稅務天堂與小國的平等之道

firma_aufmacher_final
圖: http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/en/

馮志強君的〈巴拿馬文件曝光,詰問香港稅制正義〉 是一篇寫得很好的文章,論證和資料都扎實,解釋了到底在現代的金融經濟下,避稅(可以)是怎樣的一回事,是了解巴拿馬文件和稅務天堂到底是在發生甚麼事的好文章,值得所有有興趣了解問題癥結的朋友細讀。至今才抽到一點時間大約看看巴拿馬文件的相關討論,勉強掌握到一些大概。那大堆文件還有待解密,但據說最終也只是可以知道誰開了哪間離岸公司,而對那些公司的業務還是不清楚。這樣一來,我十分認同文章作者結論的一句:巴拿馬文件並非什麼新鮮事物。一直有留意當代資本結構和金融經濟的,大抵不會覺得離岸逃稅是甚麼新鮮事。

這裡讓我就我近來讀到的一些相關的理論文章(相關文章見文末),補充兩點,也當是為自己寫點讀書筆記:

1. 文章指出,「不同的避稅天堂之所以出現,都有其歷史軌跡」,而集中談二戰以後英國有意讓一些殖民地變成稅務天堂,以吸引跨國資本匿藏資產,來解決殖民地經濟下滑的問題,怎料後來一發不可收拾,反過來成為本國的稅收漏洞,禁不勝禁,本國資本家和利益團體已經盤根錯節,一同反對英政府著手的改革。這是一個精彩的歷史解釋,但稅務天堂這個概念的存在,這種「以改寫金融相關法例吸引資本」作為一種發展經濟的策略,似乎有更深的制度和歷史根源。銀行保密法在十九世紀末的瑞士已經存在,至二戰前已完善,銀行大部分職員都不需要知道用戶身份,向他人包括他國政府透露用戶資料更是刑事罪。低稅簡單稅制也是在十九世紀末已存在於摩納哥。境外的經濟活動不抽稅的法源也是來自二十世紀初英國的判例。那麼,是甚麼把它們變成一個國家可以用來化身稅務天堂的「Package」呢?

根據 Rosen Palan 的講法,更深層的制度轉變其實在於十九世紀末民族國家的興起——即原來源自於基督教的自然法體系崩潰、國家被視為所有法律的權威的根源、視國家的正當性來自於國民的授權、國家成為惟一在彊界內合法掌握武力的實體、中央集權、以及因此而來的國界和國民身份的正式以法律(及支撐法律的武力)界定。國家於是能夠隨其所好寫法律、介定何謂合法的國民、法人和自身法律的轄界(即所謂的 Jurisdiction)。而同期發生的則是經濟自由主義的興起,工業國家追求商業國際化,讓市場向全球擴張。經濟自由主義的追求催生了一系列最早的國際法,規定跨國商務的協調,簡單來說就是令各國互認外國商人在本國的資產,以及對外國商人和本國商人的商業活動一視同仁,都可以自由買賣資產。

這些都不是民族國家興起前的常態。正是在這些前提之下,A 國人在B 國開公司在C 國買資產,才是被廣泛承認和受法律保障的舉動,於是同一個主體(資本家),可以在法律上在不同國家有不同法人身份代表,即所謂 fictional 的存在。也就是說,稅務天堂之所以可能,其實反映了資本主義與民族國家的核心制度結構,這個核心結構一天存在,稅務天堂就會繼續存在。Palan 甚至認為,要徹底解決稅務天堂的問題,沒辦法不徹底摧毀民族國家的制度和主權理論的架構。

因為只要各國依然被視為有權寫自己的法律,國家自身就是一地法律的正當性的來源,沒有更高階的國際組織有權推翻一國的法律,那麼各國的稅務、公司、法人、投資和產權相關的法例就不可能真正的完全整合;也就是依然不能將資本家分散各地的不同的身份和資產還原為一個個體(即還原其 legal unity),並以此為標準徵稅。我們當然想像世界各國可以真的團結起來合作對抗資本的流轉,但各國自身有不同的地緣政治和利益考慮,要它們真的誠心的通力合作,幾乎不可能。所以,只有當國家的主權不再被視為絕對,國家不再是國際金融管制的正當性的來源,才有真正對抗稅務天堂的希望——但這又似乎比前一個可能性更渺茫了。

2. 文章結尾指出:

「政府必須承認我們作為人本身所被賦予的社會、經濟、政治權利,糾正『偏坦』資本的香港稅制,透過資源再分配讓勞動者能過上有尊嚴生活」。

看過網上有些講法,指這是太理想,到底如何可能一方面維持香港既有的對中國的制度優勢——發達的金融體系以及「中國需要香港這個地方讓內地官員藉此地避稅」,一方面又實行對資本的規管與限制?文章指出,我們應該正視這樣偏幫金融資本的體系所帶來的社會成本,尤其是對基層帶來的成本。這點我完全同意,但卻覺得,這兩者之間也許未必需要作非此即彼的選擇。前面提到的瑞士即是一例:瑞士其實是歐洲有名福利好的國家,另一在某些稅務天堂名單榜上有名的歐洲國家奧地利也是,甚至在二戰後一度可以自稱是「民主社會主義」,這是因為體制上容許強大的工會在經濟政策制定上的廣泛參與。這如何可能?

Peter Katzenstien 稱這為這些「小國」(Small States)的 Social Partnership 意識形態和制度架構的作用:因為小國寡民缺乏資源,無法左右世界市場,只能順勢而自我調整,因此經濟政策和制度都要講求靈活;而靈活與快速適應,其實需要社會的高度共識,國民願意互相合作,快速作出制度學習、分享創新經驗;這樣的一個社會,就得強調 Inclusion,不能只有少數winners 而有大多數的 losers,相反社會的財富應該盡量共享,政策制定盡量包攬所有利益團體,照顧不同的利益。簡單來講,一是需要民主,二是需要平等,然後才有可能出現 social partnership的意識,然後才有可能出現有利快速應付市場變化的制度與政策,才有可能有真正「靈活」的經濟。

換轉到香港的例子,其實反過來,正是需要民主和社會再分配,尤其是需要將金融體系得來的財富轉移到能令人民廣泛受益的領域(譬如促進本土就業和消費的社區經濟),才是鞏固和進一步發展香港固有的在國際經濟分工上的優勢的前提。套用近來潮語,不妨說只有這樣,才不會「社會撕裂,大家都輸」。過去這樣的「社會分紅」是建立在全民炒股和全民炒樓之上,而這個模式現在好明顯已不合時宜:樓價已經高到大家都買不起樓,連車都上不到,又徨論以買樓藏富保值。考之國際經驗,民主參與和社會財富轉移,建立社會共享的體制,似乎才是長遠鞏固一地經濟自主和發展的模式。政治上強調公民參與的民主自決,與社會經濟上的財富轉移培力自強,也許是邁向健康發展的一體兩面的必要之路。

參考文章:
1. Palan, R. (01 Dec 2002). ‘Tax havens and the commercialization of state sovereignty’. International Organization, 56(1), 151-176
2. Katzenstein, P. (March 2003). ‘Small States and Small States Revisited,’ New Political Economy, 8 (1), 9-30; Katzenstein, P. (1985). Small States in World Markets: Industrial Policy in Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press

Advertisements

不能迴避的問題

02ab5b59eda6306bb0d12a6b54a14656
圖:香港01/ 曾梓洋攝

寫在前頭:香港多事,難靜下心來讀書。現實政治的分析不是我本行,以下這篇或許有些散亂的筆記,更像是梳理自己讀了幾位朋友的文章之後的一些思考,所謂 thinking out loud。識見有限,我自然不能肯定這些想法有多準確捕捉到事實。我也不準備要說服讀者一些甚麼,或宣揚某一派的觀點。如果這篇 blog 能為大家提供一點參考,或至少因此注意其中提到的那些文章,抓住它們的問題意識與關懷,和它們的作者們一同思考,就已經很好了。

一.

Y.t. Chan 在面書寫了一篇頗受人注意的文章 〈香港發生乜野事?〉,談的是年初一晚旺角小販夜市引發的大規模警民衝突。當晚據說是因為食環署無理清場,與圍觀的市民衝突,後來警方和激進的本土派抗爭者相繼介入,雙方最後爆發暴力衝突,既有民眾向警察撕磚塊和垃圾桶,警方也發射胡椒噴霧,甚至向天開槍示警,又追打民眾。事後多人被警方以暴動罪拘捕和起訴。

事件的先後次序、誰先動手,有很多不同版本的講法。但至少有四點是清楚的 :(一)警方向民眾使用了過度武力,向天開鎗更是法例不許可的;(二)不少民眾參與攻擊警察;(三)衝突最後和小販問題關係不大,衝突雙方多少都視這次為對特區政府不滿的一次爆發,是反政府運動的一環;(四)這次衝突是自香港六七暴動以來最暴力的一次警民衝突,算是跨過了由前年佔領運動以來一直未有跨過的「非暴力抗爭」界線,走入暴力抗爭的時代。

正如Y.t. Chan 的文章所言,這次衝突令很多人失語,因為即使不少關心政治的人,甚至參與社會抗爭多年的社會運動老手,都想不到抗爭的暴力程度會升級得這麼快。更令人不知如何面對的是,暴力對抗既是抗爭的必然發展(因為和平抗爭、只限自衛的非暴力抗爭之路,似乎都隨著佔領運動落幕、中共和特區政府在民主和民生政策上全都半步不讓而終結),但又不知道這樣的衝突的目標是甚麼、後果又將是甚麼。諒解甚至同情這些和警察搏鬥的抗爭者是一回事,但這樣的抗爭策略是不是一條應該走的路呢?

Y.t. Chan 文章說得好,需要詳引:

「大家還是活在一個治安良好、相對安全的社會,遇意外還是會報警求助。佢地心理上處於一個掙扎和拉扯的狀態。其他向政府施壓的方法統統試過但無用,但撐武力抗爭咩,即打開潘朵拉盒子,使動武普及化,社會的穩定性和安全感將嚴重受損,點取捨至好?……

要和世上其中一個最霸道的國家對抗,若拘泥於維護道義與尊嚴,類同自縛手腳。要增加勝算,須不擇手段,而一些污糟邋遢的工作始終要有人做。所以,不認同是一件事,那些燃燒生命,全力推動勇武抗爭的網絡紅人及意見領袖,其實也不容易做,教人寫個「服」字。但…… 要知道雞蛋武裝了,即使仍是雞蛋,但已變成會傷及無辜的雞蛋。所謂勇武時代,崇尚命運自主,一批血氣方剛而鬥爭欠分寸的年輕人,在網媒意見領袖推波助瀾下,忍不住會跑到最前線,和國家機器硬撼。……

勇武抗爭者,在本質上和非暴力的抗爭者截然不同,佢地同時是會施以襲擊的人。咁佢地到底有沒有底線的呢? 在政治鬥爭的新範式下,毋須守社會運動的道德倫理,為了反抗暴政,抗爭者能不能挾持或殺害警察? 旺角衝突,有記者遭抗爭者襲擊,事後還得到網上意見領袖的肯定。這個是否武力抗爭所容許,所鼓吹的事? 在「戰爭」時期,對藍絲這些港奸行施刑,殺一儆百又是否容許?假如正面硬碰不成,改為恐怖襲擊,放炸彈或縱火等等又行不行? 反正要更多人加入反政府陣營,訴諸武力,經濟必須衰到貼地,打城市遊擊戰有助加快PK的過程,有無辜市民犧牲是任何戰爭所無法避免的—支持武力抗爭者,認不認同這套恐襲者合理化自己所作所為的邏輯?……

支持勇武的年輕人,特別是各大學學生會,實在有必要向公眾解釋,一個隨時會殺人放火的反抗者,妳/你們還會不會支持?」

這是個很難回答但又不能迴避的問題。Y.t. Chan 的文章其實將這個由本土派主導的暴力抗爭那沒有說出來的邏輯講了出來:暴力之為手段,只可能有兩個目的:(一)令香港社會騷亂動盪不已,管治失效經濟崩潰,令中共不得不讓步以求平息亂局;(二)中共不讓步而鎮壓的話,香港血流成河,令國際社會(其實即美國)人道介入,和中共政治和解已不可能,從而借外國的軍事力量走向港獨。

我認為,其實仔細想下去,很有可能只有(二)才會是最終的結局:即使中共迫於壓力讓步,它又怎會容許一股足以令自己妥協的力量存在?讓步最多只會是一時的、策略性的,等待時機成熟,中共最終還是會翻盤把抗爭力量根除,抗爭力量不會坐以待斃,於是最終解決辦法還只是走(二),也就是流血港獨之路。於是真正的問題是:今日同情暴力抗爭者,是否支持流血港獨?這是暴力路線的最可能後果。當然,其實即使只走(一)之路,對大部分香港人來講,已不好走。

二.

但若果不走暴力然後流血港獨這條代價極為高昂的路,香港還可以怎樣走下去?Y.t. Chan 港獨的這番討論,已經引入了國際(介入)的向度。也就是說,思考香港未來抗爭之路,中共和國際社會或美國的博奕這個向度,其實不得不談。這裡得從一位好友區諾軒的長文〈朝貢體系的本土定位〉()談起。

區諾軒在文章中說,近來中共那龐大的「一帶一路」規劃,其實「是以經濟實力增強東南亞、中亞以至東歐政治影響力,與美國重返亞洲、包圍中國的策略抗衡」,是希望建構一個新的以北京為中心的「朝貢體系」。香港政府想做的似乎是積極配合,進一步和中國經濟體系融合,以在這次經濟擴張中分一杯羹。但區諾軒指出這個願望其實不切實際。一來因為中國經濟明顯放緩,二來「香港作為沿岸城市,成功從來建基於多方角力的狹縫之中……香港的地緣優勢,位處東南亞、東亞與東北亞中間,是成為貿易港、冷戰年代中國與世界交流中心的關鍵」,三來因為這樣的經濟融合伴隨著的是中共強迫香港放棄原來重視的現代市場經濟制度和公民自由、法治等的價值,以和大陸的經濟制度及其背後的價值看齊。因此,他主張民主黨派應該放棄過去和中共鬥而不破、重視溝通的策略,而應該走「不承認(人大831框架限定下的)基本法、不支持一國兩制」的路。

我的看法卻比較複雜:也許一帶一路並不只是一次尋常的經濟擴張,或抵抗美國軍事-經濟包圍的行動;或者說,突破美國以全球軍事優勢所支撐的經濟秩序,其實是中共生死存亡的一次賭博,不稱霸不能解決經濟崩盤的風險。這樣一來,香港面對的便不只是「參不參與一帶一路」的問題;是否和中國經濟融合,反而是一個政治忠誠的問題。

根據路透社的報導,中國持續有通縮或至少通漲放緩的壓力,生產者物價指數連續五個月下秩,反映的是對中國生產的商品需求不足,引發的便是工廠倒閉、工資下跌、失業率上升等一連串經濟收縮的效應,更重要的是資本見中國生產再無利可圖,便會紛紛轉移到其他更有發展潛力的國家(譬如越南)。這將會是對中國經濟的重大打擊,也就是對以經濟成就維持管治合法性的中共的重大打擊。中國經濟至今未能成功轉型至內需主導,經濟如果要繼續擴張,便要靠出口。因此年初中國便讓人民幣貶值,來刺激出口。但這將引發同為後進國家的其他競爭經濟體相繼以壓低匯率來刺激出口,做成全球的通縮壓力。更重要的是,讓人民幣貶值,將會令國際投資者對人民幣的價值失去信心;事實上,早前中國政府就已經高調反駁索羅斯對中國經濟看淡的言論,聲稱人民幣幣值穩健,不會容許國際炒家狙擊。

當代歷史上,曾經有一個國家面對過類似(但非完全相同)的問題,那就是美國。七十年代美國面對所謂的滯漲,產品在全球競爭力下降(因為西德和日本經濟起飛),資本開始外流,最終迫使美國放棄戰後固定匯率的布列頓森林體系,美元不再和金價固定掛勾,聯儲局大幅調高利率,國內則厲行緊縮政策,服從全球金融資本市場的秩序。重要的是,這些轉變並沒有令投資者失去對美國經濟和美元的信心:因為美國在全球的霸主地位(體現為同盟國家都要在美軍的保護傘下,以防蘇聯的軍事威脅),在美國投資的需求以及對美元的信心仍然得以維持。或者形象一點:受美國軍事保護的國家其實也就是在交「保護費」,當然這些國家同時也受惠於美國市場。這個結構性的經濟強勢,一直維持至今日。

以此為鑑,「一帶一路」這個區諾軒所言的「朝貢體系」,可能便是紓解中國經濟困境、開拓需求和市場的一條生路。進一步而言,若果這一步棋成功,這證明了出口主導的方法行得通,中國現存的出口主導經濟將會繼續,那最終仍免不了和美國為首的經濟體系爭奪市場:惟一可以避免經濟崩盤,市場有充份需求的手段,其實說到尾只能是一個全球性的霸主地位,令其他國家不能不「交保護費」,配合體系核心國家的經濟發展需要。

這些和香港有甚麼關係?有的:這樣一來,問題就在於在這場經濟戰爭中,香港是配合中國呢,還是配合美國的問題。這就像是當年冷戰局面的一次倒轉:當年香港是美英所謂自由世界秩序的前線,中共故意留下香港作為英國殖民地不收回,就是希望分化英美同盟,令他們利益分化;那麼,香港會甘於受美國利用來拖中共經濟發展大計的後腿呢,還是做中共大計之中,打入現行美國經濟秩序下的一枚棋子呢?香港至今也是中共對外金融投資最多的其中一個地方,雖然中共未至於沒有了香港不行,但香港還是有重要的戰略作用。因此政治忠誠就是首先要解決的問題了。

可以想像,如果香港「投誠」,中共大抵不會待薄香港:作為融入中國經濟新秩序的第一個經濟體,香港將會是對一帶一路規劃下那些國家的「示範單位」,只要中共本身經濟不崩盤的話。但這也有底線:如果香港經濟和政治秩序上不可信,譬如政治和社會精英將會出賣或流通重要的經濟戰略信息到美國,對中共的要求陽奉陰違,之類之類,那中共大抵是會徹底任由香港管治失效而不足惜,就任由香港變得不能管治,在大戰中out of equation,那至少能減少風險。

這樣看來,也許這幾年來中央對香港泛民主派又或者說溫和派的強硬攻勢,便很可能是一次壓力測試,而想看看測試結果的可能並不只中共,還包括美國。香港人對中共的反感,會走得多遠?香港的精英階層,會傾向民間抗爭和民眾的不滿,還是會對中共輸誠?可以有多少利用價值?

三.

不過無論如何,以這樣的框架來看香港局勢的話,有一點倒可以肯定:正如當年中共不會為了民族主義要收回一河之隔的香港,美國乃至國際社會,大抵也不會因為人道理由(更別說香港的市場經濟和人權)而和中共翻盤硬碰。當然,中共也會盡量避免香港重演六四,以免落國際口實——但這並不是說中共會避免流血;只要有不落口實的藉口,就當然可以暴力鎮壓:譬如說「分離主義」,也就是推翻「基本法—一國兩制—高度自治」這個一直以來國際都認可的安排。這樣看來,流血港獨,未必完全不可能(太多變數了),但卻是相當兇險的一著。

基於這些想法,我的結論和區諾軒恰恰相反:長遠而言,一國兩制和基本法依然應該要守,也應該是抗爭陣營拿來說事的基本。因為香港對中共可以討價還價的,似乎就是一個表面上自由、自治、穩定的外殼。中共之所以連出白皮書和831 落閘,也還不推翻基本法,也許就是因為基本法的存在,也是香港在中共的經濟稱霸大戰略之下尚有的存在價值。某程度上,這是一種另類的「芬蘭化」:制度上的維持現狀,對中共對國際都不落口實,對大家都有利;雖然,以議價能力來說,香港和面對蘇聯的芬蘭,實在相差太遠。

退一步說,連據說親本土派的中大學生會候選內閣「星火」也未有明言主張放棄一國兩制(甚至以違反一國兩制來批評中共),也至今未願意承認是否主張港獨,其他有組織的本土派抗爭勢力亦未有公開打出港獨旗幟;那麼,即使泛民也談本土關懷,是否就有必要去到「不承認、不支持」呢?這其實是會比現存的本土派走得更遠呢。

四.

2047年是香港五十年不變的終點,距今只剩下三十年的時間。正如端傳媒的記者鐘耀華在一篇訪問中提出,我們是時候思考這個三十年後的「第二次前途問題」。我想,中共在經濟上(也就是在世界政治上)稱霸、挑戰以現行以美國為核心的經濟秩序之路上,和美國以及全球經濟體系的博奕,將會是思考中共對港的政治要求的重要框架。無論上面的那些沙盤推演是否成真,或中共是否真的會崩盤(誰說得準呢),這個博奕的框架都應該是思考的起點,也應該被進一步深化和具體化,否則二次前途問題的戰略無從談起。

有要求,就有議價的可能。如何透過不同的抗爭方式來和中共博奕,將會是思考二次前途的政治關鍵。政治上的不同路線和可能性,都應該是重要的選項,不應該非此即彼;更重要的,是明白一條路線走下去會有何策略後果,而不應被意識形態騎劫,不顧一切的一路溫和或暴力到底。正如Y.t. Chan 的文章所言,「和平非暴力的抗爭同樣無法令中共屈服,但佢道德感召既威力確實有拖慢赤化的功效。何況,同樣等「支爆」帶來變數,拖延戰術不代表消極,武力抗爭亦非想象中那樣進取。那麼,除了二揀一,前者和後者是否可以並存,又怎樣並存,方產生正面的化學作用,這至少是黃絲值得深思下去的問題。」

五.

這裡只談多一點:在討論和平非暴力的抗爭時,中歐諸國,即波蘭、匈牙利、捷克、斯洛伐克、東德,在上世紀七十年代到1989 年對蘇聯的抗爭史,竟意外地沒有人多講(我自己則寫了這篇這篇這篇,但也不算談得太深入和聚焦於抗爭)。事實上,這些中歐國家的成功不僅是和平抗爭的典範(如有名的天鵝絨革命、哈維爾的〈無權力者的權力〉),更是民主轉型的最成功例子:這些國家在極短的時間內,民主制度和價值便已相對鞏固。

更重要的是,這些國家面對蘇聯軍事威脅,抗爭者沒有暴力硬碰的把柄,但蘇聯也受限於和美國的爭霸角力而不會輕易動武,這些都和香港面對中共的形勢彷彿相似。他們的非暴力抗爭,是否真的和共產黨陣營倒下沒有關係呢?還是其實他們真的有效地抵抗了威權政府,至少拖延了公民社會的全面覆沒呢?更重要的是,作為抗爭策略,它是否也有一些暴力抗爭所沒有的內在價值,足以成為後抗爭轉型的 legacy(譬如說,對多元與自由作為價值的尊重),引向一個更穩健的未來?反過來說,暴力抗爭即使有效,以暴力作為winning strategy 對民主轉型和鞏固的後果、會留下怎樣的 legacy,我們又有沒有充分的認識和警剔?

非暴力抗爭的價值何在,尤其是長遠的價值何在,這是一個值得想下去的問題,而不應該隨著佔領運動的所謂失敗,就被掃入歷史的垃圾箱。

The Lightness of Nation

十一月初,這邊政治哲學研究生的讀書組,讀David Miller 一篇新發表的文章 Justice in Immigration

Miller 在文章中主張對難民所有國家都有提供保障基本人權的責任,如保護人身安全、安排 decent 的暫住地方,提供維持生活基本需要的經濟援助(註:水平一定高過綜援),只是難民沒有要求保護國公民身份的權利。如何安置難民應該由國際協調處理,他亦沒有仔細講。至於非難民的移民,主要是因經濟理由的移民,Miller 則主張國族國家也就是nation state 有權自決,只要接受移民的要求不違反公平原則(即不是arbitrary 決定誰人可以入境)以及不是建基於種族主義、性別歧視等即可;保護本國的文化,Miller 認為可以是限制移民的理由。

我覺得 Miller 這篇文章寫得清晰有力,我挺同情他的立場(是否認同得再仔細想,未有定論)。但意外地,我竟然是十多人的讀書組中,唯一嘗試為 Miller 辯護的人。同場幾乎沒有人同意 Miller 國家自決的立場,於是也就完全不能接受 Miller 提出的對移民條件所設的限制。

簡單來說, 他們認為即使所謂的國族認同真的存在,也不是證成國家邊界、證成國家有權決定誰可成為公民、誰不可成為公民的理由。一個原因是因為現存的所有國家的邊界都是不公義的:哪個國家有多些資源哪個少一些,都沒有道理可言,於是一國因為資源的優勢而有較良好的經濟環境,而其他國家經濟較差,就是一種不公義,因此較富有的國家根本不應該有權把自己國境內的經濟成果視為屬於自己的,並自視為有權拒絕經濟移民於門外。即使經濟較好的那些國家本身相對民主、經濟平等,因此國家的決定準確反映「國民」的意願也好,國民(根據自身文化、身份認同而來)的意願本身就不構成國家限制移民的道德理由。

這是在中文或至少香港語境內很radical 的看法,但他們似乎 take for granted。讀書組後我和幾個同學再繼續談,他們對Miller 的說法更harsh,近乎覺得整篇文章是 bullshit,我卻竟然是場內最同情國族主義的人了。我說,我也不是無條件的 defend 國族主義,但因為香港近來的政治爭論,我感受得到身份認同的力量,尤其在政治壓迫下反彈的力量。

我的這些同學,不少是克羅地亞和塞爾維亞人。對當代史稍有認識都知道,九十年代這些前南斯拉夫的國族之間,爆發了一場連綿多年的血腥內戰,我的同學不少更是親歷戰爭。當然他們的學術立場未必和他們的國族背景和個人經歷相關,但我還是不免想得更(太)多:為什麼他們好像比我還不 take nationalism seriously 呢?是不是因為,正正是經歷過以國族之名的戰爭,他們才明白所謂國族認同其實不但危險,而且 groundless?就像經過三十年戰爭之後的基督教不同宗派之間發展出來的宗教寬容一樣?只有當戰爭令激情消退,於是我們才有進入「後」國族主義/宗教寬容的情感基礎嗎?可是,如果是這樣,他們應該比我更了解國族主義的內在理路、缺憾吧?應該更敏感於自由民主制度如何可以小心地處理和限制這種激情吧?但這種深刻好像不見於我的年輕同學身上;我見到的,只有國族之輕。

這篇筆記原寫於十一月十七日,所謂的足球港中大戰(好像是世界盃外圍還是分組賽?)我沒有睇波,但在這國族主義的狂歡節的晚上,突然記起這些少少想法,就寫這篇筆記。國族主義是民主運動的搖籃,還是血腥仇恨的先聲,還是兩者兼有?我還未想通。

難民潮在匈牙利:人道危機背後的排外政治

Keleti, 攝於九月十五日

Keleti, 攝於九月十五日

Keleti, 攝於九月十五日

Keleti, 攝於九月十五日

九月十四日晚,漸寒的秋風吹過布達佩斯的東火車站(Keleti Pályaudvar),還帶來了一場驟雨。來自敘利亞乃至整個受戰火摧殘的中東地區的難民,卻出乎義工的意料之外,在這晚悄悄離開,離開這個他們滯留了個多月、等待往奧地利的火車的地方。因為他們再不走,就可能被匈牙利警方刑事檢控——兩星期前,匈牙利國會通過法案,未登記的難民會被即時拘捕,於九月十五日生效。這為布達佩斯面對的這一波難民潮,劃上一個傷感的句號。

但在匈牙利南部與塞爾維亞接壤的邊境Röszke ,難民的處境更加嚴酷。Röszke是匈牙利政府指定的惟一為難民登記身份的營地,高峰期每日面對數千難民湧入,人手卻嚴重不足,難民都要在極差的衛生情況和糧食供應下等待登記。和布達佩斯相比,這裡義工的支援猶如杯水車薪。而自九月十五日起,匈牙利政府用鐵絲網和圍牆封起匈塞邊境,甚至出動水砲驅散想爬過邊境的難民;所有難民只能從一個邊境檢查站進入,但匈牙利政府同時宣佈所有在匈塞邊境的難民庇護申請都會被駁回,因為塞爾維亞被視為難民不會有生命危險的「安全國家」。這些都是違反國際難民法規的行徑,而在匈牙利政府的「落閘」之下,在匈塞邊境成千上萬的難民,在寒風中的邊境荒野,前無去路也無家可歸。

問題是,何以至此?難民為何會來匈牙利?為何匈牙利政府會不惜違法嚴苛對待這些難民?這次難民潮是一次拷問歐洲良心的人道危機,但難民潮應對政策背後的意識形態角力——這次是匈牙力與歐盟之間——其實更令人憂慮。把人道問題放回政治脈絡,這一波意外的難民大潮觸及到的,其實是歐盟應該往哪裡去、應該守護哪些價值的根本問題。

都因為《都柏林協議》

根據剛公佈的官方數字,今年抵達匈牙利的難民已逾二十萬。但絕大部分難民其實並不想留在匈牙利,他們希望去的是德國、奧地利,乃至丹麥。在過去一個月,聚集在Keleti 和Röszke 的難民曾經多次抗議,但卻不是要求匈牙利政府給予庇護,而是要求「放行」——開放往奧地利的火車和邊境,讓他們到奧地利和德國去。示威中叫得最響亮的口號其實是「德國!德國!」,Keleti 貼滿前往和入境德奧的資訊,義工隊一直重點招募懂德語的義工加入,就是因為他們能為難民提供更多的資訊上的支援。

難民不想留低,固然因為那些國家都較匈牙利富裕,但更重要的原因是,過去二十多年 來,匈牙利其實一直對難民相當不友善,人道支援乏善可陳。2010年鼓吹國族主義的保守派政黨Fidesz 在大選勝出執政後,更引入了嚴苛的難民法令,難民中心被陸續關閉,剩下的則衛生環境惡劣,難民更會隨便被警衛要求全裸搜身,受盡欺壓和侮辱。這些難民政策曾被歐洲人權法院和國際人道救援組織批評,但Fidesz 挾著有選民壓倒性支持,一律當耳邊風。

既然難民不想留低,為何他們又都聚集在匈牙利?這就來到這場難民潮的爭議關鍵——歐盟國家之間所謂的《都柏林協議》(Dublin Regulation)。根據這個協議,難民的庇護申請只可以向一個歐盟國家提出,並由那個國家處理,一旦被駁回則不能再向其他歐盟國家申請(所以在Röszke駁回庇護申請對難民來說是災難性的打擊)。打開歐洲地圖,難民經塞爾維亞來到匈牙利國境,其實是希望再穿過匈牙利,到其他西、北歐國家去提出庇護申請。

可是,都柏林協議同時也規定庇護申請應由難民首個進入並被紀錄在案的國家處理。因為大量難民來到,Fidesz 政府其實已多次發出警告指國家並沒有足夠資源和人手處理;按道理,對這些難民不作處理,直接「放行」,對匈牙利其實有好處。再者,德國已經率先放棄都柏林協議,容許難民直接到德國申請庇護,歐盟也正草擬新的難民章程取代協議。但Fidesz 政府卻堅持要嚴格執行都柏林協議,加上前面提過的一系列封閉邊境政策,事實上就是搶著代歐盟向難民「落閘」。問題是:既然匈牙利政府要向來不歡迎難民,為什麼不索性撤手不理,讓其他歐盟國家處理,而要淌這回渾水?

歐洲基督教價值的守護者?

匈牙利總理奧班(Viktor Orbán)最近就多次指出,政府的決定是在守護「歐洲人的生活方式」,因為一旦來自中東的難民湧入,歐洲就會出現「伊斯蘭教平行社會」,信守歐洲的基督教文化價值觀的人口,最終會淪為少數。他阻截這些「非法移民」,就是為了守護歐洲的基督教價值。這說法自然不值一駁:至今到歐洲申請庇護的難民人數不足四十萬,不及歐盟五億人口的百分之一,談何衝擊「歐洲人的生活方式」?再者,甚麼時候開始,歐洲變成了容不下其他宗教和外來文化、「基督教價值」獨大的社會?

但奧班並非信口開河。去年奧班就曾在一個集會上,揚言歐洲的「自由民主制」(Liberal Democracy)已經破產,匈牙利要以非自由主義(Illiberal)的「基督教民主」(Christian Democracy )取而代之。他所指涉的,是一系列打擊同性戀(Fidesz 成功修憲限定婚姻只可以是「一男一女一夫一妻」)、打擊多元文化(多次公開暗示指伊斯蘭教徒為恐怖份子)、剝奪少數族裔(主要是羅姆人)社會保障的政策。他甚至將「維護基督教價值」定義為匈牙利的民族性,修憲寫入匈牙利憲法。這些措舉不見得一一都來自基督教教義,卻明顯是民粹式保守主義的政治議程。奧班的難民言論,以及Fidsez 政府對難民的嚴苛對待,其實仍是民粹保守主義框架內的政治操作。

歐盟多次猛烈批評Fidesz 和奧班的舉動違反人權,但同年大選Fidesz 依然大勝,仍能控制國會三份之二大多數議席。令人憂慮的是,這次歐盟諸國就是否收容難民猶疑不決,恐懼難民湧入的情緒在民間漫延,卻正好讓奧班在論述上向歐盟還以顏色。如果最終歐盟拒收難民,事實上就是奧班在外交上一次大勝利,因為這等同默認奧班的難民論述,之後歐盟將沒有道德高地批評Fidesz 的反自由反人權行徑。更重要的是,如果歐盟最終拿不出收容難民的有力論述和政策,其實更是放棄了歐盟一直以來對不同種族和文化開放及一視同仁的價值堅持,回到保守的國族主義老路——說穿了,就是把保護所謂的社群邊界,看得比承受苦難的活生生的個體重要。如果這是這場難民潮的結局,將是歐盟之所以為歐盟的道德意義的一次大倒退。

公民社會:希望?

Fidesz 在匈牙利民眾中依然有大批支持者,而匈牙利的第二大黨Jobbik甚至比Fidesz 更保守更排外,是被視為有法西斯傾向的極右政黨。份屬反對陣營的自由派政黨則飽受醜聞和分裂困擾,只有不足三成選民支持。匈牙利的對付難民的舉動雖然引來國際觸目(和嘩然),卻沒有在國內引起多少次有規模的抗議,匈牙利的新聞網站更盡是支持排外和奧班政府的激烈留言,局面似乎難以好轉。但往好的方面看,布達佩斯的非政府組織能迅速組織起義工網絡支援Keleti 的難民,並獲得市民廣泛同情和支持,甚至組織了一次「希望大遊行」(March of Hope),和難民一起徒步由布達佩斯走到奧地利邊境,最終迫使政府立場軟化,一度提供旅遊巴接載難民,讓到奧地利的火車重開。在人道災難面前,也許,意識形態並不總掩蓋人的良知;也許,我們還能看到一點點希望的微光。

(原文發表於星期日明報,2015年9月20日)

Tomb of György Lukács, Kerepesi Cemetery, Budapest, Hungary

責任

本來對所謂自由主義與左翼的辯論已決定不寫甚麼,一來是因為忙碌無力寫長文,二來也是因為對很多自由主義、馬克思主義、香港抗爭形勢與策略等的問題,都未有好完備的判斷。近來和人討論,多了很多 「On the one hand」與「On the other hand」,這種猶豫不決與和稀泥連自己都有點難受,何況擺出來逼人家讀。不過因為研究需要,近來再讀了多一點盧卡奇 (György Lukács),再遙想他的種種經歷,想想當下香港的許多爭論--不只自由主義與左翼之爭,還有暴力與否、退聯與否種種爭論--就不由得感慨萬千。然後又重新再讀 Isaac 君兩篇頗多人share的文章〈自由主義是甚麼〉〈馬克思主義已死?--回應周保松〉,覺得也不妨花一點時間寫點讀後感,算是為自己近來的一點知性上的掙扎,留個注腳。

這篇文章會如常地有點迂迴(如果不是迂腐)。和當下爭論相關的,是盧卡奇有關「責任」和「整體性」(Totality,不知這樣的中譯是否好,姑且先用)的想法,不過談盧卡奇之前,得先由 Immanuel Wallerstein 談起。

Immanuel Wallerstein 最有名的著作自然是他的一本小書 Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilization 以及他的世界體系 (World system)理論。說來慚愧,我其實還未有時間讀這本名著,不過他的世界體系理論的大概,我卻由他的文集  The capitalist world economy 中的一篇文章 〈The rise and future demise of the world capitalist system: concepts for comparative analysis〉裡讀過(因為是修過的一個課的required reading,慚愧),略知一二。

簡單來說,他的世界體系理論是指,當我們談資本主義,我們不應該孤立地看譬如說英國的資本主義發展或法國的資本主義發展是如何如何、剝削又是如何如何,因為資本主義其實是一個不必然受國界限制的社會體系(social system),透過經濟分工和交易,不同的國民經濟體系的演變其實互相扣連息息相關。一旦分工與交易的體系確立--無論是否有意,其實多數是無意的,這正是資本主義體系擴張的威力--我們就不能說,一些發展中國家或第三世界國家不能建立起有如歐美的完善資本主義制度、它們的生產方式「落後」、甚至還停留在使用奴隸制,是因為它們的制度自身不夠進步。因為它們的生產方式和體制都是受國際分工與國際市場所左右,正是資本主義的核心國家(Core)掌握了最重要最龐大的資本與技術,因為他們歷史上先起步的優勢,令到那些發展中國家只能分到一些落後的,如依賴天然資源或勞動密集的商品生產,被迫成為整個資本主義生產體系的邊緣(Periphery)。它們不但難以和核心國家競爭,更根本的是整個消費市場和購買力、投資資本都集中在核心國家,它們整個經濟因此都只能依賴核心國家的需求(此即社會科學理論上一度很有名的依賴理論 Dependency Theory 的基本框架)。因此它們的落後、體制的不完善、血汗工廠甚至奴隸制度,都是先進、核心的資本主義國家有份促成的--或者更準確的說法是,這是資本主義世界體系擴張與分工的必然結果。

Wallerstein 的其中一個最有爭議性的判斷就是:即使是二十世紀的共產主義革命所建立的社會主義陣營,即使執政的共產黨自稱是在行社會主義經濟,他們其實都是資本主義世界體系的一部份,並吊詭地甚至有助資本主義世界體系的穩定。這是因為革命後的俄羅斯(即是蘇聯--雖然領土上略有不同),其發展軌跡,其實可以說是一個邊緣的國家透過閉關鎖國、集體化和集權化,進行急速的工業化,以重新維持其半邊緣(semi-periphery)的地位,這其實和十七世紀晚期英法的重商主義、十九世紀的美國的保護主義沒有本質上的分別。而半邊緣的國家,Wallerstein 將之類比為一國經濟之內的中產階級--他們的存在和保守性,恰恰有助於分化那些反抗資產統治階級的力量,因此是有助社會穩定的。同樣道理,半邊緣國家因為其分工的角色是有助穩定世界體系的;因此,蘇聯(乃至整個共產主義陣營)雖然是社會主義國家,但一方面其發展其實都還是受制於西歐美國的巨大優勢因而困難重重,另一方面它們其實也是起著穩定資本主義世界體系的作用,這些都是因為國際分工而確定了的,不以人的主觀意志為轉移。

這套分析,其實也是 Isaac 君第二篇文章裡回應應周保松對社會主義國家的批評的立論根據。不得不承認,Wallerstein  這套理論其實相當有啟發性,比照不少歷史發展的軌跡,也很有說服力;事實上,我雖然所知甚少,但據一位讀國際關係和國際政治經濟學的朋友說,Wallerstein 的世界體系理論甚至是這兩個專業中的顯學,是最重要的理論基礎之一。可是,如果仔細想深一層,這個理論思路其實頗為霸道。如果循這個思路不加限制的推論下去,有甚麼問題、壓迫、和剝削,可以不算到資本主義的頭上呢?形象點說,這不是一種理論上的技安主義嗎:資本主義經濟的問題是資本主義經濟的問題;就是你建立了社會主義國家,你國家內所面對的問題,依然都是資本主義(而不是社會主義)的問題。所有改良甚至挑戰資本主義體系的嘗試,一旦成功了--世界革命來臨,我們不再有剝削--就是社會主義的成功,一旦失敗了或引起種種問題與災難,就都是資本主義體系的問題,與社會主義無尤。所以社會主義一定是不會錯的,或至少一定不用為問題負責的--一日未有世界革命,所有問題都是資本主義問題,都要資本主義體系、資本家來「負責」。

我不希望給人覺得我是在為資本主義或自由主義做辯護士--正如我前面說了的,這套說法其實很有解釋力,蘇聯面對的困局也是真的,拉美國家的「依賴」與被剝削,更是血跡斑斑卻又被資本主義主流論述硬生生壓制下去的一段黑歷史。但問題在於「不加限制」,或不加所謂的 qualifications--這樣的一套因果鏈一路推下去,可以在那裡停?

另一方面,我們又是否願意用同樣的邏輯去理解論敵?Isaac 君在第一篇文章裡批評自由主義者曾經容忍甚至支持奴隸制、殖民地--真實發生了的歷史自然難以辯駁,但按世界體系的內在邏輯,我們也是否可以說,自由主義者的容忍與退讓,其實是因為資本主義體系尚未鞏固確立、資產階級尚要和封建地主階級和其體系作鬥爭,所以得「退一步,進兩步」?到了美國南北戰爭之後,奴隸制不也是沒落了嗎?二戰之後,殖民地不也都解殖了嗎?可不可以說,正是在這些時候,資本主義體系才取得真正的決定性的勝利(資本主義的世界革命終於成功了!),所以之後才算數,之前的都不是資本主義的錯?這樣的說法自然荒謬和冷血得令人髮指,但用同樣的思路去理解共產主義陣營、社會主義理論,為何就可以了?這是不是雙重標準?

事實上,這其實不只是 Wallerstein這套理論自身的問題,因為這樣的思路其實有其更深層的馬克思主義哲學基礎。這就是盧卡奇的 Totality 理論,即我們分析某一歷史事件或現象時,不能孤立地看,而是要有一套 reality as social process 的觀念,所有所謂社會現實,都是背後有錯綜複雜的生成歷史和受其他因素影響。盧卡奇的哲學分析相當精彩(最直接自然應該看他的有名文章〈What is Orthodox Marxism〉),但其整個思路其實可以用馬克思幾句著名的話總結:

“A negro is a negro. He only becomes a slave in certain circumstances. A cotton-spinning jenny is a machine for spinning cotton. Only in certain circumstances does it becomes capital. Torn from those circumstance it is no more capital than gold is money or sugar the price of sugar.”(引自盧卡奇文章)

所有社會現象都只有在特定的社會權力關係和歷史脈絡之下,才能理解其本質。機器本身不是資本,只有在資本主義的生產關係之下,它才是資本,也就是說資本本質上是一種社會關係,一如勞動者、金錢、商品。它們的特質和影響我們生活的方式,都是由社會關係--也就是社會的生產關係--所界定的。

這個說法當然很有洞見--在不少甚至大多數的情況下,我甚至覺得這是最有用的切入社會分析的思考方式--問題是,一旦我們談到責任誰屬時、一旦我們談道德對錯時,這個因果鏈,在哪裡停?紡織機在英國是資本家用以壓迫工人的資本,那麼在蘇聯的國家工廠同樣被迫強制用紡織機勞動的工人,他們所受的壓迫,責任是在於社會主義國家體制,還是資本主義的世界體系?

盧卡奇對這個責任問題其實有所思考,這就是在他另一篇有名的文章〈Tactics and Ethics〉裡的說法:

“The sense of world history determines the tactical criteria, and it is before history that he who does not deviate for reasons of expediency from the narrow, steep path of correct action prescribed by the philosophy of history which alone leads to the goal, undertakes responsibility for all his deeds.”

假定歷史唯物論是對的,所有有助無產階級擊敗資產階級、帶來世界革命、結束人與人的剝削的策略與行動,都是對的。為了這個目標,我們甚至應該反對所有的「袋住先」--社會民主、福利國家改善了工人的福利,既然革命退潮,不如「袋住先」?不可以--如果代價是消弭工人的抗爭意識。他在文章的開頭有一個精彩的例子說明問題的關鍵:

“The ‘at most’ needs special emphasis, for an objective like that of the French Legitimist Restoration, namely the acknowledgment, in any sense whatever, of the legal order of the Revolution, was already tantamount to a compromise.”

作為保皇復興帝制的黨人,一旦參與到民主議會裡去,即使是只為爭取議席和利益也好,已經是原則上--或最終目的上--的退讓了。同樣道理,除非是相當極端的情況,否則不衝擊資本主義議會制的所有行動,都是有問題的。

很有道理吧--我們不也是都在反對在香港普選的問題上「袋住先」?但問題還是在於:如果不加限制、不加界定到底實質上的得與失是甚麼、箇中道德分量的比重是甚麼的話,從根本思路上反對任何「袋住先」,又或者「和理非」或「退場」的話,到底在哪裡停?是不是因為我們的目的是對的,我們是被壓迫者,於是一切手段,不論會帶來甚麼後果,都是無問題的--一旦有甚麼問題,譬如來真的暴力革命所流的血--錯的要負責的,都是當權者、資本家、資本主義體系?我不是反對一切形式的暴力--遠遠不是,正如所有自由主義者都不是--問題是,具體的暴力形式與代價,是要具體談的;而更重要的是,並不是所有的問題,都可以把最終的責任,歸咎於「體制」,因為這是一種取消個人對他人的責任的危險思路--如果說當代的左翼自由主義者為什麼不輕言暴力、甚至對社會主義馬克思主義有一種天然的戒心或Distaste的話,這就是最重要的原因。這也許是偏見--難道左翼對自由主義者沒有偏見嗎--但卻是一種不無道理的偏見(當然,正如左翼對自由主義的和理非、溫和傾向建制的批評,也是偏見--但不無道理)。

雨傘革命失敗了嗎?如果是,是學聯的「責任」嗎?退聯是「共產黨最開心」嗎?一旦共產黨(或建制in general)真的因此少了一個有相當組織力的對手,是主張退聯的人的責任,還是學聯不能取信於人的責任,還是一切都是共產黨的責任?有好後果當然好,但那些壞的後果誰會願意走出來承擔責任?還是成功了就是抗爭的光榮,所有的成本都是對方的責任、甚至失敗了,也是對方的責任,「愚蠢而庸俗的是這個世界,而不是我;對後果應負什麼責任,與我無關;這個責任,是那些受我辛勞服務,並有待我來掃除其愚蠢和庸俗的其他人的事」(Max Weber 語)?

老實說,我自己也不知道,這些問題都不(完全)是反問或質問--這樣的思路一路走下去,其實也是有問題的--抗爭者是受制度所排斥、壓迫,沒有組織沒有資源,甚至連「光環」都沒有,死了多少都沒有主流媒體關注--內地工人和居民的維權抗爭,我們有關心過嗎?更何況世界各地受壓迫者的抗爭?--你要他們想「責任」,為自己的行為去做道德「論證」,是否更冷血?也許是的。但我想,同一時間,也許,我們也不應太快把自己放到弱者的位置--還能上面書和人筆戰的你,情何以堪呢?同理心過了頭就是自以為是,也許,更是對思想的一種懶惰,甚至逃避了。

更重要的也許是,當我們真的希望調動理論看世界時,總不要忘記 qualification,對自己如是,理解論敵時,也應如是。

My Correct Views on Everything, by Leszek Kolakowski

(一直有讀近來那些自由主義和左翼的爭論,各方都有很多我同意和不同意的地方,更多我同情還有不同情的地方。幾次想落筆寫點甚麼,都不得要領,一來是因為兩套理念兩套思考,於我都很「埋身」,自己太Emotionally charged,二來是因為一旦介入,就有太多話要講,要鑽一些我自己都不太想糾纏的技術支節。然後就想起 Leszek Kolakowski 這篇有名的文章。對照今日的爭論,竟然發覺他提出的一些左翼爭論的問題,仍是很中 (也很狠)。文章網上有得免費下載pdf,花了一點時間edit 貼了上blog,當是一澆心中塊壘。)

MY  CORRECT  VIEWS  ON  EVERYTHING

–A Rejoinder to Edward Thompson’s “Open Letter to Leszek Kolakowski”
by Leszek Kolakowski

From Socialist Register, 1974, Vol. 11.

Dear Edward Thompson,

Why I am not very happy about this public correspondence is because your letter deals as much (at least) with personal attitudes as with ideas. However I have no personal accounts to settle either with Communist ideology or with the year 1956; this was settled long ago. But if you insist,

Let us begin and carry up this corpse

Singing together. . . .

In a review of the last issue of Socialist Register by Raymond Williams, I read that your letter is one of the best pieces of Left writings in the last decade, which implies directly that all or nearly all the rest was worse. He knows better and I take his word. I should be proud to having occasioned, to a certain degree, this text, even if I happen to be its target. And so, my first reaction is one of gratitude.

My second reaction is of embarras de richesses. You will excuse me if I make a fair choice of topics in my reply to your 100 pages of the Open Letter (not well segmentated, as you will admit). I will try to take up the most controversial ones. I do not think I should comment on the autobiographical pages, interesting though they are. When you say, e.g. that you do not go to Spain for holidays, that you never attend a conference of Socialists without paying a part of the costs out of your own pocket, that you do not participate in meetings funded by the Ford Foundation, that you are like Quakers of old who refused to take off their hats before authorities, etc., I do not think it advisable to reply with a virtue-list of my own; this list would probably be less impressive. Neither am I going to exchange the story of your dismissal from the New Left Review for all the stories of my expulsions from different editorial committees of different journals; these stories would be rather trivial.

My third reaction is of sadness and I mean it. Incompetent though I am in your field of studies, I know your reputation as a scholar and historian and I found it regrettable to see in your Letter so many Leftist cliches which survive in speech and print owing to three devices : first, the refusal to analyse words -and the use of verbal hybrids purposely designed to confound the issues; second, the use of moral or sentimental standards in some cases and of political and historical standards in other similar cases; third, the refusal to accept historical facts as they are. I will try to say more precisely what I mean.

Your letter contains some personal grievances and some arguments on general questions. I will start with a minor personal grievance. Oddly enough, you seem to feel offended by not having been invited to the Reading conference and you state that if you had been invited you would have refused to attend anyway, on serious moral grounds. I presume, consequently, that if you had been invited, you would have felt offended as well and so, no way out of hurting you was open to the organizers. Now, the moral ground you cite is the fact that in the organizing Committee you found the name of Robert Cecil. And what is sinister about Robert Cecil is that he once worked in the British diplomatic service. And so, your integrity does not allow you to sit at the same table with someone who used to work in British diplomacy. O , blessed Innocence! You and I, we were both active in our respective Communist Parties in the 40s and 50s which means that, whatever our noble intentions and our charming ignorance (or refusal to get rid of ignorance) were, we supported, within our modest means, a regime based on mass slave labour and police terror of the worst kind in human history. Do you not think that there are many people who could refuse- to sit at the same table with us on this  No, you are innocent, while I do not feel, as you put it, the “sense of the politics of those years” when so many Western intellectuals were converted to Stalinism.

Your “sense of politics of those years” is obviously subtler and more differentiated than mine, I gather this from your casual comments on Stalinism. First, you say, that a part (a part, I do not omit that) of responsibility for Stalinism lies upon the Western powers. You say, second, that “to a historian, fifty years is too short a time in which to judge a new social system, if such a system is arising”. Third, we know, as you say, “times when communism has shown a most human face, between 1917 and the early 1920s and again from the battle of Stalingrad to 1946”.

Everything is right on some additional assumptions. Obviously, in the world in which we live, important events in one country are usually to be credited in part to what happened in other countries. You will certainly not deny that a part of the responsibility for German Nazism lay upon the Soviet Union; I wonder how this affects your judgement on German Nazism?

Your second comment is revealing, indeed. What is fifty years “to a historian”? The same day as I am writing this, I happen to have read a book by Anatol Marchenko, relating his experiences in Soviet prisons and concentration camps in the early 1960s (not 1930s). The book was published in Russian in Frankfurt in 1973. The author, a Russian worker, was caught when he tried to cross the Soviet border to Iran. He was lucky to have done it in Khrushchev’s time, when the regrettable errors of J. V. Stalin were over (yes, regrettable, let us face it, even if in part accounted for by the Western powers), and so, he got only six years of hard labour in a concentration camp. One of his stories is about three Lithuanian prisoners who tried to escape from the convoy in a forest. Two of them were quickly caught, then shot many times in the legs, then ordered to get up which they could not do, then kicked and trampled by guards, then bitten and torn up by police dogs (such an amusement, survival of capitalism) and only then stabbed to death with bayonets. All this with witty remarks by the officer, of the kind “Now, free Lithuania, crawl, you’ll get your independence straight off !” The third prisoner was shot and, reputed to be dead, was thrown under corpses in the cart; discovered later to be alive he was not killed (de-Stalinization!) but left for several days in a dark cell with his festering wound and he survived after his arm was cut off.

This is one of thousand stories you can read in many now available books. Such books are rather reluctantly read by the enlightened Leftist elite, both because they are largely irrelevant, they supply us only with small details (and, after all, we agree that some errors were committed) and because many of them have not been translated (did you notice that if you meet a Westerner who learnt Russian you have at least 90% chance of meeting a bloody reactionary? Progressive people do not enjoy this painful effort of learning Russian, they know better anyway).

And so, what is fifty years to a historian? Fifty years covering the life of an obscure Russian worker Marchenko or of a still more obscure Lithuanian student who has not even written a book? Let us not hurry with judging a “new social system”. Certainly I could ask you how many years you needed to assess the merits of the new military regime in Chile or in Greece, but I know your answer: no analogy, Chile and Greece remain within capitalism (factories are privately owned) while Russia started a new “alternative society” (factories are state owned and so is land and so are all its inhabitants). As genuine historians we can wait for another century and keep our slightly melancholic but cautiously optimistic historical wisdom.

Not so, of course, with “that beast”, “that old bitch, consumer capitalism” (your words). Wherever we look, our blood is boiling. Here we may afford to be ardent moralists again and we can prove-as you do- that the capitalist system has a “logic” of its own that all reforms are unable to cancel. The national health service, you say, is impoverished by the existence of private practice, equality in education is spoilt because people are trained for private industry etc. You do not say that all reforms are doomed to failure, you only explain that as long as reforms do not destroy capitalism, capitalism is not destroyed, which is certainly true. And you propose “a peaceful revolutionary transition to an alternative socialist logic”. You think apparently that this makes perfectly clear what you mean; I think, on the contrary, that it is perfectly obscure unless, again, you imagine that once the total state ownership of factories is granted, there remain only minor technical problems on the road to your utopia. But this is precisely what remains to be proved and the onus probandi lies on those who maintain that these (insignificant “to a historian”) fifty years of experience may be discarded by the authors of the new blueprint for the socialist society (In Russia there were “exceptional circumstances”, weren’t there? But there is nothing exceptional about Western Europe).

Your way of interpreting these modest fifty years (fifty-seven now) of the new alternative society is revealed as well in your occasional remarks about the “most human face of communism” between 1917 and the early ’20s and between Stalingrad and 1946. What do you mean by “human face” in the first case? The attempt to rule the entire economy by police and army, resulting in mass hunger with uncountable victims, in several hundred peasants’ revolts, all drowned in blood (a total economic disaster, as Lenin would admit later, after having killed and imprisoned an indefinite number of Mensheviks and SRs for predicting precisely that) ? Or do you mean the armed invasion of seven non-Russian countries which had formed their independent governments, some socialist, some not (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia; O God, where are all these curious tribes living?) ? Or do you mean the dispersion by soldiers of the only democratically elected Parliament in Russian history, before it could utter one single word? The suppression by violence of all political parties, including socialist ones, the abolition of the non-Bolshevik press and, above all, the replacement of law with the absolute power of the party and its police in killing, torturing and imprisoning anybody they wanted? The mass repression of the Church? The Kronstadt uprising? And what is the most human face in 1942-46? Do you mean the deportation of eight entire nationalities of the Soviet Union with hundreds of thousands of victims (let us say seven, not eight, one was deported shortly before Stalingrad)? Do you mean sending to concentration camps hundreds of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war handed over by the Allies? Do you mean the so-called collectivization of the Baltic countries if you have an idea about the reality of this word?

I have three possible explanations of your statement. First, that you are simply ignorant of these facts; this I find incredible, considering your profession of historian. Second, that you use the word “human face” in a very Thompsonian sense which I do not grasp. Third, that you, not unlike most of both orthodox and critical communists, believe that everything is all right in the Communist system as long as the leaders of the party are not murdered. This is, in fact, the standard way of how communists become “critical”: when they realize that the new alternative socialist logic does not spare the communists themselves and in particular party leaders. Did you notice that the only victims Khrushchev mentioned by name in his speech of 1956 (whose importance I am far from underestimating) were the Stalinists pur sang like himself, most of them (like Postychev) hangmen of merit with uncountable crimes committed before they became victims themselves? Did you notice, in memoirs or critical analyses written by many ex-communists (I will not quote names, excuse me) that their horror only suddenly emerged when they saw communists being slaughtered? They always are pleading the innocence of the victims by saying “but these people were communists”! (Which, incidentally, is a self-defeating way of defence, for it suggests that there is nothing wrong in slaughtering non-communists, and this implies that there is an authority to decide who is and who is not a communist, and this authority can be only the same rulers who keep the gun; consequently, the slaughtered are by definition non-communists and everything is all right.)

Well, Thompson, I really do not attribute to you this way of thinking. Still I cannot help noticing your use of double standards of evaluation. And when I say “double standards” I do not mean indulgence for the justifiable inexperience of the “new society” in coping with new problems. I mean the use, alternatively, of political or moral standards to similar situations and this I find unjustifiable. We must not be fervent moralists in some cases and Real-politikers or philosophers of world history in others, depending on political circumstances. This is a point I would like to make clear to you if we are to understand each other. I will quote to you (from memory) a talk with a Latin-American revolutionary who told me about torture in Brazil. I asked: “What is wrong with torture?” and he said: “What do you mean? Do you suggest it is all right? Are you justifying torture?” And I said: “On the contrary, I simply ask you if you think that torture is a morally inadmissible monstrosity.” “Of course,” he replied. “And so is torture in Cuba?”, I asked. “Well, he answered, this is another thing. Cuba is a small country under the constant threat of American imperialists. They have to use all means of self-defence, however regrettable.”

Then I said: “Now, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe, as I do, that torture is abominable and inadmissible on moral grounds, it is such, by definition, in all circumstances. If however there are circumstances where it can be tolerated, you can condemn no regime for the very fact of applying torture, since you assume that there is nothing essentially wrong with torture itself. Either you condemn torture in Cuba in exactly the same way you do for Brazil, or you prevent yourself from condemning the Brazilian police for the very fact of torturing people. In fact, you cannot condemn torture on political grounds, because in most cases it is perfectly efficient and the torturers get what they want. You can condemn it only on moral grounds and then, necessarily, everywhere in the same way, in Batista’s Cuba or in Castro’s Cuba, in North Vietnam and in South Vietnam.)’

This is a banal but important point which I hope is clear to you. I simply refuse to join people who show how their hearts are bleeding to death when they hear about any, big or minor (and rightly condemn-able) injustice in the US and suddenly become wise historiographers or cool rationalists when told about worse horrors of the new alternative society.

This is one, but not the only one, reason of the spontaneous and almost universal mistrust people from Eastern Europe nourish towards the Western New Left. By a strange coincidence the majority of these ungrateful people, once they come to or settle in Western Europe or in the US, pass for reactionaries. These narrow empiricists and egoists extrapolate a poor few decades of their petty personal experience (logically inadmissible, as you rightly notice) and find in it pretexts to cast doubts on the radiant socialist future elaborated on the best Marxist-Leninist grounds by ideologists of the New Left for the Western countries.

This is a topic I will pursue somewhat further. I assume that we do not differ in accepting facts as they are and that we do not get knowledge of the existing societies by the deduction from a general theory. (Again, I will quote my talk with a Maoist from India. He said: “The cultural revolution in China was a class struggle of poor peasants against kulaks.” I asked: “How do you know that?”, and he replied: “From Marxist-Leninist theory.” I commented: “Yes, that is what I guessed.” He did not understand, but you do.) This is not enough, however, for, as you know, any properly vague ideology is always able to absorb (meaning: to discard) all facts without giving up any of its ingredients. And the trouble is that most people are not dedicated ideologists. Their shallow minds work in such a way as if they believed that nobody has ever seen capitalism or socialism but only sets of small facts they are incapable of interpreting theoretically. They simply notice that people in some countries are better off than in others, that in some of them production, distribution and services are much more efficient than in others, that here people enjoy civil and human rights and freedom and there they do not. (I should rather say “freedom” in quotation marks, as you do; I do realize that this is a part of the absolutely obligatory Leftist spelling, to use the word “freedom” in quotation marks when applied to Western Europe; what a “freedom”, indeed, enough to burst one’s sides with laughter. And we, people without sense of humour, do not laugh.)

I do not try to make you believe that you live in paradise and we in hell. In my country, Poland, we do not suffer hunger, people are not being tortured in prisons, we have no concentration camps (in contrast to Russia), in the last couple of years we have had only few political prisoners (in contrast to Russia), and many people go abroad relatively easily (again, in contrast to Russia). Still, we are a country deprived of sovereignty, and this not in the sense Mr Foot and Mr Powell fear that Britain could lose her sovereignty because of joining the Common Market, but in a sadly direct and palpable sense: in that all key sectors of our life, including the army, foreign policy, foreign trade, important industries and ideology, are under tight control of a foreign empire which exerts its power with a considerable meticulousness (e.g. preventing specific books from being published or specific information from being divulged, not to speak of more serious matters). Still, we appreciate immensely our margins of freedom when we compare our position with that of entirely liberated countries like the Ukraine or Lithuania which, as far as their right to self-government is concerned, are in a much worse situation than the old colonies of the British empire were. And the point is that these margins, important though they are (we can still say and publish significantly more than people elsewhere in the rouble zone, except for Hungary), are not supported by any legal guarantees at all and can be (as they used to be) cancelled over-night by a decision taken by party rulers in Warsaw or in Moscow. And this is simply because we got rid of this fraudulent bourgeois device of the division of powers and we achieved the socialist dream of unity, which means that the same apparatus has all legislative, executive and judicial power in addition to its power of controlling all means of production; the same people make law, interpret it and enforce it; king, Parliament, army chief, judge, prosecutor, policeman and (new socialist invention) owner of all national wealth and the only employer at one and the same desk-what better social unity can you imagine?

You are proud of not going to Spain for political reasons. Un-principled as I am, I was there twice. I t is unpleasant to say that this regime, oppressive and undemocratic though it is, gives its citizens more freedom than any socialist country (except, perhaps, for Yugoslavia). I am not saying this with Schadenfreude, but with shame, keeping in mind the pathos of the civil war. The Spaniards have the frontiers open (never mind the reason which is, in this case, thirty million tourists each year) and no totalitarian system can work with open frontiers. They have censorship after, and not before, publication (my own book was published in Spain and then confiscated, but after one thousand copies had been sold; we all should like to have the same conditions in Poland) and you find in Spanish bookshops Marx, Trotsky, Freud, Marcuse etc. Like us, they have no elections and no legal political parties but, unlike us, they have many forms of organization which are independent of the state and the ruling party. They are sovereign as a state.

You will probably say that I am talking in vain because you clearly stated that you are far from seeing your ideal in the existing socialist states and that you were thinking in terms of a democratic socialism. You did, indeed, and I am not accusing you of being an admirer of the socialist secret police. Still, what I am trying to say is very relevant to your article for two reasons. First, you consider the existing socialist states as (imperfect, to be sure) beginnings of a new and better social order, as transitional forms which went beyond capitalism and are heading towards utopia. I do not deny that this form is new but I do deny that it is in any respect superior to the democratic countries of Europe and I defy you to prove the opposite, i.e. to show a point in which the existing socialism may claim its superiority, except for the notorious advantages all despotic systems have over democratic ones (less trouble with people). The second, and equally important, point is that you pretend to know what democratic socialism means to you and you do not know. You write: “My own utopia, two hundred years ahead, would not be like Morris’s ‘epoch of rest’. I t would be a world (as D. H. Lawrence would have it) where the ‘money values’ give way before the ‘life values’, or (as Blake would have it) ‘corporeal’ will give way to ‘mental’ war. With sources of power easily available, some men and women might choose to live in unified communities, sited, like Cistercian monasteries, in centres of great natural beauty, where agricultural, industrial and intellectual pursuits might be combined. Others might prefer the variety and pace of an urban life which rediscovers some of the qualities of the city-state. Others will prefer a life of seclusion, and many will pass between all three. Scholars would follow the disputes of different schools, in Paris, Jakarta or Bogota.”

This is a very good sample of socialist writing. It amounts to saying that the world should be good, and not bad, and I am entirely on your side on this issue. I share without restrictions your (and Marx’s, and Shakespeare’s, and many others’) analysis to the effect that it is very deplorable that people’s minds are occupied with the endless pursuit of money, that needs have a magic power of infinite growth, and that the profit motive, instead of use-value, is ruling production. Your superiority consists in that you know exactly how to get rid of all this and I do not. Why the problems of the real and the only existing communism which Leftist ideologists put aside so easily (“all right, this was done in exceptional circumstances, we won’t imitate these patterns, we will do better” etc) are crucial for socialist thought is because the experiences of the “new alternative society” have shown very convincingly that the only universal medicine these people have for social evils-state ownership of the means of production- is not only perfectly compatible with all disasters of the capitalist world, with exploitation, imperialism, pollution, misery, economic waste, national hatred and national oppression, but that it adds to them a series of disasters of its own: inefficiency, lack of economic incentives and, above all, the unrestricted role of the omnipotent bureaucracy, a concentration of power never known before in human history. Just a stroke of bad luck? No, you do not say exactly so, you simply prefer to ignore the problem and rightly so, because all attempts to examine this experience lead us back not only to contingent historical circumstances but to the very idea of socialism and the discovery of incompatible demands hidden in this idea (or at least demands whose compatibility remains to be proved). We want a society with a large autonomy of small communities, do we not? And we want central planning in the economy. Let us try to think now how both work together. We want technical progress and we want perfect security for people; let us look closer how both could be combined. We want industrial democracy and we want efficient management: do they work well together? Of course they do, in the leftist heaven everything is compatible and everything settled, lamb and lion sleep in the same bed. Look at the horrors of the world and see how easily we can get rid of them once we make a peaceful revolution toward the new socialist logic. The Middle East war and Palestinian grievances? Of course, this is the result of capitalism, just let us make the revolution and the question is settled. Pollution? Of course, no problem at all, just let the new proletarian state take over the factories and no pollution anymore. Traffic jams? This is because capitalists do not care a damn about human comfort, just give us power (in fact, this is a rather good point, in socialism we have far fewer cars and correspondingly fewer traffic jams). People die from hunger in India? Of course, American imperialists eat their food, but once we make the revolution, etc. Northern Ireland? Demographic problems in Mexico? Racial hatred? Tribal wars? Inflation ? Criminality ? Corruption ? Degradation of educational systems? There is such a simple answer to everything and, moreover, the same answer to everything!

This is not a caricature, not in the slightest. This is a standard pattern of thought of those who have overcome the miserable illusions of reformism and invented the beneficial device for solving all problems of mankind, and this device consists in a few words which, when repeated often enough, start looking as if they had a content: revolution, alternative society, etc. And we have in addition a number of negative words to provoke horror, for instance “anti-communism” or “liberal”. You use these words as well, Edward, without explanation, aware though you must be that the purpose of these words is to mingle many different things and to produce vague negative associations. What is, in fact, the anti-communism you do not profess? Certainly, we know people who believe that there are no serious social problems in the Western world except for the communist danger, that all social conflicts here are to be explained by a communist plot, that the world would be a paradise if only sinister communist forces did not interfere, and that the most hideous military dictatorships deserve support if only they suppress communist movements. You are not anti-communist in that sense? Neither am I. But you will be called anti-communist if you do not strongly believe that the actual Soviet (resp. Chinese) system is the most perfect society the human mind has invented so far, or if you wrote a piece of purely scholarly work on the history of communism without lies. And there is a great number of other possibilities in between. The convenience of the word “anti-communism”, the bogey-man of the leftist jargon, is precisely to put all of them in the same sack and never to explain the meaning of the word. The same with the word “liberal”. Who is a “liberal”? Perhaps a 19th-century free-trader who proclaimed that the state should forbear from interfering in the “free contract” between workers and employers and that workers’ unions were contrary to the free contract principle? Do you suggest that you are not “liberal” in this sense? This is very much to your credit. But according to the unwritten revolutionary OED you are “liberal” if you imagine in general that freedom is better than slavery (I do not mean the genuine, profound freedom people enjoy in socialist countries, but the miserable formal freedom invented by the bourgeoisie to deceive the toiling masses). And the word “liberal” has the easy task of amalgamating these and other things. And so, let us proclaim loudly that we spurn liberal illusions, but let us never explain what we exactly mean.

Should I go on with this progressive vocabulary? Just one more word which, I emphasize, you do not use in this sound sense, the word “fascist” or “fascism”. This is an ingenious discovery, with a fair range of applications. Sometimes fascist is a person I disagree with but, because of my ignorance, I am unable to discuss with, so I will better kick him. When I collect my experiences, I notice that fascist is a person who holds one of the following beliefs (by way of example): 1) That people should wash themselves, rather than go dirty; 2) that freedom of the press in America is preferable to the ownership of the whole press by one ruling party; 3) that people should not be jailed for their ovinions. both communist and anti-communist ; 4) that racial criteria, in favour of either whites or blacks, are inadvisable in admission to Universities; 5 ) that torture is condemnable, no matter who applies it. (Roughly speaking “fascist” was the same as “liberal”.) Fascist was, by definition, a person who happened to have been in jail in a com-munist country. The refugees from Czechoslovakia in 1968 were sometimes met in Germany by very progressive and absolutely revolutionary leftists with placards saying “fascism will not pass”.

And you blame me for making a caricature of the New Left. I wonder what such a caricature would be. Still, your irritation (this is one of the few points where your pen flares up) is understandable. You quote an interview I gave to the German Radio (and later translated from German into English and published in Encounter) where I said two or three general sentences expressing my disgust with New Leftist movements, as I knew them in America and Germany and-this is the point-I did not specify which movements I meant and I said instead vaguely “some people” etc. This means, I did not specifically exclude the New Left Review in 1960-3 when you were associated with it or even I tacitly included you in my statement. Here you got me. I did not specifically exclude the New Left Review in 1960-3 and, I admit, I did not even keep it in mind when I was talking to the German journalist. I thought that to say “some new leftists” etc. is rather like saying, e.g., “some British academics are drunkards”. Do you think that many academics would be offended by such a (admittedly not very ingenious) statement, and if so, which ones? My comfort is that if I happen to say publicly such things on the New Left, my socialist friends somehow never feel that they could be included even if they are not specifically excluded.

But I cannot delay any longer. I hereby solemnly declare that in an interview to the German Radio in 1971, when I was talking about leftist obscurantism, I was not thinking of the New Left Review in 1960-63, with which Edward Thompson was involved. Will that be all right?

You are right, Edward, that we, people from Eastern Europe, have a tendency to underestimate the gravity of the social issues democratic societies face and we may be blamed for that. But we cannot be blamed for not taking seriously people who, unable though they are to remember correctly any single fact from our history or to say which barbaric dialect we speak, are perfectly able instead to teach us how liberated we are in the East and who have a rigorously scientific solution for humanity’s illness and this solution consists in repeating a few phrases we could hear for thirty years on each celebration of the 1 May and read in any party propaganda brochure. (I am talking about the attitude of progressive radicals; the conservative attitude to the problems of the East is different and may be summarized briefly: “This would be awful in our country, but for these tribes it is good enough.”)

When I was leaving Poland at the end of 1968 (I had not been in any Western country for at least six previous years), I had a somewhat vague idea of what the radical student movement and different leftist groups or parties might be. What I saw and read I found pathetic and disgusting in nearly all (still: not all) cases. I do not shed tears for a few windows smashed in demonstrations, that old bitch, consumer capitalism, will survive it. Neither do I find scandalous the rather natural ignorance of young people. What impressed me was mental degradation of a kind I had never seen before in any leftist movement. I saw young people trying to “reconstitute” universities and to liberate them from horrifying, savage, monstrous, fascist oppression. The list of demands, with variations, was very similar all over the world of campuses. These fascist pigs of the Establishment want us to pass examinations while we are making the revolution; let them give all of us A grades without examinations; curiously enough, the anti-fascist warriors wanted to get their degrees and diplomas in such fields as mathematics, sociology or law, and not in such as carrying posters, distributing leaflets or destroying offices. And sometimes they got what they wanted, the fascist pigs of the establishment gave them grades without examinations. Very often there were demands for abolishing altogether some subjects of teaching as irrelevant, e.g. foreign languages (these fascists want us, internationalist revolutionaries, to waste time in learning languages, why? To prevent us from making world revolution!) In one place revolutionary philosophers went on strike because they got a reading list including Plato, Descartes and other bourgeois idiots, instead of relevant great philosophers like Che Guevara and Mao. In another, revolutionary mathematicians pass a motion that the department should organize courses on the social tasks of mathematics and (this is the point) each student should be able to attend this course as many times as he wanted and each time get credit for it, which meant that he could get the diploma in mathematics exactly for nothing. In still another place, the noble martyrs of the world revolution demanded to be examined only by other students they would choose themselves, and not by these old reactionary pseudo-scholars. Professors should be appointed (by students, of course) according to their political views, students admitted on the same grounds. In several cases in the US, the vanguard of the oppressed toiling masses set fire to University libraries (irrelevant pseudo-knowledge of the Establishment). Needless to say, you could hear that there is no difference, no difference at all, between the life in a California campus and a Nazi concentration camp. And all were Marxists, of course, which meant they knew three or four sentences written by Marx or Lenin, in particular the sentence “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it” (what Marx wanted to say in this sentence, it is obvious to them, was that it made no sense to learn).

I could carry on this list for pages but this may suffice, the patterns are always the same: the great socialist revolution consists, first of all, in giving us privileges, titles and power for our political opinions and in destroying the old reactionary academic values like knowledge and logical abilities (but these fascist pigs should give us money, money, money).

And what about the workers? There are two rival views. One (pseudo-Marcusian) says that these bastards were bribed by the bourgeoisie and one cannot expect anything more from them, now the students are the most oppressed and the most revolutionary class of society. Another (Leninist) says that workers have a false consciousness and do not understand their alienation, because the capitalists give them wrong papers to read, but we, revolutionaries, store in our heads the correct consciousness of the proletariat, we know what the workers should think and, in fact, do think without knowing it; consequently we deserve to take power (but not in this stupid electoral play which, as has been scientifically proved, is just for deceiving the people).

You say complacently “revolutionary farce”. All right, it is. But to say this is not enough. This is not a farce capable of turning upside down the society but it is capable of destroying the university and this is a performance worth worrying about (some German universities look already rather like party schools).

And let us go back to the more general question we discussed earlier in private letters. You defend the movement I just described by saying “but there was a Vietnam war”. Very much so, indeed, to put it elegantly. And many other things, no doubt. Traditional German universities had some intolerable features. Italian and French universities had others of their own. There are many things in any society and in any university to justify protest. And- this is my point- you will find no political movement in the world which has no good and well justified claims. If you look at mutual accusations of parties vying for power you always find some well chosen and well grounded points in their claims and attacks, and you do not take it as a reason to support all of them. Nobody is altogether wrong and you are right, of course, in saying that those who joined the communist parties were not altogether wrong. When you look at Nazi propaganda against the Weimar republic, you will find a great number of well justified points : they said that the Versailles Treaty was a shame, and it was; that the democracy was corrupted, and it was; they attacked aristocracy, plutocracy, the power of bankers and, incidentally, the pseudo-freedom, irrelevant to the real needs of the people and serving dirty Jewish newspapers. And this was not a good reason to say “all right, they do not behave very decently and some points in their ideas are rather silly, but they are not wrong in many questions, so let us give them a qualified support”. At least, many people refused to say so. And in fact, had the Nazis not had many good points in attacking the existing regime, they would not have won, there would not have been such a phenomenon as the ranks of Rotfront passing with unfolded colours over to the SA. This is the reason why, when I saw movements imitating the same patterns of behaviour and imitating a part of the same ideology (viz. in all points concerning “formal” freedom and all democratic institutions, tolerance and academic values) I could not be strongly impressed by the saying: “but there was a Vietnam war”.

You say that we should help the blind to recover their sight. I accept this advice with a slight restriction: it is difficult to apply when you have to do with people who are omniscient and all-seeing anyway. I do not remember having ever refused a discussion with people who were ready to have it, the trouble is that some were not, and this precisely because of their omniscience, which I lacked. True, I was almost omniscient (yet not entirely) when I was 20 years old but, as you know, people grow stupid when they grow older, and so, I was much less omniscient when I was 28 and still less now. Nor am I capable of satisfying those who look for perfect certainty and for immediate global solutions to all the world’s calamities and misery. Still, I believe that in approaching other people we should, as far as we are able to do so, follow the Jesuit, rather than the Calvinist, method; this means, we ought to presuppose that nobody is totally and hopelessly corrupted, that everybody, no matter how perverted and limited, has some good points and some good intentions we can catch hold of. This is admittedly easier to say than to practise and I do not think that either of us is a perfect master in this maieutic art.

Your proposal to define yourself (and myself) by the allegiance to the “Marxist tradition” (as opposed to the system, the method, the heritage) seems to me elusive and vague. I am not sure of the meaning you confer on this attachment unless you simply find it important to be called “Marxist”; but you say you do not. Neither do I. I am not interested at all in being “a Marxist” or in being called so. There are certainly only few people working in the human sciences who would not acknowledge their debt to Marx and I am not one of them. I readily admit that without Marx our thinking about history would be different and in many respects worse than it is. To say this is rather trivial. Still, I think that many important tenets of Marx’s doctrine are either false or meaningless or else true only in a very restricted sense. I think that the labour theory of value is a normative device without any explanatory power whatsoever; that none of the well-known general formulae of the historical materialism to be found in Marx’s writings is admissible and that this doctrine is valid only in a strongly qualified sense; that his theory of class consciousness is false and that most of his predictions proved to be erroneous (this is admittedly a general description of what I feel, I am not trying to justify here my conclusions). If I admit nevertheless to keep thinking, in historical (yet not in philosophical) matters, in terms inherited in part from the Marxian legacy, do I accept an allegiance to the Marxist tradition? Only in such a loose sense that the same statement would be equally true when I substitute for”Marxist”-“Christian”, “sceptical”, “empiricist”. Without belonging to any political party or sect, to any Church, to any philosophical school, I do not deny my debt to Marxism, to Christianity, to sceptical philosophy, to empiricist thought and to a few other traditions (more specifically Eastern and less interesting to you) I have in my background. Neither do I share the horror of “eclecticism” if the opposite of eclecticism is philosophical or political bigotry (as it usually is in the minds of those who terrify us with the label of eclecticism). I n such a poor sense, I admit to belong to the Marxist tradition, among others. But you seem to imply more. You seem to imply the existence of a “Marxist family” defined by the spiritual descendance from Marx and to invite me to join it. Do you mean that all people who in one way or another call themselves Marxists form a family (never mind that they have been killing each other for half a century and still do) opposed as such to the rest of the world? And that this family is for you (and ought to be for me) a place of identification? If this is what you mean, I cannot even say that I refuse to join this family; it simply does not exist in a world where the great Apocalypse can most likeIy be triggered off by the war between two empires both claiming to be perfect embodiments of Marxism.

There are in your letter several points which I should broach not because of their importance but because of the unpleasantly demagogic way you discuss them. I will take up two of them. You quote an article of mine containing a remark which I thought was rather a trivial platitude: that exploited classes have not been allowed to participate in the development of spiritual culture. And then you appear as a spokes-man of the insulted working class and you explain to me, with indignation, that the working class developed a sense of solidarity, loyalty etc. In other words: I said this rather to deplore than to exalt the fact that the exploited were denied access to education- and you show disgust at the fact that, in my view, the working class has no moral! This is not a misreading but a sort of absurd “Hineinlesen” which makes any discussion impossible. And then, when I stigmatized as obscurantist the idea of a new, socialist logic or science (again, a truism, as I saw it), you explain that the point is not to change logic but that Marx did want to change the property relations. Did he, really? Well, what can I say except that you opened my eyes? And if you think that the question of a “new logic” or “new science” as opposed to “bourgeois logic” and “bourgeois science” was not at issue, you are entirely wrong. This was not an extravagance but a current pattern of thinking and talking among the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinists and these patterns were inherited intact by dozens of Lenins, Trotskys and Robespierres you could find in any American or German campus.

The second point is your comment on one sentence I uttered in the same interview you quoted; it said that “men have no fuller means of self-identification than through religious symbols” and that “religious consciousness . . . is an irreplaceable part of human culture.” Here, you explode. “By what right (you say), what study of its tradition and sensibility, may you assume this as a universal in the heart of an ancient Protestant Island, doggedly resistant to the magic of religious symbolism. . . .” I am sorry for many reasons. First, that I gave my interview to the German journalist in the heart of the ancient Protestant Island instead of doing this on German soil. Second, that I failed to explain- which I assumed, wrongly, to be known- that “religious symbol” is not necessarily, contrary to what you obviously believe, a picture, a sculpture, a rosary etc., but everything people believe gives them a way of communicating with the Supernatural or conveys its energy (Jesus Christ himself is a symbol, not only a crucifix). I did not invent this use of the word .but, since I did not explain it in my interview, I offended your iconoclastic English tradition. Does this lexical explanation appease somewhat your Protestant conscience hurt by a superstitious Ultramontanist? And you accuse me- that beats everything- of not proving, in this interview, my belief in the permanence of the religious phenomenon. I was really reckless in not quoting entirely, in this interview, all the books and articles I have written on the subject to support this view. You had no reason whatsoever to read these books (one of them, over eight hundred dense pages, and dealing mostly with sectarian movements of the 17th century, is so boring that it would be rather inhuman to ask you to wade through it)-at least you had no such reason as long as you were not trying to criticize my views on the subject. Therefore your indignant “By what right . . .” seems to be more appropriate when retorted to you.

Unfortunately, your article teems with such cases when you shift the subject and you try to make yourself believe that I said something you think I should have said on the basis of some general beliefs you attribute to me. I am sure you do this unconsciously, according to a peculiar logic of beliefs which has always been very characteristic of dogmatic communist thinking, where the difference between those reasonings which are truth-functional and those which are not entirely disappeared; however even if it were true that A entails B, it would not follow that if someone believes A, he believes B. (The wilful rejection of this rather unsophisticated distinction has always allowed the communist press to give its readers information constructed approximately in this way: “The American President said that, in defiance of the protest of the whole peace-loving mankind, he would carry on with the genocidal war in Vietnam” or “Chinese leaders declare that their jingoist, anti-leninist policy aims at the destruction of the socialist camp in order to help imperialists”.) There is a consistence in this grotesque Wonderland logic and I rather dislike your reasonings echoing it. But there is more than that. Since you think about society in categories of global “systems”-capitalism or socialism-you believe that: 1) socialism, imperfect though it is, is essentially a higher stage of mankind’s development and this superiority of the “system” is valid irrespectively of whether or not it can be shown in any particular facts related to human life; 2) all negative facts to be found in the non-socialist world-apartheid in South Africa, torture in Brazil, hunger in Nigeria or inadequate health service in Britain-are to be imputed to the “system”, while similar facts occurring within the socialist world have to be accounted for by the “system” as well, yet not socialist, but the same capitalist system (survival of old society; impact of encirclement etc.) ; 3) whoever does not believe in the superiority of the socialist system” so conceived is bound to believe that “capitalism” is in principle admirable and to justify or to conceal its monstrosities, i.e. to justify apartheid in South Africa, hunger in Nigeria etc. Hence your desperate attempts to force me to have said something I have not. (True, since you consider my case not entirely lost, you try to wake up my conscience and you explain, e.g., that there are spies and bugging devices in Western countries. Really? Are you not joking?) Needless to say, this peculiar way of reasoning is absolutely irrefutable, because it is able to neglect all empirical facts as irrelevant (whatever bad happens within the “capitalist system” is by definition the product of capitalism; whatever bad happens in “the socialist system” is by the same definition the product of the same capitalism). And socialism is defined within this “system-thinking” as total or nearly total state ownership of the means of production; you obviously cannot define socialism in terms of the abolition of hired labour, since you know that if empirical socialism differs in this respect from capitalism, this is only in restoring direct slave labour for prisoners, half-slave labour for workers (abolition of the freedom to change one’s place of work) and the mediaeval glebae adrcriptio for peasants. So, within this construction it is consistent to believe that with the private title of ownership the roots of evil, if not all actual evil, on earth are eradicated. But these three statements I mentioned are nothing else but the expression of an ideological commitment, incapable of being either validated or dis-proved empirically. You say that to think in terms of “system” yields excellent results. I am quite sure it does, not only excellent, but miraculous; it simply solves all problems of mankind at one stroke. This is why people who have not reached this level of scientific consciousness (like myself) do not know such a simple device for the salvation of the world, as is known to any sophomore in Berlin or Nebraska, viz. the socialist world revolution.

*    *   *

I have obviously not exhausted the topics of your text, which restores the dignity of the vanishing art of epistolography. But I believe I have touched on the most controversial ones. The gulf dividing us is at the moment unlikely to be bridged. You still seem to consider yourself as a dissident communist or as a sort of revisionist. I do not, and this for a very long time. You seem to define your position in terms of discussions of 1956 and I do not. This was an important year and its illusions were important, too. But they were crushed just after they had appeared. You probably realize that what was labelled “revisi~nisrn’~in the people’s democracies is virtually dead (possibly with the exception of Yugoslavia) which means that both young and old people in these countries stopped thinking about their situation in terms of “genuine socialism”, “genuine Marxism” etc. They want (more often than not in a passive way) more national independence, more political and social freedom, better life conditions-but not because there is anything specifically socialist in these claims. The official state ideology is in a paradoxical position. I t is absolutely indispensable, for it is the only way in which the ruling apparatus can legitimize its power; and it is believed by nobody-either the rulers or the ruled (both well aware of the unbelief of the others and of their own). And in Western countries, virtually every intellectual who considers himself socialist (and even communist) will admit in private talk that the socialist idea is in a deep crisis; few will admit this in print, here buoyant jauntiness is obligatory and we must not sow do”;ts and confusion “in the masses” or supply our foes with arguments. I am not sure if you agree that this is a self-defeating policy, I rather think you do not.

In the meantime some traditionally socialist institutions seem to creep’in capitalist societies in a rather unexpected way. Even the most short-sighted politicians realize now that not everything can be bought for money, that a moment might come when no money will buy us clean air, clean water, more land or wasted natural resources. And so, “use value” comes back, slowly, into the economy. A paradoxical “socialism” resulting from the fact that mankind does not know what to do with garbage. The result is growing bureaucracy and the growing role of power centres. The only medicine communism has invented-the centralized, beyond social control, state ownership of the national wealth and one-party rule-is worse than the illness it is supposed to cure; it is less efficient economically and it makes the bureaucratic character of social relations an absolute principle. I appreciate your ideal of the decentralized society with a large autonomy for small communities and I share your attachment to this tradition. But it is silly to deny powerful forces resulting from the technological develop-ment itself, and not from the fact of private property, and leading toward greater and greater power of the central bureaucracy. If you pretend to know simple means to cope with this situation, if you imagine to have found the solution in saying “we will make a peaceful revolution and socialism will reverse this trend” you delude yourself and you fall victim to verbal magic. The more society depends on the complex tech-nological network it created, the more problems have to be regulated by central powers, the more powerful state bureaucracy is, the more political democracy and more “formal”, “bourgeois” freedom is needed to tame the ruling apparatus and to secure individuals their shrinking rights to remain individuals. There will never be and there cannot be any economical or industrial democracy without political (“bourgeois”) democracy with everything it entails. We do not know how to harmonize the contradictory tasks contemporary society imposes upon us, we can only try an uncertain balance between these tasks, we have no prescription for a conflictless and secure society. I will repeat what I wrote once elsewhere: “In private life there is the attitude of those who think about how they could gain at one blow the capital that would allow them to spend the rest of their life without worries, in peace and security; and there is the attitude of those who must worry about how to survive until tomorrow. I think that human society as a whole will never be in the happy position of a rentier, living on dividends and having the guarantee of the secure life to the end, thanks to the capital once acquired. Its position will be rather similar to that of a journeyman who must care about how to survive until tomorrow. The utopians are people who dream about ensuring for mankind the position of rentier and who are convinced that this position is so splendid that no sacrifices (in particular no moral sacrifices) are too great to achieve it.”

This does not mean that socialism is a dead option. I do not think so. But I do think that this option was emptied not only by the experience of socialist states; it was emptied by the silly self-complacency and self-confidence of its adherents, by their inability to face both the limits of our efforts to change society and the incompatibility of demands and values which made up their creed; briefly, that the meaning of this option has to be revised entirely, from the very roots.

And when I say “socialism” I do not mean a state of perfection but rather a movement trying to satisfy demands for equality, freedom and efficiency, a movement that is worth trouble only as far as it is aware not only of the complexity of problems hidden in each of these values separately but also of the fact that they limit each other and can be implemented only through compromises. We make fools of ourselves and of others ifwe think (or pretend to think) otherwise. All institutional changes have to be treated entirely as means at the service of these values and not as ends in themselves and be judged correspondingly, taking into account the price we pay in one value when we reinforce another one. Attempts to consider any of these three values as absolute and to implement it at all costs not only are bound to destroy two others but they are self-defeating-a discovery of venerable antiquity. Absolute equality can be set up only within a despotic system of rule which implies privileges, i.e. destroys equality; total freedom means anarchy and anarchy results in the domination of the physically strongest, i.e. total freedom turns into its opposite; efficiency as a supreme value calls again for despotism and despotism is economically inefficient above a certain level of technology. If I repeat these old truisms this is because they still seem to go unnoticed in utopian thinking; and this is why nothing in the world is easier than writing utopias. I wish we could agree on this point. If we do, we can agree on many others, even after exchanging a few caustic remarks which, I hope, we will be generous enough to forgive each other. Such an agreement will be much less likely if you keep believing that communism was in principle an excellent contrivance, somewhat spoilt in less than excellent application. I hope to have explained to you why, for many years, I have not expected anything from attempts to mend, to renovate, to clean or to correct the communist idea. Alas, poor idea. I knew it, Edward. This skull will never smile again.

Yours in friendship,

Leszek Kolakowski

〈香港民族主義思考筆記〉的批判筆記

如常地落後形勢,到現在才讀完台灣學者吳叡人的〈The Lilliputian Dream:關於香港民族主義的思考筆記〉。文章不錯,算是用完整系統的理論語言包裝過一次所謂香港的民族論述。有不少令人頭痛的不必要的炫學及「搗漿糊」式引用(如Durkheim 的Organic Solidarity 其實嚴格來講不是他所想說的意思、對Weber 和Miller 抽空前文後理式的引用--Miller 下面再說),考慮到文章也許是希望為香港所謂的民族主義運動提供理論依據並壯聲勢(簡稱為政治運動背書),也可以理解。

不過其中最令人疑惑的,在於一位朋友曾向我提過的一點:為何要叫「民族」而不是「社群」或「本土」之類的稱號?作者說:

//「香港民族」主要是以共同命運、共同政治社會體制、共同心理特徵與共同價值等標準來界定的,與血緣、種族無關。年輕的作者們雖然強調香港民族具有共同的粵語文化,然而這個文化與香港價值一樣,本質上是開放,可以經學習而獲得的。這個開放的公民民族論,恰與北京的血緣民族論成為鮮明對比。第二,「香港民族」是在現代歷史過程中形成的政治建構物//

又說:

//在經歷了八、九零年代來自西方社會人文理論的後現代、解構與後殖民思潮的激烈批判檢討之後,任何稍具正當性的民族主義論述都不可避免地必須辯證地吸收這些批判意見,整合到自身的視野之中//

也就是說(一)香港這個「民族」並沒有本質性的文化或血緣連繫;(二)作者也鼓勵參與運動者、認同運動者認清這一點,甚至要吸收諸如後殖民理論等批判民族主義的思潮(這點從他大段討論 Benedict Anderson 的 Imagined Communities,強調民族感是建構而來也可見到)。問題是,抽空了所有這些元素之後,民族主義還從何說起是「民族」呢?又和「社群」、「本土」的意象有多不同呢?後兩者一樣可以有爭取政治上自主的訴求。惟一也許說得上有點不同的,就是也許「民族」更在政治上具挑釁性--更容易引起「獨立」的聯想 (引文://打開了Pandora’s box,讓不可想像的變成可以想像的,並且在來日的行動中,逐漸可能成為自然的、合理的,乃至正當的。這是一種政治修辭對行動的召喚//)。問題是,把「民族」拉到獨立,也就是隱然的指向「民族=政治上獨立建國的權利」,不就正是最原始、最沒有「辯證地吸收這些批判意見」的民族主義想像嗎?既然「民族」所剩下的只有一種命運共同的情感(這確是值得重視的),而這種情感又相當依賴社會制度和社會動員的塑造,就因為這種情感和文化紐帶而直接跳到獨立建國的權利或正當性,就不是那麼不證自明了。但作者卻是恰恰在這個節骨眼上含混過去:他既沒有討論「民族」的個標籤為何重要,也沒有進一步思考用「民族」、而不是其他早已存在於香港政治討論脈絡的用字作為政治運動旗幟,背後所隱含的政治意義,其實是和他在文章的其他主張有張力。

這裡就涉及到他對David Miller的引用。讀過的Miller 不多,但他對民族主義的思考,簡單來講,有兩個重點:(一)民族情感對實踐社會財富的分配正義有工具性的價值 (instrumental value),可以令公民有較強的團結、較願意為其他公民付出和犧牲,而這一點是過往的政治哲學家忽視了的;(二)一般人認為「民族」的意識既是封閉的、也是建構出來的,因此是既不真實也不適合講求個人自主的開放社會,但 Miller 卻有兩點反駁:a) 如果我們有健全的保障基本人權的制度,其實可以減輕民族意識所帶來的封閉性的壞影響,b) 建構不代表是不真實的,例子是假如你是一個自幼被養父母收養了的孩子,你們感情很好,但你不知道他們不是你親生父母,二十年後你終於知道真相,所以整個親情都是建基於虛假的資訊,可是即使如此,你和他們的親情也是真的,也是值得重視的,而「建構」出來的民族意識也可作如是觀。

所以嚴格來說,Miller 應該不會認同:

//明確邊界的香港民族之存在,是在香港可能實施分配正義(distributive justice)的前提//

他不過是指一種命運共同的感受既是值得重視、尊重,也有助(而不是前提)建構更鞏固的分配正義體制。更重要的是,Miller 在這裡談的是原來已有的民族意識之下,這些意識背後的共同情感值得重視和尊重。但對原本從來就沒有用「民族」這一意識來理解自身的社群來說呢?我們似乎就難以理解用新造的「民族」來取代「本土」或「社群」的意義有多大。這個「民族」意識,是一種忽視現實和概念之間距離的「挪用」--這其實是他對陳雲的「城邦」的批評,但一樣也可以用於「民族」這個概念之上。

最後一重的擔憂則是:「民族」意象在現實中其實始終與對其他文化和族群的開放性有張力,否則「公民民族主義」遠祖既然可以追塑至法國大革命,為何二十世紀我們又會面對民族主義引來的兩場世界大戰和種種災難?是不是「民族」這個意象本身,就會有這一重社會心理上的影響與傾向?Habermas 談「憲政愛國主義」(Constitutional Patriotism),說的其實也和公民民族主義的差不多,但他卻避用「民族」一詞,這也許是明智的選擇。

反過來,社群、本土在意象上則似乎更具開放性,也更切合香港的歷史軌跡:香港本來就是由移民組成、在長期的共同生活中形成了團結的情感、意識、身份認同,真正重要的,是在此「地」生活過、是生活上的共同經驗,同時也不會關上了在文化上和族群上共融的開放性。這樣的開放性是重要的:香港原生的本土文化,也有很多的偏見、歧視、壓迫(正如所有的民間文化一樣),正需要有多元的良性碰撞來反思、自我修正、重新界定。「民族」的意象則似乎太快地把自我認同、以及一套一元的歷史敘事,即所謂的民族神話固定了。

最後,策略上,如果我們還覺得中共政權之下仍然有追求民主自由的進步者,則「民族」只會把合作大門關上,令同情者出於也許是情感、也許是策略上的考慮而卻步;反過來「本土」「社群」則是一個更開放的概念空間,甚或也可以和內地漸強的文化上的地方主義接上,共同追求一種多元的公民身份和歷史論述,以抵抗專制和一元化的政權。這一點已有很多人談過,也許就沒有甚麼新意了。