How I Became a Rebel: Upton Sinclair

“How I Became a Rebel. A Symposium. Part 1,” The Labor Herald, June 1922, p. 24.

By Upton Sinclair


WHEN I was young I was taught ideals. I was taught them very earnestly, and I took them seriously. As I grew up I tried to apply them, and I discovered that the world did not mean for them to be applied. Neither the ideals of Christianity, which I learned, nor those of the poets whom I was taught to love, had any place in the practical world of affairs. Naturally I wanted to know why this was so, and I kept on inquiring and speculating about it. So inevitably I came to realize that our whole industrial and financial system is founded upon a set of ideas diametrically opposed to those of Christianity and of humanity.

Our political system was supposed to be better: that is to say, co-operation and the rights of humanity was supposed to prevail there. But our politics were corrupt, and I discovered that it was big business which did the corrupting. When I realized this, and spoke out about it, I found that the upholders of the present system invariably either ridiculed me, or became indignant with me. So gradually I became a rebel, and I am kept in the mood of rebellion by everything I learn about the present world; by every newspaper I read and every morning’s mail which comes to my desk.

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