Dissident

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For the Pearl Jam song, see Dissident (song).

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 affect a dissident movement.

The word has been used since 16th century in the context of religion. The noun was first used in the political sense in 1940, with the rise of such totalitarian systems as the Soviet Union.[1][2]

Religious dissenter[edit]

Main article: English Dissenters

Eastern bloc dissidents[edit]

The term dissident was used in the Eastern bloc, particularly in the Soviet Union, in the period following Joseph Stalin's death until the fall of communism. 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.[3] 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 for the good of a society.[4][5][6] 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 (samizdat) and Moscow Helsinki Group. Some famous Soviet dissents were Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov.

Republican dissidents in Ireland[edit]

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 referendums on it. These political parties also have paramilitary wings which espouse violent methods to achieve a United Ireland.

Irish republican dissident groups include the Irish Republican Socialist Party (founded in 1974 – its currently-inactive paramilitary wing is the Irish National Liberation Army), Republican Sinn Féin (founded in 1986 – its paramilitary wing is the Continuity IRA), and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (founded in 1997 – its paramilitary wing is the Real IRA). In 2006 the Óglaigh na hÉireann emerged, which is a splinter group of the Continuity IRA.[7]

U.S. dissidents[edit]

The term "dissident" has been applied to people in the United States like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.[8][9] The term is being used to denote people who have exposed US government secrets, as in the example of Chelsea Manning who revealed the video "Collateral Murder" to the world through Wikileaks, or exposed the US government spying on the internet activity of people and government officials of other countries, including allied countries, as well as its own citizens, such as in the case of the PRISM and XKeyScore [10] program, as revealed by Edward Snowden.

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