Commemorating the Return, Commemorating Lu Xun

(InMediaHK)  Commemorating the Return, Commemorating Lu Xun.  By "Off-the-track Scholar" (壞軌書生).  June 27, 2007.

This is the tenth anniversary of the Return of Hong Kong to China .  But what should we commemorate?

We are not commemorating the departure of the British from Hong Kong and the setting of the sun for the British Empire; we are not commemorating the disappearance of this Asian metropolis that was built under the Union Jack and the transformation of the advanced Hong Kong into the backwards Hong Kong; and we are not remembering the anxiety before the Return ten years ago which turned out to be a “self-induced fear” …

What is truly worthy of commemoration is the end of the British colonial system.  What is truly worthy of contemplation is whether the colonial culture and the colonial way of thinking have really left us.

But do the people of Hong Kong really understand what colonialism is?  Have they done any critical thinking about what colonialism is?

Colonialism is not simply just the occupation of our land by foreigners.  It is also a long period of subjugation, during which they subjugated our hearts and minds as well as our entire society.  They created compliant citizens and slaves in our society.  Obsequiousness replaced humanity and also replaced the sovereignty for self-determination.

As Mister Lu Xun (魯迅) said: “Colonial policies are bound to raise and protect their lackeys.  From the viewpoint of imperialism, they need productive slaves and effective lackeys to carry out their missions in the colonies.  On one hand, they count on the violent power of imperialism.  On the other hand, they use the traditional power of their own countries to eradicate the ‘bad influences’ and the restless ‘bad people.’  Therefore, these lackeys are the pet favorites of the foreigners in the colonies – no, they should be called pet dogs because while they rank lower than their masters, they always rank higher than the ruled ones.”

They rank lower than their masters, but always rank higher that the ruled ones – isn’t this the most biting description of the lackeys and flunkeys who curry for favor in return for power from the colonizers?  Although these people are not Europeans, they still like to bully people by flaunting their powerful connections while telling lies and making misrepresentations.  Are there more or fewer of these colonial lackeys in Hong Kong after the Return?  Have they turned over a new leaf and reformed themselves?  Or have they gotten even worse and continue to run amuck?

Those who identify with and obey the despots are just like slaves.  Through barbaric exploitation, the imperialists enslaved the people in backwards areas.  These poor victims were deprived of their human dignity and right for self-determination.  Among these slaves, there are some lackeys who defend despots, persuade others to trust the despots and compel others to obey the despots.  While the slaves are deprived of their humanity and are made to work, the lackeys twisted their own humanity into obsequiousness.

In a society that has just been de-colonized, obsequiousness will not disappear immediately afterwards.  Obsequiousness will hide within society and take revenge on behalf of the imperialists under different guises.  Therefore, the degree to which a former colony has waken up from colonialism depends on the number of people who are still under the sway of obsequiousness.

Earlier in 1937, one year after the death of Lu Xun, Ma Zedong delivered the speech <On Lu Xun> at the Shaanbei Public School .  He pointed out: “Lu Xu emerged from the collapsing feudal society, but he launched his attack back at the corrupt society that he had lived in and also at the evil forces of imperialism … the first characteristic of Mr. Lu Xun was his political vision.”

The political vision of Mr. Lu Xun was based upon his profound understanding of colonial culture.  He recognized that the evil forces of imperialism do not consist solely of the imperialists themselves, but they also include the lackeys for the imperialism and the residual elements which serve the colonial administration.  If they were obsequious once, they will remain obsequious forever.  Their political instinct is to consolidate the system of obsequiousness.  Therefore, although the era of Mr. Lu Xun was known as the “Republican era,” the people did not have the “civil right” to be their own masters and their society was still filled with obsequiousness.  His political foresight was to perceive the presence of the culture of colonial obsequiousness underneath the sign of “the Republic” and this culture had not vanished just because “the Republic” had arrived.  

In 1940, Mao Zedong pointed out in the essay <On New Democracy>: “Lu Xun is the commanding general of the Chinese cultural revolution.  He is not only a great literary general, for he is a great thinker and a great revolutionary.  Lu Xun is unyielding.  He has no hint of slavishness and obsequiousness.  This is the most valuable character for people living in the colonies and semi-colonies … the direction of Lu Xun is the direction of the new culture for the Chinese people.”

Slavishness and obsequiousness have been deeply etched onto the Chinese people under imperialism.  Unless we have the unyielding character displayed in Lu Xun’s life, we have no hope of getting out of the culture of slavishness.  Hong Kong is one of the pieces of Chinese territory that was held by the colonialists for the longest time, and the colonial culture is deeply ingrained there.  Slavishness and obsequiousness can be seen everywhere.  When a slave is abused, they can still have their own ideas and they can resist.  But the lackeys will engage instead in flattery and pandering, whether it is under the portrait of the Queen of England or the Five Star Flag.

Ten years after the Return, everybody can see that those who stand up to defend the servile culture of colonialism and oppose the reform of the colonial system are the remnants of the lackeys and slaves of the colonialists.  Those who advocate the reform of the system in order to have more power for the people and to open up more space for freedom must have the political vision to criticize the hidden slavish mentality within Hong Kong society.  They are the ones who possess “the most valuable character of the people in colonies and semi-colonies.”  Only these kinds of unyielding people can bring Hong Kong out of the colonial trap.  Only then will the last shame of colonization for the Chinese people be truly eradicated.

Ten years after the Return, we commemorate Lu Xun.  We continue with Mr. Lu Xun’s profound thinking about the evils of colonialism and let the next generation of our Hong Kong truly step out of the culture of obsequiousness under colonialism.