"If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next" as written by James Dean Bradfield, Nicholas Allen Jones and Sean Moore....
The future teaches you to be alone
The present to be afraid and cold
"So if I can shoot rabbits then I can shoot fascists"

Bullets for your brain today
But we'll forget it all again
Monuments put from pen to paper
Turns me into a gutless wonder

And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
Will be next, will be next, will be next

Gravity keeps my head down
Or is it maybe shame
At being so young and being so vain

Holes in your head today
But I'm a pacifist
I've walked La Ramblas but not with real intent

And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
Will be next, will be next, will be next, yeah will be next

And on the street tonight
An old man plays with newspaper cuttings of his glory days

And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
And if you tolerate this then your children will be next
Will be next, will be next, will be next


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"If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next" as written by James Dean Bradfield James Bradfield

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If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next song meanings
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  • +8
    General CommentI think the song meaning has 2 sides, 1 about the civil war.
    The other is a more general message about: "If you don't step up for your ideal's and fight the wrongs in the world you will just pass away and the wrongs will move on to the next generation without change"
    So it's about finding the courage to change the world around you to make a beter future
    entropy125on May 20, 2009   Link
  • +6
    General CommentBefore WWII communism was very popular with the left leaning intellectual elite. They saw fascism as a huge threat and thought that by joining the communists in the Spain civil war they could prevent fascism from spreading, help the world, build a utopia, etc.

    Needless to say, they were fairly naive. Many went to fight the fascists without any concept of how horrible it would be. So you had these left leaning university grad intellectuals (like Austin) who had only fired rifles when hunting, enlisting to be fighters and ambulance drivers in Spain. Hence the
    "if I can shoot rabbits
    then I can shoot fascists".

    Only once they got there did they start to realize that the communists were just as much puppets controlled by Russia as the fascists were controlled by Germany & Italy (in fact maybe even more so).

    They were young and vain and thought they could win. The fascists were much better equipped and organized and probably had more local support. Many returned to England and America broken men.
    Hence the line
    "Gravity keeps my head down
    Or is it maybe shame
    At being so young and being so vain".
    Notice how they had to keep their heads down to avoid being shot.

    Many had been pacifists in college, they were idealistic and unprepared. The war wasn't real to them, until they arrived and saw their friends killed.
    Hence,
    "Holes in your head today
    But I'm a pacifist
    I've walked La Ramblas
    But not with real intent"

    The war became a prelude to World War II, in which oddly enough, the victorious Spanish fascists remained neutral.
    “Bullets for your brain today
    But we'll forget it all again”
    gongozoloon November 27, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI came across a Manic Street Preachers website that included a track-by-track description. This song was described as "a tribute to not only to one of George Orwell's short stories, but a song about honoring the past and hope for the future." I do believe this to be true. It does seem that way to me.
    CB2001on October 05, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"If you tolerate this your children will be next" is a phrase applicable to many events in history. The British government effectively supported Franco by pretending there was a "blockade" of Spain and no arms could be provided "to either side". The Fascists got arms, the opponents did not. Who cares it was only Spanish peasants who were being killed and only Spanish communists who were being tortured...and then within three years it was our turn.
    You can interpret this any way you life of course, but we used to criticise other countries for imprisoning people without trial. We never thought our own allies would torture people and our government would applaud them.
    When you look at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo the phrase "if you tolerate this your children could be next" should inform our response.
    When I mentioned this song to an American friend she responded "we have plenty of manic street preachers over here!"
    user1951on March 09, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI found out that the phrase "if you tollerate this then your children will be next" was used by the communists during the spanish cival war about the blitzkrieg tactics that the nazi's and mussolini used.
    rhysjohn87on June 12, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentRevolution, or at least overthrowing opression in the form of war, using spain as an example.
    This kinda is shown in the awesome guitar, how the sound gets bigger, then smaller, like someone rising up, but then being crushed maybe.
    countcube69on June 01, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWe done this song when we were learning about the Spanish Civil War in History
    It's about a farmer joining the International Brigades, which were set up by the Russians and fighting the Nationalists
    "so if i can shoot rabbits
    then i can shoot facists"
    The title is from a Republican poster at the time calling for people from other countries to volunteer to fight Franco and the Nationalists. But in the end the British government secretly helped the Nationalists and turned Spain Facists just to protect buisness interests and to stop the war spreading.
    GenerationTerroriston May 12, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this is lamenting how idle and weak people today have become. I don't think it's actually about the Spanish Civil War, but simply references it to get the point across, since many people who volunteered to fight back then gave up comfortable lives to do so.

    'Bullets for your brain today
    But we'll forget it all again
    Monuments put from pen to paper
    Turns me into a gutless wonder'

    This is saying how easily past wars become irrelevant. People in countries all over the world have fought against tyranny in many different forms, but once it's all over, we usually just put up a monument or two as a reminder of the sacrifices made and move on. It's little more than lip service, because few of us today would be willing to make the same sacrifices if it were inconvenient for us.

    'Gravity keeps my head down
    Or is it maybe shame
    At being so young and being so vain'

    This is saying how the majority of the younger generations today are far too superficial and materialistic. Maybe it's because we're so privileged now, but things like civil rights, freedom, justice, etc. are really not that high on our agendas anymore.

    'Holes in your head today
    But I'm a pacifist
    I've walked La Ramblas
    But not with real intent'

    I guess this is saying that even though you're being shot at and having to dodge bullets, the singer does nothing because he claims to be a pacifist. He's walked La Ramblas as a tourist rather than a fighter.

    'And on the street tonight an old man plays
    With newspaper cuttings of his glory days'

    Probably about how the older people who fought in past wars are now taken for granted.

    'And if you tolerate this
    Then your children will be next
    And if you tolerate this
    Then your children will be next
    Will be next, will be next, will be next'

    If we tolerate the bad things that happen around us, which we generally do, our children will be the ones that suffer.
    bearhugon March 07, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment'And on the street tonight an old man plays
    With newspaper cuttings of his glory days'

    i love this lyric. these guys are so hopeless.
    roger wilcoon June 14, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI knew it was about the Spanish Civil War, and pressumed that it was making a point about the British government of the time, refusing to support the Republic in the war and allowing Hitler to test Blitzkrieg in Spain. If you tolerate this (Guernica), then your children will be next (dying in WW2)
    the_wombaton August 15, 2002   Link

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