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福山:美国民主对中国没得可教

21世纪的头十年,不同政治经济模式的相对声望戏剧性地颠倒过来。十年前,网络泡沫破灭前夕,占据优势地位的是美国。然而美国很快就将这些道德资本挥霍一空

政治体制新潮流?

作者:斯坦福大学弗里曼•斯波利国际问题研究所研究员 弗朗西斯•福山 为英国《金融时报》撰稿

21世纪的头十年,不同政治经济模式的相对声望戏剧性地颠倒过来。十年前,网络泡沫破灭前夕,占据优势地位的是美国。美国民主被广泛效仿,尽管它并非总是受到喜爱;美国技术风行全球;轻度管制的“盎格鲁-撒克逊”式资本主义被视为未来的潮流。然而美国很快就将这些道德资本挥霍一空:伊拉克战争及它在军事入侵和民主推广之间建立起的密切联系,玷污了民主的声誉;华尔街金融危机则让人们不再相信市场可以自律。

 

相比之下,中国则顺风顺水。本周,中国国家主席胡锦涛罕见地对美国进行国事访问。此时,许多中国人都把安然渡过金融危机看作中国体制合理性的证明,以及美式自由理念不再占据主导地位的时代的开端。国有企业再度吃香,中国政府选择通过国企来落实大规模经济刺激计划。许多中国人一度对美国的一切事物不假思索地崇拜,如今则用一种更加细致、更带批判性的目光来审视美国的种种弱点,某些人的态度甚至近乎蔑视。所以,有民调显示认为本国发展方向正确的中国人比美国人多得多,也情有可原。
但是,何谓中国模式?许多观察人士信手将中国归入“威权资本主义”类别,与俄罗斯、伊朗和新加坡同伍。然而中国模式自成一体,其独特的治理模式难以描述,更不用说效仿了,这也是中国模式无法输出的原因。
中国政治体制最重要的优势在于能够迅速做出复杂的重大决策、并且相对有效地执行这些决策,至少就经济政策而言是如此。这一点在基础设施领域表现得最为明显:为满足工业日益发展的需求,中国已大举兴建机场、大坝、高速铁路、水利和电力系统。印度的情况与此相反,新投资项目总会受到工会、游说团体、农会和法庭的阻挠。印度是一个实行法治的民主国家,普通民众可以反对政府规划;中国的执政者可将100多万人口迁出三峡库区,而几乎无需提供任何补偿。
虽然如此,中国政府的质量却高于俄罗斯、伊朗或其它经常与之归为同类的威权国家,而这恰恰是因为中国执政者认为在某种程度上应接受民众问责。这种问责当然不涉及程序;中国共产党的权威既不受法治约束,也不受民主选举约束。然而,中国领导人在压制民众批评的同时,也竭力在掌握民众的不满,调整政策加以应对。他们对城市中产阶级和创造就业的强大商业利益集团最为关注,但当民众对涉及低层党员干部腐败无能的大案要案表示愤慨时,他们也会做出反应。
的确,中国政府经常对它所认为的民意反应过度——正如一位驻北京外交官所言,这恰恰是因为中国没有制度化的方法来判断民意,如选举或自由媒体。举例来说,去年中国没有小心维持理性的中日工作关系,而让两国因中国渔船船长被扣事件而起的冲突愈演愈烈,似乎是因为预期民众反日情绪高涨。
长期以来,美国一直希望中国在富起来的同时向民主转型,而且希望中国在实力强大到足以构成战略和政治威胁前经历这一转型。但这个希望似乎不太可能实现。中国政府知道如何迎合中国精英阶层和日益崛起的中产阶级的利益,知道如何利用他们对民粹主义的恐惧。这就是为什么真正的多党制民主在中国鲜有人支持。精英阶层担忧,泰国民主的例子就是一个警告——警告他们会有什么事情发生在自己身上。在泰国,一位走民粹主义路线的总理的当选,引发了他的支持者与当权派之间的暴力冲突。
近来,中国的不平等显著加剧,这对一个仍自称走共产主义路线的国家来说颇具讽刺性。许多农民和工人在中国的经济增长中获益甚少,还有些人正遭受残酷地剥削。腐败现象比比皆是,更加剧了现有的不平等。在地方层面,政府与开发商同流合污、从不幸的农民手中夺走土地的案例举不胜举,助长了民众的愤怒。中国每年都会出现数千起社会抗议活动,受到压抑的民愤经常以暴力形式在这些活动中爆发出来。
中共似乎认为,它可以通过领导层更加积极地对公众压力做出反应来解决不平等问题。中国在过去两千年中一个伟大历史成,就是创造出了高质量的中央集权政府,这个政府远胜于其它多数威权国家的政府。今天,中国正将社会开支向被忽视的内陆地区转移,从而提升消费、避免社会崩溃。我对这一做法能否奏效表示怀疑:对任何一个自上而下的问责体制而言,监控和回应底层发生的事件都是无法解决的问题。有效的问责只能通过自下而上的过程——也就是我们所知的民主——来实现。在我看来,这种问责在短期内不太可能出现。但有朝一日,在遭遇严重经济衰退、或更加腐败无能的领导人时,中国体制脆弱的合法性就可能受到公开挑战。民主的优势往往在逆境中表现得最为明显。
然而,如果以市场导向的民主模式想要胜出的话,美国人必须坦承自己的错误和误解。华盛顿过去十年的对外政策过于依赖军力、过于单边主义,其仅有的成就是激起了对自身不利的反美情绪。在经济政策方面,里根主义在最初取得成功后又延续了太长时间,结果只带来了财政赤字、有欠考虑的减税和不及格的金融监管。
这些问题在一定程度上正得到承认和解决。但美国模式中有一个更深层的问题远未得到解决。中国能快速适应局面,做出艰难的决定并有效地贯彻实施。美国人则以宪法的制衡原则为傲,这种制衡原则基于一种不信任中央集权政府的政治文化。这种体制保障了个人自由和私营部门的活力,但它现在却变得两极分化、思想僵化。目前,该体制几乎无意解决美国面临的长期财政挑战。美国民主或许拥有中国体制所欠缺的内在合法性,但如果政府内部出现分裂、无力治理国家,那么它对任何人来说都不是什么好模式。1989年天安门抗议期间,示威学生树立起一座以自由女神像为蓝本的塑像,来表明自己的热望。未来某天中国会不会有人做出同样的举动,取决于美国人如何解决自己目前面临的问题。
 
本文作者是斯坦福大学弗里曼•斯波利国际问题研究所(Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University)研究员,其最新著作《政治秩序诸起源》(The Origins of Political Order)将于今春出版
译者/何黎

 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cb6af6e8-2272-11e0-b6a2-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1BNDshzIJ

US democracy has little to teach China
By Francis Fukuyama (the author of "The End of History and the Last Man)
The writer is a fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. His latest book, The Origins of Political Order, will be published in the spring.
Published: January 17 2011 19:54 | Last updated: January 17 2011 19:54
pinn
The first decade of the 21-century has seen a dramatic reversal of fortune in the relative prestige of different political and economic models. Ten years ago, on the eve of the puncturing of the dotcom bubble, the US held the high ground. Its democracy was widely emulated, if not always loved; its technology was sweeping the world; and lightly regulated “Anglo-Saxon” capitalism was seen as the wave of the future. The US managed to fritter away that moral capital in remarkably short order: the Iraq war and the close association it created between military invasion and democracy promotion tarnished the latter, while the Wall Street financial crisis put paid to the idea that markets could be trusted to regulate themselves.
China, by contrast, is on a roll. President Hu Jintao’s rare state visit to Washington this week comes at a time when many Chinese see their weathering of the financial crisis as a vindication of their own system, and the beginning of an era in which US-style liberal ideas will no longer be dominant. State-owned enterprises are back in vogue, and were the chosen mechanism through which Beijing administered its massive stimulus. The automatic admiration for all things American that many Chinese once felt has given way to a much more nuanced and critical view of US weaknesses – verging, for some, on contempt. It is thus not surprising that polls suggest far more Chinese think their country is going in the right direction than their American counterparts.
But what is the Chinese model? Many observers casually put it in an “authoritarian capitalist” box, along with Russia, Iran and Singapore. But China’s model is sui generis; its ­specific mode of governance is difficult to describe, much less emulate, which is why it is not up for export.
The most important strength of the Chinese political system is its ability to make large, complex decisions quickly, and to make them relatively well, at least in economic policy. This is most evident in the area of infrastructure, where China has put into place airports, dams, high-speed rail, water and electricity systems to feed its growing industrial base. Contrast this with India, where every new investment is subject to blockage by trade unions, lobby groups, peasant associations and courts. India is a law-governed democracy, in which ordinary people can object to government plans; China’s rulers can move more than a million people out of theThree Gorges Dam flood plain with little recourse on their part.
Nonetheless, the quality of Chinese government is higher than in Russia, Iran, or the other authoritarian regimes with which it is often lumped – precisely because Chinese rulers feel some degree of accountability towards their population. That accountability is not, of course, procedural; the authority of the Chinese Communist party is limited neither by a rule of law nor by democratic elections. But while its leaders limit public criticism, they do try to stay on top of popular discontents, and shift policy in response. They are most attentive to the urban middle class and powerful business interests that generate employment, but they respond to outrage over egregious cases of corruption or incompetence among lower-level party cadres too.
Indeed, the Chinese government often overreacts to what it believes to be public opinion precisely because, as one diplomat resident in Beijing remarked, there are no institutionalised ways of gauging it, such as elections or free media. Instead of calibrating a sensible working relationship with Japan, for example, China escalated a conflict over the detention of a fishing boat captain last year – seemingly in anticipation of popular anti-Japanese sentiment.
Americans have long hoped China might undergo a democratic transition as it got wealthier, and before it became powerful enough to become a strategic and political threat. This seems unlikely, however. The government knows how to cater to the interests of Chinese elites and the emerging middle classes, and builds on their fear of populism. This is why there is little support for genuine multi-party democracy. The elites worry about the example of democracy in Thailand – where the election of a populist premier led to violent conflict between his supporters and the establishment – as a warning of what could happen to them.
Ironically for a country that still claims to be communist, China has grown far more unequal of late. Many peasants and workers share little in the country’s growth, while others are ruthlessly exploited. Corruption is pervasive, which exacerbates existing inequalities. At a local level there are countless instances in which government colludes with developers to take land away from hapless peasants. This has contributed to a pent-up anger that explodes in many thousands of acts of social protest, often violent, each year.
The Communist party seems to think it can deal with the problem of inequalitythrough improved responsiveness on the part of its own hier­archy to popular pressures. China’s great historical achievement during the past two millennia has been to create high-quality centralised government, which it does much better than most of its authoritarian peers. Today, it is shifting social spending to the neglected interior, to boost consumption and to stave off a social explosion. I doubt whether its approach will work: any top-down system of accountability faces unsolvable problems of monitoring and responding to what is happening on the ground. Effective accountability can only come about through a bottom-up process, or what we know as democracy. This is not, in my view, likely to emerge soon. However, down the road, in the face of a major economic downturn, or leaders who are less competent or more corrupt, the system’s fragile legitimacy could be openly challenged. Democracy’s strengths are often most evident in times of adversity.
However, if the democratic, market-oriented model is to prevail, Americans need to own up to their own mistakes and misconceptions. Washington’s foreign policy during the past decade was too militarised and unilateral, succeeding only in generating a self-defeating anti-Americanism. In economic policy, Reaganism long outlived its initial successes, producing only budget deficits, thoughtless tax-cutting and inadequate financial regulation.
These problems are to some extent being acknowledged and addressed. But there is a deeper problem with the American model that is nowhere close to being solved. China adapts quickly, making difficult decisions and implementing them effectively. Americans pride themselves on constitutional checks and balances, based on a political culture that distrusts centralised government. This system has ensured individual liberty and a vibrant private sector, but it has now become polarised and ideologically rigid. At present it shows little appetite for dealing with the long-term fiscal challenges the US faces. Democracy in America may have an inherent legitimacy that the Chinese system lacks, but it will not be much of a model to anyone if the government is divided against itself and cannot govern. During the 1989 Tiananmen protests, student demonstrators erected a model of the Statue of Liberty to symbolise their aspirations. Whether anyone in China would do the same at some future date will depend on how Americans address their problems in the present.
 

 

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