“You say you want a revolution…”

That was actually a conservative Beatles song of course, and these days the conservatism is popping up in the American lack of enthusiasm for the Hong Kong protestors.  That is the focus of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

Since the protests in Hong Kong started two months ago, I have been struck by the coolness of the American response. I am referring not just to President Donald Trump, who has reiterated that the dispute is an internal Chinese matter. Both the social media I sample and the people I know have been fairly quiescent. I haven’t seen that much cheering and rooting for the protesters, nor have the major Democratic presidential candidates made a show of stressing their dissent from Trump on this issue [there is one Elizabeth Warren tweet]…

The relative indifference may be especially hard to explain when it comes to Americans. After all, the U.S. owes its existence to a rebellion against the British Empire, and against especially long odds. America probably would not have won independence without direct French assistance, while Spain and other nations helped to distract the British on the broader global stage.

Remember the enthusiasm we used to have for the Soviet dissidents, or for Solidarity, also movements facing apparently long odds?  In sum:

…Americans are preoccupied with fighting each other over political correctness, gun violence, Trump and the Democratic candidates for president. To be sure, those issues deserve plenty of attention. But they are soaking up far too much emotional energy, distracting attention from the all-important struggles for liberty around the world.

It’s 2019, and the land of the American Revolution, a country whose presidents gave stirring speeches about liberty and freedom in Berlin during the Cold War, remains in a complacent slumber. It really is time to Make America Great Again — if only we could remember what that means.

There is more at the link, including a discussion of recent demonstrations in Russia as well.


Here's a nice letter from Karl Marx to Abraham Lincoln. Notice that a Marxist (the inventor no less) is actually congratulating the (re)election of Republican president. Contrast that with the political button-pushing on Twitter today.

"We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. ........ The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world."

But then again they are both social justice warriors, aren't they?


Marx was a practically certifiable Romantic, operating in the tragic mode:

“‘Capital’ is, indeed, a ‘romance plot.’”

“There emerges in ‘Capital’ a vision of a class divided society as two great class-selves at war — the infinitely greedy, despotic, exploiting, vicious werewolf-self of capital (Kapitalseele) on the one hand, and the exploited, enslaved, tormented, rebellious productive self of labour on the other.”

lol. Like an alternate universe where Marxists and the GOP team up to battle Thanos.

This David Frum quote is a little overwrought, but on-topic for Marx and American presidents and Chinese trade:

"Trump's business model was predatory: get rich by deceiving customers, cheating suppliers. His model of the world economy is also predatory: trade is bad, there must be a loser for every winner. You might say Trump was our first Marxist president. And Marxism is now failing again"

For what it's worth, I think Trump's comments on China are fine. They are strangely powerless, but fine. We should hope that things work out, for the Chinese, that no one gets hurt, and for freedom.

But there certainly was an opportunity to work these things into our trade arguments. A missed opportunity.

There is no easy solution to China's oppression of it's people. Would you go to war against China? Hong Kong's fate was decided about 25 years ago when Britain walked away. What we are seeing today is the inevitable result of that decision. What Hong Kong should have done 25 years ago was to require that every able bodied citizen over the age of 18 MUST own a suitable rifle and be qualified to use it.

Your hypothetical is the underpants gnomes theory of independence.

Step 1: Hong Kong musters its armed militia

Step 2: China shuts down both power and water to Hong Kong, since these come from the mainland. 8 million people have no power and no potable water.

Step 3: ??

Step 4: profits !!

Correct. I award 5 internet points.

So basically the same exact position they are in now except they are less able to protect themselves should the tanks roll in.

Honestly what is your point- HK is in an almost indefensible location- by that logic these protestors are being idiotic themselves. Quietism is fine I guess- although you are super squwaky- but your little pout is an argument for HK to shut up and accept anything.

It's either accept the reality, that they are part of China, or be killed. Was it ever going to be anything else?

That’s quite a leap.

They’ve been protesting for ten weeks, the power is still on and the water still flows. The extradition bill has been shelved, at least temporarily.

That would not be the case if they were engaging in armed rebellion.

Think on the margin. We don’t live in a binary world.

I take it all back. You have all convinced me. People should never try to defend themselves or their freedoms and rights. Roll over and enjoy it, right!

Hilarious when MR has a gun control post and the fanatics clutch their pearls saying they need their guns to protect against tyranny. Now when tyranny shows its ugly face, they all cower before China. Does America turn off its brain when it comes to eh East? There's China-sized blindspots in how we approach trade, geopolitics, and democracy when it comes to these guys.

Thank you! You show great misunderstanding of the issue. the 2nd amendment has zippo to do with Hong Kong or China. It is about the ability of individuals within the U.S. to protect themselves and their freedoms. It is NOT about us fighting Hong Kong's battles.

As for trade, which you conflated so well, we as a nation will benefit if we end trade with China. I would favor a complete end to any trade with China direct and indirect.

This started with HK protest then it went to Karl Marx and Abraham Lincolm. I have a hard time understanding where this discussion is going. Here is what I will say though,.I 100 % support the HK protesters and their fight for freedom, human rights and Democracy. J am 100% against the evil Communist Party and therefore strongly believe Communism used for evil.

Or, 25 years ago all Hong Kong residents could have been given British Commonwealth passports. No bloodshed, a wider distribution of Cantonese food.

I think a fair number of visas were given, but not enough.

Agree. Running away from your problems is always the best way to deal with them.

If you're not there, are they really your problems?

No, that just makes you someone else's problem. It's the r-strategists' way.

Comparing Hong Kongers to mice.

Swinging for the fences on the racist troll bit? Or is it just anonymous replying to himself over and over again ....but with others’ handles?

Inquiring minds.

I have no idea what you think you are responding to, but I certainly think a true globalist would embrace the idea of people immigrating and self-sorting into compatible cultures.

If citizens of Hong Kong were "too free" for reintegration into communist China, beating feet was the best answer.

As we are seeing, the idea that a few of them could instead reshape the whole of China was woefully optimistic.

To be clear, it's all leftists who are mice, not just leftist Hongkongers, and certainly not all Hongkongers in general, as the protests clearly show.

Do you have any ancestors who self-sorted their problems away and immigrated to America?

My ancestors left reasonably comfortable lives in the British Isles to forge a civilization out of wilderness. They actively pursued adventure; they didn't arrive to a fully functional society and they certainly didn't come for the government benefits (even though descendants of those who arrived to a fully functional society claim it's un-American to expect people to be able to support themselves).

I know some who went to Canada because they had trouble getting into USA. Didn't know they could just walk across Sothern border

I'm not sure if this is legit, or just a rumor at this point:

"Trump aides have been careful speaking about Hong Kong because of a 6/18 phone call between Trump and Xi when Trump made an ad hoc commitment to Xi that he would not condemn the Chinese government over a crackdown in Hong Kong"

That would certainly play into the authoritarian-friendly storyline.

Oh and Wilbur Ross on @cnbc says the #HongKongProtests are an "internal matter." He adds, "I don't know that we would have done anything differently in the past. What are we going to do, invade Hong Kong?"

Say "both sides" twice, call me in the morning.


“tariffs against China are a Trumpian abomination and a crime against the American consumer! Eliminate the tariffs!”

Also anonymous:

“Trump isn’t being tough enough against China!! We’re letting them get away with anything!!”

Choose one. Reals over feels please.

And cite actions, not tweets. We’re not 12 years old. Your obsession with twitter and cable news talking heads aside, that’s now how the real world works.

That's the problem with not understanding and strawmanning everything you see.

You end up with nothing but strawmen.

Yes, curiously you refrain from any position

You’re a cipher. An obvious foreign actor or moron susceptible to foreign action.

Easy prediction: “anonymous” is a foreigner, and will never give any identifying data. His IP address is from Turkmenistan, so take from that what you will.

Why do you post from Turkmenistan? How are you connected to the Russian government?

Why is an English speaking Turkman poster obsessed with an economics blog ?

1. The President of the United States says a thing.

2. The Secretary of Commerce says a thing.

3. An "anonymous" comment on a middle rank blog says a thing.

Where should we focus our attention? Another anonymous comment, this time from "Hmmm" on the forementioned blog, suggests the correct choice is 3.

We the collective think that is silly. The correct choice is 1, supported by 2, and 3 is just a helpful link in the right direction.

A foreign IP address, from Russia centered geographical areas.

You’re not American, obviously.

And your only point is anti-American.

Step 1: Impeach Trump
Step 2: Impeach Xi
Step 3: Let out a deep sigh of relief

That "conservatism" seems to have been the right choice given the turn the protests have inevitably taken: https://twitter.com/thespandrell/status/1161396428310241280

wow do you want to buy a bridge connecting Manhattan to New Jersey?

'I have been struck by the coolness of the American response'

Why yes, if it wasn't for here, who would ever have guessed there were protests going on in Hong Kong? Thankfully, the major focus on such actions at this web site has really been notable.

Sorry, there don't seem to be any actual links showing that attention since June, but this is the MR comments section, where assertions are even better than facts.

But fair is fair. Here is a quote from the last MR highlighted Bloomberg column - 'Thus is revealed a deeper lesson still: Freedom is not merely the ability to buy and sell goods at minimum regulation and a low tax rate, variables that are readily picked up by economic freedom indices. Freedom is also about the narratives people live by and the kind of future they imagine for themselves. Both of these are greatly affected by the legitimacy and durability of their political institutions.

The partial blindness to these truths, from many American conservatives and libertarians, started in Hong Kong and has since evolved into an acceptance of Donald Trump’s presidency. When it comes to regulation and tax rates, many conservatives think that Trump is actually OK, or maybe even pretty good. They might be correct about those two issues, but they are missing the more corrosive aspects of his administration — just as the freedom indices are missing the decline of liberty in Hong Kong.' https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-06-12/hong-kong-protests-show-the-limits-of-economic-freedom?utm_medium=social&cmpid%3D=socialflow-twitter-view&utm_content=view&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=socialflow-organicy

Of course, this quote from that earlier Bloomberg column - 'But right now, I would bet on the Chinese Communist Party over the protesters. That too is a statement about liberty in the modern world.' stands in fascinating contrast to today's 'Remember the enthusiasm we used to have for the Soviet dissidents, or for Solidarity, also movements facing apparently long odds?'

" I would bet on the Chinese Communist Party over the protesters. "
Is that bet still on, Tyler?

'Is that bet still on, Tyler?'

Does he still have books to sell? 'Go back to the banned status of Bloomberg View in China, which is also a ban on some of my writings. (My educational videos are also blocked because they are on YouTube.) Does that mean I should stop having my books translated into Chinese, or that I should refuse to speak at Chinese universities, on the grounds that they do not present all of my written product? No, hardly anyone behaves that way, nor should they. I prefer to try to communicate with the Chinese -- including listening to and learning from them -- as much as I plausibly can.' https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2017-08-02/don-t-be-too-hard-on-apple-for-bending-to-china

Basically, Prof. Cowen will bet on whatever excuse sounds plausible enough to justify whatever action it is he takes. Which is precisely what a public choice economist would predict, of course.

Though one can wonder if this is still fully relevant - 'Some Western authors who write books on sensitive topics of Chinese politics don’t want their work translated in mainland China because they know it will be altered. (Taiwan and Hong Kong may be options.)'

That "partial blindness" bit is pretty good. But Americans might actually be tiring of the man strutting around in no clothes.

I fully support the freedom fighters in Hong Kong. It seems the demoncats are sick with TDS and are tripping over each other while pandering to all the fake victims of the white patriarchy. They have gone utterly mad - the fake Mexican - the Beto the rich Irish dude - making campaign trips to Mexico while Pocahontas invents her own Ferguson fairy tale.

Good luck to the people of Hong Kong. I don't know what we can do support them.

Poe's Law violation. I deduct 5 internet points.

And you eat those little turdlets.

Your wife does. Doggy style on all fours. Ask me how I know.

Perhaps American "indifference" is really the full weight of the inevitability of the state.

I fully support the freedom fighters in Hong Kong.

I don't know what we can do support them.

What can we do?
I really don't know.

We "liberate" them, of course! You think Hong Kong is willing to renounce the petrodollar?

I don't know, either, EdR. But I can't support them if I don't know what I can do.

Maybe our lack of enthusiasm is because we remember what happened to the last set of mass protests, in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Yesterday a radio news reporter speculated that the protestors would vacate the airport after that first day of heavy protests, to prevent having a concentrated location where the Chinese authorities could effect mass arrests. That seems like a good idea to me, keep them guessing and not knowing where the next mass protest will be. But instead the protestors returned to the airport the next day.

I was all in favour until they shut down the airport. That's a jerk move.

CCP will only take so much guff from them...they are playing with fire

If the tanks roll in they're staying and Hong Kong's autonomy is finished

The world will make a big stink like they did after Tianamen but do nothing

Shutting down major infrastructure is stupid

A "jerk move"? God, this is such a jerk statement, "TBS," You are utterlyputrid. I suppose you support the slaughter in Tiananmen Square too,, right? What, were you about to fly to Hong Kong and are annoyed at being inconvenienced by these mere "protestors." Vomit all over you.

The Airport Authority closed the airport. There is some question whether they had to close because the protesters were causing too much disruption or whether they acceded to the Chinese government's order to shut it down--which then provided support for the government's narrative that the protesters were causing "chaos".


The revolution is already devouring itself.

Disappearing people into concentration camps is the real jerk move.

With our new modernized sub based fuse nuclear weapons we can probably succeed in a nuclear first strike on China. Is that what you want Tyler?

If we were going to intervene it should have been in 1991.

What a silly straw man response.

Tyler does not argue for intervention, only that we should care more and pay more attention.

If we did want to intervene, there are options in between doing nothing and nuclear war. At a minimum, the president could clearly state support for Hong Kong's freedoms and opposition to efforts to repress the protests, as well as indicate that this may have an impact on trade negotiations--instead of helping Beijing out by saying it's none of our business.

I was once accused of breaking Poe's Law. I had never heard of Poe's Law at that time (in fact, I just googled) . So, did Jonathon Swift break Poe's Law? Can you accuse someone of breaking Poe's Law, even though they are totally serious?
I still break Poe's Law from time to time, mostly through force of habit. Ignorance of the Law is no defense (although I have read that intent is necessary for conviction) but there are so many darned laws nowadays.
Moreover, why discriminate against parody? Why not simply condemn unacceptable and inappropriate statements without trying to read minds (i.e., whatever the author's or author-bot's intent was)?
Indeed, it is difficult (for me) to tell at times whether Tyler/Alex is deliberating breaking the Law.
I must add, referring to an Internet Law while assuming that any random reader knows what it is must be some sort of unacceptable Internet misstep in itself, such as saying something that has already been said somewhere, or not googling. In any event, I now know what Poe's Law is so thank you for that.

'I had never heard of Poe's Law at that time'

And it appears you still don't actually understand it, though its meaning has expanded a bit over time - 'Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article.'

It is not about 'breaking' that law, it is merely that at the extreme, it becomes impossible to tell whether someone is sincere or not.

This is another Internet law that applies wonderfully to many things posted here. "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no" - Betteridge's law of headlines

Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
So I might as well begin to put some action in my life
--- Breaking the Law
Judas Priest

Trump is useless on this issue because he is too realpolitik. See what he did with Saudi Arabia when it comes to Khashoggi and Bezos. Failure to protect freedom of the press and speech is terrible but failure to protect the richest 0.00001% of the planet is the greater American sin and practically unforgivable. The first Dem to openly support Hong Kong gets my vote but that unfortunately requires somebody there has a backbone.

Or any sort of desire to support a free/open society. I suspect we won;t see that from the Dems especially, but likely not from the Reps either.


Fighting for gender neutral bathrooms takes priority over the global war of ideas between liberalism and illiberalism. What a depressing field of small minded candidates.

The time to establish democracy in Hong Kong was about 100 years ago. It's too late now. Encourage the protesters with false hope so China ends up doing a Tiananmen Square times 100 while the US stands helplessly by? Are you crazy?


Too late now, China owns the territory - who are we to say what they do with it?

China owns the territory, but under the accession agreement with the UK that China will not interfere in Hong Kong's system before 2050. "One China, two systems."

Of course China has regularly ignored that agreement almost from the moment it took effect. As anyone would have expected.

Where's Admiral Nelson when you need him?

I agree, I feel like HK would need to openly declare independence and start a revolution before USA could really step in. But that could start WW3. So Trump is making the right move and staying out of what is really a China domestic issue. I fully support the HK protests, but I think they need more legitimacy, like a vote for HK's independence that passes by more than 2/3rds before anyone could really do anything to aid them.

I doubt anyone would recognize an independence claim. Not even Taiwan. But it would provide China with a pretext to use a heavier hand in HK.

If it were claimed by just protesters, or some fringe, I agree with you, but if they somehow were able to hold free and fair vote, I don't see how the will of the people could be ignored.

It would probably mean stopping China at the border, and holding a vote. But how to stop China at the border...

Trump isn't staying out of this issue, he's making it a condition for the trade deals:

“Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!” Trump said on Twitter.


My sympathetic read here for any possible bashfulness in endorsing Chinese protestors is I don't think anyone wants to encourage Chinese narratives that protests in Hong Kong are a West formented "colour revolution" and get the Hong Kongers squashed like an egg. Autocrats these days claim the hand of the Americans and Europeans is behind any popular democratic movement....

Dissidents concentrated in one region with no real hope of changing the country at large, unfortunately, will get different treatment with those that can tenably speak for the capital or the country. Unless they're able to influence the country, and tearing them off too hard as a Western protectorate would not do that.

This is the kind of cowardice and defeatism that if the American revolutionaries had, we'd be the United States of Canada, commonwealth of the UK. Thank god they weren't cowards.

“we'd be the United States of Canada”

And Anglicans would outnumber Mormons.

The horror...

The American Revolutionaries weren't Trotskyites.

Close, they were Freemasons.

We certainly can’t resort to force/hard power, so the best thing is to take a principled stand: although HK is irrevocably a part of China, it has a distinctive political history and culture — as China has averred in the past — that should be respected.

The best we can do is put diplomatic and soft power pressure on China to not repeat Tiananmen. However it doesn’t hurt for the region indeed the world to see what a truly authoritarian regime looks like.

1. When your counterfactual is "The US would be.... Canada... or Australia!" prepare to be taken ironically, whether intended or not. (Hopefully for your sake, intended).

2. To be cavalier with ones' own life is one thing. To be cavalier with the lives of Hong Kong demonstrators is quite another. To add, and another thing even more so if it is merely to fuel some vicarious and pretentious posturing of being a cool rebel like many-times great grandpappy was.

If only it were easier to blend in like during the Spanish Civil War...

But OP is correct, Chinese state media delight at showing white faces in crowds of protestors. It makes the narrative of foreign intervention / gullible HKers more compelling. Support needs to be subtle as possible. Maybe the US can ferry a few thousand Taiwanese freedom fighters over?

Does the article mention Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, or Syria? Shouldn’t people be cool towards challenges of existing authority given how poorly dismantling an existing authority has gone recently?

woah. Hong Kong is not some middle eastern despotism. The "existing authority" of HK is in its institutions and habits and laws and rights, and the protests are against China's attempt to dismantle all this and impose (step by step) direct rule. Hong Kong is a success and it doesn't want that to change.

The coolness probably has less to do with Hong Kong and more to do with Washington.

Washington can’t help, because Beijing is too powerful and cares too much. The protesters are likely to force Beijing’s hand, although some people in the party might view the situation as being as much of an opportunity as a challenge. Any semblance of self rule in Hong Kong is likely over. I don’t think the CCP will massacre anyone, but I do think that they will arrest as many as necessary to end the protests. Lots of people will likely spend lots of time in re-education camps. It is exactly like those civil wars in Muslim countries in that everyone loses and a great many are harmed.

On the plus side (for some), HK property will become much more affordable, what with the destruction of HK’s economy.

Apathy towards Hong Kong is exactly what all those against American Exceptionalism want: an America that is no more moved to advance the cause of liberty than any other major nation, just one among many indistinguishable developed nations eagerly waiting to lead from behind. Can we really say that the American response has been more muted than that of the British, Germans, French, Canadians, Swiss, Swedes, etc.? That's the standard that all the anti-Exceptionalists say we're supposed to use now.

Is Trump's decision to join Saudi Arabia in Yemen's civil war a shining example of American Exceptionalism? How about the numerous drone strikes in EMEA that he's hiding from the American people?


Drone strikes. Obama was a bigger fan. Yemen is about containing Iran, supporting Israel and Saudis. Containing Iran and stopping it's surrogates from Pakistan to Libya is part of US policy regardless of who is President at this point. Trump inherited it, didn't create it. What Democratic candidate will reverse it?

False. Trump's drone strikes already outpaces Obama. There's a new king of aerial robotic death and he's not black but orange.

"The Trump administration has carried out 176 strikes in Yemen in just two years, compared with 154 there during all eight years of Obama's tenure"


I hate to be a buzzkill, but none of these “drone statistics” are even remotely accurate. From the inside, it’s a hilarious funhouse mirror of numbers.

Regardless, “drone strikes” are a terrible metric. Of course Obama had more since during the surge they were constant.

In Yemen, of course Trump has more. The Houthis took over a large swath of the population, displaced the government, and AQ has filled the vacuum in eastern Yemen.

But we’re not here to discuss eastern Yemen and AQAP presence. You’re not interested in any actual discussion because this is an intentional derailment for tribal purposes. The only thing about eastern Yemen you know is that it might provide an attack against your near outgroup. And although Al-Queda in Arab Peninsula is bad, it ain’t nearly as bad as your Republican neighbor, amirite?!

Tribal away.

Each drone strike creates how many Yemeni refugees? How many should the US take in? A couple hundred thousand? A million? I'm glad Trump has such a bleeding heart for Muslims overseas. My Republican neighbor? I'm looking forward to my Yemeni neighbors!

Yes and Obama refused to take in Syrian Muslims because of his racism. This is getting very old. No wonder Mankiw turned off his comment section.

Anti-Exceptionalism seems more of a program not to "Do Stupid Shit" in defiance of common sense, fairness and rational expectations, justified by a hoodoo belief in US specialness as a culture.

I don't think it is about the idea that the US should not act as if it has the largest economy outside China and the largest military. It's about the idea that doing stupid stuff like invading countries or starting revolutions or shouldering the financial burden of the NATO alliance without complaint or having open borders with the world or unilateral free trade (e.g. obvious bad, stupid ideas) are not justified by the idea that it will somehow "work out" because you have a special American cultural spirit, or that you must do these things because of duty to the "civic ideals of America and freedom".

(Though, yes, I would guess intervening clunkily in Hong Kong would fall into that category of obvious bad ideas.)

This gets at a very important existential question which we are in the process of trying to answer. Do you love America because she's exceptional, or do you love America because you and the other Americans live here?

The notion of America as an incorporeal ideal, and hence borderless and nation-less and therefore justifying intervention all over the globe on behalf of all those Americans-who-just-haven't-gotten-here-yet is not sustainable. It's been tried, many times. Eventually, nationhood reasserts itself.

I seriously get the sense that "Americanism," i.e., democratic egalitarianism, has replaced religious faith for a lot of people.

As I have argued before to prior_approval, "intervention all over the globe on behalf of all those Americans-who-just-haven't-gotten-here-yet" is the natural endpoint of defining citizenship and nationhood through adherence to a shared code of civic values - "civic nationalism" - rather than shared participation in a community through shared language and culture and generations of ancestors.

As is the flipside, believing that those who don't share those same civic values aren't really your fellow citizens.

It's far more stable to use a community and ancestry based definition of the nation that both permits dissent (and really, at the extremes, almost for people to live together who share *no* formal ideas in common, if they share a bedrock of culture) and does not oblige you to become entangled in the affairs of distant people. And really, that's mostly even what flies in the US, among heads that aren't filled with the ideology of the Exceptional America Creed. Though unfortunately those heads, if many number, tend to be little in voice.

'is the natural endpoint of defining citizenship and nationhood through adherence to a shared code of civic values'

Well, sure - after all, the Declaration of Independence was intended to be universal when declaring 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' The idea of the ruled overthrowing unjust rulers is the very basis of the Declaration, after all.

'It's far more stable to use a community and ancestry based definition of the nation'

Yet the example of the United States shows that while such concepts are certainly common in human history, it is the U.S., with its revolutionary founding, that has been able to flourish in a way that shows the advantages of its founding principles.

Right. So we can just mail out a copy of the Declaration and the Constitution to everybody and then they'll flourish too. We could mail them to Beijing!

I would argue much if the US's flourishing has been in spite of those principles, and its unique social divisions and patterns of international intervention are due to those principles (which would probably wreck the country if taken to even further extremes).

To go further to the root against your argument though, note that despite your statement the US constitution also does not actually define what constitutes citizenship, and its founders were careful to include a clause prohibiting foreign born citizens from the highest office. Demonstrates quite a bit of awareness of the kind of community that a nation really must be (one bound by both participation in culture and to a measure at least by birth).

A commitment to basic, god given, human rights was not a statement that any person adhering to their credo was a citizen with all rights of political participation and owed duties by their government, and that born citizens who rejected that credo were not citizens. The US declared independence as a specific people.

Not related to this post but an earlier one about negative rates. From PIMCO:

'One likely factor behind the savings glut and negative interest rates is negative “time preference.” ..... it can be argued that in affluent societies where people can expect to live ever longer and thus spend a significant amount of their lifetimes in retirement ..... they value future consumption during their retirement more than today’s consumption. To transfer purchasing power to the future via saving today, they are thus willing to accept a negative interest rate and bring it about through their saving behavior.'


Hillarious. A simpler explanation is that central planners are manipulating money and interest rates. Not that human nature has suddenly changed and now in contrast to all history prefer to accept less money in the future rather than enjoy more money today.
Most central bankers do freely admit they are interfering with markets. Whereas almost nobody I have met seems eager to give me $100 today with a promise that I will give them back $90 in ten years. Only institutions stuck in the central bank twilight zone.

" It really is time to Make America Great Again — if only we could remember what that means."
To the average American, freedom is a dead concept. It just means the right to consume as many corn dogs as they want until they become so obese they can no longer waddle to the fridge without destroying their hips and knees.

Corn dogs sound really good right now.

Actually, just dog, no corn, would likely sound even better.

And something that both older North and South Koreans would agree on.

The Swiss eat dog too. Rottweilers as a snack? Why not? Put two on the barbie.


From the New Yorker:

"Geremie Barmé, a China scholar from Australia who co-wrote “The Gate of Heavenly Peace,” a groundbreaking documentary about the protests at Tiananmen Square, and the subsequent Beijing Massacre, told me that the escalating clash between the people of Hong Kong and the government reminded him of the days leading up to the 1989 mass killings in Beijing. Coaxing peaceful protesters into engaging in violence is a classic tactic of authoritarian regimes. “Why did Beijing withdraw police from the square during the days of the students’ hunger strike in the spring of 1989?” Barmé asked. “It was to mount a case of untenable social disorder to justify the use of martial law.” He argued that the power struggle in Hong Kong is a microcosm of the global conflict between frustrated youths and sclerotic authoritarians. “The old are consuming the young to maintain their longevity,” he told me. By stonewalling, the government fuels public anger that, in some cases, results in extremism. Then, displaying faux sorrow, the government quells the “riot” and crushes the opposition, citing “public safety.” Yesterday, China’s state media pledged a policy of “zero tolerance” for Hong Kong’s “open and symbolic attack.” Without this policy, the Party-affiliated newspaper Global Times said, “it would be similar to opening a Pandora’s Box.”"

King George said something very similar to Parliament in October,

We didn’t lift a finger for the Hungarians in 1956 or the Czechs in 1968 so I’m not sure what Tyler is talking about with our supposed affinity for Soviet dissidents and movements with long-shot odds. Did we do anything for Tienemen?

And that’s not to say we should. We can’t start WWIII for Hungary. Nor should we provide overt support for the HK protesters which would be seen as very provacative and threatening. I think the best we can do is offer a kind of verbal moral support and offer asylum to protestors who want to leave


Not much to be done. A country with 1.3 bn people in it has tremendous inertia. A future in which China is highly decentralized, private enterprise is the mode, it's political order benevolent and deliberative, and it's people interested in little aside from commodious living is an agreeable one. We aren't there yet, but one hopes we get there 'ere China's political class decides they have to conquer the world.

Democratization? Remember the Arab Spring? The Revolution worked fine for Tunisia while Libya and Syria ended in civil war and more or less the collapse of society. Revolutions are big bets with unpredictable consequences. It's better than the locals make the decision on their own.

Also, what is meant by support? a) a discourse from the US Department of State or presidential address, b) encouraging words for protesters on major US newspapers, c) selling them guns, d) opening the doors to refugees running away from the conflict.

If "support" is opening the door to refugees, Canada has done and is doing a great job at supporting HK protesters.

On the Hong Kong protests Tyler would be pleased that it's a big media event down under in Australia and the politicians generally get behind the Hong Kong protesters


The '87 Reagan speech in Berlin is very much worth watching in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MDFX-dNtsM

I grew up in Finland in 1980's and soaked from the national media and cultural elite a view that Mr Reagan embodied only war-crazy, greedy and banal capitalism. I hope to have grown up in my own thinking since then, but still watching this speech a few years ago came as a shock. In the difficult circumstances of the Cold War, speaking to so many different audiences at the same time, it's breathtaking to observe how Mr Reagan managed to deliver all the right messages. And with such civility, humor and warmth...I wish the world had more leaders like this today.

A year later, another American, another speech, this time in East Berlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBIcfPBVxxQ Just hear the crowd after the first words...

My sincere thanks to all Americans who have contributed to protecting Europe and defending freedom.

"But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow"

I wonder if in 1968 John Lennon felt a rivalry with Chairman Mao for leadership of the world's youth?

By the way, "Revolution" was the B side of the third 45 RPM single I ever bought. The A side was "Hey Jude."

It's been all downhill since then.

I guess Lennon, like many Chinese folks, preferred to keep his savings in a currency other than the Renminbi.

One of the Beatles' worst original songs not written by George Harrison or Ringo. Plodding, mediocre "good ol' rock 'n' roll" pastiche, eagerly scrutinized by "the kids" for clues to what political opinions they should adopt.

Cowardly John Lennon recorded an alternate version where the lyric goes "But when you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out (in)" to maintain some kind of radical credibility.

The Rolling Stones responded with "Street Fighting Man" - but the moment was quickly passing, and the jackass antics of the Weathermen a year later, and the energy-siphoning rise of mass gatherings like Woodstock, helped push violence to the fringe among the protest elites by 1970.

China's whole strategy is to portray the HK protestors as US puppets so as to build up support for crushing them with mainland elites who might otherwise be inclined to think that the Hong Kongers are making some good points. In these circumstances, having Trump come out strongly in their support may not advance their cause. The Trump administration is definitely taking a much stronger anti-China line than any recent US administration, and US opinion is going that way as well.

Trump/Bolton/Pompeo have been extremely enthusiastic in their support of Brexit. Brexit is also a revolution, and in this case US support may advance the probability of Brexit's success.

'Brexit is also a revolution'

It really is, where 92,000 people have decided to back a prime minister who is seemingly determined to ensure that a no-deal Brexit will occur, regardless of the will of Parliament, or against the apparent wishes of a majority of British voters, including a significant number of Leave voters, who never imagined that what seems likely to occur on Oct. 31 was what they were voting for.

On the other hand, at least Corbyn will be happy at a Brexit revolution, with the UK finally positioned to throw off the yoke of the EU's unrestrained capitalism.

I thought you were glad that the UK was leaving. Sure doesn't feel like it.

I am quite happy that the UK is leaving the EU. Today would be fine, actually (which is easy for me to say, since it does not affect me personally, like many other people I know).

What is strange is seeing how many people claim, as of today, that 'Brexit' is an example of democracy and respecting the will of the people, etc. Clearly, it is far from that, as can be plainly seen in the choosing of Johnson as Prime Minister.

What is really bizarre however, is that the UK is already out of the EU essentially. The only think keeping it in the EU, right now, is the UK government, the one headed by Johnson - who could leave the EU right now, at least in terms of Article 50, if he so chose. All of this drama and handwaving seems to swirl around the reality that the majority of British voters and the majority of Parliament do not want a no deal Brexit, which is what 92,000 members of a single political party have apparently decided is what will happen.

Basically, at this point, I believe that there is no way that the EU will accede to another UK request to extend Brexit, assuming that it even makes one, so Oct 31 will be the date, regardless of what happens - to the apparent delight of those 92,000 Conservative Party members.

But it is getting extremely tedious hearing how Brexit represents the will of anything more than a coterie of Conservative party members more fearful of losing power than even ripping the UK apart. To be honest, any time the Tories talk about the will of the people and democracy über alles, it is worth all the scorn and mockery possible.

"regardless of the will of Parliament" Yes, I'd hate for the will of the people to override the will of Parliament. How about we just go right to the Queen for her thoughts and get on with it?

'Yes, I'd hate for the will of the people to override the will of Parliament.'

Well, Anarchy in the UK is a great song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBojbjoMttI

However, the important distinction to make is between Brexit with a deal, and no deal Brexit. As has become painfully apparent, many Leave voters never voted for a no deal Brexit. Parliament has voted for Brexit, which will likely occur this Oct. 31.

This distinction is not trivial, and is the crux of those 92,000 Conservative Party members being the ones who chose the current Prime Minister. A prime minister chosen by a party that does not even have a majority in Parliament by itself.

Basically, I would bet on the French to finally put an end to this ongoing farce on Oct. 31, regardless of what the will of the people in the UK is concerning the terms of leaving the EU, deal or no deal.

After all, the only reason the UK has not left the EU yet is because the UK government asked the EU to stay in longer. Which has done nothing to resolve anything at all from the UK side. Well, apart from Johnson and company trying to blame the EU for not cooperating with whatever fantasies various Brexiters continue to spin. As one would expect, that project is working about as well as anything else the Brexiters have been involved with over the last three years. But if a former UK Foreign Minister is to be trusted, the UK will be getting a great deal from the EU. We will all undoubtedly see how that works out.

The Queen has a much bigger stake in the welfare of England than many of the people who voted to remain, and by extension, their elected representatives in Parliament.

Amen. Trump’s hard line on Chinese treachery shines a spotlight on many of the things the ChiComs have been getting away with “in darkness” (to coin a phrase)). There is little we can do to materially help the protestors that would not be used by the Chinese as a pretext for the brutal suppression of Hong Kong.

If, as one commenter noted, Australia is watching this intently, that’s a big step.

Are the protests about freedom or the economic conditions in Hong Kong: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/07/22/world/asia/hong-kong-housing-inequality.html I suspect the primary motivation for the protests are the economic conditions. With few exceptions (including the linked article in the NYT), American media have chosen to emphasize freedom as the motivation in order to contrast the "freedom" in Hong Kong with the "tyranny" in China (these are not scare quotes, rather they are meant to frame the terms as questions). As for Cowen's essay in Bloomberg, I'm not sure of his point (his focus is on American non-reaction to the protests), but I don't believe it is the economic conditions in Hong Kong. If one were to focus on the economic conditions in which the average resident of Hong Kong lives, one would conclude that they pay a high price for their "freedom".

Cowen has written and spoken many times that rising political instability is attributable to a crisis of confidence, especially among young men in the middle class, and the (absence of the) absolute quality of opportunities. In Hong Kong, the middle class cannot see a way out of the living conditions they experience now; indeed, the living conditions will likely get worse as the population rises. If living conditions for middle class men in America, and the opportunity for improving those conditions, were as bad in America as they are for middle class men in Hong Kong, would Americans rise up in protest? Indeed, are Trump's campaign-style rallies a precursor of protests to come?

They are called "coffin homes", the houses where many middle class in Hong Kong live. Google "coffin homes" and up will come many articles about the miserable living conditions. Coffin homes aren't limited to Hong Kong, either. Indeed, old shipping containers are finding new life as homes. The world is brutal, and becoming more brutal every day. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/opinion/shipping-container-homes.html I often quote Janis Joplin: Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.

One more time: The protestors in Hong Kong are protesting the threat of extradition to China because they are stuck in Hong Kong.

You’re completely wrong.

The whole point is the extradition law would subject any Hong Konger to arbitrary arrest, detention, and/or execution at the whim of Party officials in Beijing. They have had human rights for decades and are not going to acquiesce quietly to subservience.

They are protesting that they have found themselves in their predicament: choosing between being stuck in Hong Kong in their coffin homes or moving to China and losing what civil rights they have in Hong Kong. What the Hong Kong protestors want is unification, but not at the cost of civil rights. It's a Hobson's choice. What they would like is another choice, which may explain why the protestors went to the airport: they want the world to offer them another choice. What choice would you offer them? What choice would Cowen offer them?

Dude. No.

Hong Kong gdp/cap PPP : $46,000
China gdp/cap PPP : $16,800
For reference - Florida gdp/cap : $39,500

This is not about “coffin homes” or some anecdotal article you read somewhere.

This is about Carrie Lam, the extradition law and losing the independent justice system in general.

I taught in China for nine years, taught CCP mid-career officials for another seven, been to Hong Kong. Discussed the famine and 6-4 in class. Per Tyler's comment, I have no enthusiasm for the events in Hong Kong because I cannot see how it comes to an end without bloodshed. What is it that the protesters could possibly win? The comment above by Paul, citing Jiayang Fan quoting Geremie Barme in the New Yorker, expresses it well -

"Geremie Barmé, a China scholar from Australia who co-wrote “The Gate of Heavenly Peace,” a groundbreaking documentary about the protests at Tiananmen Square, and the subsequent Beijing Massacre, told me that the escalating clash between the people of Hong Kong and the government reminded him of the days leading up to the 1989 mass killings in Beijing. Coaxing peaceful protesters into engaging in violence is a classic tactic of authoritarian regimes. “Why did Beijing withdraw police from the square during the days of the students’ hunger strike in the spring of 1989?” Barmé asked. “It was to mount a case of untenable social disorder to justify the use of martial law.” He argued that the power struggle in Hong Kong is a microcosm of the global conflict between frustrated youths and sclerotic authoritarians. “The old are consuming the young to maintain their longevity,” he told me. By stonewalling, the government fuels public anger that, in some cases, results in extremism. Then, displaying faux sorrow, the government quells the “riot” and crushes the opposition, citing “public safety.” Yesterday, China’s state media pledged a policy of “zero tolerance” for Hong Kong’s “open and symbolic attack.” Without this policy, the Party-affiliated newspaper Global Times said, “it would be similar to opening a Pandora’s Box.”"

It is another era, not the sixties, and I don't recall much American public support for protest elsewhere since. Plans have been underway for some time to turn Shanghai and its neighbor Zhoushan into an international financial center. Shanghai is nearly there. What can Hong Kongers gain? I don't know.

You are likely right about the fate of HK, but maybe the rest of the world will learn a lesson.

"China’s aggressive assault on campus free speech in Australia and New Zealand puts these governments in an uncomfortable position. They don’t like the assault, but they depend to a considerable degree on the Chinese money that pours into their countries, not just from Chinese students but also from trade.

The result, according to Clive Hamilton, a professor at Charles Sturt University in Camberra, Australia, is “widespread self-censorship by universities and academics in Australia and New Zealand.” The University of Queensland, where punches were thrown at a Hong Kong sympathy protest recently, is so close to Chinese authorities that it appointed the Chinese consul general in Brisbane a visiting professor of language and culture last month."


> China’s aggressive assault on campus free speech in Australia and New Zealand

If their campuses are anything like the US or Canada, the call is coming from inside the house.

Short version of Tyler's question: why aren't US media and intellectuals talking more about HK Moscow?

Short answer: when important Dems tell them to, they will, but until then, it's the usual zero sum battle for positional status.

So what would support for Hong Kong look like?

Perhaps Trump might follow Reagan's example and impose tariffs , err I mean sanctions, that are a sizeable fraction of the China's GDP (about $15 billion against Poland back in the 80s). Yet the far milder Trump tariffs on China are already bringing about doom and gloom forecasts.

Perhaps, it would involve going through the religious leaders. After all Hong Kong is about 25% Christian and numerous religious organizations have ties to the area (dating back to the Chinese mission boards). But society has moved on. The President working as closely with the Vatican seems untenable today. The government doling out large amounts of money to dissident priests would be anathema to the secular left. Forming movements to link Americans (or worse still Europeans) religious convictions to freedom parties overseas is a might bit harder when both fewer people have any religious ties and where a vocal minority actively denigrate any form of religious intrusion into the public sphere.

Maybe you would like to turn to trade union support. Yet unions are tiny, the ones that are remotely close to strong are all in the public sector and their goals are decidedly not about expanding workers rights to the masses. The AFL-CIO no longer has money to send overseas and if it did, I suspect it might somehow end up being devoted to US elections at the behest of the Democratic Party. Unions today are much more closely aligned with the Democratic Party and are much less able to exert social or financial pressure.

Perhaps you think the media should be trumpeting this cause and causing headaches for China. But let's be honest, the entertainment and news media are deeply intertwined. Do you think the studios are going to want to risk China putting their streaming services on the wrong side of the Great Firewall? Do we think that the Washington Post is going to bite the hand that feeds it to print China Watch? China has been quite effectively censoring American media companies with simple threats to market exclusion. Exactly which broadcasting company has the will to risk losing one its largest markets over a sustained campaign to drum up American support and interest in Hong Kong?

The thing is when you atomize society and make all dance to the tune of the market, you have precious few channels to offer effective support.

Well maybe we should go for something covert. Provide the demonstrators with technical skills and the ability to print samizdat underground. Except that our technology companies have been helping China us software in manners that makes precisely this difficult. After all, back in the 80s we could funnel money easily to protestors without the Polish government tracking it. Now even bags of cash left in the park are likely to run afoul of video feeds and facial recognition. Data monitoring means that identifying a couple of people receiving our aid is going to make it much easier to tag the whole network.

I would submit that supporting Solidarity was vastly easier because we had not so decimated civil society and so single mindedly chased money that we had options. Today our view of religious institutions is largely shaped by the latest round of sexual abuse scandals and our unions are little more than patronage cartels. We have very little left in society, and none of it popular, that encourages people to defer their own gratification and to invest outward.

Support Solidarity Now? We couldn't if we wanted to.

You make a few suggestions and then quickly destroy them. I applaud you on self-criticism but I wouldn't want you in leadership when action must be taken. LOL. There will be NO perfect solution but a decision must be made! And when it is made, it is acted on with one mind, one purpose, and that is to win! No backtracks! You libertarians think too much. Men of action are needed here not people who talk themselves out of doing things.

"Yet the far milder Trump tariffs on China are already bringing about doom and gloom forecasts."

Yes, a complete Western [including Japan] trade embargo is the only real weapon we have but there is zero chance we would wield it. It would cause a big economic downturn in the West, so can't possible be wielded by countries with elections coming up.

Words are worse than useless unless we can back it up.

Protest is everywhere, from Brexit to Yellow Vesters to Hong Kong.

What is the common thread? Debt service obligations, obligations as much as 5% of one income in Southern Europe. Interest charges at 5% of income is expected to go on for infinity, great great grandchildren will pay for it, according to our double entry accounting system.

That is an impossibility, millennials have no clue what we are paying for. They were not even born when the Alzheimer's president bailed out Texas. Millennials had nothing to do with that, yet we are rolling over the debt costs for the fourth times and interest charges are compounding.

The situation in untenable, protest will grow, China's Belt and Suspenders is dead. The EU losing Britain, Italian politics unstable. The economic force of government interest charges, some 600 billion/yr in the USA and rising at about 10% a year.

Brexit and HK are about self control. The Yellow vesters started over a fuel tax.

The Scots might have a bit of a different opinion concerning Brexit and 'self control.'

They had their chance.

To stay in the EU? Why yes, they did have that chance in 2014, and decided to take it.

Then, two years later, that decision was reversed by the will of English and Welsh voters.

Which is why the SNP is claiming that the Scots, who voted 62% to remain citizens of the EU, should have the opportunity to repair their previous mistake in thinking that voting to remain in the UK was also voting to remain part of the EU.

They had their chance to make their own choices, but chose not to - and are getting what they asked for.

'but chose not to'

Because, much like as with Catalonia, they were basically informed that voting to leave the UK was also voting to leave the EU.

Now, even though they voted to remain in the EU, they are not getting what they asked for, both in 2014 and in 2016, which is for Scottish citizens to remain EU citizens,

Leading to an apparent majority of Scottish voters now supporting independence from the UK.

The Scots Independence ref was not a ref on whether they wanted to remain in the EU, which quite rightly they have no separate voice on in the UK (or even a larger one than their per capita share of population), but on remaining in the UK.

Now, the SNP can call for another one by all means, but I suspect that being part of the EU without the pound and with additional barriers to their closest neighbour with whom they are closely and deeply integrated really will be a lot harder going on Scotland than Brexit ever would be.

Isn't it funny that America is imposing sanctions on Venezuela and Iran while support Red China's totalitarian aggressor regime? Was it why Americans gave their lives for in WW II and the Korean War? Totalitarian world rule?!

Iran and Venezuela are regional powers. China has a huge army, 1.4 billion people, a large economy and nukes.

Totally similar situations.

I see. I thought it was something about "freedom and human rights". So that is it. Munich all again. Peace for our time.

The issues in HK are a distraction from AGW, renewable energy and impeachment of the Orange Man. Americans already have enough on their plate (at the Chinese buffet) without worrying about a place they know very little about.

There's also the US domestic scene. Asset forfeiture, recognized as state crime itself, looks like it's here to stay. National authorities, the NSA, TSA, CIA and FBI are obviously incompetent if not, in fact, totally corrupt.

+1. Impeaching Trump is the #1 priority for America.

It might give us a better moral standing, for things like HK protests.

President Jinping? Barack here. I understand you have some folks causing you difficulties in Hong Kong?

Yes. They are threatening the peace and order.

Well we had something similar. A bunch of terrible people set fire to the People's land, and then occupied and made lots of noise when they were prosecuted. It was getting out of control.

What did you do?

We shot a few of them. Killed them. They settled down after that.

Thank you for the wise counsel president Obama.

ABC News could not find a single criminal case where an act of violence or threat was made in the name of @BarackObama or G. W. Bush. But @ABC found 36 cases invoking @realDonaldTrump.

I’m sure Afghans, Libyans, and Iraqis will breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Sure, they’re dead by the hundreds of thousands. And their countries are still gripped in some combination of tyranny, foreign domination, or interminable civil war.

But hey, they didn’t get @‘d.

If Trump doesn’t topple a foreign government by 2024 he will still be the least dangerous president in decades.

I'm sure South Korea wished they were part of North Korea. Not! Don't confuse the situation. Middle Easterners in general fail to rebuild societies after disaster. East Asians are a completely different story. Topple their leaders and they come back ready to join the First World in less than a generation. High chance of success here for US intervention.

Imagine if Manhattan, while retaining its status as America's financial center and having a per capita income four times higher than the rest of the US, became politically semi-independent from Washington such that it did not have to obey any federal laws or pay any taxes to the federal government. How worthy would Americans consider a protest movement in this hypothetical Manhattan that sought greater autonomy, particularly if significant elements if said protest movement were directed not at the government in Washington, but merely at people from the rest of America who want to live and shop in Manhattan?

The history of HK is totally unlike that of Manhattan. There is no analogy here.

How so? If anything, the difference in history makes the Hong Kong protests even less worthy than my hypothetical Manhattan ones. Consider—

1) Hong Kong was forcibly conquered from China in a series of aggressive wars.

2) Hong Kong had no elections at all until the 1980s after the British agreed to return the territory to China, so China cannot be said to be infringing on some long democratic tradition in Hong Kong, whereas Manhattan would has been a democracy for centuries.

3) During times of great crisis on the mainland, Hong Kong deported many refugees back to the mainland. There is a harrowing picture of famine victims with outstretched arms begging for food from bus windows as they are being deported. Manhattan elites have never treated other Americans so badly.

Give me a little more time!

See this is the actually cynical and wearied take. China made promises it isn’t keeping. How would you feel if your neighborhood was annexed into a larger city with certain tax and services exemptions which were then withdrawn. You’d probably act bitchy. There is nothing wrong with the HK protests- the point is that the US getting involved will make things worse.

There’s nothing wrong with the Hong Kong protests. We should not get involved in either side. I just question that the Hong Kong protests are one of the world’s most “worthy” protest movements when Hong Kong is better off than 90% of the other places on earth. If any protests are worthy, they should be the ones in places like Gaza or Sudan where people actually are oppressed and living lives that most of us probably would not consider even worth living.

To go with your analogy, I do live in an area that used to be an independent suburb that was annexed by the central city after a combined vote of both cities was in favor of annexation. As a result, I pay higher taxes than I would otherwise and have to deal with a more impersonal police force and municipal bureaucracy than I would otherwise. Still, my neighborhood is quite well-off. I can protest but my priorities would be off if I demanded the rest of the world or even country pay attention to my plight over the plight of people in say inner-city Detroit.

You aren’t going with my analogy at all. Where promises made that were then rescinded.

Look I get you are a Han Power type and that’s fine. But the issue isn’t that HK was annexed but that it was annexed with conditions that aren’t being upheld. Boston was a pretty great place to live all things considered in the mid-1700s didn’t make the Sugar Act and Stamp Act any less onerous. Again not that that example will likely resonate with you since your relationship to the US is transactional.

First of all, what promises specifically were rescinded? The issue is that the local Hong Kong government wanted to pass an extradition bill that would allow extradition to the mainland. This was not dictated by the government in Beijing.

Second, Hong Kongers are Han Chinese too, so pointing out their privileged position in the Chinese system is not an expression of Han Power any more than pointing out the privileged position of rich white liberal elites in Manhattan is an expression of white supremacy. If anything, Han Power types are represented among protestors attacking minorities such as Nepalis (https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/society/article/3020545/ethnic-minority-groups-hong-kong-harassed-and-discriminated). My view on this issue and other international relations issues is driven by my belief that people should be treated equally regardless of their nationality.

Third, the analogy to the American Revolution doesn’t hold water because the British treated the Americans worse than they treated their own people. Trade restrictions and taxes passed against the colonies were done to extract wealth from the colonies for the benefit of the mainland British. By contrast, Hong Kongers enjoy far more prosperity and freedom than those in Mainland China. It is more analogous to the hypothetical Manhattan in my original post.

It’s a direct subversion of OCTS. It just is and any neutral person would concede that. Again I think that’s a stupid policy especially for a state built on the twin pillars of ethnonationalism and totalitarian control but it is what it is. China should have just seized Hong Kong like they threatened and no one would care about how HK was governed in 2019- but they didn’t and know they have to live with it.

And no those taxes were passed to pay the debt incurred from the French and Indian Wars and provide for the upkeep of garrisons in North America. Boston didn’t like that because that meant paying for garrisons that protected the Southern states so they whined about it. And for the final kicker the stamp act was already implemented in England. The colonies had been exempted. So rather than your hypothetical we an actual historical example of people opposing their privilege being rescinded.

Britain did not extract higher rates of tax from American colonies https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/565/how-heavily-were-the-british-taxing-their-american-colonies. Lower tax rates.

On trade restrictions, I don't have anything specific on the US during the colonial period, but in general these are overestimated - https://twitter.com/pseudoerasmus/status/1121369709180588032. In 1913 only about 40% of British colonies trade was with "the motherland".

Hong Kong is Chinese--it was given back to China by the British. That's too bad; I'd hate to live in China though a lot of Americans do. But China's a sovereign and we should mind our business if we're going to argue that Russia and China shouldn't interfere in our elections.

Also, any serious secessionist movement in the US would be bombed into a pink mist.

Have the elites apologized for the Arab Spring yet? The Hong Kong protestors should not be encouraged. All this talk is just going to get people killed and maimed.

"All this talk is just going to get people killed and maimed."

As opposed to what Red China's totalitarian leaders usually do, of course. If only Finland hadn't invaded the Soviet Union (well, at least it is what Stalin said they did) ...
Maybe America should aim higher than "peace for our time".

The grownups are talking.

There is no more "Red China." They are integral to global trade and finance our deficit and there is no good reason to start a war over Hong Kong. Get effing real.

I see. Peace, debt and trinkets for our time. So that is what our principles and national pride were found to be worth.

Americans probably would consider it very worthy indeed, as they respect Canada (a breakway under the British government) and many, many small breakaway states across the world.

Particular if its status was agreed by completely peaceable treaties and American attempts to press on the city were in creeping violation of agreed principles. Hell, yeah, American citizens would dissent at their government.

Like, in reality, you've got American up in arms about attempts to impose federal government on frigging *US states*, let alone a totally separate, peaceful, democratic, rich neighbouring city state. Mere jealousy at a long successful, separate Manhattan wouldn't break those principles. (Even the EU does not seek to break small, separate, successful jurisdictions on the wheel.)

But that is perhaps the difference between American democracy defined by popular self determination, and Chinese communism with a government that styles itself as the legitimate of all Han Chinese across the world, whatever those people all across the world think about it.

Not a difference that probably actually sits much in differences in the conscience of the people I would imagine either (I doubt the Chinese mainlanders are that sympathetic to central government behaviour in this crisis. If they are, it's not too good for them).

Lots of Americans don’t seem to respect sanctuary cities very much, even though that’s protected in our constitution. And lots of American states have passed laws stripping powers away from successful left-leaning cities to control their own local affairs.

When has the Chinese government styled itself the legitimate government of all Han Chinese around the world? That would certainly be alarming if it were true. But I’ve never heard of this. I think China does not even allow dual citizenship. America is not exactly a good actor on this front either; it is the most aggressive country at pursuing its citizens for taxes even if they don’t live in America, and American law doesn’t even allow people to renounce their citizenship if done for tax motivations.

That’s the corollary of brith right citizenship. Believe me I’d love to do away with that.

And how are sanctuary cities protected by our constitution? Immigration is a reserved power of the congress.

You are having a bad day man.

Cities don't have to cooperate. They can choose to do nothing. This is similar to red states that refused to implement Obamacare. States are not obligated to enforce Federal law, they don't even have the power to deport. That's the job of the Feds. This is basic Federalism 101.

Lol no they can’t. Again it’s a reserved power of congress. It would be like a city minting their own money. You are retarded.

It's somewhat of a goalpost shift to go from what you originally posted about to 'sanctuary cities'. 'Sanctuary cities' are targeting a policy of undermining the national migration policy, rather than simply being "separate but different" regimes that have long been divergent. Not the same as a city that simply had a divergent system over time, happened to be richer, was historically autonomous, sought to maintain that autonomy, and was somewhat excluding to Americans.

On Chinese government interference and attempts at laying claim to ownership and loyalty over the diaspora of overseas Han:


https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/07/23/chinas-dissidents-cant-leave/ - " As trade tensions between the United States and China have escalated, Chinese officials have increasingly targeted American businesspeople, especially those of Chinese descent, subjecting them to various forms of harassment, including refusing to allow them to leave the country. The problem is not limited to the United States: Several other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, have warned their citizens traveling to China about the dangers that exit bans pose.

The Times reported on a small but growing number of cases, but the full scope of the problem is not known; privately, State Department officials speak of dozens more unreported cases. The Chinese government’s use of American citizens as potential pressure points in its trade dispute with the U.S. government is deeply disturbing."

https://blog.politics.ox.ac.uk/homeland-calling-the-chinese-diaspora-and-beijings-worrying-embrace-of-ethnic-nationalism/ - Rather than limiting its ethno-nationalist policies within its borders, China has increasingly sought to export such policies overseas by demanding the loyalty of ethnic Chinese who are citizens of other states. Blurring the distinction between ethnically-Chinese citizens of other states (“huaren”) and citizens of China who have settled overseas (“huaqiao”) and grouping them under the umbrella term of “Chinese overseas compatriots (“haiwai qiaobao”) has allowed China to tap upon its ethnically-Han diaspora as an economic resource.

Further links:


https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/monitoring-03272018113611.html - China Boosts Ideological Monitoring of Overseas Chinese, Returnees

And many more.

As much as i would tend to side with the protestors, if they listened to me i would tell them to me more strategic. Maintain pressure but remember that the end result is a media blackout and mass murder. The Communists can't let this happen and they will act. All i can do is arrange for the funerals.

What can be done is being done. The Communists are destroying the Hong Kong financial center, and resources are leaving was quickly as the transfers can be arranged. The Communists are being forced to intervene in the currency market. The economy is dealing with a credit squeeze.

The only thing holding the military back is the fear, well founded, that the economic consequences of a violent crackdown would threaten the stability of the regime.

Kyle Bass is quite vocal about the perfidy of the Communist regime.

"Americans are preoccupied with fighting each other over political correctness, gun violence, Trump and the Democratic candidates for president. To be sure, those issues deserve plenty of attention. But they are soaking up far too much emotional energy, distracting attention from the all-important struggles for liberty around the world."

Until that emotion drives better policy to fruition, the attention might not be so badly spent. To quote the great American Public Intellectual, Jordan Peterson, begin your great plans at home, and clean your room.

On that "gun violence" and "emotional energy" ..

"BREAKING: Dayton police just held a press conference to say the gunman in the Ohio mass shooting shot 26 people in 32 seconds. The AR-15-style rifle the gunman used to kill nine bystanders was legally modified to hold a 100-round drum magazine and was legal to carry in public."

That might be a bit much destructive power to grant every random citizen who wants it.

This is correct, I award you 5 internet points. But I have to deduct them back, for your naivete in thinking the gun lobby cares.

It is an ancient stratagem to give out "prizes" to improve one's own standing. But the Nobels etc, at least put some money behind it.

I don't know about all that. Just doing my job here.

You're that guy who referees The Puppy Bowl every Super Sunday, right?

I can neither confirm nor deny.

Indeed, our shining city on a hill needs a bit of scraping and repainting.

I don't intend to exude a single drop of sweat over the Hong Kong protestors.

It's discouraging seeing the grown men on this board so in thrall to ideology. Do the protestors even enjoy the support of a democratic majority of Hong Kong much less the Chinese mainland?

What is Tyler proposing? Cancel Chinese visas (God forbid)? Tell them to keep their lousy stinking imports? Stop selling them government bonds?

This is pure ideological theater and virtue-signalling. It's unseemly.

Keen insight found here (and over three years old):


What about Catalunia? Tyler is only interested in his agenda to weaken any potential US competitor. It is only about that.

The EU commission said the if Catalunya gained independence from Spain, it is automatically out of the EU. This scared a lot of people in Catalunya and fragmented the independence movement between pragmatists that like the status quo and romantics that want independence at all costs.

The future in Catalunya seems to be politicians promising in public independence to voters, while praying in private that independence never happens. They're not after independence but staying in power and managing budgets.

Brexit captured all the attention in the EU since 3 years ago as the crisis in Greece dominated the news between 2014 and 2016. Catalunya's independence filled a void during a slow political news period.

The US, and the West in general, are weary of all the faux protests of the past couple of years to want to get involved with another protest, even if it's real.

Blatant stupidity violation, I deduct 10 internet points. Watch yourself or it gets worse.

No self awareness at all

Maybe I'm the only one, but these protests have damaged my view of China. Why would a million smart people rather die than get a "trial" in China? That question got me to educate myself on some issues I had never bothered with before, including Taiwan.

It's not 'indifference', except in the sense that only an odd minority pay attention to world news. The real problem (among those who do) is that we know how this ends, and we cannot do a blessed thing about it. So we're all watching a train-wreck in progress.

It seems to me that the Hong Kong protests are swimming upstream against The Narrative. They are not convenient. Simple as that.

I tried to explain what was going on at a family dinner party last night. This is a crew who watches the news and gets very excited over discussions that center around getting rid of Trump. First, I was surprised by how little they knew. Second, I was sad to see how fast they lost interest. Does not fit "The Narrative", indeed. Would my family have listened a little longer if I had told them that the protesters are on the wrong side of Trump?

'I have been struck by the coolness of the American response'

Americans are not so much indifferent as constrained by the reality that we're not really in a position to do much of anything about it.

It's somewhat like concern for repression in Poland during the cold war: yes it was unfortunate but what, exactly, do you propose to do about it? It's not as if U.S. Marines were going to liberate Poland, or as if jawboning or economic sanctions were going to make any difference.

The time to do something (if something was to be done) about Hong Kong was 1999. For surely no one doubted that however "Special" Hong Kong was to be, eventually China would assert itself over the former British colony.

Yet Britain was in no position to assert itself about anything, and the USA was still in a phase where it was mostly assumed that industrialization and trade would in time mitigate the worst behaviors of China's authoritarian government.

Everyone is afraid of China and know that supporting HK means risking war.

China will not start a war. They have no way to project conventional power beyond adjoining nations.

Going to march their army thru siberia and alaska and canada?

No they would likely try and sink a carrier group and to be perfectly honest the navy doesn’t know if that’s possible or not.

That’s what the nuclear arms upgrade is for- America will soon have first strike wipe out capabilities and China won’t even dream of sinking a carrier. But for now it’s best to not get involved.

American elites and media companies have too much at stake in China to support a "revolution" that is unlikely to win.

Getting involved with Russia is toxic after two years of a political witch hunt.

France and Spain had huge self-interests to support the American Revolution. Spain hoped to regain Gibraltar, expand the sugar trade in the Carribean, protect her colonies in South America. France was in a global conflict with Britan. France wanted greater control of the sugar trade, expand its navy, etc. The French revolution was in part a result of the deep debts the French incurred trying to help the Americans.

While in the United States listen to MSNBC, many of their guests are talking about a new American revolution. As examples of white supremacist, they talk about Washington and Jefferson. They describe the United States as being based on white privilege and corruption. Simply they reject most of the social contract that formed the country as a necessary first step toward a second American Revolution, a socialist revolution. The leftward tilt of the Democratic party is more dramatic than what is going on in Hong Kong or Russia.

I am in favor of greater liberty and independence in Hong Kong, as I am for all other locations.

Alas, I shudder to think what a more impassioned American response would look like. Hong Kong's thirst for liberty would become a Democrats-versus-Republicans issue. We'd all be forced into supporting one party's vision of Hong Kong over the other party's vision. And to what end? A policy goal? Is there any American policy response that can do more good than harm here?

Sadly, think Americans' passions have done enough global damage over the past 25 years to last another order of magnitude of years. Americans do not speak from moral authority. I think privately we can all lend our moral support to Hong Kong, but beyond that the prospects of a stronger American response seem pretty grim.

I cannot watch this without crying: Hong Kong protesters gathered at the airport singing "Can you hear the people sing?" from Les Miserables.


The song, by the way, is banned in China.

Fortunately we don't allow emotional wine aunts and teen-aged girls to run US foreign policy.

Right, they're too busy focusing on domestic policies. #BanAssaultRifles #LoveWins

No we elect people who tweet like teen age girls into the White House.

1) Trump is unlikely to give the speeches unless he foresees a personal benefit, and will probably be energetically denounced as the wrong person to give such speeches if he does.
2) Pretty much all of the Democrats who might give speeches are wholly invested in biting at Trump's ankles with every ounce of energy they can muster.
3) The two political parties blow hot and cold ("engage!" "oppose!") on China depending on what serves their respective political advantages. Where should the average person's "enthusiasm" be?

Unlike the USSR the Chinese government does not seem to trying to turn the world communist.

Russia is now a crony capitalist country with little interest in communism. They were crony communist but it didn't work as well

This is a big problem why the Neocon Sand Wars were a giant disaster. They've so thoroughly made actions to protect democracies so repugnant with the public that when actual threats to democracies appear, America looks the other way. This is a disaster to global freedom. Saddam was a local thug checked by his numerous local enemies but China is a faceless totalitarian state that is growing like cancer. Big difference.

Five minutes reading Henry Kissinger will offer more insight the comments.

"...Kissinger over the course of his career insisted on creative and unexpected responses to crises - exactly the 'unpredictability' that Trump both values and performs."

What does Xi fear more: a threat or the unpredictable?


News Flash: the protestors already got what they were asking for--the repeal of the extradition bill! So, what are they asking for now?

Oh no, all the chickenhawk neocons TC follows on Twitter don't have a good idea on how to invade China.

Just spitballing here, but maybe the pundits who are even dumber than Jake Tapper and Max Boot are too cognitively taxed to process all of the spin necessary to synthesize all the dissonance and failure of the conventional neocon wisdom.

So they just default onto the correct and simple explanation that is that maybe everything isn't the US's responsibility or even that the US can’t agree to define the problem and desired endstate as many things are too complex and resource consuming for the US to solve or will even make worse especially given the domestic constraints (election season) of signing up for such a dumb and obviously pointless endeavors as the US is deeply engaged in enough of those actions.

Neocons would rather invade the Middle East because that is their niche. They know how to cash in on that. KSA is one of the world's top arms buyers. Our foreign "aid" to Israel and Egypt is really a jobs program for the military industrial complex back home. With China there's less connections and history so the cronies won't stand to profit as much.

Do the Kashimiri not deserve 'freedom'? or the Rohingya? the Venezuelans? There are literally slaves in Libya.

How about you all stow the faux moral pretence and admit you all just want to exploit the weakness of a rival. If Russia was as powerful today as China, you would all discover your sympathies for the Moscow protesters.

There was a literal crackdown in Khartoum recently, I'll be charitable and assume that I missed that column, Mr Cowen.

Did anyone have much to say when the Brits first signed HK over to China? The Chinese take full control in 2047 so what then?

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