也说唐伯桥

以方励之、柴玲、刘晓波为代表的89一代的民运人士根本不懂民主。他们只会炫耀概念。更要命的是,经历了文革、上山下乡、反日宣传、儿童团、人肉盾牌人肉炸弹等各种形式的恐怖主义训练和影响后,这帮人的民主实践比起当年宽松政治环境下的孙中山、毛泽东、邓小平相差太远,又缺乏实际的生活体验。作为这伙人的典型代表,唐伯桥一旦落脚真民主的国家,就立马原形毕露,露出了流氓无产者的真面目。跟着他们搞民主,还不如跟90后、00后搞小确幸来的实在。 新一代年轻人虽然无意民主,但却在做实事,恢复让老毛破坏殆尽的市场经济,发展资本主义,张扬个性,拥抱多元化。这些才是真民主的基础,更是所谓民主转型的希望。

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边巴次仁的中间道路有猫腻

在全球化民族融合再造的今天,边巴次仁的观点不仅落后,一旦得逞,比天朝管制下的西藏可能更可怕。要知道,民族不是一个固化概念,它可以成型,也在演化,更可能消失,融入到新的民族中去。这个演化速度有快有慢,但相较于个体生命要漫长的多。回族的出现就是很典型的例子。宗教也一样,佛教传到西藏,和当地自然、人文环境结合,就成了藏传密宗,和内地农耕社会的禅宗大不相同。到了电子化时代,各个教派来往紧密,没人能预料未来藏传佛教会是什么样子。所以西藏当然可以是自己的西藏,但更应该是西藏人的西藏,包括认同自己是藏人的藏族、汉人和其他种族和民族。这样的西藏也应该是各个宗教教派和平竞争和共处的西藏,而不只是藏传佛教的西藏。做不到这些, 结果会依然是残酷的教派斗争, 甚至是种族清洗和屠杀。本来以为这些年达赖喇嘛们流亡在外,已经深刻体会到世界大势。现在看起来不完全如此,骨子里的民族主义种族主义宗教至上的排他思想,和天朝并无二致。

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。

 

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.

Trump Rhetoric: His secret weapon to success (or dictatorship?)

Donald Trump will put an end to "nation building" and instead focus on ... All talks about Donald Trump’s antics are on his shrewd showmanship which is indisputably effective, in retaining attention and drowning criticisms. But critics have taken no note of the power of his language, as well as his way of performing his language in texts such as his campaign speeches and press conference rants. Instead they ridicule it, ruthlessly and stupidly. Media coverage is flooded by the kind of comments such as Year 3 grammar and vocabulary, grammatical mistakes, typos, overtly simple text structure, illogical arguments …The list goes on. All of them certainly make sense if Trump’s language is compared with the style shared by the past US presidents and contemporary world leaders which is polished, grammatical, conspicuously academic, and unmistakably elite like. The kind of questions here I’d like to ask is: is this style really typical of the elite? Or is it simply outdated and out of touch.

Frustrated by Trump’s rusty-belt support, appeal to the lower-income white families, and so-called anti-intellect trend, very few critics and activists have calmed down and reflect on our language practices. For instances. How do we create text in digital times on our phone, blog, Facebook, and Twitter? Do we really use those classic rhetorical devices and the text conventions mediated by the print? Not really. In fact, over the past 20 years, our text practices and training basically have been turned upside down while we are migrating to the digital space. It seems the majority of us are doing well and are ripping all kinds of benefit from this change. To just name a few: speedy communications, easy access, and diverse channels and media.

But surprisingly and unfortunately, the majority of politicians and educators share the same front in language education and are active in condemning the new landscape of literacy education. They are worried about the Generation Y: too much screen time, lack of handwriting, dwindling interest in classic literature, too much video/VR gaming, insatiable texting… The list goes on, as well, and certainly it is an ominous sign of downgrading literacy and constitutes literacy jeopardy . To rescue the new generations, they throw billions of dollars into implementing conceivable sorts of standardized tests to name and shame students, schools, and universities and restore the old, outdated literacy skills. Many mainstream media are trapped in this mentality and have become accomplice in redistributing this discourse, uncritically.

Well this may seem ironic, or even trivial. But triviality is often where rebellion and revolution originate, if we genuinely believe those famous sayings that words are swords and that texts (discourse, narratives, etc.) have power. In retrospect, we must reassess Trump’s language and the texts he and his team are creating. They are not Year 3 level and they are embraced by the Gen Y dearly, wittingly and unwittingly. It really does not matter what type of membership we are holding. As Trump is a successful show business veteran, he understands and uses our language and texts all too well and he has been performing by exactly the same script to grab our eyes and hearts. To sum up with a blunt and bleak statement: we are all Trump fans, subconsciously. And even more troubling is: virtually, Trump has no rivals among his contemporaries in creating and performing our text . It is no secret that Trump will continue instigating controversies and causing serious problems, unless brave leaders of the Gen Y are willing to stand up.