Populism – 说民粹 – English

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Today, the words ‘populist’ and ‘populism’ have become weapons of criticism, wielded by officials and private critics alike. The raging voices of the people on the internet are dismissed by officials as ‘network populism’, 并暗指它被“新崛起的网络精英”裹挟,用来“宣扬自由主义价值观”。民间认为,官方所发起的一些群众运动,以杀富、排外为呼召,煽动淤积在民众心底的怨念与仇恨,冲击法律,报复社会,则不无民粹之嫌;然而官方本身并不是民粹,只是在利用民粹而已。这两种批判,殊途而同归,它们欲揪出的敌人,不止民粹,还包括潜伏在民粹背后发踪指示的那股势力,也许,后者才是它们的心腹之患。

Anyway, what is populism?

‘Populism’ may be one of the most obscure, erratic and elusive concepts in political science – we can even get rid of that ‘one of’. Attempts to define it are often vain. Researchers have noted that one characteristic of populism is precisely conceptual uncertainty. This being the case, we can leave the definition aside, and just mention the main characteristics: respecting the people (the masses, the common people), and denouncing the elites.

How is it wrong to respect the people? In a democracy, sovereignty lies with the people, the people come first, so who would dare openly disdaining the people? However, 推崇归推崇,必须有度,最忌从一个极端滑入另一个极端。The core element of populiusm is a form of extremism, extreme respect for the people, extreme elevation of the people, extreme praise of the masses, extreme hostility to the elites, and phrases like ‘the eyes of the people are the sharpest’, ‘the masses are seeking the truth’ or ‘the lowly are smart, the powerful stupid’, all have a strong populist character.

And that’s where the problems come. First, the eyes of the people are not always sharp, the minds of the people are not always bright, 真理有时不是掌握在群众手中,而是掌握在少数人甚至唯一的先知手中,将群众抬到一个无以复加的高度,红色的屁股便裸露于天下;宣扬人民无所不能,往往导致人民的信用破产。

Two, what is ‘the masses’, what is ‘the people’? After tasting the sufferings of history, we understand that concepts like ‘the masses’ or ‘the people’ are very unreal. It stands to reason that you and I belong to ‘the people’; however, once ‘the people’ have been incorporated as part of a country’s ideology, the essence of the concept has dried out – are you and I still part of ‘the people’ then? Who can represent the people? Who can name the people? Who has answers to that? Thus, the people are like clouds hanging up in the sky, and when the wind blows, they begin to sway. If populism is anchored in the people, when the people sway, it will naturally sway with them. This is where the erratic nature of this concept comes from.

(Incidentally, ‘Populism’ author Paul Taggart pointed out that of two questions, who are the people, who are not the people, populism determines the latter more easily, and it often constructs its own legitimacy through hatred and demonisation of the enemy. This in turn determines its characteristics: opposition and destruction.)

更要命的是,当“群众”、“人民”的名义被盗用,民粹则难逃被利用的厄运。有人高举民粹主义的鲜明旗帜,其身份,却非民众,而是精英。In 1861, Herzen, the founder of Russian populism, said: “到人民中去,到人民中去,那儿有你的位置,从知识的宝座流放自己,你将成为代表俄国人民的勇士。”这话足够直白了,到人民中去,表面上看,为了融入人民,实质上则是为了启蒙人民、代表人民。窃以为,许多高呼民粹主义的知识精英,本身并不怎么信任民粹主义,他们比民粹主义的批判者还了解此中利弊,只是值此情势,他们需要发动民粹,为我所用。

Populism is erratic, and so will not become an independent political force, 而只能主动依附他者,或者为他者所利用(民族主义亦然)。因此,民粹博得了“投机”、“变色龙”的雅号,吴稼祥称其为变形金刚:“它瞻之在前,忽焉在后,看似在左,倏然在右,今天要平等,明天就要特权,一会儿是民主主义者手里的讲稿,一会儿又是独裁者,比如庇隆脚下的阳台,这个国家的民粹主义者要加税,那个国家的民粹主义者要减税,甚至拒绝缴税,比如法国的鲍杰德主义……”保罗·塔格特认为:“在不同的时期和不同的地方,民粹主义一直是变革的力量、反对变革的力量,是左翼进步政治的创造物,是对现状进行慎重辩护的庇护所,是极右派的同伙人。”俞可平则指出其内在的矛盾:“……它有民主的内涵,但最终极可能走向专制独裁;它有爱国的情调,但常常导致极端的民族主义;它反对精英政治,但结果经常是个人集权;它貌似激进,但实质上经常代表保守落后的势力。”

Generally speaking, the extreme-right and extreme-left most enjoy using populism, 它们的极端属性,臭味相投,一拍即合,而且,民粹可以作为一重炫丽的包装,掺入民主、民本、民生的队列,用以号令民众,无所不从,借机掩蔽了其专制的本色。所谓“民粹其表,专制其里”,这八字,足以诠释大多数民粹现象。

Of course, populism is definitely not useless. 它的价值,不在朝,而在野,不在建构,而在解构,不在效忠,而在反对。最适合它的角色,就是一个永远无望上台执政的反对党(它若执政,便是灾难),无时无地不向政府、精英高喊“我反对”。它的主张,如均贫富、直接民主等,作为对贫富分化、代议制民主的激烈批判,不啻是一记警钟。

  从这个意义上讲,当民粹风靡一时,所对应的现象必将是社会不公、权力专横、政府腐化、精英堕落。如塔格特所云,民粹主义的主题之一,正是“对严重危机的强烈反应”。所以我们批判民粹的同时,更应该批判滋生民粹的土壤。

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Source : 21ccom

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org