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Brexit is Britain’s gift to the world

来源:FT中文网    2017-09-30 06:45

        The British chemist Sir Humphry Davy (born 1778) liked dangerous experiments. He was fired from his job as an apothecary for causing constant explosions. Later, as a chemist, he enjoyed inhaling the gases he worked with. This helped him discover that nitrous oxide (laughing gas) was a potent anaesthetic. “Unfortunately,” notes a short guide to his career from Oxford University Press, “the same habit led him to nearly kill himself on many occasions and the frequent poisonings left him an invalid for the last two decades of his life.” It was probably worth it: Davy isolated substances including calcium and strontium, identified the element iodine and made the first electric light.        英国化学家汉弗莱•戴维爵士(Sir Humphry Davy,出生于1778年)喜欢危险的实验。由于老是引起爆炸,他在担任药剂师时被解雇了。后来,作为化学家,他很喜欢吸入自己在工作中产生的气体。他也因此发现,一氧化二氮(笑气)是一种效果强大的麻醉药。“遗憾的是,”牛津大学出版社(Oxford University Press)关于戴维爵士生平的简介中写道,“同样的习惯导致他有很多次差点儿害死自己,经常中毒让在他生命中的最后20年里成了个病患。”这个代价很可能是值得付出的:戴维分离出了钙和锶等物质,发现碘元素,并制造出了第一个电灯。
        Much like Davy, the UK is now experimenting on itself for the benefit of humanity. Advanced societies rarely do anything so reckless, which is why the Brexit experiment is so valuable. In between self-poisonings, Brexit keeps producing discoveries that surprise both Leavers and Remainers. Here are some early lessons for other countries:        跟戴维非常相像的是,英国如今正为了人类的利益,拿自己做一项实验。发达社会很少像这样鲁莽,这正是英国脱欧(Brexit)实验显得如此宝贵的原因。在多次给自己下毒的过程中,英国脱欧不断有了让脱欧派和留欧派都感到惊奇的新发现。这是给其他国家的一些初步教训:
        When you focus on a wedge issue, you divide society. The Brexit vote has introduced unprecedented rancour into a traditionally apolitical country. Insults such as “enemies of the people”, “saboteurs”, “racists” and “go home to where you came from” are now daily British fare. Brexit rows split generations at family weddings and Christmas. All this was avoidable: until the referendum, few Britons had strong views on the EU, just as few Americans thought about transgender bathroom habits until their politicians discovered the issue. If you have to address wedge issues, best to aim for compromise rather than a winner-take-all solution such as a referendum.        当一个必然导致意见分化的问题(wedge issue)成了大家关注的焦点,社会就会分裂。英国脱欧公投在一个传统上不太关心政治的国家引爆了前所未有的怨恨。“人民的敌人”、“破坏分子”、“种族主义者”和“从哪来回哪去”等侮辱性语言如今成了英国人的日常用语。关于脱欧的争吵在家族婚礼和圣诞节上令几代人之间发生了意见分歧。这一切本是可以避免的:直到公投前,很少有英国人对欧盟(EU)心存强烈的看法,正如很少有美国人想到跨性别厕所问题,直到他们的政客们发现这一问题。如果不得不应对这种争执,最好想着找到折中方案,而不是赢者通吃的解决方案,比如公投。
        All countries need real-time election regulators. There have always been people who lied to win votes. But now they have social media. Every slow, understaffed, 20th-century election regulator must therefore retool itself into a kind of courtroom judge who can call out falsehoods instantly. The model is the UK Statistics Authority’s reprimand of Boris Johnson last Sunday, after he repeated the nonsense that leaving the EU would free up £350m a week for the National Health Service.        所有国家都需要实时的选举监管者。历来都有人通过撒谎赢得选票。但现在,他们有了社交媒体。因此,所有行动缓慢、人员不足、还保留20世纪行事方式的选举监管者必须重新把自己打造成可以立即分辨出假话的法官。不久前,英国国家统计局(UK Statistics Authority)就这样谴责了鲍里斯•约翰逊(Boris Johnson),因为他不断重复脱欧将使英国国家医疗服务体系(NHS)每周省下3.5亿英镑费用的无稽之谈。
        Revolutionaries invariably underestimate transition costs. Maybe if you have a blank slate, being out of the EU is better than being in it. But the calculation changes once you’ve been in the EU for 43 years. All your arrangements are then predicated on being in, and suddenly they become redundant. The cost of change is a classic conservative insight, though it’s been forgotten by the Conservative party.        革命家不可避免地会低估转型成本。如果只是刚开始,置身于欧盟之外也许比置身于欧盟之内要好。但一旦你在欧盟已呆了43年,你就得换个角度考虑了。你的所有安排都是基于你是欧盟内部一员而定的,突然间,这些安排都变得多余了。变革成本是一个经典的保守观点,只是已被保守党(Conservative party)所忘记。
        Almost every system is more complex than it looks. Most people can’t describe the workings of a toilet, writes Steven Sloman, cognitive scientist at Brown University. The EU is even more complicated, and so leaving it has countless unforeseen ramifications. Most Britons had no idea last year that voting Leave could mean closing the Irish border, or giving ministers dictatorial powers to rewrite law. Because of complexity, so-called common sense is a bad guide to policy making. Complexity is also an argument against direct democracy.        几乎每一种系统都比表面看起来的更复杂。布朗大学(Brown University)的认知科学家史蒂文•斯洛曼(Steven Sloman)写道,大多数人无法描述抽水马桶的工作原理。欧盟这个系统还要复杂得多,所以脱离欧盟具有数不清的意想不到的后果。去年,大多数英国人根本没想到,选择脱欧可能意味着关闭爱尔兰边境,或者给予部长们重写法律的专权。由于复杂性,在制定政策时,所谓常识只是糟糕的指南。复杂性也是我们反对直接民主的一条理由。
        Immigrants fulfil a role. Any society in which they live comes to depend on them. Britain’s NHS and the City of London would buckle without them. You may calculate that your distaste for immigrants is worth some lost functioning, but you have to acknowledge the trade-off.        移民担任了一种角色。任何存在移民的社会,都会逐渐变得依赖他们。若是没有移民,英国的NHS和伦敦金融城(City of London)将会变得衰弱。你也许会认为,以你对移民的讨厌,就算是让一些东西不能正常运行也是值得的,但你不得不承认需要对此进行权衡。
        You have to choose who to surrender your sovereignty to. Brexiters are right to say that the EU has usurped some of British sovereignty. But as John Major, former British prime minister, remarks, in a connected world the only fully sovereign state is North Korea. All other countries are forever trading away bits of sovereignty. For instance, the trade deal that the UK hopes to sign one day with the EU will entail adopting the EU’s standards on everything from cars to toys. You can decide to give away your sovereignty in new ways but, in practice, you can’t decide to keep it.        你不得不选择向谁交出你的主权。主张脱欧者表示,欧盟夺走了英国的部分主权,他们在这一点上是正确的。但正如英国前首相约翰•梅杰(John Major)所说,在一个相互联系的世界里,唯一拥有完全主权的国家是朝鲜。所有其他国家一直都在一点点地拿着主权做交易。例如,英国希望有朝一日跟欧盟签订的贸易协议,将包括在从汽车到玩具等许多领域接纳欧盟标准。你可以决定以新方式让渡你的主权,但实际上,你无法决定保住主权。
        A government can only handle one massive project at a time. This is at best, and only if the whole government agrees on it. There simply isn’t the staff or head space to do much more. Carrying out Brexit means not fixing what Johnson in February 2016 called “the real problems of this country — low skills, low social mobility, low investment etc — that have nothing to do with Europe”. (See my colleague Martin Sandbu’s recent demolition of Johnson’s inconsistencies.)        一个政府一次只能处理一个重大项目。这是最好的情况,而且只有在整个政府都认同,才能实现。在人员或主管方面,根本不存在做得更多的余地。落实英国脱欧,意味着没有余地解决约翰逊在2016年2月所称的“这个国家的真正问题——技能水平低下、社会流动性低下、投资水平低下等等,这些都跟欧洲没什么关系”。(看看我同事马丁•桑德布(Martin Sandbu)最近对约翰逊自相矛盾之处的驳斥吧。)
        Negotiations get harder when you lose your counter-party’s trust. That’s what Greece discovered during its negotiations with the EU, says Greek economic analyst Paris Mantzavras of Pantelakis Securities. Mocking the other side in public — as Greece’s Yanis Varoufakis did, and as British politicians now do regularly — is therefore a losing tactic.        当你失去对手的信任时,谈判会变得更艰难。Pantelakis Securities的希腊经济分析师帕里斯•曼特扎夫拉(Paris Mantzavras)表示,这正是希腊在与欧盟谈判时发现的情况。因此,在公开场合嘲笑对方——正如希腊的亚尼斯•瓦鲁法基斯(Yanis Varoufakis)曾做的、以及英国政客们目前经常做的那样——是一种注定会失败的策略。
        There is no reset button in human affairs. The UK cannot return to its imagined pre-EU idyll, because the world has changed since 1973. Nor can Britons simply discard the Brexit experiment if it goes wrong, and revert to June 22 2016. The past is over, so it’s a poor guide to policymaking.        在人类事务中,不存在重置按钮。英国无法回到自我想象的加入欧盟前的田园生活,因为世界自1973年以来已经改变了。如果脱欧实验失败的话,英国人也不能放弃实验,重新回到2016年6月22日。过去的就过去了,所以对政策制定而言,过去是糟糕的指南。
        These lessons come too late for the UK itself, so please consider them our selfless gift to the world, like football.        对英国自己而言,这些教训来得太晚了,所以请把它们视为我们对世界送出的无私礼物,就像足球那样。
        Illustration by Harry Haysom        插图:哈里•海瑟姆(Harry Haysom)

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