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李世默:从中国看特朗普现象与美国民主

2016-06-17 11:57:48

【美国总统大选正在如火如荼地进行,地产大亨特朗普的崛起不但震惊了美国朝野,也给中国精英提出了难题。如何向公众解释特朗普现象?4月19日,美国权威政论杂志《外交》(Foreign Affairs)刊登春秋发展战略研究院研究员李世默文章“Watching American Democracy in China”,剖析了特朗普现象在太平洋两岸造成的冲击波。本文中文版由作者授权观察者网刊发。】


在这个猴年里,美国总统竞选吸引了无数中国人的眼球,而主角非唐纳德·特朗普莫属。究竟什么是民主的本质?到底谁当选美国总统对中国有利?通常意义上的专家们这次都找不到北了,没法向中国公众解释。

几十年来,中国存在着两套相互平行、却不可调和的叙事,左右着人们对于美国政治的理解。保守派呈现给公众的是纸牌屋版本的美国民主:西方民主是虚假的,民意受到金钱和特殊利益的操纵,体制被滥用于牟取私利。相反,自由派注重宣传的是民主女神版本: 美国人民能够通过选举政治领袖决定国家命运,与国内一党统治有云泥之别,这种多党选举制才应是中国政治发展的方向。

既然美国是当前时代的民主旗手,那么以上两种关于美国政治的对立观点,自然在极大程度上影响着中国人对民主体制、乃至本国政治前景的看法。然而在面对美国房地产大亨特朗普时,中国人不得不重新评估他们对美国政治制度的认识。更重要的是,特朗普现象可能颠覆中国人对民主的普遍看法——其程度取决于美国大选的结果,及其带来的长期影响。

4月19日,纽约州初选,特朗普站在投票箱前

在地缘政治领域,专家们的观点也高度分化。特朗普以好战的言辞抨击外国对手,中国与日本、墨西哥都成了他的靶子,这似乎必然惹恼中国的鹰派。然而,他不加掩饰地赞叹中国取得的成就;在外交上主张减少对外干预,这使局面变得复杂和难以判断。

那些贬损美国民主的人这次看呆了,特朗普的崛起好似象征着财力雄厚的共和党精英在普通美国人的包围下,陷入了四面楚歌的境地。虽然特朗普自己就是富豪,但这并不矛盾:他以局外人的角色杀入战局,被看作是对美国政治体制的反抗。他的政策立场迎合的是美国工薪阶层的利益;而且迄今为止,他花在竞选上的钱,只相当于其他候选人的一小部分。在某种程度上,伯尼·桑德斯出人意料的强势,反映出民主党阵营也出现了类似现象。

这种现象与中国保守派的说教相左:因为如此看来,美国“人民”最终或许还是能够决定国家命运的。

中国的《环球时报》在某篇社论中,用“大嘴”、“粗暴”等字眼形容特朗普,认为特朗普现象凸显了美国政治制度的衰落,毫不掩饰地表达幸灾乐祸态度。然而该报不但在另外两篇社论中解释道,美国精英们给特朗普的大批支持者贴上民粹主义标签,恰好反映自身已“丧失了理性”;甚至一百八十度大转弯,称特朗普是名聪明机智、适应性强的商人,并祝他好运。

中国官方的新华社一向把美国民主称为富人的游戏。然而在报道特朗普时,该社却认为不可一概而论:“华尔街被视为美国总统大选背后的资金支持一大来源。各路竞选人万万不敢真得罪这些实力雄厚的钱袋子。不过,自己有钱的特朗普却并不买华尔街的帐。”

4月19日,桑德斯在宾夕法尼亚州立大学发表演说

中国的自由派也处于左右为难的困境中,充满愤怒和绝望。他们虽然痛恨特朗普,却难以开口维护美国精英阶层,说富人们是对的、民众是错的。这么说无疑将有损于他们试图在中国树立西方民主的高大形象。毕竟,如果民众可能犯如此巨大的错误,怎么还能让他们投票?

在某位著名的自由派评论员口中,特朗普的支持者类似中国的“毛左”,他们没有大学学位,属于“美国被遗忘的群体”。在凤凰卫视的节目上,名嘴们要么贬低特朗普,管他叫“特大炮”;要么只能拾人牙慧地重复其罪状,批评他是个一无所知的骗子。还有位自由派评论员,说特朗普的调门“赤裸裸地近似法西斯……”

自由派对特朗普的反自由主义世界观嗤之以鼻。然而,特朗普在选举中节节胜利,这更令他们如鲠在喉:因为长期以来,自由派一直宣称,选举是政治合法性的唯一基础。他们大都把希望寄托在希拉里·克林顿身上,期盼她取得最后的胜利。

的确,在特朗普现象的影响下,中国人对美国民主的看法开始跳出刻板印象,超越保守派和自由派意见领袖为公众准备的两套“企划书”。一个更复杂、更现实的画卷正呈现在中国人眼前。

混乱与绝望之外,大多数中国人本能地把握住了特朗普现象的一个核心主题:阶级斗争。在中国,几乎每篇关于特朗普的评论文章,都指出一个事实,即特朗普的支持大多来自工人阶级。一些权威人士采用美国的话语,将特朗普的崛起称作“来自99%的复仇”。《中国青年报》刊登统计数据证明美国中产阶级正在萎缩,并以此来解释特朗普现象。

鉴于中国的马克思主义遗产,人们有这样的认识并不奇怪。自从西方取得冷战胜利以来,中国人基本上接受了这样一种观念,即西方国家通过民主政治,已成功解决了阶级斗争问题。在中国近现代史上,阶级斗争曾走到极端,导致了极大的灾难。在西方民主国家,阶级界限仿佛已被消除,这令中国人尤其羡慕。然而,特朗普的竞选却向世界昭示,阶级斗争的止息可能仅是幻象。美国工人阶级其实很愤怒。

4月15日,克鲁兹在纽约州罗切斯特发表演讲

中国公众可能会惊讶地发现,他们的认识与美国许多思想家不谋而合。早在特朗普于选战中过关斩将之前,《大西洋月刊》刊登戴维.弗鲁姆文章,把选举制目前的混乱,归因于数十年来精英阶层对美国中产/工薪阶层利益的忽视、甚至背叛。精英们一方面倡导全球化,一方面成为该进程最大的受益者,而普通美国人的收入则停滞不前,甚至下降。同样,精英们宣传的文化多元主义,给富人和企业带来了好处,因为移民降低了劳动力成本,引入了更多人才;但也导致美国工薪阶层失去就业机会,社区凝聚力受到外来者的威胁。其实,类似情绪在桑德斯的支持者中也会产生共鸣。

早在2014年,迈克尔·林德就曾在论文“即将到来的重组”里写道,美国民主与共和两党都是由松散支离的联盟组成的。在共和党方面,资本主义精英向美国工薪阶层提供基于社会价值观和身份认同的种种主张,比如反对堕胎和种族政治,以形成社会基础获取执政多数。至于民主党,也让党内经济精英与持自由主义社会观的普通美国人达成联盟。换句话说,两党都是以华尔街和企业精英为主导的,它们像可口可乐与百事可乐一般轮流执掌权力,但实质性政策大同小异,都无视党内草根阶层的经济利益。简而言之,阶级斗争在国家层面上成为可行的政治力量之前,两党先通过党内结构将它吸收或压制了。

林德预测,这种结构是不可持续的。在美国政治中,社会价值观已逐渐不再是主要的政治断裂线,工薪阶层美国人将不断团结,为自身经济利益与精英们展开斗争——后者是资本与技术的拥有者与支配者。这种重组将跨越政党的界线。林德还无法判断的是,刚形成自我意识的美国工薪阶层,将以民主党还是共和党作为自身的政治基础。在这次选举中,特朗普和桑德斯分别代表了各自政党内的工薪阶层。现在看来,即使特朗普最终落选,他带动起来的趋势将把共和党改造为美国劳动人民的政治基础,同时在民主党内造成分裂。这种新获得赋权的民粹主义,可能给美国政治带来大洗牌,影响波及未来几代人的命运。

在这种情况下,共和党将成为美国劳动人民的先锋队,维护并扩大社保和医保,通过限制移民和贸易以保护就业,并对代表全球化资本精英利益的对外干涉的外交政策予以约束。届时,民主党将获得城市精英阶层的支持,这个人群能从自由市场经济、自由贸易、移民以及干涉主义外交政策中获益。

如果这次选举为美国社会的两极分化铺平了道路,使其成为阶级斗争的战场,那么它将是一堂宝贵的政治课,加深中国人对民主本质的认识。

中国人将看清,民主不是终结阶级斗争的万能灵药。他们还将发现,虽然金钱利益在西方民主国家具有巨大优势,但民众偶尔也有做主的时候,能够违背精英阶层的意愿,去影响国家的前进方向。此外,即使在全世界最发达的国家,民主政治的结果既可能是自由主义的,也可能是民粹主义或反自由主义的。

特朗普对中国人观念的影响,不仅局限于民主议题。中国人对美国外交领域鹰派鸽派的看法乃至偏好,都可能因他而发生改变。传统上,中国意见领袖们更倾向于接受温和的国际主义者(不论他来自民主党还是共和党),比如老布什和比尔·克林顿,因为他们似乎愿意把崛起的中国接纳到当前的世界秩序中去。相反,共和党的新保守主义者和民主党的自由干涉主义者,比如小布什政府里的一些势力、希拉里·克林顿,甚至巴拉克·奥巴马,都令中国人如芒在背,因为他们推行积极遏制中国的政策,甚至干涉中国内政。有趣的是,在世界许多国家看来,奥巴马在海外动用美国硬实力时,保持着高度克制;然而在许多中国人眼里,他充满敌意,正是其“转向亚洲”政策,制造了中美两国之间的紧张局势。

特朗普使中国人开始重新思考。他把美国的困境怪罪到中国头上,并宣称当选总统后将削减贸易,切断中国经济增长的一大源泉。在竞选中,他针对中国发表了一系列极具敌意的辞令,在大洋彼岸引起了高度关注。在国防事务上具有强烈民族主义立场的解放军军官戴旭,将特朗普比作美国的希特勒,谴责其在赢得新罕布什尔州初选后发表的演说是“一个帝国主义分子的战争演说。”

然而如果特朗普当选总统,他极有可能避免在地缘政治以及人权等内政问题上,对中国进行强势挑战。特朗普甚至数度对中国取得的成就表示钦佩。无论是跨太平洋伙伴关系协议(TPP),还是令中国人焦虑不安的“专向亚洲”政策,都可能在特朗普的任期内化为泡影。他甚至宣称,除非日本和韩国愿意分担美国军费,否则美国将削减其对盟国的防御投入。

长期以来,中国人一直认为美国如果转向专心解决其内部各种棘手问题,对中美两国都更有益。中国外交学界著名鹰派学者金灿荣认为,特朗普是个实用主义者,而”中国人爱跟实用主义打交道”。

没有人会怀疑,一旦特朗普领导美国,中美之间将展开一场激烈的竞争。 但中国应该并不害怕美国这样的竞争对手,竞争是件好事。中国一向抵制和反感的,是执意按照自身形象改造世界的美国。可以肯定,唐纳德·特朗普代表的,绝不是那样的美国。

在这个沸腾的美国之春,特朗普犹如一头在瓷器店里横冲直撞的公牛,粉碎了中国人的民主叙事以及地缘政治观点。成也好、败也罢,特朗普已经在太平洋彼岸留下了一连串困惑、冲突和新发现。

(李世默是上海的风险投资家和政治学学者)

英文原文翻页可见

In this Year of the Monkey, China has been riveted by the U.S. presidential election, and more specifically by Republican contender Donald Trump.  Those who pontificate on the nature of democracy and about what kind of U.S. president would be better for China are at a loss to explain the Trump phenomenon to the Chinese public.

Two parallel but irreconcilable narratives about U.S. politics have guided Chinese understanding of the United States for decades.  The conservatives tell the public that American democracy is a sham in which money and special interests manipulate public opinions and rig the system for their own benefit – the House of Cards version of democracy. The liberals promote it as a system in which the people determine their own fate by electing their leaders, in contrast to one-party rule at home, and as something China must aspire to – the Goddess of Democracy version.

The Chinese perspective on democracy in general and the country's own future are very much influenced by the divide over the United States, the standard bearer of democracy of our time. But the American real estate mogul is forcing the Chinese public to reassess its understanding of the U.S. political system. More consequentially, depending on the eventual outcome of the election and its long-term impact, the Trump phenomenon may change how the Chinese think about democracy.  

In the sphere of geopolitics, the experts are even more conflicted. Trump has made China, along with Japan and Mexico, a target of his bellicose language against foreign rivals, which would seem certain to upset Chinese hawks. Yet, his expressed admiration for China’s accomplishments and his advocacy for restraint in foreign interference complicate the picture.  

For those who disparage American democracy, Trump’s rise gives the impression that, at least on the Republican side, ordinary Americans are close to checkmating the well-financed elites. Trump is himself a rich man. But that is beside the point. He’s running as a protest candidate from outside the system. His policy positions speak to the interests of working class Americans, and he has so far spent only a fraction of what the other candidates have laid out on campaigning. To a lesser extent, Bernie Sanders’s unexpected strength demonstrates a similar phenomenon on the Democratic side.

This is at odds with what China’s conservatives preach: it appears from China that the American “people” may thus be able to determine their country’s fate after all.

One leading conservative paper has had difficulties grappling with the challenge. The Global Times has called Trump “big-mouthed” and “abusive” and editorialized with undisguised schadenfreude that the Trump phenomenon is highlighting the decline of the American political system. Yet, in two other editorials, it explained that labeling the large number of Trump supporters as populists reflected the “loss of rationality” by America’s elites and called Trump a smart and adaptive businessman and wished him well.

The official Xinhua News Agency, which reliably paints American democracy as a game for the rich, reported that this time things look different. Trump’s wealth, Xinhua said, allows him to buck the system that has been controlled by Wall Street and corporate masters. The conservatives may regain their footing if the Republican Party establishment manages to deny Trump the nomination despite the votes. But at the moment they seem conflicted.

China’s liberals are in a bind too. Anger and despair reign. They despise Trump. But they can’t quite bring themselves to say that the moneyed elites are right and the people are wrong. Such an admission would not help them make their case for Western-styled democracy in China. After all, if the people can be so wrong, how can you give them the vote?

One popular liberal commentator described Trump supporters as forgotten Americans without college degrees and compared them to China’s own Maoists. Pundits on Phoenix Television, an outlet on which many liberal pundits appear, either belittle him – calling him te da pao, "Trump the big mouth"- or repeating common charges against him, such as that he is an ill-informed liar. Another liberal commentator called Trump a “naked resemblance of fascism.”

The liberals are repulsed by Trump’s illiberal outlook. Yet, his big electoral wins make them rather tongue-tied, as they have been promoting elections as the only basis for political legitimacy. Indeed, the Trump phenomenon is forcing China to look beyond its two stereotypes of American democracy long served up by the experts. A more complex and realistic picture is emerging.  

Confusion and despair aside, most Chinese instinctively understand one central theme of the Trump phenomenon: class struggle. Just about every analysis in China points out the fact that Trump is getting most of his support from the working class. Some pundits are adopting American language to call Trump’s rise the revenge of the 99 percent. The official newspaper China Youth Daily ran statistics showing the shrinkage of the American middle class to explain the Trump phenomenon.

This is not surprising given China’s Marxist heritage. Since the West won the Cold War, the Chinese have largely bought the idea that Western nations have successfully resolved class struggles through their democratic politics. As the Chinese suffered tremendously from extreme class struggles in their recent history, Western democracy seemed to have reached an enviable position by erasing class lines. But the Trump campaign is showing the world that this may be an illusion. America’s working class is angry.

The Chinese public might be surprised to know that many leading American thinkers have been making exactly this assessment. As David Frum wrote in The Atlantic, just before Trump started bringing delegates at the ballot box , the current electoral mess is the culmination of decades of elite neglect, and even betrayal, of the interests of middle and working-class Americans. Globalization, mostly championed by the elites, has benefited the wealthy as ordinary Americans have seen their income stagnate and decline. Multiculturalism, also promoted by the elites, has helped the rich and corporations; immigration has brought lower labor costs and greater abundance of talent while working Americans lost job opportunities and saw their community cohesion threatened by outsiders. One might add that similar sentiments seem to resonate among the Sanders supporters.

As Michael Lind, cofounder of The New America Foundation, wrote in a 2014 essay, “The Coming Realignment”, the two political parties in America have long consisted of incoherent coalitions. On the Republican side, capitalist elites coopted working-class Americans by preaching about social values and identity. The Democrats, on the other hand, also had their own economic elites, who maintained an alliance with ordinary Americans who held liberal social views. In other words, both parties were dominated by the same Wall Street and corporate elites who promoted similar substantive policies that disregarded the economic interests of their own grassroots constituents. In short, the two political parties have absorbed, or repressed, class conflicts within the party structures as a way to remain viable dominant forces at the national level.

Lind predicted that the structure was not sustainable. As social values receded as a main political fault line in American politics, working Americans would unite and fight for their economic interests. This realignment would cut across party lines. Lind was unsure which one of the two parties would become the political base for the newly self-aware working class. In this election, they are being represented by Trump and Sanders both. It now seems that, even if Trump eventually loses the election, the trend he as set in motion is transforming the Republican Party into the political base of working Americans and is partially dismembering the Democratic Party at the same time. Populism may realign American politics for generations to come.

In this scenario, the Republican Party would become the vanguard of working Americans who want to protect and expand Social Security and Medicare, limit immigration and trade to preserve jobs, and constrain foreign adventures that seem to primarily benefit the globalizing elites. The Democratic Party, then, would be the home for urban elites who support, and benefit from, free market economics, free trade, immigration, and interventionist foreign policies.

If this election paves the way for the United States to become a society polarized by class struggle, it would be a teachable moment for the Chinese about the nature of democracy.

The Chinese public would learn that democracy is not a panacea for resolving class struggle. They would also discover that, although moneyed interests have a significant advantage in a Western democracy, once in a while the people are able to take control against the wishes of the elites and influence their country’s direction. And, lastly, democracy, practiced in even the most developed country in the world, is just as capable of producing populist and illiberal outcomes as liberal ones.

Trump’s impact on Chinese perspectives of U.S. politics goes beyond democracy. The Chinese views of, and preferences for, hawks and doves in American foreign policy may be changed qualitatively. Traditionally, Chinese opinion leaders have preferred moderate internationalists from both parties, such as the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who seemed willing to accommodate a rising China into the existing world order. They have viewed with trepidation Republican neocons and Democratic liberal interventionists, such as some in the George W. Bush administration and Hilary Clinton, who want to aggressively contain China, interfere in its domestic affairs, or both. Even Obama fall into the category. Although the rest of the world may see him as highly restrained in using U.S. power abroad, he is viewed by many Chinese as hostile, due to his pivot to Asia and the resulting tension between the two countries.  

Trump is causing a realignment in China. He blames the country for the United States' woes and, as president, would curtail trade that is a major source of China’s economic growth. His aggressive rhetoric against China on the campaign trail has been well publicized here. Dai Xu, a People's Liberation Army officer and nationalistic firebrand on defense issues, called Trump an American Hitler and condemned his victory remarks after the New Hampshire primary as “an imperialist’s war-mongering speech.”

However, a President Trump would most likely refrain from aggressively challenging China in both geopolitics and domestic issues such as human rights. On several occasions, Trump has actually professed admiration for China’s achievements. Both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Obama’s pivot, which brought China so much angst, would probably be finished. He has even made statements to the effect that, under him, the United States would curtail its defense commitments to Japan and South Korea unless the latter paid up.  

The Chinese have always thought it would be better for both countries if the United States turned to fixing its own seemingly intractable domestic problems. Jin Canrong, an academic and another leading hawk in the Chinese foreign policy establishment, called Trump a pragmatist and said that the Chinese always “preferred to deal with pragmatists.” No one doubts that there would be fierce rivalry between China and the United States with Trump at the helm. But China probably does not fear an American competitor. Competition is a good thing. What China has always resisted and resented is an America that seeks to remake the rest of the world in its own image. And that is not something Trump seems ready to do.  

In this spring of American discontent, the Chinese narratives on democracy and perspectives on geopolitics are all being shattered. Win or lose, on the other side of the Pacific, the Donald is leaving confusion, conflict, and new discovery in his wake.

Eric X. Li is a Shanghai-based venture capitalist and political scientist

(英文原文刊载于Foreign Affairs,中文版由作者授权观察者网独家首发,杨晗轶译)

本文系观察者网独家稿件,文章内容纯属作者个人观点,不代表平台观点,未经授权,不得转载,否则将追究法律责任。关注观察者网微信guanchacn,每日阅读趣味文章。

李世默

李世默

中欧国际工商学院董事,春秋发展战略研究院研究员

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