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Rebelliousness is a personality trait or social behavior characterized by an aggressive and rejecting stance to authority It goes beyond nonconformism in its more active form and can lead to delinquency, activism, political radicalism etc.
An armed but limited rebellion is an insurrection, and if the established government does not recognize 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.
Civil resistance movements have often aimed at, and brought about, the fall of a government or head of state, and in these cases could be considered a form of rebellion. Examples include the People Power Revolution in the Philippines in the 1980s that ousted President Marcos; the mass mobilization against authoritarian rule in Pinochet's Chile, 1983–88; the various movements contributing to the revolutions of 1989 in central and eastern Europe, and to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991; and the revolutions in Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, and the Arab Spring in 2011. In many of these cases the opposition movement saw itself not only as nonviolent, but also as upholding their country's constitutional system against a government that was unlawful, for example if it had refused to acknowledge its defeat in an election. Thus the term "rebel" does not always capture the element in some of these movements of acting as a defender of legality and constitutionalism.
There are a number of terms that are associated with rebel and rebellion. They range from those with positive connotations to those with pejorative connotations. Examples include:
- Civil resistance, civil disobedience, and nonviolent resistance which do not include violence or paramilitary force
- Mutiny, which is carried out by military or security forces against their commanders
- Armed 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, economic or religious militant individuals or groups
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