Rebellion is a refusal of obedience or order . It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors from civil disobedience and mass nonviolent resistance, to violent and organized attempts to destroy an established authority such as the government. Those who participate in rebellions are known as "rebels". A Rebel is distinguished from an outsider. An outsider is one who is excluded from a group whereas a rebel goes against it. Also, rebel's potential to overthrow the leadership is recognized and substantial, unless the rebellion is crushed, whereas an outsider has been marginalized and is considered to be degenerate.
Throughout history, many different groups that opposed their governments have been called rebels. Over 450 peasant revolts erupted in southwestern France between 1590 and 1715. In the United States, the term was used for the Continentals by the British in the Revolutionary War, and the Confederacy by the Union in the American Civil War. It also includes members of paramilitary forces who take up arms against an established government.
Most armed rebellions have not been against authority in general, but rather have sought to establish a new government in their place. For example, the Boxer Rebellion sought to implement a stronger government in China in place of the weak and divided government of the time. The Jacobite Risings (called "Jacobite Rebellions" by the government) attempted to restore the deposed Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland, rather than abolish the monarchy completely.
Types of rebellion
A limited rebellion is an insurrection, and if the established government does not recognise the rebels as belligerents then they are insurgents and the revolt is an insurgency. In a larger conflict the rebels may be recognised as belligerents without their government being recognised by the established government, in which case the conflict becomes a civil war.
There are a number of terms that fall under the umbrella of rebel and they range from those with positive connotations to those with pejorative connotations. Examples include:
- Mutiny, which is carried out by military or security forces against their commanders
- Nonviolent resistance or civil disobedience, which do not include violence or paramilitary force
- Resistance movement, which is carried out by freedom fighters, often against an occupying foreign power
- Revolt, a term that is sometimes used for a more localized rebellions rather than a general uprising
- Revolution, which is carried out by radicals, usually meant to overthrow the current government
- Subversion, which are non-overt attempts at sabotaging a government, carried out by spies or other subversives
- Terrorism, which is carried out by different kinds of political or religious extremists
- Uprising, which is carried out by militant
- Lalor, John Joseph (1884). Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political .... Rand, McNally. pp. 632.
- History of Peasant Revolts: The Social Origins of Rebellion in Early Modern France., Journal of Social History
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989. Insurrection: "The action of rising in arms or open resistance against established authority or governmental restraint; with pl., an instance of this, an armed rising, a revolt; an incipient or limited rebellion."
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989. Insurgent "One who rises in revolt against constituted authority; a rebel who is not recognized as a belligerent."
- Hall, Kermit L.The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions, Oxford University Press US, 2001. ISBN 0195139240, 9780195139242 pp. 246,247 "In supporting Lincoln on this issue, the Supreme Court upheld his theory of the Civil War as an insurrection against the United States government that could be suppressed according to the rules of war. In this way the United States was able to fight the war as if it were an international war, without actually having to recognize the de jure existence of the Confederate government."