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技术治国运动的启示
The march of the technocrats

来源:FT中文网    2018-03-05 07:17



        One of history’s recurring themes is that technology sometimes outruns society, leaving politicians gasping to catch up with the consequences. So it was with the impact of the printing press, the steam engine and the computer. Arguably, so it is again today with gene editing, social media and artificial intelligence.        历史上反复出现的一个主题是,科技发展有时会超前于社会,让政治人士满头大汗地跟在后面处理随之而来的后果。印刷机、蒸汽机和电脑的出现就是如此。如今,基因编辑、社交媒体和人工智能的出现可以说同样如此。
        While technologists often rail that politicians just do not “get” technology, politicians counter that technologists all too rarely grasp politics.        技术专家经常抱怨政治人士不“懂”技术,政治人士则反击道,技术专家大多数时候也不懂政治。
        One fascinating example of both sides of the debate was the history of the technocracy movement that briefly flourished in North America in the 1930s. The “revolt of the engineers”, as it was called, holds some interesting lessons for today.        对辩论双方都适用的一个有趣例子是上世纪30年代在北美短暂兴盛的技术治国(technocracy)运动。这场当时被称为“工程师起义”(revolt of the engineers)的运动,有不少地方值得今天的人们思考。
        It was understandable that radical movements emerged in the US in the 1930s in response to the Great Depression, just as communism and fascism proliferated in Europe. The technocracy movement argued that the best way out of the crisis was to reject the messiness of the market and old-fashioned politics and adopt a “modern scientific point of view”.        可以理解的是,上世纪30年代,各种回应“大萧条”(Great Depression)的激进运动在美国兴起,正如共产主义和法西斯主义当时在欧洲兴起。技术治国运动提出,摆脱危机的最佳方法是拒绝乱糟糟的市场体系以及老式的政治,采用一种“现代、科学的观点”。
        In their Introduction to Technocracy        在1933年出版的《技术治国序言》(Introduction to Technocracy)中,这项运动的领导人宣布,过时的社会体制“糟粕”阻碍了进步,应该让政治人士靠边站,就像炼金术士和占星家以前为科学让路一样。传统经济学一味关注主观的定价机制、而不是理性的生产,无异于一套“债务病理学”。
        , published in 1933, the movement’s leaders declared that the “riff-raff” of outdated social institutions was blocking progress and politicians should be swept aside, just as alchemists and astrologers had previously given way to science. Traditional economics, obsessed with arbitrary pricing mechanisms rather than rational production, was nothing more than the “pathology of debt”.        “与政治的尔虞我诈、金融和经商的胡乱摸索不同……我们有运用于科学和技术中的方法。”这项运动的宣言称,“如今,现代常识在呼吁自然科学和技术扩大它们领域的边界。”
        “In contrast to the devious ways of politics, the fumbling methods of finance and business . . . we have the methods of science and technology,” the movement’s manifesto declared. “Modern common sense is now calling upon physical science and technology to extend the frontiers of their domain.”        历史学家威廉•E•埃金(William E Akin)指出了新兴的技术治国论的3个源泉:进步改革者对中央规划的日益重视;认为工程师能够拯救美国社会的大众迷思;以及费雷德里克•W•泰勒(Frederick W Taylor)的科学管理理论。
        The historian William E Akin identified three wellsprings for budding technocrats: a growing fashion for centralised planning among progressive reformers; the popular mythology of the engineer as the saviour of American society; and the scientific management theories of Frederick W Taylor.        取消价格机制和生产最大化与当时苏联正在发生的事情有明显的可比性。在闪烁着思想光芒的反乌托邦小说《我们》(We)中,俄罗斯作家叶甫盖尼•扎米亚京(Yevgeny Zamyatin)痛斥了这种技术治国思维,在他预见的社会里,人们没有名字,只有数字代号,就像一台大型工业机器中的齿轮一样活着。不过,北美的技术治国运动强烈反对共产主义和法西斯主义,并自称有人情味得多。
        Abolishing the price mechanism and maximising production had some obvious parallels with what was happening in the Soviet Union. In his brilliant dystopian novel We        尽管媒体给予高度关注,但技术治国运动在美国始终没有成功,这主要是因为其领导人对政治一窍不通。拯救了资本主义的是美国总统富兰克林•D•罗斯福(Franklin D Roosevelt)的“罗斯福新政”(New Deal)。或许,这项运动的最大失败在于它始终未提出一套普通选民能够理解的切合实际的解决方案。对于纯理性未能所向披靡感到失望的技术治国运动最终分崩离析,这项运动的一个分支最终变成一个准法西斯粉丝俱乐部。
        , the Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin savaged such technocratic thinking, foreseeing a society in which people had numbers, not names, and operated like cogs in a vast industrial machine. The North American technocracy movement, though, argued fiercely against both communism and fascism and claimed to be much more humane.        在北边的加拿大,技术治国运动备受重视,以至于遭到了当局的禁止——因为担心该运动计划推翻政府。该党心灰意冷的领导人、冒险家乔书亚•霍尔德曼(Joshua Haldeman)后来抛弃了加拿大,搬到了南非。
        In spite of the media interest, the technocracy movement never succeeded in the US, largely because its leaders were hopeless politicians. President Franklin D Roosevelt was the one to salvage capitalism through his New Deal. Perhaps the movement’s greatest failing was that it never spelt out practical solutions that ordinary voters could understand. Disappointed that pure reason had not swept all before it, the movement eventually split, with one splinter group ending up as a quasi-fascist fan club.        该运动的核心是这样一种理念:人类行为是可计量的,最终也是可预测的。其宣言声称:“技术治国做出了一个基本假设:一种社会机制的正常运行所包含的现象是可以测量的。”
        North of the border, the technocracy movement was taken so seriously that it was banned by the Canadian authorities, fearing it planned to overthrow the government. The party’s disillusioned leader, the adventurer Joshua Haldeman, later abandoned Canada and moved to South Africa.        这种思想的余晖如今似乎在美国的西海岸再次闪现,体现为作家叶夫根尼•莫罗佐夫(Evgeny Morozov)所称的技术“解决主义”(solutionism)。根据这种世界观,技术可以解决几乎所有问题,分析人类的最好办法是将其视为数据点的集合。
        At the heart of the movement was the belief that human action was measurable and, ultimately, predictable. “Technocracy makes one basic postulate: that the phenomena involved in the functional operation of a social mechanism are metrical,” its manifesto claimed.        政治人士的回应是,人类行为无法计算。无论个人还是人类集体的行为,都变着花样地不理性。我们很难超越伊曼努尔•康德(Immanuel Kant)的名言:“人性这根曲木,决然造不出任何笔直的东西。”
        Flashes of that mentality appear to have resurfaced on the West Coast of the US today in what the writer Evgeny Morozov has called technological “solutionism”. According to this worldview, technology has the answer to almost every problem and humans can best be analysed as collections of data points.        不过,技术治国运动这段历史留下了一个微小但颇为有趣的脚注,在今天可能格外有意义。霍尔德曼有一个外孙叫埃隆•马斯克(Elon Musk),这位航天企业家计划把我们变成一个穿梭于星际的物种。
        The politicians’ response is that human behaviour is not computable. Both individually and collectively we act in refreshingly irrational ways. It is hard to improve on Immanuel Kant’s famous dictum: “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”        或许,技术治国最终将在火星上大放异彩——这倒是挺搭的。
        One small, but intriguing, footnote in the history of the technocracy movement, though, may have particular resonance today. One of Haldeman’s grandsons is Elon Musk, the space entrepreneur who aims to turn us into an interplanetary species.        译者/梁艳裳
                
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