Rise of the Western Dissidents

Editor’s Note: The label “Breitbart” connotes the worst aspects of the ascendant right in the US and the world today, including the rise in influence of modern Machiavellis like Steve Bannon, from whom little good can be expected, but today’s “progressives” as represented in mainstream liberalism —the extremists of the center—are no better, perhaps much worse in certain aspects, given their all enveloping complacent hypocrisy and sense of superiority, not to mention stubborn support for the global capitalist regime. That presents people of good will with a true Hobbesian choice, something that Americans have been long conditioned to accept as normal and inevitable, the choosing between two alternating evils. All of which has created a veritable Manichean dichotomy, and a huge fog of confusion, with the normal political categories losing their historical meaning and traditional cultural anchors. The bottom line is that these days we can find people making some sense on the “old right” —such as this author—as often as on the “liberal” front, probably more so, considering the liberal class’ complete moral implosion across the world, especially in the countries of the NATO bloc led by the American hegemon. One of the many downsides of this near universal toxification of political communication triggered by the betrayals of the liberal class, and particularly the disinformation regime that saturates the Anglo-American media, directly stemming from their shameless drift to the right, is that both sides, for their own reasons, now use terms normally associated with the malicious right, labels soaked in ignorance and a great deal of crudity for less than honest ends. In the “good old days” of Cold War anticommunism words like “tyrants,” “despots” and “dictators” were bandied about with abandon when applied to socialist/communist governments (they still are); while the “authoritarian” label, once used by reactionaries like Jeane Kirkpatrick to shield US sponsored tyrants like Guatemala’s genocidal Rios Montt from full opprobium, has been embraced by both sides of the great “liberal divide”. (1) The upshot is that in this new tower of Babel countries like Russia, China, Iran and, yes, even Venezuela, are cavalierly classified as “authoritarian”, meaning bad bad, but the denomination hides far more than it elucidates. Obviously, “authoritarian” is anything we wish it to mean, anything Westerners of any persuasion need to object to, no matter how misleading. It is, we think, in this context that Allum Bokhari, who is largely correct in what he says here, errs. While making an important and valid point, he reinforces a falsehood. For while China or Russia’s government, or Iran, can be perhaps defined as strong governments, they can also be defined as effective and in many important ways far more democratic governments (judging by results and procedure) than anything we see in the plutocrat-dominated unipolar imperialist West. We just wanted to make that clear. There are other things we find a bit off the rails in the author’s analysis, like more than just a whiff of islamophobia, hatred for Antifa, and so on, but that will necessitate a longer comment so we’ll leave that up to the reader to judge.  Now, read on, McDuff. —PG


The only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. He is far from alone.

Authored by Allum Bokhari via Breitbart / Appearing on The Duran

We’re used to Russian dissidents, Chinese dissidents, Iranian dissidents, and Saudi Arabian dissidents. But those who rightly believe the west is superior to authoritarian regimes must now contend with a troubling trend — the rise of the western dissident.

Chief among them is Julian Assange, who for a half-decade has been forced to live in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum since 2011. Assange claimed that he would be extradited to the U.S. to face charges over his work at WikiLeaks if he left the embassy, and was routinely mocked as paranoid for doing so.

This week, we learned that Assange was right and his critics were wrong. Thanks to a clerical error by the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, reporters were able to confirm the existence of sealed criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

Because the charges are sealed and the evidence is unknown, it’s impossible to say if the case has merit. But it likely relates to WikiLeaks’ release of unredacted diplomatic cables in 2011, which forced the U.S. to relocate several of its foreign sources.

Some allegations are more serious. While he was alive, neoconservative Senator John McCain maintained that leaks provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, which included the diplomatic cables, caused U.S sources to be murdered.

McCain—The plague of the (malignant) “fighting Irish”, a war criminal who was wrong about nearly everything he said and endorsed. Including, of course, Assange.

Those who see Assange as a villain will end the story here. What is typically left out is that WikiLeaks originally released the diplomatic cables in piecemeal form, with names redacted to prevent loss of life and minimize harm.

It was only after a Guardian journalist’s error led to the full unredacted cables leaking to third parties on the web that WikiLeaks published them as well — and not before Assange attempted to warn the office of Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State.

In other words, WikiLeaks behaved precisely as any responsible publisher handling sensitive material should, redacting information that could cause harm. The redactions only stopped when they became pointless. Assange is unlikely to have won more than a dozen journalism awards if he were completely reckless in his publications.

The Pentagon later admitted under oath that they could not find any instances of individuals being killed as a result of being named in Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, contradicting Sen. McCain’s allegations.

We also see attacks on free speech, with governments and politicians across the west pressuring Silicon Valley to suppress its critics. An unaccountable, unelected elite can sweep away a person’s livelihood in minutes, and cut their political message off from millions of American citizens.

At worst, Assange and WikiLeaks can be accused of negligence, not deliberate recklessness, in the way it handled sensitive material. But as Breitbart Tech reporter Lucas Nolan points out, a far stronger case can be made against Hillary Clinton for the way she handled State Department emails — yet we see no criminal charges against her.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. In that, he is far from alone.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, western governments targeted all manner of individuals associated with Assange and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, including Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, and The Guardian newspaper.

This was the early growth period of the internet, when the web had become a truly popular medium but had yet to be censored by pliant social media corporations. It was a time of profound unease at the power of the internet to undermine authority, both through the dissemination of information as in the case of WikiLeaks and Snowden, and in the new mobilization of political forces, as in the case of Occupy Wall Street and the SOPA/PIPA protests. Heavy-handed crackdowns against individuals and groups that were seen, rightly or wrongly, as symbols of the web’s early anarchic tendencies, like Kim DotcomAaron SwartzAnonymous, and LulzSec, were not uncommon.

These days, however, a new class of western dissident has emerged — the populist dissident.

Populist Dissidents

Who would have thought that the highest court in Europe, home of the enlightenment, would uphold a case in which a woman was prosecuted for blasphemy against Islam?

Who would have thought that Britain, the birthplace of liberalism and the free press, would ban an independent journalist from its shores for satirizing the same religion?

Who would have thought that Germany, whose living memory of the totalitarian [Gestapo] is just three decades old, would put its largest opposition party under surveillance?

Just a few years ago, all three would sound far-fetched. But cases like these have become common as elites in virtually every western country mount a panicked attempt to contain the rise of populism (the goal, in the words of a Google executive, is to render it a “hiccup” in history’s march towards progress).

Look at the case of Tommy Robinson, the British critic of Islam who was dragged through Britain’s courts on fuzzy contempt-of-court charges. Sentenced to an astonishing thirteen-month imprisonment, Robinson was eventually freed after a successful appeal and now awaits a final trial before Britain’s Attorney General. Shaky charges that have been successfully appealed were exploited to persecute a British citizen who was inconvenient to the establishment. And there’s still a further trial to come.

Then again, Britain is a country that routinely bans foreign politicians and media figures from the country for being too right-wing. Michael SavageGeert WildersLauren SouthernPamela Geller, and Robert Spencer all enjoy this dubious distinction. Theresa May, who was responsible for internal affairs and immigration when Spencer and Geller were banned, is now the Prime Minister.

But it’s not just Britain. Not only has Trump’s White House, supposedly an ally of populists, failed to publicly intervene on behalf of the American citizens banned from the U.K. for expressing populist viewpoints, but it hasn’t even investigated allegations that far-left Antifa activists were able to stop conservative Rebel Media personality Jack Buckby from entering the country by spreading false criminal allegations.

Julian Assange, a left-libertarian may share little ideological ground with right-wing critics of Islam. But they all share at least one thing: persecution by western states coupled with anti-establishment political speech or activities. They are also targets of the security establishment — Assange because of leaks that have exposed their secrets, and the populists because they refuse to censor themselves to avoid angering Muslims. (The UK justified its attempted ban of Geert Wilders by arguing that his presence in the country could lead to “inter-faith violence.”)

We also see attacks on free speech, with governments and politicians across the west pressuring Silicon Valley to suppress its critics. An unaccountable, unelected elite can sweep away a person’s livelihood in minutes, and cut their political message off from millions of American citizens. As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, the overarching trend is the gradual destruction or delegitimization of every tool, digital or otherwise, that non-elites use to express their preferences. Does that sound like a free society, or a controlled one?

You don’t have to agree with any of the individuals or groups listed above to see that surveilling political parties, blocking journalists from entering countries, jailing critics of religion, upholding blasphemy laws and censoring the net is the behavior of authoritarian nations, not liberal democracies. Yet this is the disturbing pattern we now see in the west.

Worse, foreign authoritarian regimes now provide safe harbor for western dissidents, in the same way that the west does for foreign dissidents. Edward Snowden, accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 for blowing the whistle on the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans, has for years resided safely in Russia, a country that persecutes and even kills its own journalists. Before that, he sought refuge in Hong Kong, a “Special Administrative Region” of the People’s Republic of China, an even more terrifyingly totalitarian state.

Will there now be a quid pro quo, with Russia and other authoritarian regimes protecting our dissidents while the west protects theirs? Or will western countries remain true to their liberal traditions, and stop its alarming attempts to surveil, suppress, and persecute a growing number of its own citizens? On present trends, a dark and dystopian future seems to loom on the horizon.

(1)  The Kirkpatrick Doctrine was the doctrine expounded by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrickin the early 1980s based on her 1979 essay, “Dictatorships and Double Standards“.[1] The doctrine was used to justify the U.S. foreign policy of supporting Third World anti-communist dictatorships during the Cold War.[2] 

Kirkpatrick claimed that states in the Soviet bloc and other Communist states were totalitarian regimes, while pro-Westerndictatorships were merely “authoritarian” ones. According to Kirkpatrick, totalitarian regimes were more stable and self-perpetuating than authoritarian regimes, and thus had a greater propensity to influence neighboring states.

The Kirkpatrick Doctrine was particularly influential during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration gave varying degrees of support to several militaristic anti-Communist dictatorships, including those in Guatemala (to 1985), the Philippines (to 1986), and Argentina (to 1983), and armed the mujahideen in the Soviet–Afghan War, UNITA during the Angolan Civil War, and the Contras during the Nicaraguan Revolution as a means of toppling governments, or crushing revolutionary movements, in those countries that did not support the aims of the USA.[3]

Kirkpatrick’s tenet that totalitarian regimes are more stable than authoritarian regimes has come under criticism since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, particularly as Kirkpatrick predicted that the Soviet system would persist for decades.

According to Kirkpatrick, authoritarian regimes merely try to control and/or punish their subjects’ behaviors, while totalitarian regimes moved beyond that into attempting to control the thoughts of their subjects, using not only propaganda, but brainwashing, re-education, widespread domestic espionage, and mass political repression based on state ideology.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to allumbokhari@protonmail.com.

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5 thoughts on “Rise of the Western Dissidents

  1. Can you provide some links for evidence that Russia kills its own journalists. Since learning about the unabashed crazy lying and Russia-bashing that’s going on with governments and the MSM, I’d like to see for myself that Russia kills journalists.

    1. Putin Killed Michael Hastings and Gary Webb….oops..probably not Putin. Any time you see accusations made against Russia, they are probably things that are done by the PTB in the land of the free.

      1. How about those Russian helicopter pilots that killed the Reuters reporters for carrying cameras in a war zone? And Putin overthrew the democratic government of Honduras making it the murder capital of the world for journalists.

  2. The author has a strange idea that it is possible to have dissidents in a liberal democracy that have to flee for asylum because of dissenting from authority.

    I also find it beyond cavalier that the author treats Julian Assange as if he is a Catch-22 curiosity rather than a super hero for uncovering government secrets that have no business being secret in a liberal democracy. The public at large and academic researchers owe their gratitude to Assange that they do not have to wait 75 years for the government to release documentation of its own criminal behavior.

    In a liberal democracy the government would not keep secrets to protect itself.

    Secret arrest warrants would not exist in a liberal democracy. Julian Assange should be able to walk out onto the streets of London without fear that the US has a secret warrant out for his arrest. Secret warrants only exist in a police state. Anyone that said he was being paranoid was either a secret agent trying to trap him into the spider’s web or a sadist.

    Even an authoritarian government should have to obey international law. A liberal democracy would not flout it. Julian Assange was granted asylum in Ecuador which means under international law he is free to go there without being arrested by the UK and extradited to the US…that is called kidnapping.

    1. BEAUTIFULLY PUT, DAVID PEAR. You summed up the situation perfectly. Obviously, you know and I know and we know (here at least) that the US acts like a rogue nation because it can get away with it, by its military muscle, a longstanding form of global blackmail, and by virtue of its whore media immunity from public reaction through complete obliteration of the truth. The old term brainwash applies 100% to the American situation.

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