Can Hong Kong anarchy “happen anywhere”

So says the FT:

Demonstrators and police officers are experiencing a kind of epiphany when they realise there are no repercussions for smashing the thin veneer of civility.

As a consequence, the range of acceptable behaviour has widened dramatically and the most brazen and outrageous actions are becoming normalised. This is fed by social media echo chambers. Pro-Beijing government supporters see and share only the vandalism and beatings carried out by demonstrators, while protest sympathisers focus only on police or triad violence.

This willingness to stomach previously unthinkable acts is astonishing in a place ranked seventh by the UN in terms of human development, with some of the healthiest, longest-living, best educated, richest and most worldly citizens on earth.

If this breakdown can happen in Hong Kong it can happen anywhere. And while a civil society can be torn apart virtually overnight, it almost always takes decades to build it back up.

Yes, it can happen anywhere. But there are pre-conditions. The social contract between a government and its people needs to be violated before they challenge the governing monopoly on violence.

That is what has happened in Hong Kong where the CCP shifted from thin-slicing freedoms to chopping them off wholesale.

It’s pretty obtuse taking the high ground on the results. What did they expect? Bloomie:

Hong Kong said all schools would be suspended through Sunday amid a fourth straight day of chaos that has seen the city’s subway operator partially suspend service and protesters continue to block roads, as residents wonder what could come next.

The financial hub has been paralyzed since Monday morning, when a protester was shot during protests, igniting city-wide rallies and violent clashes.

Anger.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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Comments

  1. The Balkans were kept quiet for 45 years after WWII by tyrants and repressive police states. Then the lid popped off, leading to Sarajevo, Srebrenica etc.

    The veneer of civilisation is remarkably thin, and there are a lot of people out there who like a bit of biff but are kept in check by fear of the consequences. Remove the ability to apply consequences and things get sporty pretty quickly. Most people think it couldn’t happen here, but I’m not one of them. Remember Cronulla.

    • It’s hard to forecast. Everyone thought South Africa would descend into chaos. Things there seem to have turned out OK.

      • I’m not saying we’re destined to go all Mad Max here. I do think it would be wise to take some sensible precautions in case that happens. And I do.

        • Which variety LSWCHP

          Trying to decide between Kung Fu, JJ, Krav Maga (only real local alts).
          Or plain old boxing lessons.

          • Boxing is designed to prevent incapacitating injury, as a sport rather than an effective fighting form, so not that.

          • I’m a boxer. Good old fashioned boxing will teach you effective stance, defence, how to move, effective punching, how to cope with being punched etc etc. It’s old school but very, very effective. I think HnH is a boxer too.

            A lot of the oriental martial arts disciplines look nice but are a waste of time. Avoid Aikido…as it’s taught in Australia it’s all show and nothing practical as far as I can tell. I have a mate who is a black belt Aikido instructor, so I’m pretty sure that’s true.

            Krav Maga is supposed to be more practical, but I’ve never tried it.

            The one defect of boxing is that it doesn’t feature kicks. In a boxing ring nobody will kick you, but that rule doesn’t apply in real life.

            Also, avoid the Brazilian Jui Jitsu styles. They’re all about grappling and ground work, which is great in the ring, but if you end up on the ground out in the street you’re buggered, because while you’re rolling on the ground using your cool BJJ techniques on one bloke, his mate will come up and kick you in the head.

            Also, time at the range. That’s a very effective martial art too. 🙂

          • Well, there’s two conflicting points of view! 🙂

            My view is that boxing teaches you fundamental striking and movement skills that enable you to both attack someone and defend yourself fairly effectively. You can do it safely in the ring according to the rules with gloves and helmet and mouthguard, and you can do it outside the ring if necessary not according to the rules.

            That being said, the whole idea is to surprise your opponent with a couple of quickly and effectively delivered disabling blows and then run like hell. Anybody who thinks that it would be great to stand around trading with an opponent on the street is going to end up with teeth knocked out, ruptured eyeballs, a fractured skull, broken hands and other unpleasantness.

          • “The one defect of boxing is that it doesn’t feature kicks. In a boxing ring nobody will kick you, but that rule doesn’t apply in real life.”
            Might want to add grappling, eye gouging, weapons and a whole heap of other things to that list of things boxing doesn’t cover.

            But I’m not an expert. What do Police, military, security and other organisation employing people who will be involved in these sorts of altercations teach? Not boxing from what I know.

            Edit: Punching someone with a fist is a good way to break your hand. Elbows and knees are much more resilient.

      • I would call South African, FAR FROM OK.. It’s a mess. It really is. I lived in Jo’Burg for several months. It’s weird, it was like Australia but far less safe and a bit more racist lol.. but for good reason.

      • I thought South Africa would descend into chaos post the 1994 elections but aid money and huge investment flowed in and the down-trodden black citizens were hopeful and elated. White South Africans who fled to other countries returned in big numbers and life was good. Except the elites failed to keep any of their promises to ‘the people’ and filled their bank accounts instead – riches beyond imagination. And things began to deteriorate and hope began to fade. White flight started up again. The infrastructure has been crumbling for some time but its deterioration has accelerated in recent times as the elites plunder relentlessly and foreign investment has been withdrawing for years.

        The chaos I predicted back in 1994 will happen. I was just early. The recent spate of farm murders that made global headlines was just a foretaste of what’s to come. When the global recession arrives, you’ll see S Africa disintegrate for good. The whites that can leave will be buying one way tickets out. Those that can’t will arm themselves to the teeth and barricade the doors and windows.

    • SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

      Cronulla was pretty tame really, the Lebanese knifing random people walking on the streets in retaliation was the most violent part – and we’re importing heaps more that

      • Importing thousands of Muslim criminals, terrorists and social security freeloaders refugees from Lebanon during their civil war was Malcolm Fraser’s finest hour. The proliferation of Kebab shops in Sydney enhanced the city’s cuisine diversity and definitely made it all worthwhile.

        • During Frazers time they were Maronites that were running for their lives & driven out. Since the early 90’s they have been quite vocal in questioning why their persecutors from the homeland are now here & again moving into their place of refuge – without AK’s perhaps, but still threatening. But you won’t hear their warnings anywhere that can alert the public.

          • Many Years ago I remember having a convo with a Lebanese guy about their civil war and he said something similar – that lot of war criminals were allowed to move here on fake papers. From memory some Lebanese tried to alert the authorities and it fell on deaf ears.

          • Colin is correct, many were Christina’s coming here, who are also not a fan of extremist Islam.

          • I’m not a fan of his, but is one person meant to be representative of all Christin Lebs to you or something?

    • Good to have some stuff locked away in gun safe just in case eh?
      Wife doesn’t get it though

    • “by tyrants and repressive police states.” – wrong 1m%. On my Yugoslav pasport I travel western and eastern Europe and never wanted to stay or overstay. Only towards the end things started to go wrong but there was no repressive police state mate. I lived there 20 years and I know what happened. Left 1 year before the war erupted as I saw it coming.
      Here you were fed MSM propaganda on what happened.
      I’d say similar forces were at play as in South America and Middle East – believe it or not you choice.

      Just to add, rest of eastern europe did not enjoy that freedom. I traveled to Poland, Check, Bulgaria and Romania so I saw it.

      Rest of your comment is 100% correct – or at least I agree with 100% but we can be wrong who the fck knows.
      fckn.

      • You know more about it than me mate. Never trust the MSM eh?

        I’m glad you made it out before the shooting started.

        • it never happened in Macedonia but at that point of time no one knew how is going to play out. There were about 4.5k Macedonian soldiers that were still serving in the Yugoslav army when Serbia took control of it. They were not allowed to go home (even though Macedonia declared independence) for about 12 months and were forced to fight in Croatia and Bosnia while Serbian soldiers were keeping Macedonia safe from Macedonia for while. Ugly times and I don’t hold grudge – I have Greek, Serb, Croat friends.

    • “… but are kept in check by fear of the consequences…”

      This

      Once you’ve lost everything, then the consequences don’t matter as much. Given the level of indebtedness here things can turn on a dime. Sure, the RBA can print all the money it wants and Josh can send us cheques in the mail but once the AUD is buying no more than USD 0.20c you have a serious social problem.

  2. This willingness to stomach previously unthinkable acts is astonishing in a place ranked seventh by the UN in terms of human development, with some of the healthiest, longest-living, best educated, richest and most worldly citizens on earth.

    D-E-B-T

    We are looking at the the 1930s. The people, especially the asset poor young, are powder kegs waiting for a spark.

    • Something Australia and Hong Kong have in common is unaffordably high property prices.
      This has meant the youth know there is no future for them.

      Why have Hong Kong students rebelled, while Australians just take it?

      • Do the kids in HK get inheritance? Asking cause I really don’t know.
        My mum is 80 and will hopefully be with us for the next 10 years (her Mum lived till 94) and I know that my sis in-law has “done the sums” so to speak as she is counting on getting half Mums house when she goes. So there’s an easy $750k coming her way one day.

        Maybe all these kids are counting on the inheritance gold mine coming through when their parents fall off.

        Or maybe we are just apathetic about the whole thing.

        • Inheritance is overrated when the state will tax half of my parents wealth away when the time comes. Nothing is certain in life, but death and taxes. The last thing I think about though is the money I’ll get when my mum’s gone. I’d trade everything I have to keep her around for longer if such a trade were even possible.

        • Yes, inheritance is a big part of it. Support the status quo and cash in. Have nothing to look forward to and the situation changes, big time. Grim job prospects, no inheritance = tinderbox IMO.

      • Australian students have been heavily indoctrinated in the education system with the multiculturalism ideology especially since the Third World immigration program really took off over the last 20 years.
        Today’s Australian youth can’t or won’t make the connection between home ownership being out of their reach and the trebling of the Third World infested net immigration program.

      • Give it a little longer, a little more fuel on the fire and it will start here too. I think if property prices go up further like was suggested in an article here today. I can see it happening. That’s why I don’t want to see a return to unaffordable housing (or more unaffordable than it already is). I think it will only end badly.

  3. violent protests can happen anywhere where the election process doesn’t ensure all people are properly represented
    in some countries protesters would face brutal police, in some not so brutal, and in some protests would be enough to push politicians out
    guess what would happen in Australia

  4. Odd that the protests started with worries about an extradition treaty to the mainland.

    There’s an Australian sitting in London who will soon be extradited to the US where he’ll get a life sentence. What are Australians doing? Nothing!
    We don’t deserve our liberties; at least the Hong Kongers have the courage to fight. We’re just sheep.

    • The extradition treaty became as issue after Huawei’s CFO is detained in Canada, and the businessman in HK is worried China will use the proposed law in the same manner against foreign company executives, which will turn HK into a ‘no go’ zone.

    • We don’t see ourselves as repressed. “First they came” might not be as imminent here as there. That doesn’t mean things can’t change.

  5. To me, blaming it on the “thin veneer of civility” completely misses the point.

    Taking a group of people who had social freedoms for a century or more and moving them into a communist regime was never going to work. The only people who thought it might were the ones who thought the communists would slowly liberalise. Now it’s become obvious, they are desperate to hold onto power. The people always get fed up of their rulers at some point. That is is the point of having democracy. Countries either have peaceful revolutions (elections) or disorderly or violent revolutions. And that’s the point.

    If you give people no way out, no options, then ultimately they will go to disobedience and eventually violence.

    • As the last governor of Hong Kong said recently in an interview, they didn’t have democracy under the U.K. either until just before the hand over.

      • True, but there’s a difference between the way that the UK handles law and the way that China handles law and that’s all wrapped up in the way the system ultimately works.

      • But they did have this guy early in the piece:

        John James Cowperthwaite

        He is the boss. Too bad he wasn’t somebody in Britain too. They could have used somebody of his standing and intellect during the 1970’s. Sadly they opted for the ‘other’ and well, the rest is history ..

      • Straw man. They never had democracy, that isn’t the main thing they are protesting about.

        They had a lot more civil rights and freedoms under the Brits and a lot less reason to fear being beaten by police. Some of them also had a chance at buying a home to live in.

    • A made for the west faux rebellion.

      Some fact checks.

      Fact 1. No Chinese in Hong Kong has ever had ‘democracy’ or a ‘vote’.

      Not since 1841, never during the British rule, never promised by the British or Chinese in handover. The British Governor “there is no point in giving Chinese democracy, they wouldn’t know what to do with it – it’s not in their nature”.
      Never promised by the British or the Chinese in handover.
      Aldi shopping bags of cash to buy political influence is the Chinese way.

      Fact 2. Hong Kong never had a ‘respected or ethical judiciary’.
      It was always a dumping ground for corrupt British judges & policemen.

      The loophole in no Hong Kong extradition treaty with China then saw a flood of mainland Chinese criminal elite join the existing Hong Kong criminal cohort who run Hong Kong. (Jimmy Lau etc) and to hide behind this corrupt judiciary.

      That Hong Kong criminal elite is backing this paid for & scripted for the west ‘revolt’.

      Fact 3. Hong Kong has over 32 extradition treaties with other countries.
      China has 43 including with Europe.
      But not with each other, despite Hong Kong being restored back to China for 2 decades now.
      China even watered down the intended extradition arrangement to be a very limited set of most severe crimes / excluding money laundering for example.

      Fact 4. Hong Kong has 25% of its people unemployed, over 20% in extreme poverty (mainland China 3.3%) and mass homelessness.

      Hong Kong is a society where the middle & lower class has been wiped out – seperated or bifurcated into an ultra rich criminal elite (90 tycoons own 87% of Hong Kong wealth, and everyone else poor.

      Housing is a key issue as the Hong Kong criminal elites took over or corrupted public housing for private housing speculation.

      ->Shades of the same in Australia btw.

      Fact 5. Unemployment is also the other big driver – and it’s structural and never going to be as it was.
      Business & Industry has moved from Hong Kong to the mainland. Hong Kong used to be 14% of China’s economic activity, now its less than 1%.

      Fact 6. The protesters are not ‘young highly educated students’ attending university etc.

      Most are 30 or 40 year olds or more, long term unemployed and unemployable misfits lowlife petty criminals useless – trash that couldn’t even get into Australia or other countries on a pretext student visa here.

      They fetish western democracy but have never experienced it, don’t understand it.

      A faux ‘made for the west’ rebellion.

      => The irony here is these ‘students’, are a pseudonym for unskilled useless unemployed Chinese mature age adults, organized to protest & riot against the Chinese communist fascist dictatorship.. are of the same ilk of those who were organised to protest against the British prior to handover…

      Organized now to back the Hong Kong & mainland criminals elite and have their own little Hong Kong bubble criminal fascist elitist dictatorship!

      The real question is this.

      Why aren’t these Hong Kong mature age unemployed pretext students out on the street protesting about their Hong Kong criminal overlords who created the issues they have?

      Because they are xenophobic and highly racist – even against fellow mainland Han Chinese.
      And because they are gullible & naive.

      Their issues and their enemy is the 97 tycoons in Hong Kong who control over 80% of the wealth.
      Who created the unemployment and housing crisis.
      Who all have foreign passports and have got their money out anyway.

      • Honestly, most of your “facts” are so wrong it’s not funny. I can’t even be bothered.

        The last para is pretty close to the truth though. But don’t forget the liberties the Chinese are stripping away. That is also a very genuine cause of the protests.

        • I don’t think you know or understand much about Hong Kong. Try living there for a while & it’s a different reality.

          Every fact I have stated is correct and easily checked.
          25% extreme poverty.
          Hong Kong went from 15% of China’s economic activity to 1%.
          Most of the ‘students’ are mature age adults idle unemployed or misfits.
          The 97 tycoons own 80% of the wealth.
          Both Hong Kong & China have extradition treaties with many other countries but not each other.
          The Hong Kong judiciary was always regarded as notoriously corrupt. It became even more corrupt when the mainland criminals flooded in to hide in HK as a safe haven..
          Hong Kong people are widely regarded as isolationist and extremely racist including even to the mainland Chinese.

          I tried to find you an article that was an unbiased objective ‘root cause of the issues’ view.

          Here is a recent article from a Hong Kong social academic expert who says much the same.

          https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/10/02/one-worlds-unequal-cities-arent-hong-kong-protesters-angry-rich-powerful/

          The corrupt criminal elite in Hong Kong and a now faded ‘ex colony’ phase as Hong Kong is hollowed our into a criminal elite & mass of newly poor or those with no future prospects are the underlying drivers of the made for the west ‘rebellion’

          Again the question is why aren’t the so called ‘students’ who are really the unskilled useless & unemployed residue left in Hong Kong not able to escape as TR foreign student or whatever.

          This residue swill that are unable to get a foreign TR or PR to escape – why aren’t they protesting against the Hong Kong criminal elite that stole their public housing, destroyed industry & trade & destituted the place?

        • Yup, Russia are prolific meddlers these days. Whatever goes bad in the world it’s Putin’s fault!

          (We had some people round to dinner the other night from Los Angeles — they were going on about Russian ‘bots’, whatever they are, and election meddling and Hillary and all sorts of BS. I thought, you believe all that shyte???).

          Yes they farcking do. I was blown away that educated people could be sucked in by this garbage. Putin’s laughing alright.

          • The gormless public believe what ever their biased news sources tell them too. The corporate media in america does a fantastic job in dividing the masses into opposing camps and letting them scrap it out amongst themselves over economically irrelevant shyte like gay marriage, while the elite rob them blind with nary a mention in the news.

  6. It should be appreciated that many originally settled in Hong Kong to escape communism. So the strong reaction to possible extradition was not unexpected. The subsequent escalation into disorder is something else. I am not sure that social freedoms had been diminished. Perhaps it is the rising inequality there, the increasing competition from new mainland immigrants which narrows opportunities and increases scarcity or the affective response to the divergence between the democratic aspirations of the activists and the former colony’s current reality as small piece in a larger state.

    • I believe that housing has gone even more insane than Australia so it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a lot of anger.

    • You’ve hit every nail on the head there – it’s partially political, partially economic,

      Pollies always need to understand that people’s actions are commensurate with their economic well-being. Beijng have allowed way too much mainland money to seep into HK and materially impact on Hong Kongers’ lives. If you have nothing to live for …

  7. Leftists are doing a great job in accelerating the decline of Western civilisation whilst at the same disenfranchising individuals for ‘wrongthink’, I think we’re not far off from our Hong Kong in the Western World.

  8. You realize that Joshua Wong said no such thing?

    I wonder if there is a new feed for Chinese propaganda. It would be interesting to subscribe to it.

  9. Inspired by the picture on the leader to this post:

    “The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.” ― William Golding, Lord of the Flies

  10. Even StevenMEMBER

    I think the younger generations in Australia are potentially a power keg. At the moment their attention is on climate change. If they actually see the way they are being ignored, sidelined, punished by politicians and business community (ok ‘elite’ if you like) in almost all respects, disgruntlement can turn to white-hot anger very quickly.

    • The average CO2 emissions of a person in Australia is 15.4 metric tonnes yearly.

      Fact check.
      https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/en.atm.co2e.pc?view=map
      In the third world slums and poor rural areas of China, India, Nepal, Bangladesh & the Middle East their Co2 emissions per person are half that or even one tenth.

      See China on the map at only 7.4 tonnes or India at only 1.728 tonnes of Co2 per person.

      We have 5 million of these non Australian third world foreign passport holders onshore in Australia.
      (1.9 as PR, 2.57 million as TR/SCV, 440k as illegally working Tourist Visitors & 65,000 Overstayers).

      86% or 4.2 million are crammed into either Sydney or Melbourne living very high environmental impact lives with very high emissions.

      Collectively the 5 million non Australian third world migrants onshore create an additional Australia Co2 emission output of over 77,000,000 tonnes of Co2.

      But if they remained in their own country then it would only be 15,000,000 or so tonnes of Co2.

      So if they were exited then Australia would aching a 75,000,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction and a 60,000,000 Co2 emission reduction globally.

      Why aren’t the young people angry at the migrants for them causing such environmental damage?

      • LOL @ the suggestion your typical living-10-to-a-room, living-off-steamed-rice and riding-a-pushbike-everywhere, third-world-underclass-migrant is producing anything close to the “average” emissions.

        • It’s a bit like the Gdp argument isn’t it?

          When a migrant comes from a third world low income & low emissions country like say India, Nepal, China, Bangladesh etc – and enters Australia..

          He or she earns more & creates more emissions than they would in their third world country of origin.
          So they do ‘add’ to our GDP and emissions.

          And they add to ‘global GDP’ & emissions’ also.

          I don’t think 3 Chinese families in the little dirty Burwood 2 bed unit walk up – or the12 Nepalese in a small fibro shanty in Granville would be that much lower than an Australian average emissions either.

          They still use the public transport, electricity, gas (be it gas camping stove cartridges) lots of plastic & waste, sewerage, pumped water & everything else that adds up to high emissions.

          We have 2.4 million of Sydney (pop 5.2 million) or 47% as migrant non citizens – sucking out dam, creating requiring the Desal plant, travelling to fake classes, working illegally, creating filth squalor congestion and also creating massive unneeded infrastructure projects that all add to emissions.

          The migrant overload of capacity creates ‘tipping points’ of massive extra emissions that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

          So all things considered, the 5 million third world non citizen foreign passport holder migrant PR, TR & TV or OS in Australia- would generate some 75 million tonnes of Co2 here.
          But far less if they were back in an Asian rural slum or their Punjab rice paddies.

          My point was that if they were exited on an environmental rationale, and sent back to their third world countries, then Australia would reduce by some 75 million tonnes of Co2 & globally some 60 million tonnes of Co2 emissions would reduced.
          That’s a fairly safe assumption even with a 10% of 20% variance in emissions estimates.

          So why aren’t the young people out in the streets demanding the exit of non Australians migrants as a major & growing climate warming emissions pollutant – to prevent the imminent melting of the polar icecaps & global climate extinction?