Famous quotes explained: « The most elementary rebellion expresses, paradoxically, the aspiration for an order. », The Rebel, Camus, 1951.
This quote by Albert Camus is taken from his philosophical essay The Rebel, in which he analyzes different conceptions of rebellion throughout history, through the ideas of thinkers, myths, and historical uprisings.
For Camus, rebellion is part of human nature and has a positive character. It constitutes the essence of freedom and hope. The most elementary rebellion, that is, the act of opposing a rule, a law, or an authority external to oneself, can be understood as the « no » of the child. It is through this refusal that the child begins to assert their personality and their territory of freedom. This refusal is not yet a revolt or a revolution. It does not possess the violent, insurrectionary, and collective character. It does not aim to overthrow a regime, an order, or to replace it. It is only the natural expression of the need for freedom of human beings. It is instinctive, which is why Camus uses the expression « most elementary ».
The adverb « paradoxically » marks the turning point of the quote. Rebellion, when it leads to revolt, is often described as anarchy, chaos. Think of a mutiny on a ship, it overturns the command, strips the captain of their power, but often the people who take control have neither the skills, nor the legitimacy, nor the vision to lead the ship. They destroy without building afterwards, they know how to say « no », but have no proposals afterward.
However, for Camus, rebellion is a first negation of an order that accepts another. It is actually an affirmation, that of the freedom to change, to transform. This is why he positions himself in contradiction to common opinion with « paradoxically ». The end of the quote expresses this second stage: the aspiration for an order. Rebellion carries within it the hope for a new order. It does not have the project of perpetual disorder, but rather that of establishing a new model, changing rules, substituting new ones for old ones. Man in his rebellion expresses a positive attitude, that of a refusal to progress.
If the rebellious man changes society, we can agree that it can take some time and create some deaths and damages with euphemism, as was the case for the French Revolution.
The most elementary rebellion expresses, paradoxically, the aspiration for an order
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