Our so-called leaders have rejected ideas of the past, not nativists

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 4:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 5:05pm

Sometimes a professor writes an article so remarkable that one can only gape in incredulity.

Richard Wong makes the parallel with the arc of German history from the horrors of the Thirty Years War, through Germany’s creation out of different nation states to the nationalist philosophies developed in the early 1900s, and suggests it helps us understand the localist or nativist movement in Hong Kong.

The momentum of his narrative takes us into the 1930s and the authoritarian-populist madness of Nazism.

He suggests that the social deprivation of many nativists and their susceptibility to political influence is responsible for their opinions.

He says, “The rejection of all dominant ideas of the past, including those held by mainstream democrats, and paying lip service to democratic values, is the third factor shaping the rising influence of radical nativism.” Absolutely not.

The ideas of the past are not rejected, even in Tin Shui Wai or Mong Kok, for they implied fairness and opportunity. What is rejected is the distortion of these ideas and their hijacking by vested political and economic interests, who exploit them for their own benefit.

Actually, the educated middle class also rejects this hijacking and distortion.

It does so whether it be of words in the Basic Law, or the beguiling “one country, two systems”, or the seductive words “broadly representative” or those of Article 22, or the promising-sounding “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy”, or indeed the assumption that mainland agents would not kidnap Hong Kong citizens, or that a selection committee allowing us a “democratic” vote could pre-select candidates to exclude the pro-democracy ones.

It is not the nativists who have rejected the ideas of the past, but our so-called leaders.

The educated middle class can only agree, on this point, with the nativists, despite the nativists being (according to Professor Wong’s narrative) a bunch of total losers situated in the fringe societies of Hong Kong.

Paul Serfaty, Mid-Levels