The anxious expectation that nothing will happen, that capitalism will go on indefinitely, the desperate demand to do something, to revolutionize capitalism, is a fake. The will to revolutionary change emerges as an urge, as an “I cannot do it otherwise,” or it is worthless. With regard to Bernard Williams’s distinction between Ought and Must, an authentic revolution is by definition performed as a Must – it is not something we “ought to do” as an ideal we are striving for, but something we cannot but to, since we cannot do it otherwise. Which is why today’s worry of the Leftists that revolution will not occur, that global capitalism will just go on indefinitely, is false insofar as it turns revolution into a moral obligation, into something we ought to do while we fight the inertia of the capitalist present.

“The Obscenity of Human Rights: Violence as Symptom” by Slavoj Žižek, first published on, fall 2005

More on revolt:

  • “The Spirit of Revolt” by Pierre Kropotkin, 1880
  • There are periods in the life of human society when revolution becomes an imperative necessity, when it proclaims itself as inevitable. (Google Books)

  • The Rebel. An Essay on Man in Revolt by Albert Camus, tr. by Anthony Bower, Part I (L’Homme révolté, Gallimard, Paris, 1951, p. 25).
  • What is a rebel?  A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation.  He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion.  A slave who has taken orders all his life suddenly decides that he cannot obey some new command.

  • “Le Souverain” by Georges Bataille, Paris: Fata Morgana, p. 9 (first published in Botteghe Oscure, IV, Rome, 1950, pp. 23-38; one may find an English translation of this text in The Accursed Share, Vols. 2 and 3: The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty: see and The MIT Press)
  • Rien n’est plus nécessaire et rien n’est plus fort en nous que la révolte.

  • On Revolution by Hannah Arendt, New York: Viking, 1963 (the quote bellow is taken from the Penguin Classic edition, 1991, p. 11)
  • Wars and revolutions – as though events had only hurried up to fulfil Lenin’s early prediction – have thus far determined the physiognomy of the twentieth century. And as distinguished from the nineteenth-century ideologies – such as nationalism and internationalism, capitalism and imperialism, socialism and communism, which though still invoked by many as justifying causes, have lost contact with the major realities of our world – war and revolution still constitute its two central political issues. They have outlived all their ideological justifications. In a constellation that poses the threat of total annihilation through war against the hope of the emancipation of all mankind through revolution – leading one people after another in swift succession ‘to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them’ – no cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics, the cause of freedom versus tyranny.


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