Rebellion is a refusal of obedience. 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".
- Anarchism is the purity of rebellion. A pig who struggles wildly and rends the air with his cries while he is held to be slaughtered, and a baby who kicks and screams when, wanting warmth and his mother's breast, he is made to wait in the cold—these are two samples of natural rebellion. Natural rebellion always inspires either deep sympathy and identification with the rebelling creature, or a stiffening of the heart and an activation of aggressive-defensive mechanisms to silence an accusing truth.
- Giovanni Baldelli, Social Anarchism (1971), p. 1
- Rebellion presupposes the existence of oppression and, on the psychological plane, deification of rebellion creates an affective compact with oppression.
- Giovanni Baldelli, Social Anarchism (1971), p. 7
- The questioning spirit is the rebellious spirit. A rebellion is always either a cloak to hide a prince, or the swaddling wrapper of a new rule.
- Honoré de Balzac, About Catherine of Medici, first published in book form as Catherine de Medici expliquée (1843).
- A large part of the problem of understanding how modern rebellions come about is the reporting of them. Euphoric moments are condensed to slogans on one hand and on the other into vivid narratives of the crimes of the fallen regime. What falls through the cracks is the process by which the actions of an often small dissident circle are translated into a mass movement involving a sufficient cross-section of society to sweep away a tyrant. If that clouds our understanding, so too does the tendency to limit our examination of rebellions to the facts of the revolutionary moment itself. Instead, what we should be doing is examining why populations ever accept dictatorships. In doing so, we may comprehend more about why they are then rejected, often so suddenly.
- The success of a rebellion depends on the crossing of a fear barrier by enough people, not simply the small group of dedicated dissidents. A judgment that the risk is worth it and the rebellion might actually succeed. [...] It is at this point, when fear is gone, that whole nations say no. And it is when tyrants fall.
- REBEL, n. A proponent of a new misrule who has failed to establish it.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
- Inscription at John Bradshaw's final burial place on Gun Hill, about 2.5 miles SW of Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica, and northwest of Marthas Brae.
- Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
- Analysis of rebellion leads at least to the suspicion that, contrary to the postulates of contemporary thought, a human nature does exist, as the Greeks believed. Why rebel if there is nothing permanent in oneself worth preserving? … Rebellion, though apparently negative, since it creates nothing, is profoundly positive in that it reveals the part of man which must always be defended.
- Does the end justify the means? That is possible. But what will justify the end? To that question, which historical thought leaves pending, rebellion replies: the means.
- With rebellion, awareness is born.
- Albert Camus, as quoted in The Estranged God : Modern Man's Search for Belief (1966) by Anthony T. Padovano, p. 109.
- There are strident voices, urging resistance to law in the name of freedom. They are not seeking freedom for themselves, they have it. They are seeking to enslave others. Their works are evil. They know it. They must be resisted. The evil they represent must be overcome by the good others represent. Their ideas, which are wrong, for the most part imported, must be supplanted by ideas which are right. This can be done.
- When the sword of rebellion is drawn, the sheath should be thrown away.
- John Singleton Copley, letter on the subject of the American Revolution (Aug. 6, 1775).
- Government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.
- Caprice, independence and rebellion, which are opposed to the social order, are essential to the good health of an ethnic group. We shall measure the good health of this group by the number of its delinquents. Nothing is more immobilizing than the spirit of deference.
- Jean Dubuffet, Asphyxiating Culture (1968).
- No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.
- Barbara Ehrenreich, "Family Values," The Worst Years of Our Lives (1991).
- I venture to say quite plainly: the oppressed and the exploited have a right to rebel, because they have to reclaim their rights until they enjoy their full share in the common patrimony. The Modern School, however, has to deal with children, whom it prepares by instruction for the state of manhood, and it must not anticipate the cravings and hatreds, the adhesions and rebellions, which may be fitting sentiments in the adult. In other words, it must not seek to gather fruit until it has been produced by cultivation, nor must it attempt to implant a sense of responsibility until it has equipped the conscience with the fundamental conditions of such responsibility. Let it teach the children to be men; when they are men, they may declare themselves rebels against injustice.
- Francisco Ferrer, The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School (1908), J. McCabe, trans. (1913), p. 45
- You rebel not only for what you can achieve, but for who you become. In the end, those who rebel require faith — not a formal or necessarily Christian, Jewish or Muslim orthodoxy, but a faith that the good draws to it the good. That we are called to carry out the good insofar as we can determine what the good is.
- Only the spirit of rebellion craves for happiness in this life. What right have we human beings to happiness?
- Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts (1881).
- I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. [...] It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.
- The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & What country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith (13 November 1787).
- But there is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotion, and that is oppression.
- To be different is to be held in suspicion. The nonconformist is a subversive. Subversion and rebellion make societies become more generous, more diverse, more compassionate and an individual more free. For the inability or unwillingness to see rebellion as a virtue and not a flaw is what provokes the uncomprehending hostility that makes the anxious herd stifle dissent and stamp out anything different. But humanity is not a herd, and being human demands a vigilance against the kind of provocations that start stampedes.
- Manuel L. Quezon III, The grand inquisitor (The Long View, 08/14/2006)
- Marxism comprises many principles, but in the final analysis they can all be brought back to a single sentence: It is right to rebel.
- Mao Zedong, Speech marking the 60th birthday of Stalin (20 December 1939), later revised as "It is right to rebel against reactionaries."
- La evolución verdadera que mejore la vida de los mexicanos, no la de sus parásitos, vendrá con la revolución: ésta y aquella se completan y la primera no pueda coexistir con los anacronisnos y subterfugios que despiertan hoy los redentores del pasivismo. Para evolucionar es preciso ser libre y no podemos tener libertad si no somos rebeldes, porque nunca tirano alguno ha respetado a los pueblos pasivos; jamás un rebaño de carneros se ha impuesto con la majestad de su número inofensivo, al lobo que bonitamente los devora sin cuidarse de otro derecho que el de sus dientes. Hay que armarse, pero no de un voto inútil, que siempre valdrá tanto como el tirano quiere, sino de armas efectivas y menos candorosas cuyo uso nos traiga la evolución ascendente y no la regresiva que preconizan los luchadores pacifistas. ¡Pasividad, nunca! Rebeldía, ahora y siempre.
- True evolution that will improve of the lives of Mexicans, rather than their parasites, will come with the Revolution. The two complement each other, and the former cannot coexist with the anachronisms and subterfuges that the redeemers of passivity employ today. To evolve we must be free, and we cannot have freedom if we are not rebels, because no tyrant whatsoever has respected passive people. Never has a flock of sheep instilled the majesty of its harmless number upon the wolf that craftily devours them, caring for no right other than that of his teeth. We must arm ourselves, not using the useless vote that will always be worth only as much as a tyrant wants, but rather with effective and less naive weapons whose utilization will bring us ascendant evolution instead of the regressive one praised by pacifist activists. Passivity, never! Rebellion—now and always.
- Práxedis Guerrero, Passivity and Rebellion (29 de Agosto 1909), Punto Rojo, N° 3, El Paso, Texas, translated by Javier Sethness-Castro. 
- Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
- Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, Fortnightly Review (London, Feb. 1891, repr. 1895).
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 659.
- The worst of rebels never arm
To do their king or country harm,
But draw their swords to do them good,
As doctors cure by letting blood.
- Samuel Butler, Miscellaneous Thoughts, line 181.
- Men seldom, or rather never for a length of time and deliberately, rebel against anything that does not deserve rebelling against.
- Thomas Carlyle, Essays, Goethe's Works.
- Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
- Inscription on a Cannon near which the ashes of President John Bradshaw were lodged, on the top of hill near Martha Bay in Jamaica. See Stiles—History of the Three Judges of Charles I. Attributed also to Franklin in Randall's Life of Jefferson, Volume III. P. 585. Motto on Jefferson's seal.
- Rebellion in this land shall lose his sway,
Meeting the check of such another day.