The Arrow Loosed from Hong Kong

by KID, via HAPAX blog, original translation and footnotes by a member of thecollective

The four-month old insurrection in Hong Kong is generating a new politics. No-one can say clearly what the outcome of this conflict will be. But even if what lies ahead is a tragedy or a farce, the significance of what created it can’t be lost. What’s happening in Hong Kong is a “revolution,” its glory is in the revolution itself.

For today’s fight, the Umbrella Movement of 2014 is only an example of what not to do. A movement of college students – assured celebrities – incited by college professors and lawyers with good sense, it was lawful to the end, withdrawing into struggles for hegemony between different groups and party politics where it breathed its last. Even now, all those leaders can do is report about the situation in Hong Kong on Twitter. Based on these reflections, the discourse in Hong Kong now restricts itself to the Five Demands1 and nothing else. This is in order to avoid the movement splitting due to doctrines and arguments. Even the hardcore separatist2, though he revealed his face before the lens in determination, never called for independence. Afterwards, he fled to America.

Those at the heart of the street movement are youth (rather, young guys and girls) ages 13 through 16. They’re forbidden from going out into the street by their parents, but in exchange they have a comprehensive support network for adults in every aspect of the movement. Even for those young people fired from their jobs there exists a Telegram group offering highly compensated jobs in manual labor. The young people carrying the vanguard of this movement are few in number and make up a small block, but they don’t even know one another’s names. A certain friend formed a black block group for the sole reason that they lived near each other. They decided on their tactics while messaging on Telegram. New tactics and structures are being born that surpass the organizational theory from the anti-globalization movement’s affinity groups.

According to a comrade there, the rebellion this time expresses the destruction of the city called Hong Kong. Skyrocketing housing costs due to redevelopment, and on the other hand, the closing off of the future between China and the West. Young people run share houses in industrial zones where dwellings have been forbidden. There’s no proper work. Everyone says they can’t see a future. Young people sense the limits of the drawn-out existing system. This insurrection is a movement to cast off the living creature of the city.

The area around every station is overflowing with things like stickers, fliers and graffiti. And most of the entrance gates and ticket machines have been destroyed. And not just that. Traces of destruction exist everywhere. It’s as if these traces are renewed every Sunday. Ōsugi Sakae’s3 words come to mind - the people in particular destroy the streets quite well.

We can say from these things that the whole city of Hong Kong is starting to rebel and that the rebellion is being maintained. The apprehension of being denied belonging anywhere has been inverted and become an affect for insurrection. This apprehension and xenophobia are becoming two sides of the same coin. Will attacks on Chinese capital become attacks on capital itself? Will attacks on rule by China become attacks on rule itself? What people are envisioning are the consequences of 1967’s “left wing” revolt – the movement for independence from England supported by “left wing” China.4

The words of a comrade living in Kamagasaki during the Center occupation5 recur with regards to Hong Kong as well – the possibility of making something happen increases where flows meet. The source of the rebellion today is the longshoremen’s strike of 2011. To repeat, it absolutely isn’t the Umbrella Movement. Part of the depth of the support network that makes maintaining the rebellion possible is the existence of places that maintained the meeting of flows during the strike. We have to let go of any stage-ist thinking as soon as possible.

The [extradition] bill was officially withdrawn, but the insurrection isn’t ending. Where is it headed? There’s no reason for it to favor fascism any less than communism. But this isn’t something that lowers the insurrection. The insurrection in Hong Kong is itself, unmistakably, a call of the coming people.

  1. These are the full withdrawal of the extradition bill, a commission of inquiry into police brutality, retraction of the classification of the protesters as rioters, amnesty for arrested protesters, and the expansion of voting rights to include positions currently elected by specific trades or committees.

  2. Presumably a reference to Brian Leung, who garnered attention after removing his facemask voluntarily while he encouraged fellow protesters to remain during the occupation of Hong Kong’s legislature.

  3. Prolific Japanese anarchist (1885-1923), one of many radicals murdered by the Japanese military in the wake of the Great Kanto Earthquake.

  4. Rioting in 1967, occurring in the wake of the opening of the Cultural Revolution, ultimately ended with many people dead or arrested and many groups that had participated quashed without achieving independence.

  5. Anarchists and others occupied a daylaborer center set to be torn down for a development in the neighborhood of Kamagasaki in Osaka earlier this year. You can read more about it here

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