Mariana Mazzucato wants to revive the Apollo spirit
玛丽安娜·玛祖卡托想要复兴阿波罗精神【《探月经济》书评】

带我去月球 Fly me to the Moon-书迷号 shumihao.com

IN JULY 1969 America launched three astronauts into space, landed two of them on the surface of the Moon and safely returned all three to Earth. A remarkable demonstration of American might, the achievement still dazzles more than half a century later; no country on Earth could replicate the feat today. The contrast with America’s bumbling response to covid-19 could scarcely be more glaring.
一九六九年七月,美国将三名宇航员送入太空,其中两人登陆了月球表面,最终三人全部安全返回地球。这是美国实力的杰出展示。半个多世纪过去了,这项成就仍然光彩夺目——今天世界上仍没有哪个国家能复制这一壮举。这与美国抗疫不力的对比实在太过鲜明。

In “Mission Economy” Mariana Mazzucato argues that societies ought to abjure tired ideologies and embrace the policy approach that put astronauts on the Moon. By setting grand missions for themselves, she writes, and deploying the power of the state in practical ways, they can become more prosperous and equitable. It is an appealing idea, even if America has rarely looked less capable of purposeful collective action.
玛丽安娜·玛祖卡托(Mariana Mazzucato)在《探月经济》(Mission Economy)一书中指出,社会应该摒弃陈旧的意识形态,积极采用那种送宇航员上月球的政策方针。她写道,通过为自己设定宏大的任务,并以务实的方式调配国家力量,社会可以变得更加繁荣和公正。这是一个吸引人的想法,即使美国极少像现在这样看起来缺乏能力去采取有使命感的集体行动。

Ms Mazzucato is an Italian-born economist of a heterodox bent, whose work has long challenged standard economic thinking about the role of markets and government in generating innovation. Her best-known book, “The Entrepreneurial State” (published in 2013), argued that American technological prowess is owed in large part to the strong influence of the federal government, which funded and bore the risk of the initial development of many critical 20th-century technologies. Conventional economic wisdom remains a target in her latest work, too.
出生于意大利的玛祖卡托是一位非正统经济学家,她的研究长期以来都在挑战有关市场和政府在推动创新中的作用的标准经济思想。她在自己最著名的《企业家国家》(The Entrepreneurial State,2013年出版)一书中提出,美国的超强科技实力在很大程度上应归功于联邦政府的强大影响力,是联邦政府资助了20世纪许多关键技术的发展并承担了发展初期的风险。她的新作依然在挑战传统经济理念。

Scepticism among dismal scientists about government involvement in markets is based on faulty assumptions, she insists. Common complaints about state meddling—that governments are less efficient than private firms, cannot pick winners, and are staffed by self-interested bureaucrats concerned only with their own status—are belied by an impressive record of government successes: developing the foundation of the internet, for instance, or extending financial assistance to Tesla. Not every public investment pays off. But, in Ms Mazzucato’s view, neither is the record of privatisation of public assets and outsourcing of public tasks an unmitigated triumph. In America and Britain they have produced plenty of wealthy consultants, she says, but not a revolution in public-service efficiency or vast savings.
她坚持认为,经济学家对政府介入市场持怀疑态度是基于错误的假设。对政府干预常见的抱怨包括政府的效率不如私营公司、不能筛选出赢家、充斥着只关心自身地位的利己主义官僚等。然而这些说法与政府取得成功的骄人记录相左,比如政府发展了互联网的基础,或向特斯拉提供了财政补贴。并非每一笔公共投资都能取得回报。但玛祖卡托认为,公共资产私有化和公共服务外包的记录也不是满分。它们在美国和英国造就了很多富有的政府顾问,她说,却没有带来公共服务的效率革命或巨额节省。

A rethink is thus overdue, the author urges—and the Apollo programme reveals many ways in which a capable state can create economic value. The sense of purpose and urgency that infused the programme in the 1960s motivated the government agencies involved to innovate, Ms Mazzucato writes, as well as to improve communication and weed out inefficiencies. Retaining important technological capabilities in-house enabled NASA to engage in a more sophisticated fashion with private contractors and monitor their progress better. It also helped the government retain talent, since working for the state could involve meaningful engineering work, not just banal paper-pushing.
因此,早就该重新思考国家的作用了,作者敦促道,而阿波罗计划揭示了一个有能力的国家可以有很多方式创造经济价值。玛祖卡托写道,上世纪60年代注入该计划的使命感和紧迫感促使相关政府机构积极创新、改善沟通,消除低效。在内部保留重要技术能力让美国国家航空航天局(NASA)可以与私人承包商开展更复杂的合作,并更好地监督它们的进度。它也帮助政府留住了人才,因为为国家工作也能参与到有意义的工程项目中,而不只是干些平淡乏味的行政文书工作。

And the programme’s technological demands—like the need for smaller, more powerful and more reliable computers than were available at its inception—put pressure on contractors to innovate. They did so, fearlessly, because the state shouldered much of the risk associated with moonshot technologies. The government’s demand for cutting-edge kit sowed the seeds of the computing age to come. The MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, tapped to develop guidance and navigation systems for the mission, swept up 60% of America’s output of integrated circuits at the peak of the Apollo effort. For its part, NASA helped shape the industrial ecosystem of America’s tech sector: to avoid becoming too dependent on any one contractor, it spread business around, implanting know-how across many firms.
而阿波罗计划的技术要求给承包商施加了创新压力,比如它需要比项目启动时现有的计算机体积更小、功能更强大、性能更可靠的机型。它们敢于无畏地创新是因为国家承担了开发探月技术的大部分风险。政府对尖端设备的需求为计算机时代的到来播下了种子。受命为阿波罗项目开发制导和导航系统的麻省理工学院仪器实验室(MIT Instrumentation Laboratory)在项目顶峰期消耗了美国产集成电路的60%。而NASA帮助塑造了美国科技行业的工业生态系统——为避免过于依赖任何一家承包商,它分散了业务,将技术知识植入了众多公司。

These points are compelling. State projects can certainly go wrong, but there is no mistaking the vital role governments played in facilitating the development of rich economies. Conversely, the weakening of state capacity—to provide badly needed infrastructure and basic services, educate citizens, root out corruption, and so on—has hurt America’s dynamism and the welfare of its people. There is no shortage of daunting global problems in need of solving; Ms Mazzucato singles out the fight against climate change, campaigns to improve public health and efforts to narrow the digital divide.
这些观点很有说服力。国家项目当然有可能出问题,但政府在促进富裕国家发展的过程中所发挥的重要作用毋庸置疑。相反地,国家在提供亟需的基础设施和基本服务、教育公民、铲除腐败等方面的能力减弱损害了美国的活力和人民的福祉。这个世界不乏需要解决的艰巨的全球问题,玛祖卡托特别指出了对抗气候变化、改善公共卫生以及缩小数字鸿沟方面的努力。

Yet in the end it is hard to feel inspired by her book. America launched the Apollo programme at what may well have been the zenith of its state capacity. Not only was the government at its most capable, but state initiatives enjoyed maximum public legitimacy and confidence. That proficiency had been forged during decades of crisis: two world wars, a devastating depression and an existential superpower stand-off against the Soviet Union. The bipartisan consensus that supported a strong state shattered long ago; a new sense of national unity and purpose cannot be conjured out of thin air.
然而读到最后,很难觉得这本书带来了启发。美国很可能是在国家能力的巅峰期启动了阿波罗计划。不仅政府的能力处于最高水平,而且国家项目享有最大的公众认可和信心。那种能力是经历数十年的危机锤炼出来的:两次世界大战、一场毁灭性的大萧条,以及与苏联的超级大国生死对决。支撑起一个强大政府的两党共识在很久以前就破裂了,新的国家团结和使命感不可能凭空而来。

Arresting as Ms Mazzucato’s views on economic development are, her book does not really offer a route back to that purpose and cohesion. But that is what America needs most. Sadly, those goals look as remote and inaccessible as the Moon. ■
尽管玛祖卡托对经济发展的看法夺人眼球,但她的书并没有真正给出一条重塑那种使命感和凝聚力的途径。而这正是美国最需要的。可悲啊,这些目标看起来就像月球一样遥不可及。