Dissenters fostering changes across the world are often perceived as troublemakers and often pay a high price for their opinions or behavior. I want to tell a story of dissenters as important catalysts of societal changes. Societies require consensus as well as dissent, but the concept and characteristics of the latter are under-investigated. The theme has gained relevance in times of polarization due to new digital technologies, which can also increase the control and surveillance of people and change dissent, people’s interactions, and governance. The investigation examines exemplary cases in the light of one another and literature. The socio-legal approach includes the institutional treatment of cases under diverse regulatory models. The results shall contribute to advance rights and innovation in societies and help to solve controversies. Future works will be able to compare how institutions stifle or protect dissent, and secure or deny access to justice to dissenters.
During the Hundred Year’s War which began as an inheritance dispute about the French throne, 17 years old Joan of Arc led an army supporting the French side and broke the occupation of Orléans by the English. Claiming to receive her orders directly from heaven, she challenged the authority of the Catholic Church and was burned as a heretic after a lengthy process. 25 years later the judgment for heresy was overruled. In 1920, she was canonized as a saint. During 2018, Sweden experienced a devastating number of wild fires. In August 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg started her climate strike at the Swedish Parliament. She spoke at the COP24 meeting on climate change in Poland and said, “we can no longer save the world by complying by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.” 2019 became a year of mobilization of teens without voting rights around the world. During the covid pandemic, the well-being of many young people also in Scandinavia declined noticeably.
This paper offers the prophetic vision to the construction of an alternative world based on cognitive transformation and mutual cognitive liberation. The Original Nation Approaches to Inter-“National” Law (ONAIL) scholarship urges the construction of the system of law which ennobles the rights of people and the natural world over and above the rights of the state and the corporation. ONAIL scholarships then expose the fictional and ephemeral nature of the state and corporation, delegitimize their existence, and promote the construction of the system of law to place the rights and interests of people and the nature over and above the fictional collectivist entities of the state and corporation. Further, the ONAIL scholarship promotes the federated, global network of the close collaborative relationship of organically-composed, free association of communities that have to be constructed on the basis of preserving the dignity and autonomy of people through mutual support and mutual aid.
Hong Kong was described as a “city of protests”, long before the 2019 Protests, by its Special Administrative Region Government, in dialogues with international interlocutors, in part to promote a positive image of difference from Mainland China and in part to address criticisms against its public order legislation. That is now very much a matter of the past. This paper considers the watershed years of 2019 and 2020 when expressions of dissent in Hong Kong since resumption of exercise of Chinese sovereignty in 1997 have morphed from peaceful, symbolic and occasional to violent, divisive and sustained. Two lines of discussion follow. The first reflects on the so-called “#bewater” approach of dissent/resistance that seemed formless, multiplicated and apparently leaderless at the time. The second considers the errors on the part of the protesters and the regime responses that have now resulted in the incarceration, exile, disqualification, disenfranchisement and silence of many.
Normally, consent is considered as essential for norm formation and social praxis in a modern democratic society. Consent with good reasons is also the basis for Habermas’ communicative ethics and political philosophy for a modern democratic society. His theory is based on the idea of a well-functioning democratic society. In Weber’s sense, we could talk about a sociological idealtype. However, even in this ideal-typical theory, Habermas introduces the concept of dissent, the possibility to say no, “Das Nein-sagen-Können”, as the basis for the ultimate freedom. This ultimate freedom to say No is essential in many social conflicts in totalitarian institutions and totalitarian societies. Dissent is also essential for social movements in a modern democratic society. The focus is on dissent as a basic political philosophical concept for the understanding of norm conflicts, norm formations and social praxis.