The US press, like many of my Chinese friends have focused on what the Hong Kong protestors won’t accomplish. This focus on future violence against students completely ignores the courageous possibilities that are offered in the present.
The assumption of inevitable state violence empowers the establishment because it accepts as already a fact state violence against unarmed students. In other words, assuming future defeats legitimates violence that has not yet happened. It is a form of ideological compliance in which it “makes more sense” for the government to attack its citizens than it does for government representatives to sit down and talk with them. This assumption of future violence also compels police officers to attack unarmed, non violent citizens, rather than protect them because it scripts only one response to civil disobedience.
The students have offered us a space for thinking of alternatives to state violence and fearful compliance. As older — and by no means wiser — citizens, we have a responsibility to pause and take note. Yes, the world can be otherwise, but only when we stop thinking we know what will happen and open ourselves to what is unfolding in the present moment.
Images from Tuesday night, October 14 and Friday morning, October 17, 2014.