This is a continuation/ update of my previous post Activism and Revolution: Thoughts On Hong Kong and The PRC. This is my commentary on the events of the current protest movement in Hong Kong as a Libertarian Marxist in the United States, my thoughts and ideas as to what is happening today and what is next for the people of Hong Kong fearlessly fighting for their freedom. I stand in solidarity with the protesters of Hong Kong. This piece is both a general analysis of what is happening as well as an attempt to say what I think is in the people’s best interests if the situation continues to worsen and the government does not meet the people’s demands. In that, the latter half of this article may be regarded as a social alarmist/ worst case scenario piece. Here I must stress above all that human rights are non-negotiable, and that unnecessary bloodshed should be avoided at all costs.
As a libertarian socialist my aspirations stem far beyond what I consider to be the inherent undemocracy of the economic aspects of the capitalist system, the authoritarianism of the bourgeois democracy of the present order (that stems largely from this lack of economic democracy), and the restrictions on both positive and negative liberty, etc. But ultimately I recognize the right of the people to self-determination, even and especially when they do not agree with me. I can only publish my thoughts and hope that reasonable people take them to heart, consider them according to the present facts and past history, and do with them what they will, even rejecting them altogether if they see fit. After all, they are there on the ground and I am here in the United States. What do I know? Consider all possible options and opinions and act in accordance with reason and conscience, this is all I can realistically ask.
What Is Happening Now
As the stubborn government of Hong Kong refuses to listen to the demands of the people, the methods embodied by the people’s struggle against tyranny necessarily becomes more severe. The people are right to target the economic base of Hong Kong, to forcibly interrupt business as usual. It is the correct place to apply pressure where ordinary non-violent civil disobedience has failed. But the Hong Kong people do not need to be told this, they know it instinctively.
There is a monumental difference between indefinite suspension of the proposed extradition bill and its complete withdraw. When the masses quiet down and “law and order” returns, who is to say the extradition bill, months or years down the road, will not be passed silently behind closed doors? Here the people must strike while the iron is hot. A government that does not derive legitimacy from the consent of the governed has none. Therefore the Hong Kong government has no legitimacy. It is up to that government to reform itself in accordance with the will of the people or it must be abolished. There is no middle ground here. There must be a complete withdraw, a complete rejection and renunciation of the extradition bill. The rule-book must be re-written if necessary. Or the government must be abolished. The people want democracy, it is their right to have it and to determine the forms which it will take. The people want the community to control the police, not to have the police control the community. In this their demands mirror those of the great Paris Commune. The people want all jailed protesters (political prisoners to be sure) released, to have their protests rightfully called what they are, and not riots. In short, the people want liberty, and this is non-negotiable. Furthermore, whatever the people want, it is their right to have.
It is precisely at this stage of mass civil disobedience that the hitherto existing alliance between the super-rich ruling class (bourgeoisie) and the common citizenry begins to crack. Increasingly the ruling class has become disgruntled by the protests since they have targeted the economic base of Hong Kong (i.e. the foundational structure of their social power). With the threat of life imprisonment for the masses from the PRC, the people of Hong Kong have nothing to lose but their chains; the ruling class, their property, which increasingly we are seeing is to them is worth more than the rights of the common people, the 99%.
The headlines of the capitalist press read “One of the richest people in Hong Kong has lost $1 billion over the course of the 10-week protests, and now he’s joining the chorus of wealthy citizens calling for the protests to end”. Peter Woo who has lost the equivalent of 1 billion US dollars out of the 12 billion he owns has declared with Hong Kong’s wealthiest citizens: “enough!” Woo has called for the restoration of “law and order”, condemned the “illegal activities and violent behavior” of the people of Hong Kong fighting for their freedom. Freedom for Mr. Woo means freedom for himself and for billionaires like him to own what should be social wealth. Dare we say that Mr. Woo cares more about his own social wealth than about the rights of the people? Mr. Woo and those like him have sided with the bastard cops, cronies of the PRC who violently attack innocent protestors, for increasingly we are seeing that their interests are one in the same. Make no mistake, Mr. Woo and the cronies like him are enemies of liberty. Isn’t that too harsh? Not in the least. Human rights are non-negotiable. Until the demands of the people are met in full, there is no real safe-guard on concessions won. Let the people in this moment tip the table, let them strike while the iron is hot!
The people of Hong Kong take truly to heart the saying “Liberty or Death”! The ruling class at this point in time tolerates freedom for the common people only insofar as its individual members can hold safely to their billions which stem from the poverty of the poor. The people of Hong Kong do not derive legitimacy from the “respect” or “endorsement” of Mr. Woo and billionaire cronies like him. The people of Hong Kong, honest hard-working people, the common citizens, they alone give legitimacy to the struggle for freedom and human dignity. The people of Hong Kong should welcome the support of what progressive billionaires are left who support their struggle for freedom unconditionally, after all this is a struggle against institutions and not individuals. But to those rich and powerful who renounce this support, they should declare war. For powerful men like Mr. Woo, the withdraw of support for the protesters and the declaration of support for the bastard cops, cronies of the PRC, is itself a declaration of war against the people of Hong Kong, courageous people fighting for their rights, for their freedoms. As the super-wealthy increasingly withdraw support from the protest movement, the movement itself should hold the pressure and not let up an inch. If the government gives them an inch in concessions, they should take a yard!
The PRC is not going to listen to reason without pressure, inside or outside. The PRC, I think, is too important an economic ally of the West for serious outside pressure to emerge. At most there will be “strong verbal condemnations” of innocent bloodshed, “thoughts and prayers” and the like. Internally it is another matter, here the people have real power if they unite together as one, and if they are organized.
If Things Continue To Worsen
But what if the stubborn government and its increasingly stubborn ruling class refuses to grant the protesters their demands in full? These are my thoughts on the matter. The people should not let up an inch. They should only grow more severe and inflexible in their methods and aims. Once again I stress that human rights are non-negotiable. This is not something up for debate. If crippling the economy is insufficient, the people of Hong Kong should look to more uncompromising methods of dissent, as is their right as citizens whose consent all government is derived from. If the government refuses to meet their demands when non-violent pressure is exerted to the maximum possible extent, the government should be overthrown. Let that be the threat to the ruling order! The people are not weak, they love peace and seek to avoid bloodshed at all costs. But the people are not weak. If necessary, they will arise and will strike down the present order like lightning bolts from heaven! The threat alone should be sufficient. Perhaps then they will be apt to listen! If not, let them perish by the people’s will!
Let me not under-emphasize the fact that there is a real danger here. Another Tienanmen Square massacre must be avoided at all costs. Should the situation continue to worsen and should real violent retaliation on the part of the state look inevitable, the people should organize to arm themselves in collective self-defense. At such a point, any attempts to disarm the people should be frustrated by force if necessary. Perhaps I am an alarmist here for saying that the people should organize themselves now in preparation, a kind of citizens national guard to be called in an emergency situation, should worst come to worst. If the police and military alone are armed, it is likely at such a point that the people will be slaughtered. The people should be ready to defend themselves by force if necessary. Learn from the lessons of ’89! This time the people ought not be unarmed when Stalinist tanks roll in. The people in their millions should be ready and willing to push tyranny out of Hong Kong blow for blow, to be ready to pay the price themselves in order to decide their own fate as free people, to govern themselves. I truly hope such a thing does not come to pass. I hope the government falls to its knees and bows before the people’s will. If the people persist and the government is not as hard-headed as it appears, I think it will, and this ought to be celebrated.
If such a terrible day comes to pass that PRC tanks are rumored approaching the city of Hong Kong, the people must summon courage from within themselves. Recall that it was Thomas Jefferson himself who said, “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” As the situation in Hong Kong grows increasingly intense, the people should ask themselves today “how can we defend our rights and stop innocent bloodshed at the same time?” If tomorrow PRC tanks roll into Hong Kong, whose blood will be shed? That of an unarmed people fighting for their freedom, or that of the tyrants cronies who invade the city seeking to harm the innocent? Only an armed people are even in a position to answer the question for themselves, for an unarmed people the answer is decided for them. Remember that truly everything is at stake here!
My hope here is that the government ceases in its idiocy and bows before the people’s will. But should the government persist in its stubbornness, the presence of an armed and organized people alone should be enough to stop the cronies of the PRC from giving the order to send in the tanks, that this will lead to victory of the protesters without unnecessary bloodshed. But should things go from bad to worse the people should be prepared, and this calls for military organization and strict discipline from below, the formation of citizen’s guards as a grassroots alternative to the police and military, loyal not to the government but to the people themselves. These are my recommendations for emergency measures should emergency situations come to pass. Should the government not let up, people’s militias can form the foundation of a new legitimate force from below.
With sword in hand and ready to defend themselves, the people of Hong Kong can strike while the iron is hot, write the rule-book themselves, and dare to dream dangerously. Let them do so now without bloodshed, let the government bow before the people’s will for this is right. Let them do this now or tomorrow! The people cannot be stopped! People of Hong Kong, the city belongs to you and to you alone! There is no authority but that which derives from yourselves! Freedom loving people the world over stand with you! You are not alone!
These are my thoughts on the matter. Take them as you will.
LONG LIVE HONG KONG STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM!
FULFILLMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S DEMANDS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE!
HUMAN RIGHTS ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE!
SOCIALISM OR BARBARISM, LIBERTY OR DEATH!