The Brief: Revolutionary rallying cries including images of guillotines, references to "eating the rich," and talk of class warfare are popular online in memes with varying levels of irony and sincerity.

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Memes about sending billionaires to the guillotine or starting a class war are popular online during a time of drastic economic inequality. While many social media users appear to use revolutionary language and references to make jokes and rhetorical points rather than to plot uprisings, the line between irony and sincerity isn’t always clearly drawn.

The line “eat the rich,” which has been attributed to 18th-century philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, is popular online in leftist and anti-capitalist meme circles. It’s also the title of an Aerosmith song. The phrase is less about cannibalism than it is about wealth inequality, but the metaphor serves as a stark statement. As Talia Lavin wrote in an article for GQ, “It’s hard to get edgier than cannibalism, and no would-be Internet humorist worth their salt can resist the lure of a Bezos bulgogi.”

The guillotine, a symbol most commonly associated with the French Revolution, has been popping up in memes about the ultra-wealthy hoarding money. The hashtag #IStandWithLesbianBabadook was trending on Twitter in April 2020 after someone with the username @lesbianbabadook received backlash for posting a guillotine meme about executing voice actor Aimee Carrera in “the class war.”

While most of these statements aren’t fully serious, the popularity of these memes represents how revolutionary leftist ideas are proliferating online among young, politically active digital natives.

Guillotine Memes

https://twitter.com/almostaquatic/status/1248158454168117249?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1248158454168117249&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fstayhipp.com%2Fmedia%2Ftwitter-trending%2Fistandwithlesbianbabadook-explained%2F

https://twitter.com/notallbhas/status/1247912479340015616

That’s one way to spend a $1200 stimulus check…

Some Animal Crossing fans are looking to exact their revenge on landlord Tom Nook…

A distracted boyfriend meme:

me irl
byu/AlexS101 inPresidentialRaceMemes

Eat The Rich Memes

One popular iteration of “eat the rich memes” conveys the mixed feelings many stans would have about consuming their favorite wealthy celebrities.

https://twitter.com/candyxmelody/status/1248167319777488896

https://twitter.com/NIXHV2/status/1248145868684836864

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3452098478150079&set=a.104909906202303&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Class Warfare & Revolution Memes

https://twitter.com/LadySerenaFae/status/1242791472937779201

https://twitter.com/CoolDotCom/status/1248368036811325447

https://twitter.com/KidMumford/status/1248007425593987072