Hong Kong: Why a new fighting democratic movement must be built

April 22, 2017 11:15 pmViews: 16

Dikang, Socialist Action

The Hong Kong democracy struggle has stalled and suffered setbacks since the pivotal year of 2014, when Beijing stopped pretending and said a loud “no” to universal suffrage. The CCP fears democracy like the devil fears holy water. Even democratic concessions in tiny Hong Kong would start a chain reaction leading to its downfall. That is why the idea of compromise with the dictatorship is doomed to failure – like asking the devil to drink “just a little” holy water!

The only way out is through struggles from below

Unfortunately, the pan-democratic leaders have drawn precisely the opposite conclusion. The more repressive Beijing becomes the more they cling to the hope they can ‘petition the emperor’ for a deal.

An urgent political reorientation is needed – starting by recognising reality for what it is, not the compromise fantasy of the pan-democrats. Socialist Action stands for the rebuilding of the democracy struggle as a fighting grassroots movement, controlled democratically by its base through elected committees. This means a radical change from the elitist ‘main stage’ method, whereby mostly self-appointed ‘leaders’, NGOs and politicians decide all the big questions.

The biggest weakness of the Umbrella Movement despite its impressive numbers was the lack of a clear leadership and programme. This includes the need to spread the struggle to China. That idea was especially rejected by localist groups, who have become a shocking example of what it means to lack strategy.

No democratic change can be won in Hong Kong unless it also turns into a struggle for the overthrow of the CCP regime and the capitalist system, which increasingly needs undemocratic measures to maximise its super-profits.

The most important weapon in the fight for real democracy therefore is a new working class party with socialist policies. The role of organised workers as the main social force for winning democratic rights has been shown throughout history from South Korea to South Africa. By linking this struggle with the need for real jobs, decent wages, and radical action to solve the housing crisis, and financing this through taking the big companies and banks into democratic public ownership, a fighting democracy movement in Hong Kong would echo across China and the region, developing an unstoppable attraction.