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A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement.

The noun was first used in the political sense in 1940, with the rise of such totalitarian systems as the Soviet Unionmarker.

Soviet dissidents

The term dissident was used in the Soviet Unionmarker during the period of 1965–1985. It was attached to citizens who criticized the practices or the authority of the Communist party. The people who used to write and distribute non-censored, non-conformist samizdat literature were criticized in the official newspapers. Soon, many of those who were dissatisfied with the Soviet Bloc began to self-identify as dissidents. This radically changed the meaning of the term: instead of being used in reference to an individual who opposes society, it came to refer to an individual whose non-conformism was perceived to be to the good of a society. An important element of dissident activity in Soviet Russia was informing society (both inside the Soviet Union and in foreign countries) about violation of laws and human rights: see Chronicle of Current Events and Moscow Helsinki Group.


According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Cuba holds more journalists than every other country in the world except Chinamarker. Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, a jailed journalist, received the International Press Freedom Award in 2008.

Republican dissidents in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

The term "dissident" has become the primary term to describe Irish republicans who politically continue to oppose Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and reject the outcome of the referenda on it.

The political expression of Irish republican dissidents are Republican Sinn Féin, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Irish Republican Socialist Party. In addition to these political parties and groups, there are also a number of dissident Irish republican paramilitary groups which espouse violent methods to achieve a United Ireland.

These groups are the Continuity IRA (founded in 1986) and the Real IRA (founded in 1997) and Óglaigh na hÉireann (a CIRA splinter that emerged in 2006). Another group, the Irish National Liberation Army is currently on ceasefire.

United States dissidents

Probably best known US dissident is Noam Chomsky, and he has been engaged in political activism all of his adult life, expressing opinions on politics and world events which are widely cited, publicized and discussed. Chomsky has in turn argued that his views are those which the powerful do not want to hear, and for this reason he is considered an American dissident. He said that his "personal visions are fairly traditional anarchist ones, with origins in The Enlightenment and classical liberalism". He criticizes US foreign policy (in his book "What Uncle Sam Really Wants"), Israel and supporters of Israel, mass media that serve as propaganda machine for US government and corporations, and he also called working for others under capitalism "wage slavery".

Another dissident would be Martin Luther King, Jr., leader in the African-American civil rights movement.

See also


  2. Chronicle of Current Events (samizdat)
  3. Universal Declaration of Human Rights General Assembly resolution 217 A (III), United Nations, 10 December 1948
  4. Proclamation of Tehran, Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights, Teheran, 22 April to 13 May 1968, U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 32/41 at 3 (1968), United Nations, May 1968

External links

  • Free dictionary,
  • Dissident Movement. Russian History Encyclopedia,

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