SHANGHAI -- The "umbrella revolution" has come to an end. Post-occupied Hong Kong braces for an uncertain future. While pessimists predict nothing but doom and gloom, optimists, with good reason, believe that valuable lessons could be drawn from the "Occupy Central" fiasco and Hong Kong could come out stronger.
While they appear to be randomized blips on a map, this growing trend of unrest is actually a part of an ever-connected global movement for truly people-powered, open societies that, if successful, can shift not just geopolitics but our fundamental ability to achieve human rights, development, equality, and prosperity in every community around the world.
The natural evolution of Western democratic societies could be summed up this way: The first step is to develop the economy and the educational system. The second step is the establishment of a general culture for the citizens and the rule of law. The last step is democratization. If the above order is out of place, a society has to pay a severely heavy price.
In its structure of combining selection and election, the emergent Hong Kong system is a kind of middle way between democratic consent and the idea of meritocratic guidance. In fact, the mechanism proposed to choose a chief executive is not so different from the Electoral College designed by American democracy's Founding Fathers. The idea, spelled out in Federalist Paper #68, was to "refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens." But there needs to be a proper balance not yet achieved in Hong Kong.