The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized
Revolution is not a tea party.
In war, ideals can be corrupted
—Optimus Prime, Transformers Prime
The anti-trope to The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified, this is a considerably Darker and Edgier version of La Résistance. However, this is not The Remnant, insofar as they are not villainous: in this Resistance, however, the rebels are all antiheroes at best, as brutal or more so than their enemies. No matter whose side you're on, it's sacrifice, honor, duty, and "shut up and follow orders!" They will usually be led by a rebel version of General Ripper, or possibly a subversion of that archetype.
If you fall, another might rise to take your place, but don't expect your comrades-in-arms to mourn. You were dead already the moment you put on the rebel uniform. Remember that Failure Is the Only Option, and whatever you do, Do Not Go Gentle. If you are caught, you are on your own. You never existed. This is war, and people do things during war that can never, and should never be forgiven. Do you know whose side you are on now?
Can lead to a violent ideological backlash against supporters of the old regime, as seen in history. But more importantly—more important because of the Irony involved—it can lead and has led to violence against some of the revolutionaries themselves, often valiant leaders and close friends of near past, as in the most famous case of Georges Danton guillotined by Robespierre during the actual Reign of Terror. Robespierre tasted his own concoction later as of the Thermidorian Reaction.
Likely to overlap with Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters. If the revolution is against The Empire or other terrible government, examples this trope may also be Well Intentioned Extremists. Succeeding, could well turn into People's Republic of Tyranny. Some characters in such a setting may be Necessarily Evil and the more self-aware of those will realize that there's no place for them in the world they're creating.
The trope name is derived from Gil Scott-Heron's 1974 spoken-word piece "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".
Anime and Manga
- Rurouni Kenshin, the flashbacks to the mid-1860s in the manga around the beginning of the Jinchuu arc and the Remembrance OVAs, and Ishida's group in Peacemaker Kurogane. However, in reality, the first wave of "Patriots of the Restoration" was a lot worse than shown in Ruro Ken, murdering any merchant who had dealings with westerners.
- In Black Lagoon Rock encounters an ex-Japanese Red Army (see Real Life section) member in "Lock And Load Revolution". The old man was an idealist working for a world revolution, and verged into terrorism. After the movement fell, he joined forces with other terrorists, in present, an Islamic group led by a Lebanese Jihadist. Also, the super-Meido Roberta was a Cuban trained assassin and a FARC guerrilla who became disillusioned when she realized she was just a guard dog for The Cartel.
- One Piece - Dragon the Revolutionary and his posse. He functions mostly in the background and isn't even formally introduced until late in the series. He also happens to be the main character's father. Most of the cast respond to this revelation with shock and horror as he's more infamous than anything. As Robin explains:
Pirates don't start attacks on The Government or the Marines. But right now there is a force trying to overthrow the World Government directly. That's the "Revolutionary Army" and Dragon's the man that leads them. Their ideas are spreading to numerous countries all over the world, stirring rebels in the kingdoms and a number of countries have been destroyed. This has of course angered the World Government.
- The Reverse Organization from Letter Bee have typically been displayed as not terribly nice people, but the government they've been rebelling against has shown hints of being equally not nice, particularly if half the things Reverse has said about them are true. However, they may have exceeded this trope and gone on to just straight 'evil' following recent chapters, wherein they used an innocent young nun as a human sacrifice, essentially destroying her soul and condemning her to a slow death in order to lure in a gigantic armor bug to attack the capital.
- V for Vendetta: V makes no bones about the fact that he is a terrorist.
- Quite a few Star Wars Expanded Universe comics have attempted to extend this to the Rebel Alliance, trying to soften the line between good guys and bad guys, as well as explain how the cash-strapped outfit got its money. Sometimes its just down to the occasional Jerkass pilot, such as Jal Te Gniev (who later makes a Heroic Sacrifice after watching a teenager he'd abused take the blaster bolt for him—and shooting with a gun that he'd bought to kill Gniev). However, it did sometimes come down to situations where in order to keep working, the Alliance and later New Republic would have to kill innocents themselves. In fact, after the Rebels won at Endor, destroying the Death Star, one of the first acts of the New Republic they established was to execute Grand Admiral Osvald Teshik for war crimes after he was captured in this battle. With Palpatine and Vader dead, he was pretty much one of the highest ranking Imperials captured. Tragic fact that Teshik was one of the few decent Imperials.
- In the Marvel Universe, Skrull Kill Krew.
- Between 1980 and 1983, the Star Wars fandom was inundated with stories speculating on how—or if—Han Solo might be thawed out of the carbonite in which he'd ended The Empire Strikes Back. One particularly memorable story, "The Revenant", had him being unfrozen thirty years later. Leia is dead, Chewbacca is dead, Lando is dead ... and Luke, who arranged Leia's death to bring a group of unaligned planets to the Rebellion's side, is First Citizen of a New Republic oppressive as ever the Empire was.
- Travels Through Azeroth and Outland presents the Defias Brotherhood as completely nihilistic and destructive.
- The workers in Fritz Lang's Metropolis are somewhere between this and an Angry Mob.
- The Wind That Shakes the Barley, starring Cillian Murphy, won the Palme d'Or award for its application of this trope to the Irish Revolution (and then the Civil War), so it must have done something right.
- The Alternate History film It Happened Here, set in a Nazi-occupied Britain, deliberately subverts the gallant resistance trope. The protagonist witnesses the death of her friends in a shootout between local partisans and German soldiers, and the movie ends with prisoners from a British SS unit being massacred by their captors.
- Discussed in Lord of War:
Yuri: "I guess they [African militants] can't own up to what they usually are: a federation of worse oppressors than the last bunch of oppressors. Often, the most barbaric atrocities occur when both combatants proclaim themselves freedom-fighters."
- The anti-government resistance group, the Fishes, quickly turn into this in Children of Men when the more radical Luke hijacks the organization, after assassinating his predecessor.
- The Battle of Algiers, where we see bombings and shootings directed at civilians...on both sides.
- Red Dawn has the protagonists (American teenagers fighting a guerrilla campaign against a brutal Soviet occupation) shooting prisoners and enemy wounded.
- One of the most important tropes in the French film Army of Shadows. The film follows a cell of the French resistance battling the Nazi regime. While the Nazis are portrayed as terrible monsters, it's repeatedly highlighted that the French have to get their hands dirty as well. Much of their work consists of executing traitors, including their beloved female comrade. While the movie isn't a pro-Nazi film, it clearly suggests that war is disgusting and hellish even if you're one of the good guys.
- The The Black Book catalogues Jews who were sold out to the Nazis by members of the Dutch Resistance. After the liberation, the Resistance harasses people who collaborated with the Nazis, even if it was done out of fear or as a part of their cover as double agents. To cover up their tracks, they even arrange a Nazi official to be executed for the crime of collaborating with the communist members of the Resistance.
- In Tron: Legacy, Clu's revolution against Flynn's leadership kicks off with the genocide of the Isos, followed by establishing a police state that routinely "rectifies" delinquent programs into soldiers in Clu's army, or pits them in gladiatorial games to the
- In The Baader Meinhoff Complex, the Red Army Faction morphs into this trope over time. They start as a motley collection of political activists, juvenile delinquents, left-wing youths, and journalists who mainly participate in protests and rallies and undertake some occasional arson and vandalism with a political message. Eventually, they become brutal terrorists, robbing banks and bombing American military installations. Later "generations" of the group get progressively more radical and violent, taking and executing hostages, hijacking aircraft, bombing a newspaper, and assassinating and kidnapping public figures.
- In contrast to the rebels of the later films, the Separatists in the Star Wars prequels are almost entirely shown as being evil. Their rebellion against the republic is little more than a big business backed attempt to rule the galaxy in the name of profit, with all of the big names fully aware of this. Being controlled by a sith lord and a homicidal cyborg certainly didn't help their causes reputation either. It's only the planets that revolt against the Republic in hope of receiving Confederacy assistance that actually believe in the moral cause beyond lip service.
- Raza and his revolutionaries in The Professionals. Although the heroes have some sympathy for Raza's cause, we are still shown Raza's forces massacring the troops on the government train they capture.
- The Bolsheviks in Doctor Zhivago.
- Franco's revolutionaries in Pan's Labyrinth.
- Those La Résistance factions that actively oppose the government in the Strugatsky Brothers novel Prisoners of Power act like this. Or worse.
- The Brotherhood in George Orwell's 1984, while having motives much more ethical than the Party's, are not much better in their methods. Made even more complicated by the fact that the Brotherhood may not even exist and everything O'Brien told Winston about it might've been a lie.
- In the vein of the Militant Godless, Camus' The Rebel. Complete with atheist suicide bombers.
- The nasty-as-can-be French revolutionaries in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities make this Older Than Radio.
- In the Darksword trilogy, pretty much all of the revolutionaries are Black Magic users who are just as evil as The Magocracy they're rebelling against.
- In the third book of Dread Empires Fall, guerrilla leader Sula leads a brutal resistance against the aliens, complete with car bombings, assassinations, and purposefully goading the government into executing innocent hostages. While she doesn't purposefully murder schoolchildren, she considers it their own fault if they wandered too close to her bombs. "Human warmth is not my specialization".
- The theme of A Piece of Resistance, a novel by Clive Egleton set in a Soviet-occupied Britain. Innocent bystanders get killed and those at the sharp end find themselves manipulated, or even targeted for killing, by their superiors.
- Ken MacLeod's Fall Revolution books jump back and forth in time quite a bit, but often imply that the various quasi-utopias in the far future were arrived at by, say, slaughtering a large percentage of the world's population.
- This is a major theme in Mockingjay, the last book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. By the end the rebellion only avoids simply becoming a direct copy of the Evil Empire they were trying to replace by a narrow margin.
- Black Company, although POV is on The Empire side and revolution ultimately fails in fist book. Played more or less straight in third book.
- Honor Harrington features the Committee of Public Safety led by Rob S. Pierre. Go look at Real Life examples and see how that's going to end...
- In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, Jumdar characterizes the Loyalists as this, neglecting to note they were the legitimate government fighting a coup.
- Babylon 5 - Free Mars. Other Mars Resistance cells, the Narn Rebellion against the Centauri, and the Telepath Resistance straddle the line between this and The Revolution Will Not Be Villified.
- The 2004 Battlestar Galactica, Gaeta's Mutiny and especially the New Caprican Resistance.
- Udara in the Alien Nation telemovie of the same name, a group of Tenctonese terrorists who resorted to brainwashing their own children into assassins and suicide bombers to fight the Overseers on the Slave Ship. Even after the slave's emancipation, Tenctonese sentiment was divided on whether the Udara were freedom fighters or extremists who did more harm than good.
- Blakes Seven. While La Résistance are clearly better than the Federation, the main cast are all anti-heroes at best and Blake is often called on his devotion to the Rebellion over taking care of his people. And then he was replaced with Avon, who didn't even pretend to take care.
- In |V: The Miniseries the Resistance used biological warfare against the enemy. Given that most Visitors lived in sealed starships and thus had the option of simply leaving unharmed, it's not quite as nasty as it sounds.
- It was also species-specific biological warfare; the virus would not harm humans, only Visitors (and every Visitor in Earth's atmosphere was a member of an invading, occupying army or a member of the Resistance, the latter of whom had protection available.) When the virus mutated to where it could potentially harm humans, the Resistance stopped deploying it.
- The Bajoran Resistance in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They were anti-heroes at the very best, had a running mantra of I Did What I Had to Do and were sometimes even explicitly referred to as "terrorists", and not just by Cardassians (though usually). Ditto the Maquis.
- That Mitchell and Webb Sound played with this by having a pair of vapid TV talking heads discussing, in a very civilized manner, the boiling alive of Queen Elizabeth II after a clearly violent and horrible revolution.
- In the Crusader games, the Resistance is very, very much willing to use hardball tactics. The best example of this is the protagonist, the unleashing of whom on a target is not unlike using a tactical nuke, but in the manual it also notes that while General Maxis seems sincere in his ideals, the WEC has tried to get him to surrender himself, dismantle the Resistance, or do less drastically stupid things by threatening civilians. Maxis has never given in, nor tried a third option.
- The Scoi'a'tel in The Witcher. The game does go to great lengths to explain the understandable grievances that led to their formation and continued existence (being conquered, treated as second-class citizens and subjected to violence and pogroms by the humans), but also makes it very clear that they are ruthless murderers who attack innocent or not-so-innocent civilians, sometimes in particularly gruesome ways, rather than the oppressing government's armed forces. Quite a few Dwarven and Elven NPCs express their profound dislike for them. At one point early on, a member tries to convince the player/Geralt to let him take some crates of medical supplies. If you give them to him, it later turns out they really contain some really nasty weapons that only work on unarmored civilians. Which they use to prominently assassinate an unarmed civilian. Who happens to have a second job as a drug pusher, making addicts of elvish teenagers so he can force them into drug-controlled slavery and/or prostitution. Or at least that's what the moderate dwarves and elves say. So, that one particular incident was probably justified, but later it gets worse.
- Note that in the books, Nilfgaard sponsors the Scoi'a'tel who harass their common enemies, but has no illusions about them. When the war ends, it turns out that Nilfs see them as weaponized rabid dogs and rather than bother to deal with the uncontrollable little bands and risk "moderate rebels" becoming a problem for themselves, sold them out to those they used to hunt as a part of peace agreement — and main supporters of the Scoi'a'tel can do jack about it, being in a Leonine Contract with the Empire.
- The Defias Brotherhood in World of Warcraft may count as an example of this. The Defias began as a group of disgruntled stonemasons who were cheated by their government. Unfortunately, they became too heavily involved with criminal elements and ended up robbing and killing the peasants.
- King Genn Greymane repeatedly refers to the Northgate Rebels of Gilneas as terrorists. Since they have hidden an important quantity of explosives in the capital, he might not be entirely wrong. Additionally, the general pointlessness of the civil war (on both sides) puts a point on it. Rebel Lord Darius Crowley's status helps a little.
- The Takers in Geneforge 2 (and to a lesser extent in Geneforge 1 as well). Then a fair chunk of the rebellion (especially the drakons) in Geneforge 3-5.
- Rebels are always bad guys in the Free Space series, most notably the Neo-Terran Front, a violent anti-Vasudan rebel organization that believes it can forge an alliance with Omnicidal Maniac Starfish Aliens, and the Hammer of Light, a band of Scary Dogmatic Aliens who believe that the aforementioned Starfish Aliens are the prophesied "Great Destroyers" who must cleanse the universe to prepare it for the enlightened (i.e., the Hammer of Light themselves).
- Both the UFLL and APR in Far Cry 2. Sure, they both claim to be fighting for their people's best interests, but really they're both as corrupt and vicious as each other. The game's ending has the player rejecting both factions and siding with The Jackal, and killing every named leader in either faction.
- In Halo, there are secessionists who want to break off from the UNSC (they mostly appear in Expanded Universe, and they make a few breif appearances in Halo Wars multiplayer). At the beginning of their campaign, they were viewed sympathetically, as all they wanted was their independence. This view ended when they started killing people, and now they're squarely in this trope.
- The Renegades from Tales of Symphonia are a group dedicated to fighting the organization that "guides the world," Cruxis. How do they do this, you may ask? It's implied that most of the time, when a Chosen fails in the Journey of Regeneration, it's because the Renegades kill them, thus prolonging the cycles of Regeneration. Hell, even after forming an alliance, Yuan still resorts to his plan to hold Lloyd hostage and force Kratos to undo the seal. Even Kratos seems to acknowledge that Yuan is serious with his threats.
- AVALANCHE in the Final Fantasy VII games are the protagonists, but certainly not civilized -- Final Fantasy VII itself starts with these rampaging eco-terrorists committing a massive bombing, killing a lot of innocent people—and then the next day, they do it all over again! Not to mention the fact that some of the members (read: Barret) act thuggishly when not on the job too.
- That's the revived AVALANCHE. The original incarnation of AVALANCHE seen in Before Crisis Final Fantasy VII was far more ruthless.
- Played brutally straight in Command And Conquer: Generals with the Global Liberation Army. Your first mission involves "liberating" a local village by flooding the valley it is in, wiping out half of the village in the process. Your second mission involves stealing aid supplies from more poor villagers, and you are explicitly ordered to shoot the villagers if they are taking supplies and level their homes. The third mission involves a massive riot and leveling and looting half a city, and by the final mission, you've gassed a major Chinese city. Any doubt that the GLA are not utter bastards is wiped away very, very quickly.
- Armored Core is filled a bunch of extremely violent rebel movements who are either a) A fake movement or b) plans to start their rebellion by causing as much destruction.
- Just Cause 2 has The Reapers led by Bolo Santosi and the Ular Boys led by Sri Iriwan. The path to "revolution" for both is to get Rico Rodriguez to, in Bolo's own words, turn Panau into a "smoldering ruin".
- In Modern Warfare, Khaled al-Asad's revolution in his unnamed Middle-Eastern nation is explicitly shown to be brutal and violent, as the player experiences it from the perspective of the deposed President of the country as he's driven through the street. At first there's beatings and arrests in the streets, followed by civilians being shot as they run away and execution squads shooting people in the street. It ends with the President being marched into a square and executed on international television.
- The revolution in Valkyria Chronicles II is essentially a racial purge led by racist nobles opposing the Archduchess for revealing her Darcsen (Fantasy Counterpart Culture equivalent of Jews) roots. Later on, it's revealed that it's really just a coup for Count Gassenarl to usurp the throne.
- The mage revolt in Dragon Age 2 is very brutal, and when Thrask goes down the hotheads take control and run away with it.
- A large part of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn's plot involves the beastpeople of Morgal's recent, successful, and terribly bloody revolution against the kingdom of Sana. Among other things, a little girl is captured and condemned to Cruel and Unusual Death in Belinsk, just for being Sanan nobility. The Grave Eclipse is caused by the king of Morgal forcing you to activate what he believes is a superweapon, which he intends to use on Sana and on Morgal's other neighboring country, Bilibin.
- In BioShock Infinite, we have the floating city of Columbia split between the Founders, xenophobic white-supremacists who believe in isolating Colombia from the rest of the world, and the Vox Populi, rebels who want to open Colombia to all races and religions and have degenerated into vicious marauders who bully the citizens of the city and lynch innocent people.
Vox Populi member: Your homes are ours! Your lives are ours! Your wives are ours! It all belongs to the Vox!
- The various Jidahist factions in Shooting War, though Abu Addalah takes the cake.
- Tech Infantry has various rebel factions, from the Christian Federation and their penchant for suicide-ramming freighters into enemy vessels, to the Liberation and their campaign of terror-bombings. Even the Resistance has as their main gripe the fact that supernaturally-powered humans are forced to serve in the Tech Infantry Space Marine forces. These forces are fighting against alien Bugs that want to eat everyone, other aliens that want to kill all humans and take their planets as living space, and still other aliens who want to enslave humans and work them all to death. This makes their occasionally violent tactics seem a bit extreme. Although the Earth Federation and the Middle Kingdom that replaces it are both quite nasty, the aliens—especially the Bugs—are usually worse, and the endless rebellions, mutinies, and civil wars make it darn hard to fight the Bugs as a united front.
- A World of Laughter, A World of Tears sees the nonviolent Civil Rights Movement collapse thanks to a drastic misreading of the political climate by President Disney. Martin Luther King, Jr. gets publicly egged, destroying his credibility, and the movement falls under control of the Nation of Islam. One word: jihad.
- The French Revolution in Look to the West starts out being as violent as our history's...and never really calms down. In the long term this has the effect of forcing nearly all reformist movements to be more nonviolent by default, just to avoid the comparison.
- Both this trope and it's inverse characterize the Red May Revolution in Reds! While the communist revolution in America doesn't lead to a Soviet style nightmare, it is far from a tea party. The revolutionaries may have the moral high ground in the face of the dictatorial reaction by the old regime, but they still have their own Red Terror and Kangaroo Court system. Anti-authoritarian currents in American society appear to have won out by the present day, as the Red Terror seems to be pretty universally regarded as a mistake.
- A couple examples from Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Jet's Freedom Fighters are not a particularly nice bunch. Despite being a charming group of kids who initially help out Team Avatar, they're actually willing to do pretty terrible things to wipe out the Fire Nation. At one point, they attempt to flood a town filled with innocent civilians, simply because the Fire Nation was occupying it. To their credit, the group realizes their mistake and makes a Heel Face Turn shortly after the flooding fiasco. Despite efforts to do the same, Jet himself ends up stuck in the Heel Face Revolving Door, though he eventually ends up on the right side.
- The Omashu Resistance also does some unscrupulous things in their efforts to drive out the Fire Nation occupying their city. The first thing we see them do is attempt an assassination of the governor's family, including his infant son. Again, they perform a Heel Face Turn shortly afterwards.
- The main antagonists of the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra are the Equalists, a revolutionary group dedicated to seizing more power for non-benders and attempting to bring down bending all together.
- The Decepticons from Transformers are occasionally this, depending on the incarnation.
- The Supertrooper riot in Galaxy Rangers. They were created from birth to be living weapons. A Corrupt Bureaucrat circulates Psycho Serum in the barracks, and the Troopers go berserk, believing that their creators are out to kill them. With the sole exception of the youngest (who was at the shooting range at the time), they all go Phlebotinum Rebel, kill one of their handlers on-screen (possibly more off-screen), and escape.
- Liberty's Kids takes a relatively balanced look at The American Revolution for its intended audience. For instance, while it treats the overall goals of the American Independence as a good thing, the negative elements like mob violence, slavery and the privations Native Americans suffered in the conflict are not overlooked while the British/Loyalist side are allowed to express their point of view.
- Be warned: Your mileage will vary. Try to keep it civil.
- Most historical revolutions have ultimately ended up looking this way. Just look at Robespierre, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, or all manner of other bloody tyrants brought in as revolutionaries against an old, corrupt government. Even the American Revolution had various massacres of-and-by Tories, mass lynchings, plus invasions of both the recognized sovereign Iroquois state and what would eventually become Canada. There were similarly-violent fringe groups fighting for Israel's independence. Later we have Hamas and Hezbollah, though they only rarely hit military targets.
- Before any of the totalitarian figures listed above ever came to power, there was Jean Jacques Rousseau. The Theme Park Version of his philosophy is often taught as an advocacy for total democracy, in which people are completely informed about all issues and decide, as a unanimous whole, what is beneficial to them. Less appealing to modern sensibilities is what he advocated as the means to these ends: Among other things, the abolition of religion in favor of one civil religion that basically worshiped the state, the abolition of parenting in favor of communal rearing, and the abolition of just about every other thing that makes people unique from one another. Far from the naturalist/anarchist he's often been flanderized into, you could argue that Rousseau invented the People's Republic of Tyranny.
- In the vein of Weather Underground, Europe had its share of student revolutionaries; Red Army Faction, or RAF, and Brigade Rosse in West Germany and Italy respectively. The former is somewhat notable to only officially cease activity at the late half of the 90's. Both organizations were behind a small number of violent acts towards the governments.
- The 1993 Russian Constitutional Crisis initiated by then-President Boris Yeltsin might be thought of as a much-delayed counter-revolution, rather than a revolution, but given that the Soviet Union had already been fairly peacefully dissolved more than a year earlier, Yeltsin's orders for elite Army Divisions stationed in Moscow to fire live ammunition at the country's own parliament in order to avoid his own impeachment and dissolve the Supreme Soviet could definitely be thought of as not civilized. Of course, the Parliamentarians also shot back and arguably pushed the situation over into battle by not dissolving.
- And firing at the parliament was the least bloody part (few people will ever know whether there were anyone on the higher floors where the shots were aimed), fights around all Moscow before siege of parliament were the deadliest street fights in Moscow since 1917. Neither side was fully legitimate by the confrontation and neither side was civilized in the confrontation. So, whatever side was The Revolution, it was not civilized.
- The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
- The "English" "Civil Wars". The romanticized view paints this as a falling-out between King and Parliament leading to several battles and ending with the King's unfortunate execution followed by an "interregnum" during which England is ruled by the firm-but-fair Oliver Cromwell before eventually ending in an inevitable restoration and the new King and Parliament making peace. The actual history has an incompetent, tyrannical King dragging his country into a bloody, fractious civil war and who refuses to compromise with Parliament despite his eventual defeat (after seven years of warfare!) leading to his execution, the abolition of the monarchy and the institution of a republic. The republic leads to an autocracy, then the republic again, then a monarchical restoration followed by further political upheaval, another King overthrown, a parliamentary-appointed monarchy and the overthrown line seeking to regain the throne at which they make two serious attempts. All in all, the civil strife started in 1642 continued to have repercussions, on and off, well into the next century if one includes Cromwell's Reign of Terror in Ireland. England did get this nicely out of the way early however. During the Victorian/Regency period politicians made a point of creating a revolution slowly and bloodlessly through the changing of government policy. They'd seen what happened in France and really didn't like it.
- Both the IRA and the Ulster Defence Volunteers were playing this one straight from an early stage.
- During the Iranian Revolution in 1979, almost everyone from communists to religious fundamentalists worked together to overthrow the Shah. As soon as they won, control of the country boiled down to who had the largest number of organized thugs out on the streets. The Islamic socialists having lost their main leader, Ali Shariati, to a SAVAK assassin's bullet in England in 1978, they couldn't organize their thugs well enough to enforce their will, and fanatical Khomeinist Islamists won the day. The Khomeinists promptly purged the country shortly after they clinched power.
- A lesser known part of Japanese history: United Red Army and Japanese Red Army. URA was a domestic terrorist group, who ended up killing mostly its own members during a siege at a mountain hotel. JRA is mostly known for its affiliation with the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine.
- The Spanish Civil War. Full stop. While atrocities of Nationalist Spain and the supporting forces sent by Nazi Germany and Italy to fight against the Republic are well-known (especially as popularized by Picasso's Guernica) such as the bombing of Guernica by the German Condor Legion and the Italian Aviazione Legionaria along with the alarmingly casual views the Nationalists had on massacring those who had, or had been accused of collaborating with the Republicans, the Second Spanish Republic and its supporters were not angels themselves. The Republic's habits of violently enforcing its secular, anti-clerical policies (by destroying churches and murdering priests in particular) are generally not as well-known. George Orwell, who served in the International Brigades, commented in his works about how he found himself frightened of his own allies in the conflict. The late era of the Second Republic in particular was defined by an increasing move towards the Republic's biggest supporter: the Soviet Union with all the red terror that entailed. The Soviet NKVD (the secret police and intelligence service, the predecessor of the KGB) in particular were busy little bees during the Spanish Civil War and provided their services as interrogators and counterespionage agents extensively for Republican Spain. Ultimately, a deeper study of the Spanish Civil War doesn't give a very clear case of "good guys and bad guys" as one would think.
- The Egyptian government attempted to invoke this during the Revolution of 2011, by withdrawing the police forces and opening the prisons, causing violence and havoc. The people weren't fooled: they formed local defense associations to fight back the criminals, and virtually all of the actual protesters calling for the downfall of the regime were entirely peaceful.
- After its Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, many residents of the Canadian province of Quebec wanted it to become an independent country. Most Quebec separatists wanted to secede democratically, but the Front de Liberation du Quebec aimed to turn the province into a Marxist-Leninist state by force. After kidnapping British diplomat James Cross and murdering Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte, the FLQ was finally crushed after federal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act and deployed troops onto the streets of Montreal.
- The Syrian civil war started with the opposition armed with whatever weapons they could get against the army, who ruthlessly gunned down anyone who opposed Bashar al-Assad's rule and deployed chemical weapons and incendiaries against civilians. Over time, the opposition became more and more radicalized, and terrorist groups began co-opting the revolution for their own purposes. Things started getting bad when reports started coming out of the rebels using Child Soldiers, eating enemy soldiers' hearts, and performing crucifixions. As of 2015, almost all the secular and/or moderate rebels have been killed or otherwise neutralized, and the major anti-Assad forces left are the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front (which is al-Qaida's official branch in Syria).
- The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, aka ISIS, ISIL and "the Islamic State", starting in 2014. A extremist Sunni Islam army seeking to carve out a fundamentalist Islamic state—the "Islamic Caliphate"—from both Syria and Iraq, it quickly became known for the breathtaking brutality with which they did practically everything in the public eye, from wholesale sex slavery of the women in their conquered territories to the online propaganda videos of Western hostages being beheaded. As of this writing (late 2014), they are still active but are being seriously damaged and hindered by airstrikes from a coalition of nations, in response to which they appear to be escalating their atrocities.
- In Setting the East Ablaze by Peter Hopkirk several witnesses who were present for the Russian Revolution noted that a lot of executions seemed to take place out of a weird survival situation. The only way to prove oneself worthy of promotion was to demonstrate sufficient fanaticism, and conversely demonstrating insufficient fanaticism was likely to get oneself shot. Thus the most Genre Savvy continually ordered executions or made wild denunciations while any red who was to decent to play that game ended up dead.
- The generalized term for this effect is "holiness spiral": when the claim to power is being some sort of Holier Than Thou, and there's no formal border for how much is "too holy", the inevitable result is escalation into a winner-takes-all contest: no matter how modestly it started, demonstrations of contenders' fanaticism become "auction" of Refuge in Audacity, where they double down repeatedly. Since the contenders need to both neutralize the competition and be holier than already "holy" folk, once the heads start rolling, they roll ever faster, until either the whole movement self-destructs and takes out everyone in range (Zhang Xianzhong/Pol Pot scenario) or someone seizes enough of power and opportunity to stop the process (Stalin scenario — demonstratively crushing "right deviation", "left deviation", and inventing an odd "right-leftist deviation" to crush when someone's asking for it, but doesn't fall under existing options).
- Aside from the fact that all parties have a strong temptation to cross The Laws and Customs of War in any conflict, a Revolutionary regime will always be at best a plurality for "The People" is something of a charming myth, you will seldom find the majority of a nation wanting the Revolution's platform, many will be neutral and many under suspicion of duress. Furthermore the traditionally accepted source of legitimacy is gone because the Revolution just destroyed it and therefore the new regime will often fall back on trying to rule by terror. All regimes rule by terror to some degree of course; we call that "law enforcement" but there is a difference between a fairly civilized structure which makes some effort to separate the guilty from the innocent and a regime of brutalism. Furthermore before it gains power a revolutionary faction is likely to use terror against dissenters as there are always likely to be a considerable amount of people who wouldn't dream of voting for them in an honest election. Finally of course the Revolution will likely be tempted to take revenge on those they connected to the Old Regime or for that matter on anyone vaguely connected to a category of humanity that the revolutionaries assigned them to.
- For that reason nationalist revolutions often have more chance of stability then universalist ones; their claim to legitimacy is set by the mere fact of the nation they rule over. An obvious exception comes to mind and they were not alone. On the other hand equally arguably one reason they went so crazy was that the traditional sources of legitimate authority had disappeared.
- For similar reasons most revolutions, even those that start by appealing to the "brotherhood of man" end up falling back on nationalism. It is simply to good a way to get support and even the worst dictators can get support by claiming foreign threats. If they are "lucky" as in Stalin's case they will even be telling the truth in that regard.
- For that reason nationalist revolutions often have more chance of stability then universalist ones; their claim to legitimacy is set by the mere fact of the nation they rule over. An obvious exception comes to mind and they were not alone. On the other hand equally arguably one reason they went so crazy was that the traditional sources of legitimate authority had disappeared.
- But he also recognizes that such a person (or monster) has no place building or living in the new world that will rise from the ashes of the old (the one he plans to burn down). He is an agent of death and destruction, a weapon to be cast away when it has served it's purpose.
- In Real Life, when the War of Independence ended, a significant amount of the next decade was spent by the new Irish government trying to get rid of the IRA, since they had been fighting for independence of the entire island, which the Free State government traded away, with the South becoming self-governing and then (with the Republic of Ireland in 1949) fully independent by itself. The Civil War (which is the worst things got) began when partition occurred under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, setting up the Free State government in the South. Much of the IRA became the Free State Army, while the rest rebelled, refusing to accept the referendum ratifying the treaty, seeking to unify all of Ireland. It Got Worse.