Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ships Passing in the Night

The latest street campaign for democracy is taking place in Hong Kong, which is a unique case. Here are some excerpts from the Wikipedia article to set the stage:
  (This Chinese peninsula) became a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War (1839–42). As a result of the negotiations and the 1984 agreement between China and Britain, Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China and became its first Special Administrative Region on 1 July 1997, under the principle of "one country, two systems”. The educational system followed the British English model until 2009, and Hong Kong's independent judiciary functions under the common law framework.[15][16] The constitutional document drafted by the Chinese side before the handover based on the terms enshrined in the Joint Declaration,[17] governs its political system, and stipulates that Hong Kong shall have a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign relations and military defense.[18][19] Although it has a multi-party system, a minority controls 30 out of 70 seats of its legislature. Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world but also the highest income inequality among advanced economies.[5]
A mainly youthful and educated elite linked to Hong Kong’s position as an international financial hub wants China to no longer have veto power over its electoral candidates, but, as Jeff Brown has written
<blockquote>China signed a UN witnessed treaty that after Hong Kong reverted to the Mainland in 1997 it would not change the Territory's way of life for the next 50 years -- until 2047. ….While [the Chinese government] would find it next to impossible to influence Hong Kong's billionaire class's investments in the Territory, all of them have billions in investments on the Mainland. If Occupy Central drags on, and it undoubtedly will, with the CIA's NGOs putting money in the protesters' pockets to maintain the vigil, a haircut north of the border” (meaning Hong Kong’s Chinese investments) “might be in order to get Hong Kong's Princes of Power to share more of the Territory's wealth, passing laws to funnel money to the working and poor classes.</blockquote>.
The difference here with ‘Western’ capitalism is that our rulers have neither the power nor the inclination to pressure the 1% to do right by the 99%.  And they are ever ready to foment revolutions in other parts of the world, to the extent that upheavals serve their interest.
Like most color or other named revolutions (Hong Kong’s is the ‘umbrella’ revolution), the one on mainland China’s doorstep is a Monkey See, Monkey Do affair. The media falls far short worldwide of its obligation to inform objectively, but luckily, the mere fact of reporting on social movements - and if it didn’t it would be out of business - has finally brought confidence in their rights to people the world over. Seeing revolutions happening in other countries, they think ‘Why not us?’ What the protesters don’t realize, is that as soon as they begin to stir, they will be supported and encouraged by the CIA and a plethora of other american institutions.  As Jeff Brown notes, all we need to know is that “Hong Kong is gladly letting CIA front NGO the National Endowment for Democracy operate on its soil.” (Jeff’s post includes a list of US organizations operating around the world to make it ‘safe for democracy’ (scratch that: ‘safe for business’).
‘The right of people to choose their leaders’ as the BBC says in its report about the Hong Kong revolt against Chinese overlordship, sounds hollow to those who have lived under so-called ‘democratic’ regimes for generations, whether in Europe or the United States. For although the press does a good job of pretending that democracy works, people are coming to the realization that it too hides a multitude of sins that grow over time. (Churchill famously claimed that “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”, an awkward sentence that rules out future systems such as participatory democracy, which the Occupy movement and its offshoots endeavor to prefigure.)

It’s as though we were in an amusement park hall of mirrors in which two demonstrations parade by, one for ‘democracy’, the other against, like ships passing in the night.

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