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:
3. The Castle
14. No Exit
16. The Plague