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November 13, 2019 / Congau

The Lost Cause of Hong Kong

Idealists are habitually laughed at. The poor fellows are well-meaning, of course, good-hearted many of them are too, but they are so utterly devoid of realism. They are sorry knights fighting windmills and some of them even sacrifice their life in the process – all in vain.

They might have noble ideas, you admit, but Utopia can never be realized. So in the end, when they bite the dust and their work is in shambles, you shrug your shoulder and say: I told you so.

Why would we feel any different about the idealists of Hong Kong? Their struggle is as hopeless as a struggle can be. There is no way China will allow the civil unrest to go on. It will soon be crushed and then Beijing will take a tighter grip on the city than it ever had before. This scenario is so overwhelmingly likely that it makes the demonstrators look as much as Utopian dreamers as anyone there ever was. Then why don’t they get the laugh?

Because they want a society like the ones we have in the West; they want to be like us, so of course we support them. We are watching their suicidal fight and approve of it. No one is telling them to stop in the name of realism. When their ideals are our ideals, we are content to see them engaged in a lost struggle and destroy themselves for the sake of sheer principles.

It’s a thoroughly unethical combat on both sides. Sure, Beijing is being oppressive, but nothing else can be expected from that corner. The demonstrators are not forced to act like they do, they are taking a risk that is completely disproportionate to any likely outcome. Sometimes we have to take risks, but then there should be a reasonable chance of winning. If the effect of an action is fully predictable, the actor is to be blamed, regardless of motives.

Don’t cheer the doomed gladiators.

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