A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

The term —both as a noun and adjective— is usually applied to the field of politics, and is occasionally used in the context of science, invention or art. In politics, a revolutionary is someone who supports abrupt, rapid, and drastic change, while a reformist is someone who supports more gradual and incremental change. A conservative is someone who opposes all such changes. A reactionary is someone who wants things to go back to the way they were.

According to sociologist James Chowning Davies, political revolutionaries may be classified in two ways:

  1. According to the goals of the revolution they propose. Usually, these goals are part of a certain ideology. In theory, each ideology could generate its own brand of revolutionaries. In practice, most political revolutionaries have been either liberals, nationalists, socialists, communists, fascists or anarchists.
  2. According to the methods they propose to use. This divides revolutionaries in two broad groups: Those who advocate a violent revolution, and those who are pacifists.

The Revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no private interests, no affairs, sentiments, ties, property nor even a name of his own. His entire being is devoured by one purpose, one thought, one passion—the revolution. Heart and soul, not merely by word but by deed, he has severed every link with the social order and with the entire civilized world; with the laws, good manners, conventions, and morality of that world. He is its merciless enemy…

Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara said this about revolutionaries: “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. … We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.”

Latin Revolutionists:

Camilo Cienfuegos – Cuba mid 20th century

Anti-Communist worked closely with Fidel Castro.  Che Guvara also had great respect for him.

“ Few men have succeeded in leaving on every action such a distinctive personal mark. He had the natural intelligence of the people, who had chosen him out of thousands for a privileged position on account of the audacity of his blows, his tenacity, his intelligence, and unequalled devotion. Camilo practiced loyalty like a religion. ”

Che Guevara

Carlos Lamarca – Brazil  mid to late 20th century

Brazilian military officer who deserted in 1969 to become an anti-dictatorship revolutionary.  Guerilla warfare.

Carlos Marighella – Brazil mid 20th century

Marxist Writer.  Urban warefare.  Minimanual Of The Urban Guerrilla

Che Guevara – Argentina mid 20th century

Emiliano Zapata – Mexico late 19th century

Rose from lower class to rule his city and lead the movement to aid peasants.

In the folklore of the people of Morelos, there is a widespread belief that Zapata did not die. The corpse purported to be his was that of a friend posing as Zapata,because there was something on Zapata’s chest that the dead body didn’t have and that Zapata himself fled to some obscure rural locale.

Zapata has in the last few decades been recast as a quasi-religious icon as well, mostly within indigenous or the newer “Zapatista”(EZLN/Mayan) communities, where he is called “Votán Zapata”. Votán (Wotán in modern Mayan spelling) is a Mayan god, who with his twin brother Ik’al was said to have descended from the mountains to teach the people to defend themselves. A part of Our Word is Our Weapon by Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN is dedicated to Votán Zapata.

Hugo Chavez – Venezula Present

As the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Chávez promotes a political doctrine of participatory democracy, socialism and Latin American and Caribbean cooperation. He is also a critic of neoliberalism, globalization, and United States foreign policy.

Chávez was raised a Roman Catholic, although he has had a series of disputes with both the Venezuelan Catholic hierarchy and Protestant groups like the New Tribes Mission. Originally he kept his own faith a private matter, but over the course of his presidency, Chávez has become increasingly open to discussing his religious views, stating that both his faith and his interpretation of Jesus’ personal life and ideology have had a profound impact on his left-wing and progressivist views. He often invokes God and asks for prayer in speeches, as he did when he asked Venezuelans to pray for Fidel Castro‘s health. He describes himself as Christian who grew up expecting to become a priest. According to him, as a result of this background his socialist policies have been borne with roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Other indirect influences on Chávez’s political philosophy are the writings of Noam Chomskyand the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Bible (Chávez describes Jesus as the world’s first socialist, or the world’s greatest socialist

José de San Martín – South America early 19th century

Liberated Spanish South America.

Luis Carlos Prestes – Brazil early 20th century

“Knight of Hope”  Forerunner of Che Guevara

Prestes was involved in organizing the failed tenente rebellion of 1922, a revolt by the largely middle class officer corps and poor conscripted servicemen against the agrarian oligarchies that dominated Brazil’s Old Republic (1889–1930).

Manuel Marulanda – Columbia late 20th century

main leader of the FARC-EP (“Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo“); switched to communist party in the early 1950s

Pancho Villa – Mexico early 20th century

Other notable revolutionists:  George Washington, Mao Zedong, Nat Turner, Vladamir Lenin

This arresting picture of Jesus as a revolutionary, imitating the style of the famous poster of 1960s fighter Che Guevara, was produced as an advertising poster encouraging people to go to church during Easter 1999.  Link to Image Site here.


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