Reimagining Pedagogy and the Revolutionary Device: Experimenting with Bernstein and Guattari on the Water Revolution in Hong Kong

Year: 2019

Author: Kwok, Henry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper is an experimentation with Basil Bernstein’s and Félix Guattari’s thoughts and proposes a concept called ‘the revolutionary device’ as a tool to reflect on the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong since June in 2019. The anti-extradition bill protest is not only a social movement that is highly political in nature. It is also highly pedagogical in the collective unconscious level in terms of the Oedipalised discourse at large on the protesters in Hong Kong and the postcolonial city’s relation to China. This paper attempts to weave a narrative of the production of subjectification in the Hong Kong, which is critical to the process of decolonisation. To do so, the discussion is divided into three parts. To begin with, it revisits Bernstein’s conception of ‘pedagogy’ by highlighting its implications for understanding broader social relationships – for example, problematising the dominant discourse of policy actors in the official recontextualising field which posits the activists on the streets as ‘unruly children’ who need to be disciplined, as revealed by the paranoiac discourses on the Hong Kong education system. In the second part, we highlight the affective intensities in the political movement by highlighting how the young activists reclaim the pedagogic discourse and speak back to the powerholders by highlighting the semiotic flows in this movement: their discourses against the baby boomers generation, messages couched in vandalisms in the subway stations, pro-Chinese businesses, artistic productions such as quasi-anthem of ‘May Glory Be to Hong Kong’ circulated on YouTube and the multi-category online forum called LIHKG. The third part is an attempt to appropriate Bernstein’s concept of ‘pedagogic device’ and create the concept of ‘the revolutionary device’ which is made up of various machines of weakened power and control relations – the machine of Liberal Studies, LIHKG, the use of Telegram, counter-desiring machines such as the disinformation attack by the Chinese government, and so forth. Data include affective voices of students in their conversations with teachers, tactics and discourses of the current regime on restricting voices in schools.