Two books expound the virtues of open societies, past and future
两本书阐述了开放社会从过去到未来的种种优点【《开放》、《十亿美国人》书评】

放下吊桥 Lowering the drawbridge-书迷号 shumihao.com

IT WAS NOT just roads that led to Rome. The shipping lanes did, too. By the first century BC, Rome had conquered the entire Mediterranean coastline. Some 90% of its people lived within 15km of the sea, buying corn from Egypt, olive oil from Spain and toga dye from Carthage. The Roman Empire prospered because it was open to trade, people and ideas, says Johan Norberg, a Swedish thinker. Galleys brought “all the crafts that exist or have existed”, as one Greek observer put it. Foreigners could become citizens; a slave’s son could (occasionally) rise to become emperor.
当年不只是条条大路通罗马,海上航线也一样。公元前一世纪,罗马已经征服了整个地中海沿岸。约九成罗马居民距海不到15公里,他们从埃及购买谷物,从西班牙购买橄榄油,从迦太基购买长袍染料。瑞典思想家约翰·诺伯格(Johan Norberg)说,罗马帝国之所以繁荣,是因为它对贸易、人员和思想开放。正如一位希腊观察家所言,桨帆船带来了“一切现有或曾有的工艺”。外国人可以成为罗马公民;奴隶之子也可以(偶尔)坐上皇位。

Mr Norberg’s “Open” is one of two new books that offer big ideas about globalisation, past and future. He argues that progress depends on openness, but that this tends to create resistance that sets back the clock. In “One Billion Americans” Matthew Yglesias, a co-founder of Vox (a wonky leftish news outlet), ponders how the United States might evolve if it were much more open to immigrants.
诺伯格的《开放》(Open)是对全球化的过去与未来提出重大思考的两本新书之一。他论述道,进步取决于开放,但开放往往又会引发阻力,导致开倒车。而在《十亿美国人》(One Billion Americans)中,Vox(一家摇摆的左倾新闻媒体)的联合创始人马修·伊格莱西亚斯(Matthew Yglesias)思索如果美国大大提高对移民的开放程度将会如何。

“Open” is clear, colourful and convincing, marshalling evidence from a range of eras and civilisations. The Roman Empire ceased to prosper when it ceased to be open. Christianity became the established religion, and sought to crush all others. “This new intolerance…led to vicious conflicts…between Christians and pagans, who saw their old gods being banned and their temples torn down.” Persecuted pagans joined Rome’s enemies, even welcoming barbarian invaders as liberators.
《开放》一书条理清晰,丰富多彩,令人信服,列举了来自许多不同时代和文明的佐证。当罗马帝国不再开放,繁荣也走到了尽头。基督教成为国教,并试图镇压所有其他宗教。“这种新的不宽容……导致了基督徒和异教徒之间的……恶性冲突,异教徒的旧神被禁止,庙宇被拆毁。”被迫害的异教徒站到了罗马的敌人那一边,甚至将野蛮的入侵者奉为解放者。

Human history, in Mr Norberg’s telling, is a cacophony of drawbridges being lowered and then raised. Mathematics and medicine flourished under the cosmopolitan Abbasid caliphate, but froze when religious conservatives won control. By driving out Jews, Muslims and heretics, he argues, the Inquisition helped impoverish Spain (between 1500 and 1750 the Spanish economy actually shrank).
在诺伯格的讲述中,人类历史充斥着吊桥放下后又被拉起的嘈杂刺耳的声响。在开放包容的阿拔斯王朝治下,数学和医学蓬勃发展,但当宗教保守派上台后,这些领域就陷入了停滞。他认为,宗教法庭驱逐了犹太人、穆斯林和异教徒,是西班牙陷入贫困的原因之一(1500年至1750年间西班牙经济实际萎缩了)。

China’s Song dynasty, which welcomed Muslim traders, Indian monks and Persians, developed paper money, water-powered textile machines and the makings of an industrial revolution 400 years before the West. But later dynasties turned inward and stagnated. Ming officials smashed clever machines, banned overseas trade on pain of death and curbed movement within China itself. The Manchus were even worse: to prevent contact with the outside world, in 1661 they forced the whole population of the southern coast to move 30km inland. A century later the Qianlong emperor banned or burned any books that seemed sympathetic to previous dynasties, including a great encyclopedia of economic and technical matters.
中国的宋朝欢迎穆斯林商人、印度僧侣和波斯人,比西方早400年发明了纸币、水力纺织机和工业革命的其他要素。但后来的朝代闭关自守,止步不前。明朝的官员捣毁了精巧的机器,以死刑严禁海外贸易,还限制国内人口流动。满族人的统治更糟糕:为阻止民众与外部世界接触,1661年他们强迫南部沿海的全体居民向内陆迁移30公里。一个世纪后,乾隆皇帝禁止或焚烧了任何带有同情前朝意味的书籍,包括一部经济和技术类的大百科全书。

The author is often amusing as well as illuminating. Genghis Khan was a vicious warlord, but his domestic policies “would today open him up to accusations of being a politically correct, latte-drinking virtue signaller”. The Mongols practised ethnic and religious tolerance, which is one reason why they were so effective. They promoted skilled fighters, engineers and administrators of all backgrounds. Of the 150,000-strong horde that invaded Europe in 1241, only around a third were ethnic Mongols. Habsburg soldiers were surprised to find that one captured officer was a middle-aged literate Englishman, who had fled persecution for heresy at home and sought refuge among the more open-minded Mongols.
作者富于启迪的论述常常也很风趣。成吉思汗是个残暴的大军阀,但他的国内政策“若放到今天,会让他被斥为政治正确的喝着拿铁的自由主义者,浑身道德优越感”。蒙古人在族裔和宗教上施行宽容政策,这也是他们如此高效的原因之一。无论来自何种背景的精兵强将、工程师和管理者都会得到提拔。1241年远征欧洲的15万大军中只有约三分之一是蒙古族。哈布斯堡的士兵惊讶地发现,一名被俘军官是个受过教育的英国中年人,原来他在英国因异端罪名遭到迫害,逃亡后投奔了更加开明的蒙古人。

All regions have had rulers who tried to preserve stability by shutting out foreign influence. The key to thwarting them has often been for the ruled to vote with their feet. Early modern Europe was no more advanced than China, but power was more dispersed, so thinkers who offended one prince could simply move. Hobbes wrote “Leviathan” while in exile in Paris; Locke and Descartes went to Amsterdam. Their books could always be printed somewhere, and so were impossible to suppress.
无论在哪里,总有统治者试图通过隔绝外国影响力来维持稳定。挫败他们的关键往往在于被统治者会用脚投票。近代早期的欧洲并不比中国先进,但势力更分散,所以如果思想家得罪了哪位君主,搬走就是了。霍布斯在流亡巴黎期间写下了《利维坦》,洛克和笛卡尔逃亡到阿姆斯特丹。他们的书总能找到出版的地方,因而不可能被完全压制。

Backlashes against openness are inevitable because they are rooted in human nature, Mr Norberg contends. Human brains evolved over millennia in which disruptive change often meant death; mutually beneficial exchanges with strangers were rare. If the past 300,000 years of history were compressed into a single day, it would not be until the final minute that steady material progress, fuelled by disruptive innovation, took off. Small wonder people’s instincts are so conservative. When threatened, they seek shelter within their tribe, which is why demagogues try to scare them. Fear wins elections.
诺伯格认为,开放将不可避免地遭到强烈抵制,因为这植根于人性。在人脑进化的漫长岁月中,颠覆性的变化往往意味着死亡;与陌生人的交流极少能够产生互惠互利的结果。如果把过去30万年的历史压缩成一天,那么直到最后一分钟才开始了受颠覆性创新驱动的稳定的物质进步。难怪人的天性如此保守。受到威胁时,人们会在自己的族群中寻求庇护,这也是煽动者试图恐吓他们的原因。恐惧在选举中胜出。

The more the merrier
人越多越好

The book ends on an optimistic note. Populist demagogues eventually lose power because they are hopeless at governing. Four in ten wind up being indicted for corruption, by one count. Citizens get used to change: today American Muslims are as tolerant of homosexuals as the country was overall in 2006. The open society “may yet be saved”, Mr Norberg concludes.
这本书以乐观的笔调收尾。煽动民粹主义的政客终将下台,因为他们的执政水平无可救药。据统计,十个煽动者中有四个最终因腐败遭到起诉。公民也逐渐习惯了改变:如今美国穆斯林对同性恋的宽容程度已经相当于2006年美国的整体水平。开放社会“可能还有救”,诺伯格总结说。

Mr Yglesias makes a bold case for openness in his own country. If America made both child-rearing and immigration easier, its population could in time swell to 1bn. It would thus remain the pre-eminent power, outstripping China and India. A bigger America would make for a more innovative and democratic world, he argues.
伊格莱西亚斯提出了一个让他自己的国家更加开放的大胆理由。如果美国让抚养子女和移民都变得更容易,那么某天它的人口可以膨胀到十亿之多。这将让它继续保持独步全球的地位,压过中国和印度。他认为,一个人口更多的美国将让世界更具创新力也更民主。

But wouldn’t an America of 1bn people be horribly crowded? No, it would be as sparsely populated as France is now. Even popular cities could accommodate many more residents if building codes were less restrictive. Enlightened visa rules could revive declining towns. Congestion could be eased with policies that have worked elsewhere, from road pricing to better railways.
但是,十亿人口的美国难道不会太拥挤吗?不会,人口密度并不高,只相当于现在法国的水平。如果放宽建筑的法规限制,即使热门城市也还能再容纳众多居民。开明的签证规定可以重振衰落的城镇。道路收费和改善轨道交通等在其他地区已行之有效的政策可以用来缓解交通拥堵的问题。

Mr Yglesias is swimming against the tide, and knows it. He notes that a recent immigration bill backed by Donald Trump is so restrictive that it would not let Kazuo Ishiguro, a British Nobel prizewinner, apply for a work visa unless his job paid $240,000 or more. Yet as Mr Norberg shows, political tides can change. ■
伊格莱西亚斯知道他的观点是反潮流而行。他指出,特朗普最近支持的一项移民法案限制性极强,哪怕是英国的诺贝尔奖得主石黑一雄都没法申请工作签证,除非他的工作报酬不少于24万美元。然而,正如诺伯格所展示的那样,政治潮流是会改变的。