If you blinked, you might have missed Hong Kong’s ‘new era of civil disobedience’. That’s according to the South China Morning Post, which reports that the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement is admitting its own failure. The South China Morning Post, on the other hand, says the campaign is gathering momentum. The confusion seems to arise from organizer Benny Tai’s candid initial reaction to Beijing’s unequivocal and final ‘Screw you’ approach to political reform, which made it clear that there was nothing to discuss.
Such a near-instant admission of reality makes a refreshing change. How many activists and idealists delude themselves for years – for whole lifetimes – that some utopian dream is attainable? So, some reports suggest, Occupy Central will re-position itself as a long-term, consciousness-raising drive, and any sit-in will be timed to cause minimum inconvenience. So much for hopes of a day off contingency plans about working from home. And what do we do with all these red bags full of instant noodles cluttering up the office?
Or maybe this is all a cunning plan to catch the authorities off-guard.
When I had to study the concept of a ‘just war’, I was struck not so much by the principle that a conflict must be for a righteous cause or combatants must minimize harm, but by the idea that it has to be winnable in the first place. In that respect, Occupy Central can step back (if it does) with honour. Has anyone ever tried non-violent civil disobedience against a determined Leninist regime? It might work against effete colonial British administrators or low-IQ racist American state governors, but you could be talking about a different class of oppressor here. One intriguing recent piece suggests that Beijing has a pathological need to create enemies in order to crush them.
If the pro-democrats had, at some stage in their long struggle, focused on populist issues like schools and cartels, it might be a different story. The obsession with the structure of election mechanisms and abstract legal points became self-indulgent and elitist a long time back. Maybe Beijing will even be doing everyone a favour if it convinces fighters for truth and justice – maybe the up-and-coming generation of them – to mobilize and protest the results of bad governance rather than demand that Communists keep promises and act nicely.
(A possible answer to the question.)
They’re not kidding…
According to a load of incomprehensible techie jargon, this site will automatically undergo some sort of upgrade mid-month. Past attempts to upgrade WordPress have never worked, so I stopped trying ages ago. A recent attempt at a database backup – by someone who knows about this stuff – failed because of something to do with host Yahoo! Whatever. (I mean, really…) The bottom line is that this site might vanish, or explode, or something around Sept 15. A 60% chance, according to the expert.
I have no idea. Still a couple of weeks away. But, just to be prepared, if anyone’s interested, if everything collapses the place to go for directions to a new site will be the Twitter thing.