【反國教特刊】❹ Breaking With Narcissus: A Contribution to the Discussion on the National Education Occupation

by Nin Chan

To be honest, I can’t get down with any of this. For me, and I must admit that I only went down to the ‘occupation’ three times (the first time as a mere spectator, the second as somebody desperately trying to intervene, the third when the space was already in the process of being cleared out), but I think it was a total non-event, a media spectacle.

To make matters worse, I saw all of the rottenness of the world outside the government HQ reproduced itself inside the space. When some of us occupy central(OC) folks interfered with Scholarism’s attempts to tear down the ‘citizens wall’ of orange and green pennants, a 15-year old kid snapped back at us for asking that he leave them there for everybody to see, saying ‘who started this movement? who is responsible for getting everybody here?’, as though these strips of cloth, which represented the aspirations and wishes of folks who had been there for the last ten days, were the exclusive property of this thoroughly idiotic organization. I saw bureaucracy and the arrogance that it entails, passivity, political duplicity, the jockeying for power between petty and self-important idiots.

Just imagine- immediately after the stage announced that the occupation was over, a rumor started spreading that some saboteurs hired by the government were attempting to push everybody into staying behind to commit illegal and extremist actions; then somebody spread a rumor that OC folks were around, trying to hijack the movement and use it for our own agenda (whatever the fuck that is), all because some OC, 101 and wooferten folks decided to take matters into their own hands to gather people in the carpark after the order was given to disperse. You try to organize spontaneous discussion groups so people can collectively decide how to continue, and you get accused of trying to ‘sabotage’, ‘manipulate’ and ‘monopolize’ the ‘movement’.

By the way, is it really a ‘movement’ when everybody sits there spellbound and stupefied by televised transmission? Is it a ‘movement’ when bodies are treated as an opaque and inert mass, to be roused into flights of indignation, admiration, laughter or whatnot as required, as though they were an audience in a live sitcom or game show? Is it a ‘movement’ when there is no self-activity beyond all the nonsense about people volunteering to clean the toilets and making way for ambulances, something that is surely laudable to a certain point, but certainly not worth elevating to being some example of hong kong’s invincible civic spirit?

I think it is seriously time to STOP all of this encouraging and blithely optimistic garbage about how ‘the struggle continues’, ‘we will continue to fight’, ‘we are already winning’, and all of this nonsense, and start to see that there is something SERIOUSLY, SERIOUSLY wrong with the political culture in this city. And that this culture, when it reproduces itself, renders any sort of ‘movement’, any sort of autonomous activity impossible from the very start.

That is, you CAN’T talk about social transformation and social change all the time while reproducing the same relationships that keep everybody in their places, maintaining this awful society. Change is not a variation of the same; it is a break from the customary and the known, and we have to do what we can to precipitate that break and open up a space for the possible, rather than aiding in its foreclosure and evasion.

You have thousands of singular intelligences on the streets, and you don’t stimulate them? You don’t challenge them? You don’t provoke them? You want to have them form a unanimous chorus, chanting vapid, mind-numbing mantras?

We need to stop being fucking cheerleaders for the powers-that-be and those who manage to get to the negotiating table with them. We need to stop being captivated by spectacular personalities, clapping for them, relinquishing our own capacity to think and act to them.

We also need to stop applauding ourselves and believing in the fucking hype that the media and the stage have been feeding us, to keep everybody happy about the fact that they have been reduced to being a simple statistic (the 120,000 bodies that simply filled space on the streets, just as these bodies simply filled space in the government HQ without there being any power formed and shared between them).

In what way did the occupation make any sort of breach in the tedium that we live every day? Did it break with the space-time of the state and the market, wrestling territory from power and imposing a different regimentation of time than that of capital or- the space being surrendered to the police when they demanded its return and the time which it will require for national education to be scrapped being synchronized to the timetables of bureaucrats- did it remain within its confines? Instead of being inspirited by what I saw, I was horrified. What I saw was nothing less than the state and its acolytes. the state is the One that gathers and binds together the innumerable atoms that lay scattered across the social. The stage, in collusion with the media, is the One that gives some semblance of ‘unity’ and ‘togetherness’ to the bodies scattered across the government headquarters, by REPRESENTING IT TO ITSELF, as a ‘nation’, as a ‘people’, or whatever.

Then you had the classic Schmittian moment, the total obscuration of any sophisticated discussion of what ‘brainwashing’ is (in my estimation, anybody who has been born and raised in this barbaric, sexist, racist and idiotic world is brainwashed, and freeing oneself from this conditioning is an arduous and terrifying process) in favor of cheap, populist demonization of the ‘enemy’, the totalitarian monolith, Communist China.

And the ‘independent thought’ that everybody was talking about? Did any thinking take place? Did an event transpire between bodies that were formerly polarized, pulling them together and putting affects and thoughts in circulation between them?

No! What i saw was a systematic effort to stifle any sort of independent thought and activity. Nothing but moronic self-congratulation and complacency. ‘Hong Kong is a free place where we can think and speak freely, we need to protect that!’ ‘We should be proud of ourselves! This occupation is what hong kong is really about! (a really astute observation, but not in the way that the organizers of this event think)’ ‘We should all be proud of ourselves, we should be proud of hong kong people!’ ‘This movement belongs to everyone!’ What is the point of all of this dishonest drivel? does anybody really believe in it? For Scholarism and their friends to utter such crap is either naive or downright cynical. It also blocks ANY sort of self-examination among the people who are there, for them to believe wholeheartedly that they are moral, conscionable, good and just people, fighting the good cause against an evil, ideological, brainwashing regime. Which is what opened the way for all the violence, potential or actual, directed against anybody who would question the climate that Scholarism and their friends have cultivated.

Actually, they have created NOTHING. They have simply tapped into a culture of passivity, resignation, ignorance and fear that existed before them. All they needed to do was to perpetuate the repetition of the same, and the morality that underscores it. They have found their place among the technicians of CONSENSUAL REALITY, the permanent conspiracy against intelligence, and have a vested interest in maintaining it.

I’m sorry to say this, but if you have said or written anything justifying the fundamental attitude that Scholarism and their friends have taken towards this sad debacle, then chances are that you are most likely a firm believer in the sort of ‘political pragmatism’ that privileges the most duplicitous and the most demagogical- politicians, social movement celebrities, technocrats, intellectuals/professional commentators, wannabe leaders of all kinds, the sort who talks about ‘the movement’ as though it was their property. In which case we have absolutely nothing to talk about. You either support the blackmail or you don’t, there is no negotiation between the two.

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