Today is National Day in Hong Kong. A celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949. In 71 years, through sacrifice, hard work and discipline, together with the ability to learn from mistakes, a war-torn nation emerged to counter the hegemony of the English-speaking West. Such hegemony was once necessary to combat the evils of the Soviet Empire. Perpetuation of said hegemony is no longer of benefit to humanity. It is a curse. When social inequality is so rife in western culture there can no longer be any moral claim to be a superior politic. We are witnessing a truly terrifying destruction of western democracy from within.

Today is also the day for celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. This is the second most important Chinese holiday after the Chinese New Year. It dates back over 3000 years and celebrates the Chinese Emperors who worshiped the Moon and prayed for bountiful harvests. This Moon in early October is the largest and the brightest of the year and it coincides with the autumn harvest.

Today I have reviewed the COVID-19 data. It is still here. It is still there. It is still everywhere. In different amounts. And so, life goes on for some and for others it is frustratingly falling apart. When the histories are written and verified, I do suspect that there will be a lack of detail in official records about some of the early decision making. That would be regrettable as so much more can be learned from honest mistakes and the response to correct them than from bluffing it out and hiding the truth by deleting emails, meeting transcripts and other official records. Accountability is an intrinsic part of responsibility. Of power.

COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerability of humanity. The Selfish Gene, not Dawkins’ biological version, but a character trait of humans, not cells. In the same way that a meme is a “unit of cultural information spread by imitation” so the Selfish Gene is born and bred in the homes of greedy people and spreads. A sense of entitlement, of superiority, most acutely displayed in professions, English public schools, conservative politics and, in the same breath, right wing, white supremacist hate groups.

There is a reason why the USA leads the world in the total number of cases and the total number of deaths from COVID-19. Lack of leadership. Playing a reality TV businessman is great but real life, being The President! He must have been terrified. Despite having the best scientists in the world, the best private companies, the best brains. Despite having the world-renowned CDC, such eminent scientists as Dr Fauci. The United States of America has had the worst record of any country in terms of total number of cases and total number of deaths. It is appalling. Accountability, the President.

What about the UK? I have three daughters and two grandchildren there, so I am deeply involved in ‘monitoring’ the situation. Again, some major errors and still the government is afraid of facing the freedom of the individual versus the needs of society issue. There is a level of social control that western democracies find extremely difficult to embrace. The people most susceptible to brainwashing are the victims of Madison Avenue not disciples of Mao Tse-tung.

We are cautiously getting back to life in Hong Kong. Schools have re-opened and soon the public basketball courts will be back in action as community hot spots. Making contingency plans for lockdowns in the UK is a challenge but not insurmountable. Life goes on and will go on no matter what.

Take care and keep safe.

CONTRIBUTOR
Andrew Burd (Prof)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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