shen kong: hoodlum governments

The price of a night of sanctioned thuggery: image

This post from the anti-Occupy Central Blue Ribbon Organization offers HK$ 200 to meet up in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay and HK$ 300 to meet up in Admiralty. Also on offer are HK$ 500 bonus to dismantle supply stations and HK$ 1,000 to create chaos, which presumably means “incite students to violence so police can justify retaliation”. To receive payment, there must be documented proof. Those interested in the job can call Mr. Li at the listed number.

The scale of the October 2 attacks indicate that the thuggery was not only organized, but also condoned by the Hong Kong police. Indeed, tweets, Facebook posts and next day news reports agree that Hong Kong police watched while thugs attacked students. In response, the students held their positions even as leaders urged the to leave the site and keep safe.

The government’s decision to partner up with thugs rather than meet with students to discuss their concerns reveals how unrepresentative the administration is, demonstrating an ugly lack of good faith. More generally, the decision also reveals the foundational violence of states–in choosing not to protect students from thugs, the police reminded everyone that they have the authority to both oppose and sanction violence against unarmed citizens.

In Shenzhen, the ongoing news blackout about Hong Kong protests does more than create an ignorant populace (愚民政府). The Shenzhen news blackout serves the same purpose as Hong Kong police complicity with thugs. The blackout reminds the public (who in fact know about the protests and in general support the students) that the government has unequal access to weapons (informational, economic and military).

In Shenzhen it doesn’t matter what we know to be true because the official account has been set through the blackout–nothing is happening. After all, not just the specter of Tiananmen haunts us. We also know that this show of media dominance is a statement of intent: a government that is willing to suppress information is also willing to use violence to secure its goals. Thus, although we know the official story is a deliberate lie, we do not break it, becoming complicit in the lies and violence against the Hong Kong students, even though we are also being attacked. And thus talk of support protests is effectively stymied.

The logic of informational violence is clear: Shenzhen people know about the protests, but accept the news blackout as inevitable. This acceptance is a demonstration of government power. The blackout is a deployment of informational violence against the people because it indicates that the government is willing to deploy weapons to insure compliance.

Indeed, in Shenzhen as in Hong Kong, the government is acting to isolate people from each other, creating vulnerable individuals and ultimately creating targets. As Beijing lawyer activist Bao Tong (鲍彤) pointedly asks in an opinion piece circulating on We Chat, “who exactly is responsible for blocking peaceful resolution of the universal suffrage question?”

Meanwhile, on October 1, Anonymous, a group of hacker-activists declared virtual war on the Hong Kong government, including the very scary threat to post private information of functionaries.