Dissidence – What is it, definition and concept

The group of people who voluntarily separate from a political, religious, ideological organization, or even a country, is called dissidence. Frequently, for abandoning the ideological theses that sustain said organization.

Dissidence, as a neutral concept, is the action of separating from a certain doctrine or thought. But, in political science, this is how it is called the group of people who leave a certain organization for not agreeing with the principles that support it.

When speaking of dissidence, it is done in a pejorative way and from within the organization itself. That is, the members who remain within the organization call those who leave it dissidents, whether or not they have legitimate reasons for doing so.

In the case of countries under a strong dictatorship, dissidents suffer persecution and, depending on what is decided, they are imprisoned or executed; since the absence of plurality is a distinctive feature of autocracies.

On the other hand, in healthy, democratic and transparent organizations there is no dissidence as we have described it. There may be a plurality of opinions or, if the individual decides to leave the organization, he can do so without any problem.

types of dissent

More than types of dissidence, we are going to see in what type of organizations we find it:

  • political dissidence: It is considered as such the group that, belonging to a political organization such as a party, decides to separate from it. This separation can have two general reasons, either the dissident has changed his opinion regarding his preferences; or else it is the position of the party that has changed. In both cases, the result is the same, expulsion from the organization. In addition, as we mentioned earlier, if this dissent occurs within a country in which democratic quality is conspicuous by its absence, the dissident is persecuted for considering that he represents a threat to the party. These cases were clearly reflected, for example, in the communist countries of the 20th century.
  • religious dissidence: Along the same lines as the previous case, the religious dissident separates himself from the faith he professed until now. Either because the religious doctrine to which he belongs is changing its values ​​or principles, or because the call of faith is less. In times when religion had almost absolute power, this dissidence was penalized. However, in recent times, with world secularization, especially in Europe, this has changed. As a paradigmatic example we have Henry VIII, who separated from the Catholic Church and the Pope of Rome due to irreconcilable differences.
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It is very interesting to note how certain countries defined dissidents and how they were treated. For this, we will see some examples:

  • North Korea: In the North Korean country, its supreme leader Kim Jong-Un exercises power in a despotic way, keeping the entire population under the cult of his person, something that already happened with his predecessors. The regime considers as dissidents all those who do not prosecute said cult and those who have been exiled to South Korea or other countries. Punishments are usually labor camps or execution.
  • USSR: The Soviet country, under Bolshevik control that began in the second decade of the 20th century, designated as dissidents many sectors of the population, including people who belonged to the party. Religious, landowners, nobles and those who supported Tsarist Russia were punished with exile, death or the gulag. Due to the numerous confrontations that took place for power in different phases of the regime, those who lost the race for power were also accused of dissidence. This happened with Trotsky, who after his exile was finally assassinated in Mexico in 1940.
  • Cuba: After the 1959 revolution, Fidel Castro and his clique established a communist regime on the island. The authorities persecuted all those accused of being counterrevolutionaries. As a consequence, the United States, specifically Florida, became a typical place for those exiled and persecuted by the Castro dictatorship.
  • Spain: After the victory of the national side in the Spanish civil war, the regime accused of dissidents to all those contrary to its values ​​and principles. Later these dissidents were imprisoned or executed, including fighters of the republican side, atheists, independentistas and other groups. Proof of this was the construction of the Valle de los Caídos, built by republican prisoners.
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