In Hong Kong, standing up to constant rain may not be existential, but calling their massive, sustained protests the Umbrella Revolution shows that Hongkongers have a sense of humor. If it feels as if your overlords are control freaks, it may be poetic justice to suggest that they ought to be afraid of umbrellas.
What’s in a name? Movements based on civil resistance need unity of purpose and strategy to be effective, because they are based on the diversity and versatility of multitudes. Naming a movement or giving it a single symbol is a natural way of recognizing this emerging power.
The first nonviolent mass movement in the post-war era that adopted a colorful symbol was the Carnation Revolution in Portugal 40 years ago, in 1974. Though it began with the defection of generals and military units, it was joined by ordinary people who put carnations into the barrels of the army’s guns, and it brought an end to an era of dictatorship and also to Portugal’s colonialism in Africa.