Two recent South China Morning Post articles explain the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement’s philosophy and planned strategy in as much detail as most of us will probably want.
There are seven components, including non-violent action, civil disobedience, ‘citizen authorization after deliberation’, social awakening and public dispute resolution. This is about process: the theories of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and various Californian radicals-turned-academics converted into flowchart form. It starts off with the first of three deliberation days, in which activists will be joined by 100 randomly chosen members of the public to ‘set the agenda of the movement’. The 100 citizens will each be paid HK$100 travel expenses, so even the penniless single parents and semi-literate elderly of the Northwestern New Territories can take part.
It’s almost unbearably earnest, high-minded, liberal, Judeo-Christian and 1960s. Consider the potential for unintentional condescension and other social embarrassment should any Tin Shui Wai public housing dwellers make it to the gathering of intellectuals at Hong Kong University. Imagine the phone calls when the lucky 100 get their invitations: “You want me to give up a day’s cardboard-scavenging to do what?” “I haven’t set foot on Hong Kong Island since the 1970s.” “What kind of scam is this?”
Countering the idealism are pro-Beijing forces under orders to savagely attack Occupy Central as an unconstitutional and treacherous threat to city and nation. It is a ‘path to hell’ of chaos and dysfunction and a ‘wicked plot’ to oppose Beijing and mess up Hong Kong. Harmless moderates in pro-establishment circles – as we saw a few days ago with the HK General Chamber of Commerce – are expected to nod along sagely to this mouth-frothing. Anyone willing to ‘reach out’ and serve as a bridge across the divide can forget it. This is classic United Front tactics: freeze out the dissenters and make it clear that anyone not with us is against us. Scratch the stuff about harmony. ‘Let’s just chill out and get on’ is not an option.
The Hong Kong people are mostly nowhere to be seen. Not keeping their heads down – just somewhere between uninterested and mildly oblivious. Neither side in the struggle seems to care much about the public/middle-ground/silent majority’s hearts and minds. Whatever Occupy Central’s ongoing abstract deconstructionist conceptualization is about, it isn’t housing, prices or jobs. And the Cultural Revolutionary ranting and screeching is the same old high-decibel overacting as loyalists, functionaries and toadies vie to please the Beijing officials. The icing on that cake: something to declare the weekend open with in the form of commentator Lau Nai-keung descending gloriously into one of his classic bouts of end-times insanity…