Resisting political traditionalism: a rejoinder to Ho

Iam Chong IP

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In her provocative essay ‘Connection at the Price of Collusion’, Sik-ying Ho argues that my works show ‘empathy’ towards right-wing nativism in Hong Kong by exonerating it from any political responsibilities. She further gives me the name of ‘Left in form, Right in essence’ and asserts that I suffer from ‘Left Melancholy’, in Wendy Brown term. However, I find Ho’s readings not founded on much evidence and arguments and begging the question. Rather than sticking with any given ‘left norms’, I see my works as a conjunctural analysis of the rise of right-wing nativism in Hong Kong. With the purpose of offering new practices of progressive values, my critique is an examination of the power mechanisms and discursive dynamics by which people live. I offer accounts of ‘empowerment fantasy’, existential struggles and the sense of disrupted time, which the recent political agitations featured. An effective project of progressive politics has to address the issues above, i.e. the experience of disempowerment, the ethics of conviction and responsibility, re-engaging people in an ‘interim’ political process. All these attempts are necessary for overcoming the problems caused by a form of ‘affective autonomy’ with which one affirms a set of values merely or primarily by intensifying affective commitment. Without understanding the contingency of the present, simply upholding the liberal-left ideas would render them reified categories and underpin a traditionalist sentiment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-259
Number of pages8
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number2
Early online date7 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Left Melancholy
  • Nativism
  • affective autonomy
  • empowerment
  • traditionalism


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