Following a strong students’ strike on Friday, the pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong launched Occupy Central in its full form early. They aim to paralyze the economic center of the territory, to force changes in the political structure to allow for universal suffrage and free election of the chief executive in 2017.
I first wrote about the simmering conflict over a year ago, and about Occupy Central earlier this month. It is a reminder that some of richest places in the world, like Hong Kong and Singapore, are not true democracies and their people are fighting for the same political rights that many in the developing world seek.
Hong Kong exists in the nexus between colonialism and authoritarianism, a British holding turned over to China but given certain rights that the mainland population does not have. The agreement was vague, and Beijing is attempting to keep true democracy off the table, and make an already anti-democratic system more rigged.
Occupy Central is a shining example of the mass civil disobedience that is popping up all over the world, which can challenge governments and the existing economic order that resists progress.
As with climate change, world poverty, endemic racism- there is no time for gradualism. Hong Kong has waited 17 years for full democracy and has not gotten it, and will never get it if the present state of affairs continues. The need is for people to get more radical and ambitious with their movements. It’s to go beyond symbolism and into disobedience. Nobody said a just society would come easy.