In communist Czechoslovakia, one who dissented from the prevailing beliefs in “official culture” was a dissident. It was as much, if not more, a frame of mind, as it was a way of acting. The mind had to be kept free, and the dissident had to live to fight another day. He would also, likely, live a less-than-affluent, possibly even impoverished, existence as he sought to speak truth as much as he could get away with, as he sought to disobey as often as he could. While it may have come with consequences, that disobedience offered its own reward. Henry David Thoreau writes “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” Barely any framework for disciplining the dissident exists in America today the way
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In communist Czechoslovakia, one who dissented from the prevailing beliefs in “official culture” was a dissident.
It was as much, if not more, a frame of mind, as it was a way of acting. The mind had to be kept free, and the dissident had to live to fight another day.
He would also, likely, live a less-than-affluent, possibly even impoverished, existence as he sought to speak truth as much as he could get away with, as he sought to disobey as often as he could.
While it may have come with consequences, that disobedience offered its own reward. Henry David Thoreau writes “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Barely any framework for disciplining the dissident exists in America today the way it did in communist Czechoslovakia. At least not yet. A dissident might have been assigned a handler to check in with him. A dissident might have been prevented from travel. The children of dissidents might have been prevented from pursuing higher education. The extended family of a dissident might have been denied economic opportunity. The punishment of loved ones was perhaps the worst part. Self-deportation may have been strongly encouraged in some cases where a person was committed to domestic political change. Prison time and hard labor were both possibilities. In a totalitarian regime, the cruelty that can be visited upon a dissident has little limit, other than the imagination and enthusiasm of the homeland security officer assigned to the dissident.
While making dramatic steps in that direction, America, in spring 2020, is a far cry from totalitarianism.
Some dissidents today, in former Czechoslovakia, are celebrated in this era post-communism. Most are forgotten by all but those who knew them, and the few who have heard their tales passed through the oral tradition.
Some dissidents remain cantankerous outsiders to this day, perennially dissatisfied with the system around them, akin to Twain’s “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.”
Albert Jay Nock writes in “Isaiah’s Job” that the work of the dissident, though he does not use the word dissident, is to continue speaking the truth as he knows it. “The remnant” in society will find him, will listen to him, and will be fed by his courage. It is not the job of a dissident to grow popular or to know his audience. It is the job of the dissident to speak his truth courageously, as courage is contagious.
Luckily, courage is far more contagious than coronavirus. Truth, courageously delivered, is far more impactful than a coronavirus.
Nock describes the work of a prophet. Some may call the dissident a gadfly, which Walter Block once defined, in an interview with me, as “someone who questions received opinion.”
Though the churches are closed under corona communism, a feat never accomplished even in the USSR, in many ways, America under corona communism is far more inviting to public dissent of the corona response. The consequences of dissent are so minor, the rewards are so major, and even advocates of corona communism are inviting the crucible of fervent dissent. To stand idle, after all, is no way for a patriot to act.
This moment merely requires your questioning of received opinion as courageously as you can muster. No punishment is likely to befall you.
The Neil Ferguson Imperial College paper of March 16, 2020, is widely cited by governments as the reason for the current corona lockdown. It calls for 18 months of this, followed by mass vaccination. On this topic Ferguson is clear: that 18-month rolling lockdown is only if the people allow it to happen. Ferguson’s words in the closing of the paper, practically beg for robust dissent to put an end to the policy, which Ferguson himself admits in that paper, may not be only politically unfeasible, but unethical as well.
Dissent is everywhere.
Corona is minor.
But if such dissent does not push government back, this will not go on for 30 days, as we have seen. It will not go on for 60 days, as we are being told. It will go on for 18 months, and a good enough reason will then be produced for the gullible, so that it will not stop there after 18 months.
Not next month.
Not next week.
Today. Today is the day to end your own lockdown.
Don’t wait for anyone to free you. Don’t wait for anyone to give you the nod. To do so only recognizes the legitimacy of their behavior, which is not legitimized by any constitution, any ethical principle, any moral compact. Live your life unapologetic.
Today is the day to free your mind from this. Today is the day of taking the daring step of being the dissident and speaking as much truth as you can get away with, to as many people as will listen.
Because courage is contagious.