“Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio.”
Let’s say it’s 1997 and you get asked to help with an effort to destabilize the People’s Republic of China and perhaps — even if it takes a decade or two — embroil its leaders in another potential Tiananmen Square-style showdown in Hong Kong.
The first thing you might do is have the U.S. State Department call upon the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) to conduct “a series of missions to Hong Kong to consider the development of Hong Kong’s election framework, the status of autonomy, rule of law and civil liberties, and the prospects for and challenges to democratization” between 1997 and 2011.
Other NED/NDI steps might include a “six-month young political leaders program focused on training a group of rising party and political group members in political communications skills” in 2005 and a “women’s political participation program” to “enhance women’s participation in policy-making, encourage increased participation in politics and ensure that women’s issues are taken into account in the policy-making process” in 2007.
Of course, you’ll also have to recruit and train “movement leaders” like Martin Lee, put proper funding into place, make certain media sources are primed to talk about things like “the will of the people” (even though only 42 percent of Hong Kong voters support that “will”).
I could go on (and Tony Cartalucci certainly does here in this must-read, must-share piece) but you probably get the idea. The trick is make it all look very spontaneous and bottom-up.
What you couldn’t have known back in 1997 was how words like “occupy” and “social media” would play a major role in streamlining and marketing your insidious agenda. No more relying solely upon compliant TV and print journalists [sic]. All you need now is a pithy hook and the iPhone addicts will do your work for you.
This is not say that none of the protestors are sincere or have valid reasons to hit the streets but here’s how the “left” media is explaining all this: “Protesters are united around one central issue: They want to be able to choose their top leader, the chief executive, without interference from China.”
Taken at face value, this motivation is hardly revolutionary so how can we additionally get global support from those who seek more than reforms? Easy… call it “Occupy Central” and you’ll have Twitter ablaze, Facebook pages gobbling up traffic, solidarity rallies in cities across the globe, and innumerable declarations of the inevitable Occupy rebirth.
Give the proceedings a color (yellow) and a symbol (umbrella) and Instagram will do the rest!
Fringe benefits, of course, are always welcome (and meticulously planned in advance). So, with the United States launching drones at an ever-growing number of “enemies” and its streets becoming militarized zones as dissent is crushed at every turn, how convenient is it for the Obama to have a chance to get on his democratic high horse?
On Sept. 29, 2014, White House spokesman Josh Earnest declared: “The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people”AND “We believe that the basic legitimacy of the chief executive in Hong Kong will be greatly enhanced if the Basic Law’s ultimate aim of selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage is fulfilled” AND “We have consistently made our position known to Beijing, and will continue to do so.”
Earnest also criticized efforts by the Chinese government to stop demonstrators and others from reporting news about the protests. Indeed, we freedom-lovers can’t let those primitive commies get away with censorship and repression, can we?
After nearly two decades of scheming that would make Machiavelli swoon, China is squirming under the 24/7 spotlight while the United States is basking in the manufactured glow. As far as anyone can tell, the Home of the Brave™ stands firmly on the side of Occupy, free speech, and elections without outside interference.
When facing such a machine, what can open-minded, globally-focused activists do? Yes, we must do our best to express solidarity with other movements, but it’s crucial we recognize there’s much more to activism than holding an umbrella:
*Learn some history. Learn how and why many such “uprisings” occur. A good place to start your self-education is William Blum’s Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.
*Always aim a skeptical eye at anything you hear from the corporate media, which are as liberal or conservative as the industries that own them.
*Put in the hard daily work of creating authentic connections within your own community. The intersectionality, solidarity, and trust we build on a local level is the only chance we have to not become an unwitting pawn in the geo-politics of the 1%.
And while you’re at it, hold on to those umbrellas, because a hard rain is already falling…
Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.