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26 Oct, 2014

Bringing Western Depocrisy to Hong Kong

By David Ferguson

Beijing, (People’s Daily Online), October 21, 2014 – The Western media have secured their prize. Just as it seemed that the Hong Kong Occupy demonstrations were about to peter out, evidence emerged that one of the protestors had been detained and beaten by police. The officers accused have been suspended, and an investigation is under way. The story can return to the top of the front pages. The demonstrators can once more become the heroes of the day.

Owen Jones, a radical left-wing columnist for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, hailed the struggle of the demonstrators against “Beijing’s tyrants” with their “murderous record”. “The protestors have a simple, unarguable case”, he fulminated.

China’s leaders are not in fact ‘tyrants’, and if they have a ‘murderous record’, then that record is a distant past echo of the murderous record of the enlightened West – including the Labour Party that Mr Jones supports – which launched a war with Iraq in 2003 based on a pack of outrageous lies. The perpetrators of these lies have never been called to account. Eleven years later, thousands still die in Iraq every month as an aftermath of their actions. Eleven years later,the West is now dropping its bombs on Syria as a direct consequence. In between, they bombed Libya back to the stone age without even declaring war.

But these are arguments for another day. Let us stick to Hong Kong.

With all due respect to the whole of the West, the demonstrators do not have an “unarguable case”. China has reneged on nothing. China has stuck to the schedule to which it agreed in terms of the democratisation process in Hong Kong. While the demonstrators might wish it to be otherwise, China always reserved the right to continue to vet candidates for Hong Kong’s leadership at this stage, and China has every reason to do so.

You would have to be blind, deaf and stupid to pretend that America does not shove its interfering nose into every corner of the planet. You would have to be naive beyond belief to pretend that there is no American interference in the Hong Kong demonstrations, when the territory is riddled with ‘foundations’ and ‘endowments’ run by and financed by exactly the same people who have run the ‘Arab Spring’ and the ‘Colour Revolutions’ in Eastern Europe – movements which have brought mostly misery to their unfortunate beneficiaries.

Beijing has a perfectly valid and legitimate case for continuing to vet candidates for the Hong Kong leadership. Beijing is not prepared to run the risk of Hong Kong falling under the control of someone who is a paid-for American stooge.

Let us extend the discussion a little. What is this democracy that America holds so dear, this democracy that America is so keen to offer to the rest of the world at the end of the barrel of a gun, this democracy for which the demonstrators of Hong Kong have taken to the streets?

Well, for a start, Americans have precisely what the people of Hong Kong do not have – the right to a free vote. As the Americans like to put it: If you don’t like the leaders you’ve got then hell, you can just “vote ‘em out”!

But this much-vaunted right really has to be subject to a little more demanding scrutiny. Yes, you can vote them out. But who can you put in their place?

The truth about American democracy is this:

Point one. If you want access to any real power, you must belong to one of only two political parties. Unless you have the support of one of these two parties and their machines, you have no prospect whatsoever of ever acceding to any position of real political power.

Point two. Access to any position of real power is restricted to millionaires. No-one who is not already fabulously wealthy has any prospect whatsoever of ever acceding to any position of real political power.

Point three. It costs eye-watering sums of money to conduct a campaign for election to any position of real political power – more money than even most multi-millionaires can afford. So in order to even compete for such a position, you must first sell yourself to other vested interests who are willing to fund your campaign, and who will expect payback if you are successful.

So what does that make American democracy? It makes it the right to cast a vote, every couple of years or so, for one or the other of two millionaire representatives of their party machines, who have already sold themselves to wealthy influences whose interests may well be in direct conflict with your own. If you don’t like one millionaire representative of a party machine who has sold himself to wealthy influences, then you can vote for the other millionaire representative of a party machine who has sold himself to wealthy influences.

Of course you can vote for other people too. Anybody can stand for election in America. But since no-one who is not a millionaire representative of one of the two party machines has any prospects whatsoever of ever acceding to a position of power, if you are going to vote for someone else you might as well do this: Stay at home. Write down the name of an imaginary person on a piece of paper. Mark an ‘X’ beside that name. Throw the piece of paper in the bin.

You might as well do that because it is equally pointless, but it takes less time.

I’m not sure that I would want to fight and die for that kind of democracy. But I’m certain that never would I send great armies off to a country on the other side of the world to kill large numbers of people, just so that any survivors could enjoy such an arguable privilege.

So what then? What if you still want genuine change? What if you would still like the real possibility of placing someone in a position of power who is not a millionaire representative of one of the two party machines? Well, in addition to democracy, America enjoys freedom of speech and assembly. So if you can see no way of making change happen from within the system, you can take your case to the streets.

Which is precisely what a tiny group of people tried to do in America back in 2011. The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement tried to take its campaign for real change to the streets. But it was forcibly prevented from ever establishing a presence on the streets or public squares of New York. Instead, a few hundred demonstrators formed a camp in the privately-owned Zuccotti Park, where they stayed for several weeks. Until, on November 15th 2011, in the dark of night, their camp was invaded and destroyed by New York Police in riot gear. Many of the demonstrators were beaten with clubs and tazered.

That is how America deals with a rag-bag collection of a few hundred demonstrators in a park, who have no structured agenda for change, and who enjoy little public support. One might wonder how America would deal with tens of thousands of demonstrators erecting barricades on the streets, with a structured agenda for change, who were beginning to win the attention and possibly even the support of the public.

The truth is such speculation is idle. No such course of events would ever be allowed to happen. No such movement would ever be allowed to grow. The whole point of the destruction of the Zuccotti Park camp was that it brought to an end the Occupy Wall Street protest long before it ever had the chance to develop any critical mass.

In Britain, too, the authorities know exactly how to deal with dissent that goes too public. Right at this moment there is something of an ‘Occupy’ protest going on in Parliament Square in London. Several hundred people are trying to use their much-vaunted freedom of speech to demonstrate in favour of fundamental change in British society – the sort of change that isn’t on offer from any of the mainstream political parties who have a stranglehold on political power through Britain’s antiquated ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system.

I would like to tell you what is happening there, but there’s very little I can say. The British media, who have so much to say on the subject of Hong Kong, seem rather reluctant to find space in their columns to provide any information on their own home-grown protests. On Monday 20th October – three days into the protest – the ever-liberal Guardian did finally manage to script a generous 255-word article, but the loud voices of the BBC have been strangely reluctant to express an opinion. Some prominent China-bashers, like the Daily Telegraph, appear to take the view that it would be best if the British public hears nothing at all about these events.

What I can glean from alternative social media is that the protest has been going on for all of three days, and it appears that the authorities have already sent large numbers of police to put a stop to it. Protesters are now being physically hauled away. In Britain, under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 it is a criminal offence to be in Parliament Square “in possession of items that might be used for sleeping”, and the police have deemed that anyone who is sitting on a tarpaulin to keep off the cold tarmac is guilty of ‘erecting a structure’.

I should perhaps emphasise that I am not making any of this up in an attempt to be funny. This is all genuinely happening in a country that seems to spend half its time lording it over the Chinese government for its ‘repressive behaviour’ and denouncing the Chinese media for their refusal to report openly on events in China.

The Hong Kong Occupy demonstrators should be careful what they wish for. It is true that they do not have the same right that Americans do, to vote for one of two millionaires who have sold themselves to a group of financial interests, and then to vote a couple of years later for the other one. But tens of thousands of them have been allowed to conduct their protests on the streets of Hong Kong for weeks now, erecting barricades, causing obstructions, and disrupting the lives and the work of their fellow citizens, and their protests have been managed for the most part without violence.

Whereas if tens of thousands of Hong Kong Occupy protestors had been out with their barricades on the streets of London, they would have been dispersed within days and many of them would now be in prison. If they had been out with their barricades on the streets of New York, they would have been dispersed within days and many of them would now be in hospital, or the morgue.

That’s what I call depocrisy.