Whistleblowers or dissidents? Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning

Ever notice how people who challenge bourgeois democracies are called ‘whistleblowers’ rather than ‘dissidents’? Dissidents of course exist only in oppressive ‘regimes’, courageously challenging totalitarian dictatorships. Whistleblowers, on the other hand, are annoying people who run around making a lot noise. Far better to shut them up. So in China, or the former USSR, or North Korea, you have those doughty dissidents, standing up for free speech and other noble causes. But in the USA or Australia, you have whistleblowers, traitors who threaten national security.

Yet that ideological opposition is only part of a wider pattern I noted a while ago. Your enemy is oppressed by a despotic ‘regime’, while you have a legitimate ‘government’. They have ‘state-run’ media, but you have a ‘national broadcaster’. Their leaders live in ‘presidential palaces’ while your leader lives in a modest ‘white house’, or ‘Number 10 Downing Street’, or ‘Yarralumla’.

So how to describe people like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning? How about dissidents against the Obama regime and its state-run media?

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9 thoughts on “Whistleblowers or dissidents? Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning

  1. Yes – I have noticed. It’s actually often a topic of conversation in Dunedin cafes, these discursive games. And do you remember the wonderful “guerilla” fighters of the 70s and 80s who got so much publicity on the news? There was something heavily romantic about the term “guerilla”, with its connotations of little David taking on the oppressive Goliath. The diminutive form of the word even sounds kind of cute. Every young boy and girl wanted to grow up to be a guerilla and take on oppressive overlords, wherever they may be – from South Africa to Palestine to Chile and China. Of course, today the term is never used – SpecOps-approved terminology, adopted by the media, is “terrorist”, not “guerilla”. But change the language used, and it seems to casts it all in a different light.

    1. Apart from your wayward moment of poststructuralism (‘discursive games’), for which you may be forgiven … the ideological opposition has been recalibrated. They have evil terrorists while we have noble freedom-fighters.

  2. I’d nuance it from the point of view that the individual who is the elected puppet, viz Obama, is not the focus, nor his atrocious predecessor Bush, but the apparatchik’s who run the empire for real. That being so, one can be loyal to ones elected head, and to ones country, but not the power hungry lot actually controlling events, or at least minds. Good question, but I’m still going with a blend whistle-blowing dissidents.

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