-climbing and the shit, you are going marvelously to be served! Shitty! You yourselves are promised to the revolutionary puppies! Bulging eyed, abberant, pontificating, cock-up cancers, you committed at the outset the capital, inexpiable mistake: you have bet according to your guts, you have adulated, exalted, fawned on and glorified your tripes.
We are restoring the Leninist norms of democracy. But Leninist norms are not the same as the bourgeois norms of democracy. You know yourself: when Gorky—affected by traumatic impressions, deprivation, hunger and housing difficulties in the first years after October—abandoned his revolutionary position, Lenin did not hesitate to close down his newspaper Novaia zhizn'.
Benjamin describes the revolutionary moment when the past suddenly bursts into the present, as if rising from the grave to rectify the wrongs it suffered at the hands of a banally triumphant progress. Thus Benjamin's historical materialism implies a capacity to link otherwise separate and distant moments in time through a profound empathy. The empathy takes on a revolutionary character by disrupting the regularity of quotidian temporality. Without this sort of tie to the past, no critical stance in the present is possible.
In a revolutionary age talk of equality may well have represented a passion to provide full human dignity to those who had previously been denied it by systems of political and economic domination; but in the present age it softens the spiritual requirements that are an essential ingredient in human dignity. Thus the slogans of equality serve not so much to elevate individuals to the dignity of being human as to free them from the responsibility of rising to this vocation.
I shall hate my brethren in St. Revoluzio, because they spoil all my pleasure in being disobedient and revolutionary myself; I shall love my enemies much better than those enthusiastic persons: but I shall console myself with the example of some one else, who also loved his enemies and, nevertheless, had, in propagating a new teaching, to suffer from the society of sinners, hysterical women, maniacs, and all the poor in spirit.
Gallery visitors did not tell Picasso to invent cubism. Jazz fanatics did not suggest that Miles Davies should work with hip-hoppers. Moviegoers did not propose to Lars von Trier, the Danish film director, that he make Breaking the Waves. And customers sure as hell did not come up with the idea for CDNow or Amazon.com. If you want to do something really interesting and revolutionary, learn to ignore your customers.
If I believed that force would ever build a better world, I would be a Marxist revolutionary. But I have no more faith in poor men's animalism than in rich men's. And I want no proletarian revolution until the proletariat has demonstrated devotion to reason which the rich, with larger opportunities to cultivate that virtue, have so universally failed to achieve. I favor the underdog against the upperdog, but I favor something better than a dog above both of them.
Of the twelve million hectares that the farmers have, we said we needed about half of that for a start. Even then you will say, of course, "Take all of it!" (laughs) Even deep down as we stand by our revolutionary principles, we still recognize that there should be some little measure of charity. No? Well, I will take your message back home.
Only on condition of a radical widening of definitions will it be possible for art and activities related to art [to] provide evidence that art is now the only evolutionary-revolutionary power. Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system that continues to totter along the death-line: to dismantle in order to build 'A SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART'.
The difference between the revolutionary and the terrorist lies in the reason for which each fights. For whoever stands by a just cause and fights for the freedom and liberation of his land from the invaders, the settlers and the colonialists cannot possibly be called terrorist, otherwise the American people in their struggle for liberation from the British colonialists would have been terrorists; the European resistance against the Nazis would be terrorism, the struggle of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples would also be terrorism, and many of you who are in this Assembly hall were considered terrorists.
Primitive Christianity cherished an ardent hope of a radically new era, and within its limits sought to realize a social life on a new moral basis. Thus Christianity as an historical movement was launched with all the purpose and hope, all the impetus and power, of a great revolutionary movement, pledged to change the world-as-it-is into the world-as-it-ought-to-be.