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?