December 15, 2017
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Words Of Wisdom From 5 Leading Dissident Voices

WE ARE PROUD—and lucky—to live in a democracy. But Trump’s flagrant disregard for democratic values makes us fearful for what’s next. We asked people who are all too familiar with authoritarian regimes to give their recommendations.

By Nadir Bouhmouch Mariam Barghouti Ali Ganzeer Nadya Tolokonnikova,


Founding member of Pussy Riot, Russia

Find—or create!—alternatives. If your government does not represent you, build your own social network to provide a safe environment for people around you. Help those who are more vulnerable than you, and who unfortunately may lose their health, freedom, and lives because of Trump’s presidency. Educate yourself. Seek solutions. What would be the healthy alternative for a neoconserva­tive version of globalization? How could we really make education and medica­tion more affordable? Hopelessness, rage, and despair always give birth to populism. And to tyranny, too. But it’s crucial to remember that Trump is just a symptom. This political disaster of pussy grabber-as-president is a sign of serious fundamental political problems, such as structural inequality, racism, and deeply rooted sexism.


Artist, Egypt

When someone you perceive as dan­gerous rises to power, do not pick up and leave. The country needs enough of people like you there to keep him in check. Only leave when it becomes literally impossible to stay. When your life and freedom are really on the line (e.g., Edward Snowden).

Ridicule and absurdity are the most powerful weapons of all.


Student, Iran

If new regulations are set—for example, for tax breaks, government loans, immi­gration benefits, or other government benefits—try to apply for them ASAP. Laws change on a daily basis in totali­tarian governments. Always try to have an emergency kit, and some emergency food supplies.

You never know when protests or riots will break out. If you want to help protect protesters from the riot police, you want to have food and medicine ... to provide.

Know your rights and the laws that protect you against hostile behaviors. That helps you react to the attacks in a prepared way.


Commentator, Palestine

Despotism and authoritarianism often work in sinister ways. They drive people to a state of frantic hopelessness. There is a choice to either confront it and the consequences that come, or to suffer silently. Oppression feeds off hope, leeching it in any way possible to maintain a submissive and passive population. In terms of dealing with authoritarian states, the most important thing is to ensure safety and security of one another both physically and emotionally, to fight the divide-and-conquer strategy, and to ensure that, despite differences, our goal is the same—to end it.


Filmmaker, Morocco

They will try to play with your psyche by maintaining a democratic façade. It’s their way of imprisoning you without imprisoning you. Don’t succumb.