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【翻译】《纽约时报》:中国需要的是自由,而非民主 2011年02月22日 21:28:54

翻译者语“本文发表于美国时间2011年2月16日,其作者是曾在清华大学与上海交通大学任客座教授的《纽约时报》专栏作家David.A.Bell。我仅作全文翻译,本文不代表任何本人的观点。由于中西文化差异,部分句子我没有进行逐字对应翻译,而是补充或转化了作者省略的以及让中国读者难以理解的内容。”

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Moving Eastward

向东方蔓延

 

Is China the next domino? Like Mubarak’s regime, the Chinese government relies on harsh measures to put down calls for democratic reform. Like Egypt, China is plagued by a huge gap between rich and poor, rampant corruption, rising prices of basic foods and high unemployment rates among recent university graduates.

中国会是多米诺骨牌的下一环节吗?就像穆巴拉克政权一样,中国政府一直在采取严厉手段,以遏制民主改革的呼声。与埃及相似的是,中国正在饱受贫富差距拉大、腐败现象严重、食品价格飞涨和大学毕业生就业难等问题的困扰。

 

So should outside forces turn to democracy-promotion in China?

于是乎,外界力量是否应推动中国的民主化进程呢?

 

Not so fast. In Egypt, social critics and reformers of different stripes profess public allegiance to the ideal of multiparty democracy, defined as free and fair competitive elections for the country’s political leaders, along with the freedoms that make those elections meaningful.

先别着急。在埃及,各个流派的社会批评家与改革者们,均认为多党派民主政治是民众心目中理想的治国方式。在埃及人心目中,多党派民主政治意味着国家领导人自由而公平的票选竞争,而人民也拥有让投票变得有意义的自由。

 

In China, it is not so simple. Pro-democracy forces are not absent — the most famous is the imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate (Harmony~) — but they are not widespread. Many social critics and political reformers in China do not endorse multiparty democracy as the solution to China’s political problems.

在中国,可就没这么简单了。中国倒也不是没有民主先驱,最著名的便是正处于牢狱中的诺贝尔和平奖得主(哔~)——但他们的观点尚未得到广泛传播。很多社会批评家和政治改革者,也并不认为多党派民主制是解决中国政治问题的恰当出路。

 

And the “democracy is not so good” camp is itself divided into two different groups. Let us call them Pessimists and Optimists.

而认为“民主并不好”的阵营本身,也分为两个不同的流派。我们姑且将他们称为保守派与乐观派。

 

The Pessimists point to a serious problem with democracy: The will of the people may not be moral — it could endorse racism, fascism or and imperialism. Such concerns are not purely theoretical. In the case of Egypt, widespread anti-Israeli sentiments, for example, may not prove favorable for the cause of peace in the Middle East.

保守派人士指出了一个民主制度存在的严重弊端:民众的愿望未必符合道德,它甚至可能充满种族主义、法西斯主义或是帝国主义思想。这样的顾虑并非纸上谈兵。以埃及为例,在埃及广泛传播的反以色列思想,很可能给中东的和平局势带来令人不快的波澜。

 

In the case of China, an unhealthy form of nationalism has gained strength. Nationalists want to make China a strong military and economic power that can “say no” to the rest of the world, whatever the moral considerations at stake. A transition to democracy could easily give rise to a populist strongman backed by a security and military mafia.

而在中国,一种不太健康的民族主义思想正变得深入民心。民族主义者希望将中国发展成为军事与经济的强国,可以对世界上的任何一个国家说“不”,而不在乎这样做的动机是否符合道德。如果中国走向民主,当选领袖的人很可能是一位拥有国防与军事背景的鹰派人士。

 

It is easy to blame the Chinese government for fanning the flames of a resentful nationalism. But the fact of the matter is that the government often tries to counteract it. Contrary to popular belief, much of the censorship of popular newspapers is targeted at extremist and dangerous forms of nationalism, not at liberal-reformist viewpoints.

或许我们可以将中国民族主义蔓延的局势归咎为中国政府的煽风点火。但是事实上,中国政府恰恰在设法熄灭民族主义的火焰。与坊间传言相反的是,中国政府对畅销报纸的审查,更关注那些极端主义和危险的民族主义言论,而不是那些倾向于自由与改革的观点。

 

Hence, Pessimist reformers say that China should implement measures to combat corruption and abuses of government power and open the society in other ways — but without going the route of electoral democracy. In the long term, perhaps, but not now.

于是,保守派改革者指出,中国应该调整现有政策以打击贪腐,消除滥用政府权力的现象,并用其它手段达成社会的开放,而不是走向民主选举的道路。也许民主选举是长久以后的趋势,但绝非现在所需。

 

The Optimists point to another key problem with democracy: There is no formal representation for non-voters who are affected by the policies of the government. Hence a democratic form of government may be counter to the interests of future generations and people living outside national boundaries.

而乐观派人士则指出了民主制度存在的另一个严重弊病:民主无法反映那些没有投票权,却会受到政府政策影响的人的呼声。举例来说,那些还未达到投票年龄或尚未出生的下一代,或者是那些身在国境之外的异国人,他们的利益很可能被民主政府忽视。

 

Again, this is not a purely theoretical problem. Democratic countries such as Greece vote themselves unsustainable welfare policies that threaten to harm not just future generations but other European states. Or consider global warming: It is difficult if not impossible for democratically elected governments to implement policies that curb energy usage in the interests of future generations and foreigners.

这样的顾虑同样不是纸上谈兵。民主国家希腊就投票通过了不具可持续性的福利政策,而这一政策将损害下一代希腊人甚至是其它欧洲国家的利益。或者考虑一下全球变暖问题:让民主政府通过减少能源使用以造福下一代和外国人的法案虽然并非不可能,但是用全民投票的方式实现这一点极其困难。

 

If China were to follow the American model in terms of per capita carbon emissions, the world would be damaged beyond repair. Today, several hundred million Chinese living south of the Yangtze River cannot use central heating. Such policies benefit the world as well as future generations, but they would likely be revoked by a popularly elected government.

如果中国在人均二氧化碳排放量上向美国看齐的话,世界将遭受难以修补的损害。目前有上亿生活在长江以南的中国人无法使用暖气。这样的政策将惠及全世界以及中国的下一代,但一个以民主投票方式做决定的政府,恐怕会将它否决。

 

Optimists respond to such concerns by proposing forms of government that aim to do better than Western-style democracies. In the past decade, Confucian reformists have put forward proposals for a democratic assembly that would represent the interests of workers and farmers, complemented by another assembly that would represent the interests of non-voters. Deputies in the democratic house would be chosen by voters, while deputies in the other house would be chosen by meritocratic mechanisms such as competitive examinations.

乐观派对于这一弊端的回应是,中国政府可以采用不同于西方式民主的制度,从而比他们做得更好。在过去的十年中,中国的改革者

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