5th September 2019 – (Hong Kong) In the the age of post-materialism,  the new generation of young people are more actively involved in social movements as compared to their previous generation. Their thoughts are more radical and their actions are more valiant, making the previous generation difficult to comprehend.

Some may interpret this phenomenon as a characteristic of the age of post-materialism.   The so-called age of post-materialism refers to the fact that after the social productivity reaches a certain level, people do not have to camp for the needs of material life, so they can then focus on the pursuit of non-material spiritual life.

This new generation of young people is reluctant to give up their personal dignity for two basic meals, and their requirements for human rights, freedom and democracy will rank above everything else as compared to the previous generation. In order to defend this kind of spiritual property, most of them are very fearless in their actions. However, such spiritual concepts are very complicated. Young people neither understand the origin of these concepts, nor do they understand the implementation of these concepts in today’s world. It is easy to rely on temporary emotional impulses to do harm to themselves and damage to the society.

In many cases, they are nominally defending these beliefs, but when they act, they completely violate the basic beliefs and principles that they most want to maintain.

When they think they have received the support of the majority, they will assume that they have the right to suppress the different opinions of the minority. They can easily think that as long as their goal is noble, then whatever means they deploy will be reasonable. They will even invade the privacy of a few people and drag relatives of others into their fight for a noble cause. They will not care if others are willing or not, and they will also coerce others to join in their mission. Anyone who takes issue with them will be in stand off with democracy and freedom. The young people’s superficial understanding of human rights, freedom and democracy would only result in “democratic tyranny” if they were to assume power one day.

What the young people are doing now will result in the premature ending of the age of post-materialism in Hong Kong. By then, the young people will lose the existing basis of materialism. The basis of materialism of our society now is created by the previous generation. Even if a new generation is committed to business, they may not be able to sustain it; not to mention the fact that young people today do not cherish materialism. From their reckless attitude to cause deliberate destruction of public properties, one could easily see that they have not been through the period of “material hardship”. They inadvertently damaged the gates at multiple MTR stations, demolished the road traffic barriers and vandalised the traffic lights. To them, all these public amenities cost and mean nothing to them.

These young protesters don’t even cherish materialism in their hands. Every time the protest ends, they dispose of the clothes they wear, the helmets, goggles and the laser pointers. It seems that these resources can always be replenished in unlimited quantities. They have no concern over the impact of their actions on Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihood. Their massive destruction to Hong Kong transport system has scared away tourists and affected local consumer spending. If they persist with their actions, Hong Kong’s economy will fall into a severe recession. In the near future, Hong Kongers will neither be able to have any salary increments nor find a stable job. Post-materialism age will end prematurely and we can only pray by then, there will still be people in the society who have the ultimate concern for the fate of mankind.

Written by Shih Wing-ching, a Hong Kong businessman who founded Centaline Property Agency Limited in 1978.