Political Dissent in Society

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Howard Zinn had said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” This does not seem to be how things appear to most people in power across the world. Evelyn Beatrice Hall had written: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs. Unfortunately, the space for a civil debate about differing opinions regarding issues of common interest has shrunk considerably in our society.

The governments across the world seem to be bent upon a kind of surveillance that is alluded to by George Orwell or Aldous Huxley. They are making every attempt that either dissent does not arise at all or that it is seen as a criminal activity. Organisations like WikiLeaks and people like Edward Snowden, who undermine the narratives which the world powers offer for their activities and attempt to uncover the hidden facts and motives behind those activities by providing us with alternative narratives, are forced to go underground.

Another example would illustrate the ways in which political dissent is being criminalized in developing societies. In India, there is prominently a single media company speaking truth to power and its founders have had to face the music for doing so. There have been numerous attempts to silence their dissenting voice.

The treatment of political dissent as a criminal activity has serious implications for the society. Conformity with the political norm is a refined form of mob mentality. Political dissent, that is deviations from the norm established by the political powers, reflects the freedom of expression which is essential for the healthy functioning of democracy in any society. Treating dissent as a criminal activity seriously undermines the right to freedom of expression which is the core characteristic of democratic societies.