追忆89与64

89年,西部小县城,安静地读初中,憧憬世界,发各种科学的奇思怪想,同写武侠的金大师叽叽歪歪,在学校沙坑边争江湖英雄。六四的记忆,是电影电视剧,故事在遥远的首都北京,坐火车要20个小时啊。实话说,比起抗战电视剧来,一丁点都不恐怖,除了两具貌似烧焦的据说是解放军的尸体,玩偶样地挂在天桥上示众,没太多痕迹。你想,就是看过了一千遍小清新的小兵张嘎,那血腥场面一样壮烈,那架势和蝇王里的儿童屠夫有的一比。就算是古代背景下清算地主老财贪官恶吏的貌似敦厚的神笔马良下手也毫不留情。毛笔随便拨拉几下,就祭起了大海上狂涛暴浪,呼啦一下,整整一船的生命就沉到海底喂鱼喂虾去了,恶吏,他的随从,女人,孩子,赶尽杀绝,一个都不少。你想问说同情心人性在哪呢。你傻了耶你呀。那会儿看见的肯定全是兴奋的发红发烫的脸颊,恨不得自己就是马良张嘎的样子。你要是那时正年少,手头要有个三八大盖,止不准就冲出去为解放军报仇雪恨去了。那个青涩的少年时代,每天头头也不抬地摇头丸一样吸食试卷,惆怅几下暗恋几下,瞄瞄同桌发育不良的乳房,波澜不惊的学校生活在你心中一样波澜壮阔。以至现在回想起来,高考、中考、小考、幼考、期末考、期中考、大考、小考貌似微小,漫不经心,其实都是政治家深谋大略的有机组成,至于后来热播的大场面抗战神剧、勾心斗角鲜血淋漓的宫廷剧延续的都是同一个策略, 让你和我在习惯中持续感受和接受暴力,欺辱,和屠杀。六四坦克车的一丁点儿碾压,文革中的辱杀,三年困难期的饿杀,连电视都上不了,还能指望有什么影响? 即使侥幸播出了,又有什么打紧? 小兵张嘎刘胡兰们马良这些儿童杀手和恐怖分子早已充分训练了你和我感官的承受能力!

 

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文化多样性

偶然读到威廉学院Ashraf 与 布朗大学Galor 2011年合写的旧作,《文化多元,地理隔绝与国家财富的源起》Cultural diversity, geographical isolation, and the origin of the wealth of nations,大为震撼。作者立足新制度经济学,中间揉合了社会生态和进化观点,虽然数学模型大众亲近不易,但论断极为简单。该理论貌似简单,实则解释力惊人。

简言之,农耕社会技术水平低,资源流动区域小速度慢周期长,文化同化(assimilation)有助聚集社会资源,有效提高社会生产力,现在流行的所谓集中力量办大事就是这种思维的典型体现。农耕时代文化同化的必要性跳出国别对比、文化优劣、种族差异等常规框架,高屋建瓴, 准确解释了朝代更替、君主专制、等级固化、垂直管理、宗族主义、民族主义、集体主义等各种现象。

由此看来,农业时代的东西方,不过五十步笑百步,总体差别不大。 差别只是运气好坏,盛衰早晚而已。去各自老祖宗那寻根,如新儒家、文艺复兴等,不过是浪漫主义的幻觉。最大的用处,是历史学研究,探讨社会转型临界点(critical mass)形成的时间和具体因素。有意义,但不大,因为临界点成形有如预测地震带地震,必有大震,但至于何时发生,无法准确预测。

中国历史上有几次工业化转型机会,都失之交臂,而英国一蹴而就,不是英国人多优秀,只能怪中国运气太差。古希腊城邦间贸易发达,同时兴起的民主政治繁荣,之所以短命,是当时各城邦经济体规模太小,不足以制衡以抵御落后外敌入侵所致。

工业化社会至现今,社会科技水平大幅提高,资源流动全球化,速度快周期短,文化聚合发散(cultural fusion and diffusion) 能加速分工合作,推进科学技术制度创新。社会文化发散型聚合是工业及后工业社会的主要动力。这也解释了文艺复兴、理性启蒙、私有财产、个性自由、民主回归、自由贸易等等现象。

社会多模态

2017年7月13日,是个星期四。悉尼冬日,不冷,寒气还是蛮渗人,和悉大师哥两口子在家火锅小聚,聊到刘晓波。估计快不行了,师哥说。师哥悉大中文系任教,不爱政治话题,但职位特殊,所以内幕花边消息不少,比如某某教授民运成功日有志问鼎总统等等。晚上熬夜看温网比赛,起的晚,早上开车送小孩上学听ABC要闻播报,才知道刘晓波昨日已病故,六十又一岁。心里疙瘩了几下,一天不爽。后来陆续跟踪了几天刘霞、海葬、刘家大哥争遗产的报道, 依然不爽,不过没先前气闷了。

我是个后知后觉的人。长在西北内陆小县城,出身先富起来的底层农民家庭,阶级封印地主,尽管老早接触互联网,学力修到了硕士,耳目还是极其闭塞。知道刘晓波,是他08年底因零八宪章被捕,判了刑,其后10年又获颁诺贝尔和平奖,海外媒体大肆报道,而我已经落脚悉尼,博士新科,打算弃国家如小区了。

我专修语言教学,熟悉语言学符号学理论。刘晓波入狱那会正在读多种模态互动方面的东西,例如解多元理论、符号型社会互动等。感觉上文字、图片、动画之间的互动关系与人类社会关系比较,没实质区别。符号模态间竞争合作控制反抗其实就是人类社会的写照。不同的是,人类史无法重写,而观察、摆弄模态有的是时间。

说起来,多模态并非原创前沿,人类沟通从来就是各个感官和手段都参与的多维度多模态。之所以潮起来,是技术进步的结果。电子化、互联网、云计算大幅降低了声像制作和传输成本,让更多不善言谈或书写甚至残疾群体能够参与社会沟通和创造。技术变化要发挥作用,必须和社会认识合拍。比如,沟通方式专业化发展,擅长言谈书写的人士要么精进专长,要么充电转型,要么让贤给网红小鲜肉,要么搞专业团队合作。一味地抵制,往往两败俱伤。

社会制度也需要改变来迎合新变化。传统书写主导的沟通模式方式单一,要实现沟通效果最大化,精英控制的阶层结构比较有效。多模态沟通因为参与手段多样化,参与群体基数巨大,层次分化多样,必须向网络化平层结构转型。一言蔽之,人类沟通方式在变,若社会制度不变,长期僵持下去,渐行渐远,必然是爆炸式决裂。渐变也好,聚变也好,不过是科技发展的必然结果。个人或群体的主观意愿、喜好、主义等等,或能逆流一时,不可能逆流一世。

后来读麻省理工Acemoglu与芝大Robinson 2013年合著的新国富论 《国家衰落之谜论国力、繁荣与贫穷的根源》 Why nations failThe origins of power, prosperity, and poverty 作者秉承新制度经济学传统,以典型国家和地区经济发展史为蓝本,讨论解决盛衰因果如墨西哥和美国边境接壤的姐妹小镇、西非津巴布韦等。资料翔实,深入浅出,虽不能比拼当年亚当斯密《国富论》的开创见识,对马克斯韦伯清教徒文化决定论、精英治国、专家治理等各种流行论断的批判却是针针见血,毫不留情。指出同等条件下 ,实施民主制度、法治健全、主权稳定的国家,往往更能充分发挥市场繁荣经济的巨大作用。遗憾的是,全书自始至终,未能建立可复制的模型,给出逻辑解释,有先入为主,套套逻辑的嫌疑。

有意思的是,他们大作结尾对国家人口规模与经济发展的讨论,貌似漫不经心,某种程度上却准确预测了2016年英国退欧公投结果。英国退欧,表面上看是右翼民族主义作祟,骨子里是资本和市场对自由贸易流动性日益退化的不满。欧盟尾大不掉,官僚机构繁复,而网络全球化时代,地区分工愈来愈精细复杂,多样性愈来愈深入,联邦式垂直管理体系无法快速反应,照顾联盟国需求。以一对多,艰难;以多对多,繁杂;以多对一,正点。这和自媒体的发展,整合多媒体为用户提供个性化应用,不谋而合。Flipboard、Twitter、Facebook的流行,皆源于此。

所谓天下大势,分久必合,合久必分,苏维埃解体,美利坚纷争不断,集权中国天价维稳耗费,不过只是表象,表象下的实质,是技术革新、资本积累、市场自由变化引发的新势能。科技发展水平越高,资本流转越快,(人力)资源流动性越强的国家,保持主权稳定性所需要的地域和人口规模越小。现时东南亚的新加坡北欧各国是探索中的范例。世界回归希腊城邦战国群雄鼎立的小区时代,也许只是个时间表问题。当然,回归的实质根本不同,从前靠武力结盟,骨子里都想一统江湖,天下大同,唯我独尊,引来的必然是血雨腥风,白骨成山;未来靠合约协作,自家一亩三分地里精耕细作,资本生态圈里,各家各擅其长,互通有无,共同富裕。张五常等新制度经济学者认为中国郡县制度竞争力强大,说的大概也是这个意思。不过要捅破定势思维的窗户纸,更进一步,需要有冒天下之大不韪的勇气和智慧。

 

Stable local community is harmful.

Contrary to popolar thinking, ultra-stable house ownership breeds xonerphobia, racism, and terrorism. This is not to refute the premacy of private property ownership. Instead, it calls for a revision if this theory in that it was proposed at the early stage of capitalism when agriculture was still a strong force and when the world was still a agrigarian society. Cultural assimilation as well as norm compliance were central to economic efficiency. Under those circumstances, stability of property ownership was not only desirable but essential to a societyas progress. Industrialization as well as the digitization that follows, however, requires rapid exchange of ideas, resources,and capital. Property ownership is still pertinent but what is at stake is the mobility of ownership and the speed of ownership exchange. The easier and quicker the exchange is,the wealthier and safer a society becomes, in that it is indicative of healthy diffusion of small and cultures at different levels and scales. On the opposite, a society would become fractionalized, divisive and turbulent. That’s why owning property should be regarded as a bad index of economic health and should be discouraged.

开放社会的头号敌人:集体主义

所谓集体主义,通俗讲,就是抱团取暖,类似蜂窝蚁穴。集体主义有没有错?没错。它是原始社会部落生存的基本策略。原始社会物资匮乏,野兽遍布,缺医少药,生存环境极其恶劣,这种策略是合理的进化选择。进入相对富裕的后工业时代,原始的集体主义及其现当代变体就成了开放社会不稳定的根源。

这些形形色色的集体主义有的一目了然,像民族主义,国家主义,共产主义等。有的很隐蔽,还能挑拨神经,比如爱国主义,文化派系,宗教,宗派。有的很地下,比如各种同乡会,同学会,帮派等等

民族主义、国家主义的集体主义特征很明显,极端程式化,学者论述众多,媒体报道广泛,容易辨别,像清末的义和团,新近的反萨德游行等。受过良好高等教育的人士基本能够甄别、抵制。这类程式化集体主义可以通过制度性变革逐渐削弱影响。

伪乌托邦的集体主义的迷惑性和煽动性极强,比如社会主义、共产主义、凯恩斯主义等,

相形之下,宗教宗族等集体主义则非常隐蔽,因而更具有破坏力。野心家们往往会利用宗教实现自己的极权迷梦。 持续世俗化(去集体主义),民主化(多元人群合作机制), 法治化 (拒绝集体主义干预), 个性化(创造力激发), 才是根本出路。比如,教育部们应停止向各类教会学校提供资助。

任何宗教都和集体主义一样,其极端形势都很恐怖。比如汉化后的佛教,主张灭人伦绝人欲断人形。幸好天朝子民多世俗,做做居士而已,出家当和尚做尼姑的毕竟是少数,一把火把自家邻里全烧了的不多。

所谓世俗化,其实就是资本主义。邓小平的改革,就是用资本主义世俗化毛的极端集团主义,减小其危害,确保社会经济生活能继续运行。

The National Curriculum, the cane, and Kevin Donnley

Professor Barry Spurr’s downfall was not considered incidental but the result of a political conspiracy against the then freshly released National curriculum review. Spurr and a few other supporters believed that New Maltida had targeted at them in order to attack the government.  Spurr, as one of the 15 experts appointed by the Education Minister’s two men review panel, reviewed the English curriculum.  His view on the newly minted national curriculum English is surprisingly similar to Dr Kevin Donneley’s, a full professor of education at Australia Catholic University who is the chair of an one-men not for profit educational consultancy and on the two-men review panel that led the review.

Spurr’s report in this regard may conjure up allegations of academic cronyism as his conclusion echoes neatly with Donneley’s early advocacy that the Australia curriculum has sidelined the Western, Judio-Crhistrian tradition for being too pro-Asian and -aboriginal. He even stressed a lack of biblical references in the new curriculum. Many would see their view as criticism against multiculturalism but few would question their passion for continuing the so-called universal value imbued in the western civilization, even though their insistence on the biblical references is seemingly ridiculous.

However, under the context of anti-immigration campaigns in Australia and several European countries such as Germany and France, such an insistence is not surprising. The New-Nazi xenophobia is disguised in the veil of so-called Judeo-Christian value system and any other ethnic purification campaigns. At its extreme would be purge of the aliens or any exotic, assimilation/integration-resistant living beings.  Strangely, compassion and acquiescence towards such purge-prone sentiment are often pervasive in that their view is staunchly conservative, speaking to the traditions, truths, and classics, as has been captured by the bleak movie trilogy The Purge.  Conservatives seen in this haze is an honorable term that has no connotations for the left or the right wing but a symbol for acting on principles.

Being conservative is nevertheless equivalent to being careful with, and or nostalgic of, values, beliefs and principles. However, without delimiting its scope with certain conditions, it has little or no credibility in offering credible interpretations or can stand fast as a principle. In fact, it can be discredited quickly in their followers’/advocates’ own practices. Dr Donnelly, for instance, has made himself headlines again lately while claiming the benefit of reintroducing the cane to school, one of the many tools for conducting corporeal punishment. It is not surprising that as a school principal himself in the 70s and 80s, he was candid in equating disciplining to (the pathway to) education. With regard to his advocacy for the Judo-Christian value in education, the cane unmistakably embodies power to domesticate its participants, for conformist good manners regardless of their group or individual identifications. Again, Donnelly is not a lone wolf. Similar zombie ideas, proposals, and policies have resurrected and started to remerge lately in education, politics, and many other pockets of our contemporary society. Some UK schools, for instance, have boasted about plans for recruiting former militants to discipline their pupils to ensure effective education delivery.

The cane is neither dead, repackaged as a preservation-worthy tradition, nor will it depart as an embodiment of power. The Nazis are never buried to vanish their returns in the name of preserving traditions, heritage, characters, and strengths. The conservatives will never give in when they send missionaries to preach traditional values: nostalgic, displaced, but romanticized. The argument both Spurr and Donneley have tried to market resonates with their conservative stance and the so-called tradition, value, and ideologies without the white being ostentatiously flagged as the referent. In many ways, they deflect criticisms as a safe haven for the Donneleys and Spurrs to continue their amusement at others’ bewilderment. The problem is: when the cane is conveniently and systemically manipulated by the state to abuse its non-mainstream/conformist citizens, be it discursive, symbolic, or physical, the abused may resort to various possible means including violence or barbarian actions to avenge. Terror is the last and easiest means for the repressed to feel empowered at all cost. Even worse, it can be inevitably manipulated by those who are thirsty for power and control, as history has repeatedly been producing instances, from Lenin, Starlin, Hitler, to Mao Zedong. The recent tragedy at Paris in which twelve people at a satirical magazine was murdered by a three armed ISIS terrorists may serve a footnote. However admirable the 44 world leaders are when joining the post-massacre protest, the problem persists, as was captured aphoristically in Foucault’s argument:

“…the State is no longer an instrument that one race uses against another: the State is, and must be, the protector of the integrity, the superiority, and the purity of the race…racism is born at the point when the theme of racial purity replaces that of race struggle, and when counterhistory begins to be converted into biological racism” (Foucault, 2003, p. 81).

The terror will continue globally as long as the cane of the Judeo-Christian continues in operation.

Pride and prejudice as hidden racism

In the academic circle, Barry Spurr was known as Australia’s first chair professor of poetry serving at the University of Sydney and was well regarded internationally as an established T.S. Eliot scholar before his dramatic suspension. Professor Spurr’s misfortune spiraled on 18 October 2014 when the editor of Newmatilda (www.newmatilda.com), an independent online media, published an email transcript allegedly hacked through Spurr’s university email box.  In those emails, the professor “whimsically” though invariably, played with derogatory, racist terms such as abs and chiken-poohs. He also defamed the indigenous household in his suburb as “tips of rubbish iceberg” and blamed female rape victims for their own irresponsible dress and behaviors.  Newmaltida’s release of some of the emails, sparked swift and intense anger from the public and he was suspended immediately by the University for a thorough investigation.

While looking over the email transcript, I was struck, however, is not by that he is a racist under cover–any one including myself can succumb to some shades of racism at some point of time, wittingly or unwittingly, in a matter of a slip of tongue, mind, or judgment.  Upon reflections on the incident, I became deeply uncomfortable with this accomplished scholar’s pride, of being a member of the white, of being part of the Western civilization, and of being a gatekeeper of the standard to decide on the inclusion and exclusion of people. Without a doubt, he is a sensible person with a sense of social responsibility that is obsessive with a sense of reversed white guilt– a guilt in which white people as his kind must shoulder greater social responsibilities. A super hero complex inbuilt in his sense of whiteness is naturally manifested. It is his responsibility to provide solutions to other inferior people (including white bogans) in the dire of various social problems and to offer rescue.

Identified as a non-white, I am deeply concerned about the literary professor’s deplorable contempt on/ignorance of fundamentals of science and the obliviousness of time and space in his thinking. He is not intentionally anti-intellect but the pride, to a large extent, has led him to such a fate of defeat. He himself is a victim of the whiteness virus by birth or through education and career pursuit and has become a carrier of this virus.  What chilled me even more is that he is not a lone wolf. He has a pack considering his academic ranking and that he is a member of the review panel of Australia’s National Curriculum English. He is the chosen one!

Interestingly on this note is Spurr’s attitude towards the Australian bogan culture.  What at play here elucidates that indeed is not race  or ethnicity that infiltrates Spurr’s conscience but rather than his privilege to be a superior or in other words, to be the powerful, materially or symbolically, a dangerous savior positioning held fast by many members of today’s ivory tower.