Often someone who rebels against illegitimate authority gets called a rebel and not a revolutionary as a way of de-theorizing her acts, casting them as emanations of character rather than missions of justice. In the US rebellion is associated with James Dean, cranky moods, adolescence, being a problem. "Your face is a mess." But the "rebellion" has a hallowed history too. It is not so individuated or associated with style, but with a popular refusal in a grassroots idiom.
*Rebel *is an imperative, a variety of refusal lived through the body. It may not be tied to a revolutionary program: that's just one kind of development. But rebels interfere with the surface of things, are inconvenient to the smooth spreading out of the status quo. Rebellion produces blockage. The "then what" is something else, a DIY project from outside power.
This was inspiring:
Interviewer: The Maoist attack in Bijapur ‚Äî the death of 55 policemen. Are the rebels only the flip side of the State?
Arundhati Roy: How can the rebels be the flip side of the State? Would anybody say that those who fought against apartheid ‚Äî however brutal their methods ‚Äî were the flip side of the State? What about those who fought the French in Algeria? Or those who fought the Nazis? Or those who fought colonial regimes? Or those who are fighting the US occupation of Iraq? Are they the flip side of the State? This facile new report-driven ‚Äòhuman rights‚Äô discourse, this meaningless condemnation game that we are all forced to play, makes politicians of us all and leaches the real politics out of everything. However pristine we would like to be, however hard we polish our halos, the tragedy is that we have run out of pristine choices.
From Arundhati Roy, "On India‚Äôs Growing Violence: ‚ÄòIt‚Äôs Outright War and Both Sides are Choosing Their Weapons‚Äô,"Sunday, March 25, 2007 http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/03/25/77/print/