张维为对话斯蒂格利茨:美国三权已被资本捕获,未来会发生什么?

subtitle 观察者网 10-30 07:14

新冠疫情发生以来,美欧国家糟糕的应对能力,让本已处于颓势的新自由主义更加捉襟见肘,反全球化声浪也再次高涨,有学者甚至将此次疫情称为“第三次全球大战(疫)”,引发对国际大格局变动的担忧。

近日,复旦大学中国研究院院长张维为对话诺贝尔经济学奖得主、世界银行首席经济学家斯蒂格利茨,围绕“新自由主义与全球化危机”展开对话,详细内容将在观察者网推出,敬请关注。

本文为对话第一部分:严峻的“美国真相”。从斯蒂格里茨教授的新书《美国真相》谈起,揭露美国资本如何破坏市场规则,美国所谓的“民主社会”,也不过是表象,引以为傲的“三权分立”实际上已经被资本力量控制,美国亟需的是一场改革。

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杨晗轶:我们从斯蒂格利茨教授开始。您的著作不久前被译成中文,书名叫做《美国真相》。我想知道您认为其中最重要的真相是什么,这本书曝光了什么过去人们认识不足或者认识偏差的地方?

斯蒂格利茨:我认为这本书令人意想不到的地方在于,它曝光了美国市场经济受到市场势力压榨的程度,企业势力是如何压榨消费者的,缺乏议价权的工人是如何被企业剥削的,这种利用个体脆弱性的能力。

这本书的主题是点明美国当下需要新的社会契约,在市场、国家和民间社会之间取得新的平衡,政府需要在监管和投资方面发挥重要作用。民主具有非同寻常的重要性,但近几十年它不断受到破坏。我们看到有人试图压制选民(注:通过让某些人不要投票来影响选举结果)。

我在书中试图描述当下的情形,解释一个国家怎么会表面上号称支持民主,实际上却任由少数统治多数,而且毫不在乎他们的权利。绝大多数美国人希望管控枪支,希望提高最低工资,希望能享受医保服务等等一系列改革。但我们却什么都没得到。我说的大多数,是二比一、三比一的比例,但问题在于少数的剥削者,比如企业等参与剥削活动的行为方,很清楚它们的议程不受多数人支持,所以它们就设法剥夺人们的公民权,包括阻挠选民投票,用杰利蝾螈(不公正地划分选区)褫夺选民权力等方式,通过最高法院限制政治行动,给民主套上枷锁,在政治程序里赋予金钱更大的权力。

张维为:通过对国际政治体制和制度的研究,我得出一个结论:一个社会要想达到运转良好的理想状态,必须要平衡三种力量:政治力量,社会力量和资本力量,使它们符合绝大多数人的利益,而不是为少数人服务。

但问题在于,或者说我担心的是,也许美国的资本力量过于强大,通过某种方式压倒或捕获了社会和政治力量,所以尽管你在书中很正确地呼吁要巩固民主,要加强制衡机制,但如果相互制衡的行政、司法和立法三权都被资本力量捕获了,未来会发生什么?

斯蒂格利茨:我这本书的核心宗旨之一是指出,当社会不平等现象过于突出的时候,制衡系统是不起作用的。我基本同意你的观点。当社会人群的收入和财富存在太多不平等的时候,那些拥有不成比例财富的人将以这样或那样的方式,掌控社会里的所有杠杆,获得支配地位。所以这是我们的局限性。

从政治体制的组织结构上说,是存在制衡机制的,但财富的影响力凌驾于这种机制之上。正是出于这个原因,我才呼吁把消除财富不平等作为核心议题。现在最棘手的问题在于,美国的不平等现象已经严重到这个地步,要怎么逆转这个现象,防止它永久延续下去?在这个问题上,民主或许能发挥一些作用。我们拭目以待。

张维为:中国有协商民主,从人民中来到人民中去,进行一轮协商,重复这个过程,再进行一轮协商,然后再重复,再协商。当前这个阶段,我们正在制定新的五年规划,毫不夸张地说在这个过程中,中国整个体制和社会的各个层面要经历成百上千次协商,好比是供给产生需求。我好奇的是,尽管你在书中提到拜登和他的民主理念,比如促进平等和枪支管控等,得到了很大的支持,但仍然很难达成社会共识,没有这样的共识,就很难推动整个国家往前走。这是美国面临的挑战。

斯蒂格利茨:尽管反对的声音非常大,但美国目前已有宽泛的共识。其实我认为最难做到的一点,是以开放的态度看待针对政策的批评。我觉得美国特别好的一个地方就是我能公开批评特朗普总统,现在其他美国人也加入我一起批评他。要不是我们还拥有自由的媒体,他早就会把信息给钳制起来,不让人们知道他究竟有多差,不让人们了解疫情的真相。所以直到目前为止,自由媒体还算是我们的优点之一,我们能批评包括总统在内的所有人,能直截了当地说他是个骗子,因为他就是个骗子。但在许多其他国家,如果你像在美国这样公开对总统说“你是个骗子,你扭曲了真相”,那你可能就进监狱了。美国的优点之一就是我们至少还保持着这种开放态度,这种批判精神,如果没有这种批判元素,或许你可以取得共识,但这种共识可能是支持错误的政策。

张维为:我想提另一个问题跟斯蒂格利茨教授讨论。你提到法治是美国政治体制的巨大资产。但现在出现一个问题,用我的话来说就是过度的法条主义,或者说是法律系统的僵化。比方说如果要把枪支给控制好,可能就要设法修订宪法第二修正案,重新修改它。这涉及到修宪。那么问题来了,修宪的门槛有多高?要在国会两院以三分之二以上多数通过,然后还要在四分之三的州议会获得批准。鉴于美国政治已经高度分化,这看上去几乎无法实现。那么既然法律框架不能动,要怎么在现有法治条件下推动改革呢?

斯蒂格利茨:美国宪法没有具体规定最高法院大法官人数。越来越多人认为最高院应该增加大法官人数。宪法关于持有武器权利的第二修正案的解释是大约一百年前才形成的,我不太记得做出这项关键决定的具体日期,但我要说的是,你可以对这项修正案做出非常不同的解读,比如我认为没有哪个头脑正常的人会认为它赋予你端着AK47在街上走的权利。你可能会问,立宪者的原初旨意是什么?根本没有原初旨意,因为当时没人持有这种枪,它还没有被发明出来。所以这种遇事不决就问原初旨意的观念——问的对象还是一群前工业革命时代的奴隶主——这种认为应该用他们的意图来指导21世纪的我们的想法,是非常荒谬的,是一种虚构的神话。

在我看来,今天多数美国人都认为这些文本应该得到另一种非常不同的阐释。特朗普让我们意识到了宪法的局限性,规范以及法律的重要性,还有我们体制的脆弱性。我们看到了在参议院助纣为虐的情况下一个人就能制造这么大的破坏,我认为大家都在强烈要求民主改革,以确保未来不太可能再发生这样的事。

英文版:

Yang: Let's begin with Professor Stiglitz. Your book has been recently translated into Chinese under the title meiguo zhenxiang, the truth about America. So I wonder what

do you consider to be the most significant pice of truth that was previously hidden or misunderstood and now you expose with this book? Professor Stiglitz.

Stiglitz: I think the surprising thing covered in the book is the extent to which the United States market economy is marked by exploitation by market power, with corporate power exploiting consumers, a lack of bargaining power of workers, so corporations are exploiting workers. The ability to exploit the vulnerabilities of individuals.So the theme of the book is what is needed is a new social contract, a new balance between market, the state, and civil society, where government needs to play an important role in regulation and investment. Democracy is extraordinarily important, but it is being undermined in recent decades. And we see the attempts of voter suppression. And I actually tried to describe what is going on, how is it that you could have a country professedly supporting democracy, having the minority rule over the majority without attention to their rights. So a vast majority of Americans want gun control, want higher minimum wages, want access to health care, a whole set of reforms. And we can't get it. And when I say majority, 2 to 1, 3 to 1, and the problem is that a minority of exploiters, corporate and others who are engaged in exploitation know their agenda is not supported by the majority. So they have been engaged in a process of disenfranchisement which includes voter suppression, disempowerment which includes gerrymandering, and putting democracy in chains which includes using the Supreme Court to restrict what can be done, and to give more power to money in the poltical process.

Zhang Weiwei:From my study of international political systems and institutions, I've come to a conclusion that for an ideal, well-functioning society, it's necessary to have a balance of three powers: political power, social power, and capital power, in the interest of the vast majority of people, rather than the minority of people..

The problem is, or my concern is, perhaps the power of capital is way too strong. It has somehow dominated or captured the social power and political power, so when you advocate rightly in your book for stronger democracy, for more checks and balances, yet if this check and balance between administrative, judiciary and legislative branches, if all three political branches are captured by the power of capital, what will happen?

Stiglitz: One of the central tenets of the book is a system of checks and balances can't work if there are too large an inequality in the society. So I'm basically agreeing with you. When there are too many inequalities in income and wealth in society, in one way or another, those who have disproportionate wealth will get control of all the levers in society and dominate. So, that is the limitation. You can have the organizational structure in the political system of checks and balances, but they'll be overridden by the influence of wealth. And that's one of the reasons why I call for eliminating the inequalities of wealth as a central issue.

Now the hardest question is, given the levels of inequality present in the United States, how are you going to eliminate the perpetuation of those inequalities? And here's where democracy may make a difference. We'll see. Zhang Weiwei: So what we have is what we call consultative democracy, from the people to the people, one round, and to the people from the people, another round, and from the people to the people, another round. At this stage when you are producing the next five-year plan. It takes literally thousands of rounds of consultations at all levels of Chinese institution and society. It's like a supply that produces demand. So I wonder despite the fact that as you suggested in your book that there's so much support whether for Biden or for his democratic ideas for more equality, for gun control, yet it's difficult to reach consensus and then build on consensus and move the nation forward. This is a challenge.

Stiglitz: There are very vocal forces or voices on the other side, but there's a broad consensus. I think the hardest issue though is the openess to criticism of government policies. I think one of the strengths of the United States is that I can very openly criticize President Trump, and other Americans have joined in that criticism. Were it not for the fact that we have a very free press, he would have suppressed information about how bad he's doing, suppressed information about the pandemic. So one of the strengths that we have is so far our free media, our ability to criticize everybody including the president, to call him a liar, because he is a liar, but I mean in many other countries around the world if you were to say, as publicly as many people have said, to the president that you are a liar, that you distorted the truth, you'd wind up in prison. One of the strengths of the United States is that we've so far been able to maintain that kind of openess, that critical element, because if you don't have that critical element, you can get consensus but it can be behind the wrong policies.

Zhang Weiwei: But may I raise another point, a question, to discuss with Professor Stiglitz. You mentioned the rule of law in the United States which is a tremendous asset of US political system. Now the point is whether there is a kind of, what I call, excessive legalism or rigidification of the legal system. For instance, if we want to do well with this gun control, maybe you have to somehow amend this Second Amendment, revise this amendment. So it's a constitutional revision. But again, how difficult it will be to revise the constitution? It calls for a 2/3 majority of the congressmen. And then, I don't know, 3/4 of the all the states. So it seems almost impossible given the divided nature of American politics. So if the legal framework cannot be touched, then how can you push for these reforms on the current existing rule of law?

Stiglitz: The constitution does not specify the number of justices in the supreme court. There's a growing sense that there will have to be an increase in the number. The Second Amendment on the right to bear arms did not have the current interpretation until maybe a hundred years ago, I don't know when the dividing critical decision was. But you could read that particular amendment in a very different way, which I think nobody in the right mind, believes that it gives you the right to carry an AK47 around. That was not, you can say, what was the original intent? There wouldn't be an original intent because nobody carried those guns, they hadn't been invented. So the idea that you could ask what was the original intent of a group of people-many of whom were slave owners before the industrial revolution- what their intent was should guide us in the 21st century is an absurd notion, and it is a fiction. I think most Americans today believe those words should have been read in a very different way. Again, I think Trump has made us understand the limitations of our constitution, the importance of norms as well as laws, and the fragility of our system. Having seen how much damage one person can do with a compliant Senate. I think there is a strong sentiment to make democratic reforms that will make this less likely to happen again.

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