Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Oct 11, 2005 - Philosophy - 752 pages
14 Reviews

Twenty-three years in the making, Rising Up and Rising Down (the original, published by McSweeney's in October 2003, spans seven volumes) is a rich amalgam of historical analysis, contemporary case studies, anecdotes, essays, theory, charts, graphs, photographs and drawings. Convinced that there is "a finite number of excuses" for violence and that some excuses "are more valid than others," Vollmann spent two decades consulting hundreds of sources, scrutinizing the thinking of philosophers, theologians, tyrants, warlords, military strategists, activists and pacifists. He also visited more than a dozen countries and war zones to witness violence firsthand -- sometimes barely escaping with his life.

Vollmann makes deft use of these tools and experiences to create his Moral Calculus, a structured decision-making system designed to help the reader decide when violence is justifiable and when it is not.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means

User Review  - Ian Klappenskoff - Goodreads

A Lot of Kisses “I know he's probably a genius and everything, but Bill's just such a sweetheart. He puts so much of his desire for goodness into his books. So in a way, it's as if each letter of ... Read full review

Review: Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means

User Review  - Dillon Floughton - Goodreads

Vollman even admits that his Moral Calculus has it's flaws and it most certainly does especially when dealing with his case studies, but it is still a very valuable and logical way to measure ... Read full review


Three Meditations on Death
Siege Thoughts
The Days of the Niblungs
Definitions for Lonely Atoms
Continuum of revolution and its defense III 416
fWiere Do My Rights End? excerpt
Where Do My Rights Begin? excerpt
Remember the Victim
The Moral Calculus
Southeast Asia
North America
Annotated Table of Contents to the Unabridged Edition

Defense of Class
Continuum of compulsion loyalty and fear IV

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 268 - ... on the exploitation of the many by the few. In this sense the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence : Abolition of private property.
Page 185 - THE first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.
Page 23 - Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Page 94 - ... for many have pictured republics and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil.
Page 192 - The occupation of a hair-dresser, or of a working tallow-chandler, cannot be a matter of honour to any person — to say nothing of a number of other more servile employments. Such descriptions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually or collectively, are permitted to rule.
Page 289 - Again, is not Nebraska, while a Territory, a part of us? Do we not own the country? And if we surrender the control of it, do we not surrender the right of self-government? It is part of ourselves. If you say we shall not control it, because it is only part...
Page 288 - What next ? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals ? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not.
Page 193 - The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.

References to this book

About the author (2005)

William T. Vollmann is the author of seven novels, three collections of stories, and a seven-volume critique of violence, Rising Up and Rising Down. He is also the author of Poor People, a worldwide examination of poverty through the eyes of the impoverished themselves; Riding Toward Everywhere, an examination of the train-hopping hobo lifestyle; and Imperial, a panoramic look at one of the poorest areas in America. He has won the PEN Center USA West Award for Fiction, a Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and a Whiting Writers' Award. His journalism and fiction have been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, Spin and Granta. Vollmann lives in Sacramento, California.

Bibliographic information