【編者的話】對文明的敵人說「不」

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1996 / 10月

文‧王瑩



文明的定義究竟是什麼?帶給人類的是福多還是禍多?

台灣最近一項國小、國中生的體能調查發現,現代兒童的體能並未隨著社會的富裕、現代化而增長,相反的,吃得好、住得好、出入有車的這一代孩童,不但體能普遍不如從前粗茶淡飯、走路上學的父母親一代,同時患有氣喘、過敏、肥胖症、心身症等從前鮮少聽聞的、被總歸為「文明症」的孩童們,正以驚人的速度增加。

前不久,中國大陸幾個三怚X頭的年輕作家,出了一本文字粗糙、論述偏激的雜文集《中國可以說不》,被學術界認為不值一哂,卻在短期間五萬本銷售一空,並且受到北京政界某些人士的推崇,也引起台港媒體,以及國際研究中國現勢學者的注意。

這兩件看似風馬牛不相及的事情,就是這一期我們所特別關注的兩個主題,雖然南轅北轍,一個是探討現代兒童文明病在台灣的現象、成因和解救之道,另一個是探看大陸暢銷書《說不》──這本以歷史恩怨為因由,民族激情為訴求的反英、美、日一書的背景和可能造成的影響。二者雖毫不相干,但卻有一個共同的質數,就是一個半世紀以來,西方文明進入東亞,其本身不斷演變而成的現代文明,和在完全不同的領域引發的問題。有趣的是,兒童的現代文明症是通盤性、無分東西方,幾乎已可成為測量工業化、都市化程度的一項指標;但後者《說不》這本書的誕生,卻是冷戰結束後,世界新秩序重新形成中,東西文明對壘現象的最新發展──在這之前,日本曾經對美國大叫過「不」,同一日本作者也曾和近年來倡導亞洲價值觀最力的馬來西亞總理馬哈迪合作,共同寫了一本《可以說不的亞洲》。

新近的中國說不一書,我們在這期中有幾種角度的解讀和思考方向,剖析深入,值得讀者細究,作一理性判斷。但撇開這本書的內容,僅就其書名及所本的「說不」思考模式,我們就看到了一個極有趣的議題:亞洲的現代化與西方文明之間的角力,而這其中又以東方文明古國、文化博大精深自成體系的中國最引人矚目。

在今天一般人的心目中,談到現代文明,幾乎毫無疑問的就會想到西方在工業革命後所成就的科技文明,西化這個名詞代表的似乎也就是進步、方便、效率等等一個我們已經怳徽葴D的現代生活方式,它已深入我們的生活,從身上穿的、戴的自眼鏡到皮鞋到家中的各種電器、路上乘坐的交通工具,食衣住行育樂無所不包,當然其體制與價值觀也就順理成章的進入我們的社會,但這究竟是怎麼發生的呢?

東西方早年的交流屈指可數,西方最早對東方、尤其是中國產生興趣,大概要歸功於近來也被拖出來檢討到底曾否來過中國的馬可波羅先生。EQ大約相當高的馬先生,在西元一二九八年的時候,因內戰被俘而身陷囹圄,但他不但不頹廢沮喪,反而對那些關在一塊兒的囚友們大談早年遊歷東方的見聞,一部馬可波羅東遊文明上國的傳奇因而問世。自此,多少歐洲冒險家渡海東來,找尋馬可波羅遊記中俯拾皆是的金銀財寶,這些充滿浪漫憧憬的西方商人、傭兵和後來的傳教士尋找東方樂園的故事大約持續了五百年,除了輸入基督教文明和幾何、曆法等基礎科學,對中國的影響可說是微乎其微,所以當清朝最後一位好大喜功的乾隆帝皇決定關起大門對西方說不時,似乎一點也不覺可惜。

西方再度東來扣關時,大局就整個改觀了,當時,甫經工業革命洗禮的西歐帝國需要大量的原料和物資,而由盛入衰的大清王國毫無迎戰這些新興海上霸權的能力,中國被前所未見的陌生技器撞開了大門、掏空了家當、但也激起知識份子師夷長技以制夷的決心。雖然一次又一次割地賠款,無情地驗證這些「自強」「變法」的不夠徹底,但中國確是被強力推上了現代化的道路,西元一九一一年,龐大的帝國終於第一次被知識份子所點的「革命」火把瓦解,雖然不久旋陷入武人割據的混亂,但中國究竟不再被家天下的帝王長久宰制,知識份子也不再僅是「賣與帝王家」、幫助重建政治秩序的配角,而是可以參與革命建國的人士,甚至所謂的知識份子也隨著社會的進展和現代化的加深而不再是少數菁英,古老社會牢不可破的「士農工商」階級不再,社會縱向橫向的流動頻繁,教育普及,生活水準大進,一個迎向民主均富的現代社會雛型於焉而生。

雖然中國自鴉片戰爭到不平等條約的廢除之路備極艱辛,雖然西方文明當年是以船堅砲利的猙獰面貌轟開中國的大門,雖然今天東西方之間仍有著許多歷史情結、價值取向、現實利益的種種歧異,但終究早已磨出了平等共存的智慧。正當交通、電訊日新月異、地球村的理念逐漸成形的今日,我們實在可以多花一些精力和智慧在如何共同珍惜球資源,如何共同突破現代科學、醫藥尚無解的種種問題,如何幫助數以千萬正遭受饑饉、疾病、戰亂之苦的人類同胞。這些生命財產的大敵才是我們應當一同大聲說不的對象,不是嗎?

相關文章

近期文章

EN

[Editor's Note] Saying No to the Enemies of the Civilization

Anna Wang /tr. by Phil Newell


hat is the definition of civilization? Does it bring good fortune, or ill? A survey of primary and middle school children reveals that today's kids aren't getting healthier as we get wealthier. Not only are kids today-with their rich diets, nice homes, and vehicular transport-not fitter than their parents (who ate rice and walked to school) but they suffer from asthma, allergies, obesity, and psychosomatic disorders. The number of children with such "diseases of civilization" is growing rapidly, and even farm kids are not immune.

Recently, a group of young mainland Chinese writers released a set of essays in a book called The China That Can Say No. Though scholars give little weight to this poorly written and extremely one-sided text, the first printing of 50,000 copies sold out in a month, and leaders in Beijing have recommended the book. It has attracted attention in the Taiwan and Hong Kong media and among China-watchers.

These two items-kids' illnesses and Say No-are the topics that get special attention in this issue. They seem completely unrelated: One describes modern illnesses in Taiwan, and their causes and treatment. The other describes an anti-American, anti- British, anti-Japanese best-seller rooted in historical frustrations and nationalist fervor. But there is a common thread: Over the past 150 years, since the introduction of modernity to China, modern civilization (often identified as "Western") has in many areas run into problems. Thus, "diseases of civilization" are common in both West and East, and their prevalence is in fact virtually an indicator of a country's level of industrialization and urbanization. And Say No reflects the newest development in the clash between Eastern and Western cultures in the post-Cold War order (seen as well in the books The Japan That Can Say No and The Asia That Can Say No).

In this issue, we provide different approaches to thinking about The China That Can Say No. We hope readers will peruse these carefully, then make their own judgments. Looking at the book's contents, just from the way of thinking reflected in the title Say No, we can see an interesting theme: In the wrestling between Asian modernization and Western civilization, it is China, with its ancient and profound culture, which attracts the greatest attention.

Today, for most people, modern culture is virtually equivalent to Western science and technology since the industrial revolution. "Western" culture has become a synonym for progress, convenience, efficiency, and other things we are familiar with in daily life. It has become deeply embedded in our lives, from our eyeglasses and lipstick to out neckties and running shoes, from appliances to vehicles-no part of our lives is an exception. Naturally Western systems and values have also entered our society. But how did this happen?

In the earliest East-West interactions, it was the West that was more interested in the East, and especially in China. This can be traced back to Marco Polo's tales (whose authenticity is being questioned by some). Tradition has it that Polo, imprisoned in 1298 during a civil war, kept up his spirits in prison by recounting his travels as a young man in the Orient to a cell-mate. Thereafter many adventurers from the West crossed the seas in search of the riches described by Polo. Romantic businessmen, soldiers of fortune, and, later, missionaries, kept coming to look for fabled Cathay for 500 years. Except for spreading a bit of Christianity and some technology, however, their impact on China was virtually nil. Thus when the Qianlong emperor of the Qing dynasty decided to "Say No" and close China's doors to the West, this was not considered any great loss.

When Westerners returned, things had changed. By the early 19th century, Western empires had passed though the baptism of the industrial revolution, and were searching for materials and markets. The declining Qing dynasty could not stand up to these new maritime hegemonists, and China's door was knocked in and the family jewels dug up. At the same time, among intellectuals there was an idea to "learn from the [Western] barbarians in order to hold the barbarians in check." Although a series of concessions and humiliating treaties provided reminders that imperial China's self- strengthening and reform had not gone deep enough, these also forced China onto the path of modernization.

In a revolutionary explosion touched off by intellectuals, the enormous Chinese dynastic system collapsed. Though the country was plunged into chaos, at least it was no longer under the court, and intellectuals were no longer limited to "selling themselves to the imperial house" to play a supporting role in the political structure. Instead they could be participants in forming a nation. Indeed, with social progress and modernization, they did not need remain a tiny elite; as the clear distinction made in the old society among social classes disappeared, social mobility increased, education spread, the standard of living rose, and the embryo of a modern society-with democracy and a fair distribution of wealth-was taking shape.

Although China's road from the Opium War to the retraction of the unequal treaties was hard; although Western civilization only entered after China's closed door had been blasted in with cannon; and although today there are many differences of opinion rooted in historical sentiments, value orientations, and self-interest, we have already learned how to co-exist peacefully and equally. Today, with ever-improving communications and transport, the global village idea is steadily becoming reality. We can invest more effort and thought into how to treasure the earth's resources that we share, how to work together to solve the problems modern technology and medicine have yet to resolve, and how to help the many people whose countries are engulfed by hunger, disease, and war. These great enemies of life and property are the things we should really be saying "no" to, don't you think?

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