| Antony Dapiran: The Hong Kong Way protest shows enchantment is a powerful weapon Posted: 27 Aug 2019 08:30 AM PDT by Dilip Simeon. |
The feeling of “enchantment”, according to political theorist Jane Bennett of Johns Hopkins University, is something that stops you in your tracks, leaving you transfixed and spellbound – a suspension of time and movement. Places or moments of enchantment can inspire a sense of wonder or awe, even fill us with overwhelming feelings of generosity and love for the world. But enchantment can also serve a political purpose.
It almost felt like magic. A few people standing on the street were joined by a few more; people lining the footpath of one block connected to those on the next block. And suddenly, there they all were. Hand in hand, chanting slogans and singing songs. On 23 August, the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way – a human chain linking the capitals of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to demand the Baltic republics’ independence from the Soviet Union – more than 200,000 people came out on to the streets of Hong Kong to form the “Hong Kong Way”. From the crowded streets of Wan Chai on Hong Kong island, to the famous waterfront of Tsim Sha Tsui, to the suburbs of the New Territories, to the peak of Lion Rock, people linked hands in a continuous human chain that some said measured 60km in total. This was just the latest action in Hong Kong’s ongoing anti-government protest movement calling for democratic reforms. As a protest action, it was incredibly effective: entirely peaceful, a striking visual spectacle, and a very physical manifestation of the broad support for the movement from across the community. People of all ages and from all walks of life, families with young children, the elderly – all joined the chain and put paid to any suggestion that these ongoing protests were just a few hot-headed young student agitators. But perhaps most importantly, the Hong Kong Way created a moment of enchantment. It was a sharp contrast to the scenes of the weekend that followed: violent clashes between protesters and police on two consecutive days, which culminated in police deploying water cannon for the first time on Hong Kong’s streets and one officer firing a warning shot from his service revolver to fend off an angry mob police said threatened their lives. As the city continues to reel from months of protests, moments of enchantment such as Friday night’s Hong Kong Way offer a reprieve from the escalating cycle of violence and rays of hope for the protest movement… read more: