What Was that Quote?

I’m writing a fic (hoping to finish the last 50k draft during NaNo) about a period after a failed grab for political power and civil war, where frightened people are reforming the areas that were thought most dangerous. So I am looking for thoughts for various advocates in the story. They want to keep what works, what is humane and effective, but don’t really have a body of thought or examples to guide them in what to do or how to do it. They’ve gone too many years without thinking about these things and nearly lost all rights after frightened people gave too much away.

I remembered a quote about needing a little revolution in some movie. Digging for the quote in my memory, I thought it was Lenin or some other Russian.

Well google is my friend when it comes to trivia. I was surprised the learn it was a quote from a letter from Jefferson to Madison:

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government.” ― Thomas Jefferson, Letters of Thomas Jefferson

That wasn’t exactly what I remembered some actor saying, but by this point I thought it was Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October..

Capt. Marko Ramius:
A little revolution now and then is a healthy thing, don’t you think?

That is a slight restatement of the same insight of Jefferson. Healthy as a thunderstorm is not a common metaphor, but storm winds do clear out dangerous fogs, bringing in fresh rain and new ideas. So the change serves the concept, even if it is a little ambivalent with it spoken by a Soviet defector.

Looking back in my story’s world, it’s easier to spot problems in the story’s setting, just like real life. But how can a republic be structured to balance effectiveness and freedom? Those in my fic are quite serious about keeping the good parts of the system, and hammering out important change is so much harder than ripping it all down. But ripping it all down whole hog can make for a far worse system, just ask those under Emperor Palpatine.