Alex Lo: “Democracy is not a panacea”

I hate how difficult it is for me to find the time and effort to post on this blog (even though it’s the summer!) because of things like summer school and short trips and other thoughts. But I realized that anyhow, it seems the most effective way to find things to write about is to start writing about a topic I want to write about, and somehow somewhat naturally, other topics or more thoughts about the same topic will arise. And so…something I wanted to write about a little while ago when the editorial came out, yet couldn’t find the time to write about:

Alex Lo’s Democracy is not a panacea

(side note: I have not read any of the comments to this editorial.)

Perhaps I differ from Alex Lo in that I would wish to participate in a 7/1 demonstration if given the chance and I sympathize with those who believe that Hong Kong “deserves” democracy. But having lived in the U.S. for all my life, I cannot help but find validity in his words:

Yes, fight for democracy because it embodies human values worth fighting for. But it is not a panacea and may even cause more trouble.

Without a doubt, democracy is a cause worth fighting for. I admire those who try to play a part in turning Hong Kong towards democracy by participating in protests or movements consistently or occasionally or even just as a one-time thing. But it has to be made clear that democracy is not a panacea. It is not a magical cure-all to all of one’s woes, just as communism didn’t cure or fix or amend all of the struggles of the proletariat.

I feel that Hong Kong currently stands in an elusive place between freedom and democracy, and (semi-)oppression and restriction so that democracy seems like the magical cure-all. But democracy isn’t a panacea. Americans who have known one person, one vote democracy¬† all their life believe they don’t have full democracy or freedom, and complain just as much as Hongkongers at times. They continue to experience poverty, wealth inequality, manipulative politics, and the personal struggles that some Hongkongers believe can be solved with one person, one vote policies.

I didn’t think much of politics or the wondrous joys of democracy until after I learned about Hong Kong and the democracy movements there. The voting rate is low in the U.S.; voting doesn’t seem like something all-so-significant that we must do in electing a leader. It doesn’t seem like such an empowering vehicle through which individuals can make life-saving and beneficial change. It’s just there. Many times, we Americans just ask, what does one vote out of so many million really do? We may talk about democracy and how so-and-so country or region’s people are justified in their fight for democracy, but we don’t think of democracy as a privilege; it’s the default.

Yet even so, I want to believe–or at least hope–that Hong Kong will be different. There are only seven million in Hong Kong (and less eligible voters due to harsh immigration laws against non-ethnic Chinese residents and the existence of an underage population). I feel that that alone makes it significantly easier to implement change, as it seems that as of now, Hongkongers want democracy for just local Hong Kong politics. But will Hongkongers’ drive remain as strong and stubborn as protestors’ recent cries and persistence? Will Hongkongers really care about democracy and believe that their individual votes count? At times believing in the strength of one vote seems foolish, but at the same time, it’s admirable in its optimism despite its foolishness.

Hong Kong people already exercise their freedom of speech more than Americans, but would they too do the same with democracy?