Anytime you ask the leaders of the nonviolent direct action movement, they will tell you that the very last thing they want to do is take nonviolent direct action! Sometimes I think we will have to drag our own leaders kicking and screaming to the sit-in. The most powerful political organisation in the world, the country’s ruling party, is clandestine in the city, and the most striking characteristic of city’s nonviolent direct action movement thus far is its reluctance to take nonviolent direct action. Too funny. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Sounds like a Murakami story.
And if it fails, if we fail, what happens next? The CCP has its way. Hong Kong is changed irrevocably. The pace of mainlandisation will be stepped up. More mainland immigrants will arrive. More mainland visitors will come. The already fragile walls between the CCP and the media, business and the Hong Kong government will all but disappear. Who knows about the judiciary, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t be affected. The demographics of Hong Kong will change substantially. To put it simply, anyone who can get out, will. Most of the population is trapped and will continue to be a source of captive, exploited labor. Inequality—Hong Kong is already the most unequal developed society in the world—will be exacerbated. Hong Kong will suffer brain drain. Many of the people already making money in Hong Kong will stay, but the educated classes will begin looking for opportunities elsewhere as it becomes harder and harder to go against the grain, as opportunities here lessen, as the general environment becomes ever more hostile, as it becomes more and more thankless to be a Hong Kong person with ideas and a willingness to contribute. People are already looking for the exit. As I say, most people are trapped, with no other options, so the exit-seekers are a minority, but in terms of what they have to contribute to the society, the impact of their exit would be great.
This is why we must realise the power of our powerlessness. It is our own society that’s up for grabs. It really is Hong Kong’s Last Stand. It’s a point at which people have to make difficult decisions between putting their own interests and those of society first. Even if, in the long run, the two coincide, in the short run they often seem to diverge. One can often ask oneself, Why bother? What’s the point? There’s little chance of success. The situation is already so bad. I could probably be enjoying myself more doing something else. And there are so many Hong Kong people who just don’t seem to get it- why bang my head against the wall? Why waste my time?
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