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The Rebel

A warning before we start: Albert Camus’s The Rebel is not a work of fiction; it is a philosophical essay, the first of its kind that I am bringing in this series. Let me make a confession too: Camus is the only author who found a second place in this A2Z series. It is not only because of my admiration for the author but also because I couldn’t get a good novel whose title starts with the letter R. And a disclaimer: This book will put off readers who are not interested in philosophical and literary themes as well as style.

A rebel is a person who says ‘No’ to the prevailing situation or system. But that would be mere teenage rebellion. Camus’s rebel is a person who simultaneously says a loud ‘Yes’ to his personal set of values with which he would replace what he doesn’t want to accept.

Rebellion is not a negation, in other words. It is an affirmation of your own values which you know will promote the welfare of the human race. Rebellion is an act of forging a better society. A better society can only be formed if its old gods and icons are decimated. Jesus was a rebel; he replaced the whimsical and vindictive god of the Old Testament with a loving father. Karl Marx was a rebel who sought to replace the entire capitalist system with an egalitarian community.

Rebellion is not revolution, however. Revolutions are political processes which replace one dictatorship with another. We have plenty of examples in history, the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution being two glaring ones. Rebellion is more like trade unionism than revolution. It is a correction of wrongs, not just decimation of the evil as anarchy does or a facile replacement as in revolutions.

The rebel is not a yogi; he doesn’t fall for the seductions of abstentions. The rebel is not a commissar either; he is not bloodthirsty. The rebel is more like the artist who questions our values and beliefs and suggests better alternatives.

The rebel forges better alternatives. So long as there is injustice, oppression, violence and so on, the rebel is required. The rebel’s dream is a better world for you and me. His mantra is: I rebel, therefore we exist. We – yes, the rebel is not a solipsist. He is not advocating the rights of any particular sect or community. The entire human race is what he wishes to hold in his embrace.

Let the rebel rise within you. Say a resounding No to the evils you see around. Say a louder Yes to the profound values that struggle to emerge from within you. It is only the rebels who can create a better world.

PS. This is part of a series being written for the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge. The previous parts are:
14. No Exit
17. Quixote
Tomorrow: Siddhartha


  1. Camus was brilliant. The moment I read the title I understood how fond you are of the writer. I haven't read The Rebel but I do hear what both Camus and you have to say. As you said a rebel has a better vision for the entire humanity. They are not of a caste or religion.

  2. Rebels are the reason the world is being reformed slowly. But a rebel's life is tough. Most of us would rather recline in our comfort zone than get out there to fight the system.

    1. It's always easy to go with the herd and most people do that. To rebel is to embrace the cross.

  3. How well you have defined Rebel and Rebellion. Neither positive nor negative but what is essential to a select few. Great to know about Camus and his philosophical essay.

    1. The definition also belongs to Camus, another Nobel laureate in this A2Z series of mine.

  4. Had Gandhiji not been a rebel of sorts, India of today would have been different, isnt it? Humanity needs rebels who let it breathe peacefully by pulling it out from under the weights of the dogmas of the prevailing system. Some rebels succeed while others perish, but not without lighting the lamp of hope in the hearts of many.

    1. "Some rebels succeed while others perish." You said it.

  5. Thoughtful and thought-provoking book. Not my fav genre and havent read Albert Camus as yet!

    1. Camus's novels are fantastic, especially The Stranger and The Plague. I wrote about Plague in this series, under letter P. The Rebel is an essay which may not appeal to many. Myth of Sisyphus is more readable; that's an essay too.


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