[Marxism] The American left and the Hong Kong protests

jgreen at communistvoice.org jgreen at communistvoice.org
Sun Jul 28 22:41:37 MDT 2019

The American left and the Hong Kong protests
Extract from the D/SWV list for July 23, 2019

2. Braving repression, the Hong Kong protests continue
3. The American left and the Hong Kong protests
3a. Reply to Norma Harrison re the Hong Kong protests
3b. Reply to I.Z. on the supposed "communist" governments

2. Braving repression, the Hong Kong protests continue!

Since the Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice list article of June 25 in support of the 
Hong Kong protests against the bill allowing extradition to mainland China 
(http://www.communistvoice.org/DSWV-190625.html), mass demonstrations have 
continued. Certain differences have appeared among the demonstrators, with 
most engaging in marches, but a section of youth engaging in more 
confrontational tactics, such as confronting the police and occupying the 
Legislative Council chamber on July 1. Among the protests was that of July 17, 
where older Hong Kong people marched in support of the youth activists and 
against police suppression. Police abuses have become harsher over time. On 
July 21, an anti-extradition march was attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets 
by the police. And then the police stood by as a gang of men with wooden bats 
attacked demonstrators and other people at a subway station.

The demands of the youth who occupied the Legislative Council are as follows 

>1. Fully withdraw the proposed amendments (the extradition bill is officially a 
series of amendments);
>2. Rescind the characterization of the movement as a "riot";
>3. Drop all charges against anti-extradition protesters;
>4. Fully investigate and hold responsible  abuses of the power of the Hong Kong 
>5. Dissolve the Legislative Council and introduce Universal Suffrage


It's notable that so many rich businesspeople are pro-Beijing. They realize that 
the Chinese revolution faded away a long time ago. They know that present-day 
China isn't really socialist, although they are concerned not to be arrested in the 
course of the factional fighting in the Chinese ruling class. ...

The opposition to the extradition bill is not a radical social movement. It embraces 
a variety of different social groups, and many people even have illusions about 
Western imperialism. What ties it together is that the mass of people are afraid 
that mainland China is going to tighten its grip on Hong Kong.  ,,,

The movement against the extradition bill takes place while mainland China is 
stepping up repression in China. It is putting in place surveillance cameras and 
computer systems in China. It has clamped down on journalists, Uighurs, eve 
Chinese university students going to the workers in the name of Marxism. ...

The Hong Kong protest movement is a struggle to support people's rights. It is not 
a movement for socialism, or for radical social demands. It is not clear about what 
is the nature of mainland China, and it embraces a variety of political and social 
trends. But it is a courageous movement that deserves support from workers 
around the world, for democratic rights grease the road towards a more conscious 
and class-conscious workers' struggle.

-- Joseph Green <>

3. The American left and the Hong Kong protests

The radical left is supposed to be the standard-bearer of struggle against 
oppression everywhere. But in fact, a substantial part of the American left is silent 
about, or opposed to, the Hong Kong protests.

For example, the Workers World Party regards the democratic movement as a 
US imperialist plot. They argue, in essence, that since US imperialism is the 
greatest enemy of the world's peoples, the democratic movement -- in which 
there are illusions about Western imperialism -- is therefore also an enemy of the 
world's people. 
(https://www.workers.org/2019/06/30/u-s-role-in-hong-kong-protests/) They take a 
similar stand on many other struggles around the world. For example, they 
denounce the struggle against the dictator Assad in Syria as a "US war on Syria".

The Party for Socialism and Liberation also denounces the democratic movement 
in Hong Kong, and pretends that is an equally large opposition to the movement. 
analyzes-protests-in-hong-kong/) In general, PSL denounces all the movements 
for democracy or social justice on China on the grounds that  "these struggles can 
only, under the current political circumstances and absent an organized 
revolutionary communist leadership current, move into the camp of reactionary 
counterrevolution". PSL even denounces the 1989 protests at Tienanmen Square 
and is silent about the massacre that occurred there. 

3a. Reply to Norma Harrison re the Hong Kong protests

 Another example of the denigration of the democratic struggle is seen from the 
response to the the D/SWV article of June 25. When our article appeared on the 
Dope_x_resistancela list, it was immediately replied to by Norma J F Harrison, a 
California activist who has repeatedly run for a position on the Berkeley school 
board. Her statement was as follows:

>Re: D/SWV: Support the democratic movement in Hong Kong!
>Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:07 am (PDT).
>Posted by: "Norma J F Harrison"
>does democracy = socialist... communist?

>We have democracy in the U.S., for example. Israel has democracy, they keep 
telling us. I forget the figure - I think it was 500,000 people now sleep in the 
streets of the U.S. That´s democracy.

>Fidel said of the revolution 'everybody eats the same'.

>He also told us some enormous world-wide figure - number of people that sleep 
in the streets, and that none of them was(is) in Cuba.

>That´s democracy.


Harrison denounces the struggle for democracy, on the grounds that it isn't 
socialism. She identifies democracy with having 500,000 people homeless. It 
doesn't occur to her that the working masses use democratic rights to fight 
against horrible conditions.

Our article of June 25th explicitly said that the protest movement wasn't a socialist 
movement. But we agree with the views of Marx and Lenin that the fight for 
democratic rights is an essential part of the class struggle. Democracy isn't the 
final goal, but the struggle for democratic rights is part of the struggle for 

It's notable that Harrison seems to have learned her denigration of democracy 
from Castro. The Cuban revolution was a great event, but Castro eventually set 
up a system in which there is a show of having elections, but the candidates are 
forbidden to campaign against any policy of the ruling party, or, in fact, to 
campaign at all. This system has been described by many visitors to Cuba. For 
example, Arnold August, a Canadian activist who is an ardent backer of 
Castroism,  boasts that the lack of discussion of opposing views is one of the 
great virtues of the Cuban system. He writes that in elections to the Municipal 
Assemblies, "Once candidates have been nominated..., the local electoral 
commission obtains a short, biographical profile and a photo from the candidates. 
These are circulated and/or posted in local public places ... This is the only 
publicity permitted under the electoral law."  He regards this as a much deeper 
form of democracy than allowing campaigning, and as a wonderful way to avoid 
the influence of money on elections. He admits that in the elections to the 
National Assembly, "there is one candidate per seat", but he sees this as deeply 
democratic because the unopposed candidate has to receive "at least 50 percent 
of the vote plus one".  (See his book "Cuba and Its neighbours: Democracy in 
Motion", 2013. The quotes are from pp. 162, 179. The praise of this system is all 
through the book.) This is the ideology of putting one's hopes in a "benevolent 
despot". And in the land of the benevolent despot, whether Cuba or China, it's 
never the case that everyone eats the same.

3b. Reply to I.Z. on the supposed "communist" governments

Another form of opposition to the democratic movement is seen in a June 30th 
letter written to us by I.Z. She thinks that all the governments that called 
themselves "communist" should be recognized as such, and supported. Since the 
present Chinese government is one of them, this would mean denouncing the 
Hong Kong protests or any mass struggles in China. Below we give her letter, and 
then our reply. .... <>

Full text at http://www.communistvoice.org/DSWV-190723.html

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