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Albert Camus: The Rebel in the 20th Century - Essay Example

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In his analysis of History, the Rebel and Revolution, Albert Camus is clearly sympathetic to rebels. Locating them in virtually every major civilization and historical era, he asserts that rebels and rebellion allow the entire human organism to be liberated while also supporting a desire for “order” and “unity” – in the sense of justice. Such values are apparent throughout history. Unfortunately, Camus finds 20th-century revolutions not only anti-rebel but also “total;” they seek essentially – only – domination of the world by justifying nihilism as a principle, rejecting the validity of the individual and creating a previously unknown entity: State Terrorism. Camus writes that “every act of rebellion tacitly invokes a value.” This is seen in a slave’s willingness to say ‘no,” to insist that their slavery has gone on far too long or has become so intolerable that they must establish their existence as valid by defying the ‘master,’ by becoming a rebel. This defiance reflects a desire for order and seeks to establish a point beyond which a human being may not be forced to go. It also establishes an individual as a value in itself.

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Summary

In The Rebel, Camus reveals how 20th-century revolutions/governments put an end to the Rebel by rejecting values that had once justified, even provoked, rebellion. In their place, these states created a totalitarianism that Camus aptly describes as State Terrorism; the denial of an individual’s validity – the irrelevance of The Rebel. …
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