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为什么美国人厌恶青云直上的人?

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1958年,一个名叫迈克尔·杨的英格兰社会学家和工党政治家设想了一个这样的未来:英国现行体制瓦解,一切形式的继承权都被废除,取而代之的是一个基于智商的精英统治(meritocracy,杨发明的一个词)。在杨的寓言里面,工人阶级中学业优异的人幸运地加入了精英阶层,但是下层人士对他们的仇恨却甚于对曾经的公爵和公爵夫人们。到了2034年,这种仇恨发展成了平民主义的暴力革命,并最终推翻了精英统治。
In 1958, an English sociologist and Labour politician named Michael Young imagined a future in which the British establishment dissolved itself, abolished all forms of hereditary power, and created instead a meritocracy (a word Young invented) based on IQ. In Young's fable, the academically talented working class happily join the elite. But the less talented resent them even more than they did the old dukes and duchesses. By 2034, this resentment leads to the creation of a violent populist revolution, which sweeps the meritocracy away.
对一些人来说,这个故事听起来总像是对美国的警告。1972年,美国社会学家丹尼尔·贝尔引用这个故事并以惊人的先见之明预见了一种反精英教育的平民主义的崛起。但贝尔有一点没有猜对:他认为大学将要受到的攻击会以强制性的招生限额和降低标准的形式到来。而实际上,美国大学在保持高标准的同时,对妇女和少数族裔进行了扩招,从而规避了七十年代的那个平民主义浪潮。
To some, this story has always seemed like a warning to the United States. In 1972, American sociologist Daniel Bell cited it and predicted, with amazing prescience, the rise of an anti-elite-education populism. Bell got one thing wrong, however: He thought the coming attack on universities would take the form of enforced quotas and lowered standards. In fact, American universities staved off that particular populist wave in the 1970s by expanding their admissions to include women and minorities while keeping standards high.
扩招的结果就在我们面前:巴拉克·奥巴马,由单身母亲带大的哥伦比亚大学和哈佛法学院的毕业生,现在是我们的总统。米歇尔·奥巴马,一个市政府黑人雇员的女儿,普林斯顿和哈佛法学院的毕业生,现在成了第一夫人。他们又给华盛顿带来了一批同样出身平凡的人,大多没有继承财产,凭借教育进入了政府高层。华盛顿早就已经挤满了这样的人,像克拉伦斯·托马斯,就是佣人和农场工的儿子,耶鲁法学院的毕业生,和最高法院法官。
The result of that expansion is now with us: Barack Obama, brought up by a single mother, graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law School, is now president. Michelle Obama, daughter of a black municipal employee, graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, is now first lady. They brought with them to Washington dozens more people, also from modest backgrounds, mostly without inherited wealth, who have entered high government office thanks in part to their education. Not that Washington wasn't stuffed with such people already. Think of Clarence Thomas, son of a domestic servant and a farm worker, graduate of Yale Law School, and Supreme Court justice.
尽管他们排挤掉了盎格鲁萨克逊白人新教徒(WASP)的统治——现在最高法院里面一个WASP都不剩了——这些精英统治阶层明显仍然没有得到美国人的拥戴,至少没有因为他们的青云直上而受到爱戴。相反,像贝尔可能会预测的那样,他们因“精英主义”而受到憎恶。这就有点奇怪了——努力学习,取得成功,提升自己,这不是美国梦吗?考虑到美国最精英的大学都在卯足了劲地扩招,这种对“精英”大学毕业生的抵制显得尤为奇怪。
Despite pushing aside the old WASP establishment—not a single WASP remains on the Supreme Court—these modern meritocrats are clearly not admired, or at least not for their upward mobility, by many Americans. On the contrary—and as Bell might have predicted—they are resented as "elitist." Which is at some level strange. To study hard, to do well, to improve yourself—isn't that the American dream? The backlash against graduates of "elite" universities seems particularly odd given that the most elite American universities have made the greatest effort to broaden their student bodies.
由于资金相对充裕的常春藤联盟学校可以提供全额奖学金,它们的生源从种族和经济上与几十年前相比都更为多样化。从前,你进入哈佛或耶鲁是因为你那个校友爷爷。如今,你的校友爷爷仍然会有所帮助,但是你得在学业能力倾向测试(SAT)中取得好成绩,做过你们冰上曲棍球队的队长,并在高三时成功募集了一百万美元的善款。(最后一项在我进入耶鲁的时候是不作要求的,但现在似乎是了。)如果你做到了以上所有这些并且来自内华达州的一个破裂家庭,那就更好了。
Because they can offer full scholarships, the wealthier Ivy League schools in particular are far more diverse, racially and economically, than they were a few decades ago. Once upon a time, you got into Harvard or Yale solely because of your alumni grandfather. Nowadays, your alumni grandfather still helps, but only as long as you did well on the SATs, were the captain of your ice hockey team, and in your senior year raised a million dollars for charity. (The last was not a requirement when I got into Yale, but it seems to be now.) If you did all that and come from a broken home in Nevada, so much the better.
从某个层面上讲,用“精英”来描述新精英统治阶级只能表明这个词已经失去意义了。正如雅各布·威斯伯格(记者,评论员,Slate集团总主编——译者注)指出的那样,当萨拉·佩林,克莉丝汀·奥多内尔(2010特拉华州参议员竞选中的共和党被提名人——译者注),或者很奇怪地,托马斯法官的夫人吉妮,向她们的对手抛出“精英主义”一词的时候,它通常就只是意味着“政治立场我不认同的那个人”或者“一个势利的人”。但是听了奥多内尔的竞选广告之后——在广告里这位参议员候选人骄傲地宣布,“我没有上过耶鲁……我就是你们”——我发现有更深层次的原因在里面。
At one level, the use of elite to describe the new meritocrats simply means that the word has lost its meaning. As Jacob Weisberg points out, when Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, or—bizarrely—Justice Thomas's wife, Ginni, fling the word elitist at opponents, it often means nothing more than "a person whose politics I don't like," or even "a person who is snobby." But after listening to O'Donnell's latest campaign ads—in which the Senate candidate declares proudly, "I didn't go to Yale. … I'm YOU"—I think something deeper must be going on.
我怀疑贝尔预言的“反精英教育”运动的发展不是和精英统治的崛起相斥的,而是依赖于后者。旧的体制是受到憎恶的,但只是因为他们的财富和权力被视为“不应得的”。体制外的人们至少可以感到自己更加聪明、懂得事理,并且可以将自己的失败归因于“体制”。而如今,成功的美国人,不管他们是如何离奇地幸运,都通常沾沾自喜地认为那是自己“应得的”。与此同时,那些不那么成功的人会倾向于觉得那是他们自己的错——或者感到别人是这么认为的——就算那只是因为他特别不幸运而已。
I suspect the "anti-elite-educationism" Bell predicted is growing now not despite the rise of meritocracy, but because of it. The old Establishment types were resented, but only because their wealth and power were perceived as "undeserved." Those outside could at least feel they were cleverer and savvier, and they could blame their failures on "the system." Nowadays, successful Americans, however ridiculously lucky they have been, often smugly see themselves as "deserving." Meanwhile, the less successful are more likely to feel it's their own fault—or to feel that others feel it's their fault—even if they have simply been unlucky.
我能够理解这为什么令人如此烦恼,甚至痛苦,但我不是很清楚接下去会发生什么。当吉妮·托马斯告诉弗吉尼亚茶党欢呼的人群,“我们正受到一个自认为比我们懂得多的精英阶层的统治”,她指的谁,或者什么?杨预想的是一次革命(很有趣地,由高智商精英的妻子们领导)和随之而来的一个无阶级社会。不幸的是,这个想法已经被实践过了,我们暂且就同意那不是什么特大的胜利吧。
I can see how this is irritating, even painful. But I don't quite see what comes next. When Ginni Thomas tells a cheering crowd of Virginia Tea Partiers that "we are ruled by an elite that thinks it knows better than we know," who, or what, does she want to put in its place? Young imagined a revolution (led, interestingly, by the wives of the high-IQ elites) and a classless society to follow. Unfortunately, this idea has been tried before, and let's just agree that it wasn't an overwhelming success.
在美国,精英统治可能会缓慢地结束:如果学习努力,青云直上,从好的大学毕业带给你的只是责难,你可能就不会费那么大劲儿了。或者如果真的去做了,你当然也不能进入政治界,因为你这样的人已经不受欢迎。我们的国家将由一个不同的精英阶层接管,连同一套不同的讨厌他们的理由。
In America, the end of the meritocracy will probably come about slowly: If working hard, climbing the education ladder, and graduating from a good university wins you only opprobrium, then you might not bother. Or if you do bother, then you certainly won't go into politics, where your kind is no longer welcome. We will then have a different sort of elite in charge of the country—and a different set of reasons to dislike them, too.
标签:美国人
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2010-10-14 19:45 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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