The Revised Boy Scout Manual : How to Fight A Revolution (1970)

William S. Burroughs’ 1970 manifesto for overthrowing a corrupt government, aka The Revised Boy Scouts Manual

“Nothing is true, everything is permitted”
– Hassan-i Sabbah (1050s – 1124), founder of founder of The Assassins


William Burroughs during target practice. Lawrence Kansas


William S. Burroughs’ 1970 manifesto for overthrowing a corrupt government, aka The Revised Boy Scouts Manual, can be bought legally and studied in its entirety. One year earlier Burroughs had written his novel The Wild Boys, a book with a mission: “Under pretext of drug control suppressive police states have been set up throughout the Western world…. The police states maintain a democratic façade from behind which they denounce as criminals, perverts and drug addicts anyone who opposes the control machine.”

Can Burroughs’ Boy Scouts of the world disrupt the machine and rescue mankind?




Extracts from The Revised Boy Scout Manual, a novel in the form of three one-hour cassettes, now follow. Our focus is on the end of tape one, side B, as transcribed in 2005 by blogger ‘CE399’, in which Burroughs seeks to remake the United Kingdom, although he talks only of England.

Tools for regime change as suggests by Burroughs take in: disinformation; amplifying the actions of a small underground by way of a highly vocal right wing party that deifies Her Majesty the Queen; acts of random violence; acts of random murder (“shuffle a pack of cards listing various categories housewife bowler-hat-and-umbrella nun meth-drinker lavatory attendant anyone driving or riding in a Bentley etc. The shuffle another pack of city areas arranged into districts that do not correspond to the actual boroughs or wards”); bombs; biological warfare – the introduction of predatory, alien species into enemy territory; big cats on the streets would “eat the CIA men first since they are bigger and slower” – targeted assassinations of the unseen elite; pistols; homemade and more rudimentary weapons – “every good scout will be tinkering with crossbows and rubber band guns, homemade flame throwers and laser guns, cyanide injectors and blowguns”; and cyanide guns capped with a “Buck Rogers death ray”. On cyanide guns Burroughs advises:

If you can catch the target, with mouth open, you can jet it in from ten feet like a spitting cobra. This is not hard to do. They are always ranting on about permissiveness, marijuana, anarchy, ill-bred attacks on Her majesty, bring back hanging, bring back flogging, heavier penalties for drug offenses, ban smut, etc. And of course the injector is at home in bars and restaurants. Instead of canard a l’orange he gets a mouthful of prussic acid.

Burroughs knew the toxic effects sounds can have on the human mind having used it to terrorise a Soho eatery.


This weapon is fully described in The Job, published by Grove Press of New York. So much for the commercial. Infrasound is sound at a frequency below the level of human hearing which sets up vibrations in any solid obstruction including the human body. Professor Gavreau who discovered this novel weapon says that his installation which resembles a vast police whistle eighteen feet long, can kill up to five miles in any direction…knock down walls and break windows, and set off burglar alarms for miles around. his device is patented and anybody can obtain a copy of the plans on payment of two hundred francs at the patent office. So why be a small-time sniper?




Hereunder are other parts of Burroughs’ recipe for a British Revolution. We advocate none of it. It exists purely as an interesting artefact of its era. Burroughs is at his satirical and sardonic best. Not everything is literal. Maybe.


(written March 25, 1970, Paris, France)


1) An independent republican or reform party of exemplary behavior and moderation, staying always within the law. Personnel must be at all times above reproach, at least in the initial stages of the operation.

2) A terrorist underground complete with detailed personnel and methods of operation. Post films of underground drilling can be leaked to press. The police can be allowed to capture extensive files taken from a telephone book, and while they drag bewildered citizens from their beds, the underground which consists of a small group of expert saboteurs, can strike somewhere else.

3) A terrorist reich complete with personnel. Any outrage can be attributed to these characters. You can see how this works in present-time Brazil where any murder of underworld figures can be laid to the terrorist police organization. The script is different for every country or area of operation, but its always a one-two-three…

Here’s the schema for the United Kingdom…

1) An English Republican Party (ERP). Offices in Bedford Square. Visible personnel must be above reproach. Appeal is rational, stressing economic factors. The monarchy is simply out of keeping with the realities of modern life. Time to forget a dead empire and build a living republic. Stabilize economy, cut expenses, especially defense. Let the Yanks and NATO carry that ball – it’s to heavy for us. Build up tourist trade by giving them someplace to eat and room service ’round the clock and food fit to eat. Start bringing England into the twentieth century. Attract foreign capital, stabilize population by setting up liaison communities to facilitate immigration from the U.K. to South America, the only under populated country. Smooth patter, discreet lunches at Rules and Simpsons. Scrupulously abstain from any personal attack on the royal family.

2) We prepare a pamphlet with obscene cartoons covering the royal family with vile abuse. We send it out to members of all the best clubs, conservative M.P.’s, officers and gentlemen on Her Majesty’s Service. The first wave takes a heavy toll in heart attacks and apoplexy in the halls of drafty clubs…muttering imprecations at yellowing tusks on the wall…walking down country lanes swinging umbrellas and sticks in the air. England is in ferment like a vast vat of bitters.

3) This vile attack on Her Majesty

Put an end to permissiveness

Bring back hangings

Bring back floggings

The piper plays “Bring Back My Bonnie To Me” on a tin flute down Kings Road.

1)ERP deplores pamphlets as sophomoric and calls on the invisible author to desist, which he does of course. The right hand sees what the left hand is doing. A lull, during which ERP consolidates gains. ERP ERP ERP ghoul expert patter belching it out all over England. After all why all this fuss about something left over from the Middle Ages? Just a question of getting people used to it like a new ten-shilling piece. I mean, when we can cut rates and give decent housing they’ll forget all about it…the new generation never heard of such a thing.

Turn Buckingham Palace into a luxury hotel, one of a chain…and that’s where your firm comes in. The Royal family is to be absorbed into the diplomatic service which is also due for cutbacks and drastic overhaul. Old style diplomacy dates back to the eighteenth century. We want to see less goodwill tours and handshaking ad more understanding on basic exchange of goods and services. Yes the whole structure needs overhauling. Why not bring England into the twentieth century? Scrap the licensing laws – food and service ’round the clock. Good middle-priced restaurants like Horn & Hardest.

ERP ERP ERP. Skinheads? Street gangs? We’ll give them something better to do than Paki-bashing and fighting each other. There’s useful work for these boys to do…

2) Infiltrate street gangs as first move toward taking over the streets. We send our boys trained in every technique of hand-to-hand fighting, the use of weapons and demolition procedures. Jimmy the doctor with a scalpel up his sleeve. Electric Kris ready in his boot. These boys assume leadership of street gangs. Why fight each other? Why not fight the bastards who keep you here in your cold gritty dank slums? I said, “BUGGER THE QUEEN!” and anybody doesn’t like it just step forward and say so.

These boys have a double mission: first, to put street fighters in the street when we give the word…riots burning cars broken windows. That is the work of the rank and file. Second, they will sift street gangs for the smartest, hardest boys to forge the SS, the Palace Guard of the ERP. The boys will be exhaustively trained in all fighting techniques, in psychological warfare, in crown control. At the right time they will be provided with uniforms, motorcycles, armored cars and automatic weapons. There is useful work for these boys to do.


William S Burroughs, Democratic National Convention, Chicago, 1968.

William S Burroughs, Democratic National Convention, Chicago, 1968.


Now we need a scenario for the rightist plot. Officers and gentlemen, they call themselves (OG). Using American techniques of thought control they will make the Queen a goddess. Her power is absolute. Every citizen must display at all times on his lapel, hat band, shirt or other garment where it can be plainly seen, the Queen’s Rating. QR determines position in her society…at all times. Her favorites all have “Top Rating.” They can walk into any restaurant and the manager has to provide a table. They can walk into any hotel and ask for a suite and the manager has to move somebody out. Intolerable little Cockney faggot in eighteenth century costume with a powered blue wig and snuff box full of cocaine: “Get this low rate riffraff out of my suite!” And so it goes on down the scale to the dreaded pariah rating (PR) which is tattooed in red ink on the forehead like the brand of Cain.

Anyone can refuse to serve food, grant lodging, or take in any public transport a PR. And so her loyal and loyalist subjects think twice about incurring her serene displeasure. And it is well to remember that her favor is not to be taken for granted but must be earned anew each day. Actually the Queen is simply a holograph symbol of subservience manipulated by American know-how. Vulgar chaps, by and large, but they do have the technology…

Recent experiments with rhesus monkeys have demonstrated that fear, rage, excretory processes and sexual response can be brought under push-button control. The Chinese delegate screams his rage and shits in his pants on TV…the Soviet delegate masturbates uncontrollably…early answer to use on anyone considering to interfere. We set it all up with top secret documents, statements from a former CIA man who must for his own safety reasons remain anonymous. And we out our rumor boys into the streets with tape recorders.

1)England is taking orders from the CIA and the American narcotics department like a Central American banana republic. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the marines land. Look at this drug problem they’ve dumped into our lap. Go after the pushers – you arrest one pusher and ten more will take his place. The one man the narcotics industry cannot do without is the addict on the street who buys it. Treat the addict in the street and you will put the pusher out of business. The apomorphine treatment started in England – why not give it a chance in England?

And let’s give these kids something better to do. Why not reverse the brain drain? It isn’t just more money that takes our best research brains to America – its better equipment and opportunities for more advanced research. The new work in autonomic shaping carried out in America by Drs. Bernard Engel, Joe Kamiya, Neal Miller and Peter Lang. They are teaching subjects to control brain waves, rate of heartbeat, blood pressure, digestive processes and sexual response. This could lead to trips without drugs and solve the drug problem. Is England picking up? Is similar research being carried out?…the Bristol Neurological Foundation by Professor Grey Walter? If so we haven’t heard about it. Is England afraid of any research that could turn up something basically new? Is England muddling through or simply muddling steadily downhill? Is the mismanagement we see here part of a deliberate plot? It’s beginning to look that way.

2) Riots and demonstrations by street gangs are stepped up. Start random assassination. Five citizens every day in London but never a police officer or serviceman. Patrols in the street shooting the wrong people. Curfews. England is rapidly drifting toward anarchy.

3) We send out our best agents to contact army officers and organize a rightist coup. We put rightist gangs into it like the Royal Crowns and the Royal Cavailers in the street. 1. Time for ERP! 2. Come Out in The Open!

The trouble in England is: it is run by old women of both sexes. we have a list of these people. We will not allow them to use the army to overthrow constitutional government and impose a dictatorship under pretense of controlling the disorders which they themselves have caused. It is time for young England to strike, and to strike hard.

We turn our palace guard loose. An armored car draws up in front of Claridge’s. Youths with tommy guns jump out and block off the street. A TV crew unloads. The whole scene goes out live on TV.

Steps through the silent dining room…stop by a table. A burst of machine gun fire. A woman screams.

“Shut up you whore! And now, will you all please stand up – that’s right. Now all of you sing God Save The Queen. Boys, walk around the dining room. You there – louder…more soul!”

The car stops in front of the best club of them all. It’s not White’s, I’m told, but we’ll be around to White’s later. They’ll be waiting…the old gentlemen in their armchairs muttering about permissiveness…in the writing room writing letters toward the restoration if hanging and flogging. The boys leap out in their natty blue uniforms with the skull-and-crossbones at the lapel that glows in the dark.

“Are you a member, sir?” The boy shoots him coldly in the stomach with a P-38 (it’s nice for city wear, so much more elegant that a revolver). Quick purposeful young steps down drafty halls. Tussle over the wall…the improbable hyphenated names. The members are frozen.

“What is this outrage? When a gentleman is reading his Times?” They expect the club steward to come in and throw the bouncers out perhaps it is even a case for the bobbies. The steps stop in front of an armchair.

“Are you Lord Stansfield?”

“I am.”

“He is the most intelligent person in the room. Intelligent enough to know that this is serious.” The boy is very elegant and disengaged. Lord Stansfield decides to try a paternal approach.

“Son…” The boy gives him a short burst across the chest. Diving bell from the nineteenth century shattered by a boy’s bullets. The members are numb from the shock wave. TV camera, floodlights, the boy paces around the vast lounge looking at the pictures. He points the gun at a steward’s stomach.

“You there, bring champagne.”

“Champagne, sir?”

“Yes, champagne. And glasses for all the officers and gentlemen, the servants as well, and don’t be forgetting the military.” The trembling steward passes around the clicking glasses.

“You there! Pick it up!”

Now the boy stands in front of the Queen’s picture. He raises his glass. “BUGGER THE QUEEN!” He throws the empty glass at the picture, shards of glass sticking into the Queen’s face. The members are frozen. The boy unslings the tommy gun and shoots down five members in a random sequence pivoting from the hip. He picks up another glass. “And now all you officers and gentlemen, gather ’round here. That’s right. I want to hear it, I want to hear it good and loud.”


All over England, the elite guard carry the message of death. They have some natty uniforms with trick gadgets: a skull-and-crossbones in the lapel and a helmet that winks on and off, and blue revolving skull lights on the cars. And some frantic faggots get themselves up in skeleton suits of course. Sweeping down country roads thirty boys on motorcycles draw up in front of a stately home.

“Yes sir?”

“Where’s the old bitch?”

The butler’s face does not change. “Mrs. Charington is in the garden sir.” And there she is, in her trowels and slacks, digging away at her roses.

“What do you want, young man?” She thinks he will quail before a good woman’s gaze. He doesn’t.

“Lebenstraum, you old hag. You poison the air we breath.”

Mrs. Charington bleeds into her roses. The butler is busy with the wall safe…

They sweep up to a baronial estate.

“You’ll have to wait, constable, the family is at dinner.”

“Good, we’ll join them.” He jabs the butler in the stomach with his tommy gun. The lord and lady die in the seats, faces in the grouse. the children, a boy of eighteen and a girl of sixteen, sit there, faces blank with shock. Slowly the boy’s face glows and sharpens with calculation. his lips part and his eyes shine. “Due truths are told as happy preludes to the swelling act. And now for my unfortunate brother.”

Lead boy calls in two footmen. “Bring mattresses. You, and you, go along and see that they don’t get lost.

Television cameras set up. the mattresses brought in and dropped on the floor in front of the fireplace.

Next scene shows the other boys gang-fucking the girl while the new boy tries on his uniform.

All over England under the searching guns pubs echo with “BUGGER THE QUEEN!” Taken up by junkies, meth heads, hippies…played back on recorders…live on TV.

“BUGGER THE QUEEN!” rises to the pale English sky. Whole regiments scream it out.

“BUGGER THE QUEEN!” and murder their officers straightway.

Boy packs with tommy guns march down the street and blast every shop window that bears the hated placard, “By Appointment to Her majesty the Queen.” And everyone they meet had better scream it out loud…


They march into offices, schools, factories, department stores.

“All right, all of you, stick your head out of the window and show some respect.”


All over England heads pop out of windows screaming,


Languid young officers on flower floats through the streets as the delirious populace chants,


“Bugger the Queen!” is now the national greeting..

ERP occupies Buckingham Palace to protect and advise the Royal family. Decimated by assassination and deprived of psychic support, the army falters. The Queen abdicates, while the elite guard languidly polish their nails on skull lapels. And who is that…a very natty tailor-made uniform?

…I think there is a residue of fair-minded people in England who will read it as it is intended: as an empirical sociological observation. If an image or symbol is widely venerated in a population segment, the desecration and shattering of that image or symbol will shatter the social structure insofar as that structure is based on the image or symbol. It’s a very old rule: shatter the idols and you shatter the social structure. The idols are not often as easy to find. “Bugger Nixon” just doesn’t do it at all. No shock value there.

The cut-ups date from the Dadaist movement and Tristan Tzara pulling a poem out of a hat. So you will see, this is actually a repetition of “Burn the Louvre!” And everybody says, “So who cares?” You don’t have a basically important symbol. The tactic must shock and enrage, preferably to the point of madness. that is what this tactic is all about: desecration, madness.

“No it was not a difficult decision to issue these licenses for rape and murder. Nothing more ominous than a difficult decision in the Pentagon. And nobody does more harm than he who feels bad about doing it. Sad poison, nice guy more poison than nice wept when he saw the Hiroshima pictures. What a drag. When we murder somebody we want to have fun doing it..”

This license was dictated by a consideration taken into account by prudent commanders throughout history. You have to pay the boys off. Even the noble Brutus did it: “The town is yours boys.” Tacitus describes a typical scene: “If a young girl or good-looking boy fell into their hands they were torn to pieces in the struggle for possession. And the survivors were left to cut each other’s throats.” Well there is no need for it to be that messy – why waste a good-looking boy? Mother-loving American army run by old women, many of them religious my god hanging American soldiers for raping and murdering civilians.


Old Sarge bellows from here to eternity: “Soldiers pay!”

The CO stands there and smiles. Just ahead is a Middle Western American town about 200,000. Pretty town on a river, plenty of trees. The CO points, “He’s all yours boys! Every man, woman and child of it. Anything in it, living or dead.”

“Now just a minute boys. Listen to Old Sarge. Why make the usual stupid scene kicking in liquor stores grabbing anything in sight. You wake up with a hangover in an alley, your prick tore from fucking dry cunts and assholes, your eye gouged out by a broken beer bottle when you and your buddy wanted the same one – no fun in that. Why not leave it like it is? They go about their daily tasks and we just take what we want when we want it, cool and easy, and make them like it. You see what I mean? Five thousand of us, two hundred thousand of them.”

The young lieutenant in camouflage sees what he means. Boys – school showers and swimming pools full of them…

So we lay it on the line. “There’s no cause for alarm, folks, proceed about your daily tasks. But one thing is clearly understood – your lives, your bodies, your properties belong to us whenever and wherever we choose to take them.” So, we weed out the undesirables and turn the place into a paradise…getting’ it steady year after year…

Via: CE399. Read The Revised Boy Scout Manual in full here.

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