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[经济学人] [2009.11.26][Year zero 零年重来]

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发表于 2010-4-29 00:49 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

Year zero
零年重来


Nov 26th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Why the impending general election will be unlike any other
为什么即将到来的大选与以往不同?


Illustration by Steve O'Brien



THE chief tools of the literary critic, T.S. Eliot wrote, are analysis and comparison. Political critics these days rely heavily on the latter. The canon their comparisons draw on is comprised not of writers but of the years of previous general elections, which toll percussively through too much newspaper commentary. The idea is to make judgments and predictions via analogy. The trouble with this method is that history is not quite as cyclical as it implies; and the current situation is too unusual for it to work.

      T.S 艾略特(T.S Eliot)曾说,文学评论所运用的主要工具是分析和对比。如今,政治评论主要应用后者。他们对比所采用的标准不是作者,而是以往大选——有太多的报纸评论依此分析。这样分析的好处是通过类比,做出判断和预测。但也会带来问题:历史不会总是循环往复;而且当前的形势不同以往。

The Tories have two favourite comparators for their bid for power. One is 1979, when Margaret Thatcher ousted Labour after the Winter of Discontent; the other, which they fixate on in private, is 1997, when Tony Blair’s new model Labour Party won its first landslide. Gordon Brown has been said to dwell on 1945, when an ungrateful nation rejected Winston Churchill: for Churchill’s war heroism, read Mr Brown’s handling of the credit crunch and recession. Labour optimists adduce 1992, when a fag-end prime minister scored an unexpected triumph. Pessimists mutter about the 1920s, when the Liberals were annihilated.

      保守党常会提到两个首相当选人,作为参照。一个是在1979年,玛格丽特 撒切尔夫人在“不满的冬季”击败工党上台;另一个是在1997年,此时保守党专注于私有化,托尼 布莱尔的新工党以压倒性多数票第一次当选。有人说,看看戈登 布朗针对信贷紧缩和经济衰退的处理,就会让人想到1945年,忘恩负义的国民抛弃了丘吉尔:因为丘吉尔是战争英雄主义。工党中的乐观者回想到1992年——一个不起眼的首相赢得意外的胜利。悲观者回想到二十世纪二十年代——自由党全线溃败。

This week’s fashionable reference—after an outlying opinion poll suggested the Tories’ lead over Labour had shrunk to six points—is 1974, the last time an election resulted in a hung parliament. Aha, the commentariat cries, perhaps, in that scenario, Mr Brown would “do a Ted”; that is, emulate Ted Heath, another famous sulk, who tried to cobble together a coalition even though his Tory party had won fewer seats than Labour. Others cite 1977-78, when Labour’s loose pact with the Liberals kept it in office. Might someone or other pull that off this time?

      一次民意调查公布保守党对工党的领先已缩减到六个点之后,这周被提到最多的是1974年——最后一次产生了无多数政党议会的选举。哈哈,如果发生那种情况,评论家或许会高呼,布朗先生来,“做个泰德一样的人”;那是说,超过泰德 希斯——当时,尽管希斯领导的保守党席位只是微少于工党,他还要临时拼凑一个联合政党——做另一个知名的愠怒者。另一些人提到1977-78年,工党对自由党的政策宽松,使其上台。或许某个人会让历史成功重演?

The hung-parliament speculation is superficially reinforced by a negative version of this historical thinking. If politics adheres to precedent, it follows that an outcome almost without precedent cannot happen. Therefore the Tories are unlikely to manage the huge swing and massive gains that, because of their weak starting point and the inbuilt biases of the electoral system, they need to win an overall majority.

      无多数政党议会这种猜测,非常肤浅地油此种历史观的负面看法得到强化。如果政治会遵循历史,那没有先例的结果不会发生。因此,由于保守党脆弱的起点和选举体系本身存在的内在偏见,保守党不可能完成大的转变和获得巨大收益,来赢得绝对多数选票。

Most politicians, instinctively and oedipally, judge themselves against their illustrious forebears in this way. For journalists, date-dropping is an easy way to show off. For everyone else, the notion that the ominous future will conform to a known model is comforting: seeing current politicians as reincarnations of their predecessors, subliminally kitted out with their recognisable cigars, handbags and underpants, makes them more placeable. Of course, a proper sense of history is essential for rulers, and disdain for it a danger (Mr Blair is proof of that). All the same, this is a mistaken way to think about politics.

      多数政治家天生有恋母情结,以此方式依照他们伟大的祖先判断自己。对记者来说蔑视传统是炫耀自己的简单方法。对其他人来说,未知的将来会遵循一种已有的模式发展,这种看法会让他们更舒服:把现在的政治家看做他们祖先的的转世,下意识地用他们熟悉的香烟、手提袋和内衣会感觉更舒服。当然,政治家当具有一定历史知识。轻视历史会带来危险(布莱尔既是明证)。同样,以历史来评定政治也是一种错误方式。

What rhymes with “quantitative easing”?
伴随“量化宽松”,会有什么样的共鸣?

History never really repeats itself. Rather, as Mark Twain put it, it sometimes rhymes. The fit is almost always partial rather than exact—and the echoes and patterns are often visible only at a distance. In the case of the forthcoming general election, British politics may have been too convulsed for previous contests to be of much use in predicting the outcome.

       历史绝不会完全重复。正如马克 吐温曾说的,历史只是偶尔会产生共鸣。即使共鸣,也仅是部分吻合而不是全部——共鸣的回响与发生形式经常只在一定范围内显现。就即将到来的大选而言,前几次大选中英国政治已经历太多起伏,或许预测结果都不会太管用了。

Consider some of the key characteristics of today’s political face-off. A superannuated government; a derided prime minister; a plausible, but not quite loved, leader of the opposition; a recession; an increasingly grim war: each of these conditions has obtained before, but not in quite the same way or combination. Several were present in 1997—but also in 1992. (Only in retrospect, incidentally, did 1992 enter the roll of great political comebacks; before the election, many thought it looked set to result in, er, a hung parliament.) David Cameron is more credible than Neil Kinnock, but less magnetic than Mr Blair. As for the recession: until Mrs Thatcher, unemployment and standing in the polls seemed more or less to correlate. She broke that link; since her, the politics of recession and recovery have been erratic.

      考虑到当今英国政坛主要处于对峙状态的一些特点。过弃的政府;受嘲笑的首相;能干但不十分可爱的反对党领袖;经济衰退;日趋紧张的战争阴影:历史上,以上每种情况都曾多次发生过,但历史上从没有任何情况完全相同,重复发生或产生完全相同的关联性。有的1997年出现过——但1992年也出现过。(回顾历史,无独有偶,只有在1992年英国政治确实出现了一系列变故;选举结果出现之前,嗯,许多人认为会出现议会中无任何政党占多数席位的情况。)戴维 卡梅隆比尼尔 金诺克受到信赖,但比起布莱尔就少了点魅力。谈到经济不景气:撒切尔夫人之前,失业率与首相在民意调查中显示的受欢迎度多少有些联系。她却打破了这种联系;自她之后,经济不景气时与经济复苏时的英国政坛,都表现得飘忽不定。

Then there are the circumstances for which it is hard to find any recent equivalent at all. First, the rumbling repercussions of the expenses scandal. To an unprecedented degree, the big rift in British politics is now not between the parties, but between the voters and politicians as a class. Other perceived generic political failures, such as over the Lisbon treaty and the Iraq war, have helped to foment this mood. That makes a revival of the elation that marked Labour’s 1997 landslide inconceivable. (So, perhaps, does the memory of 1997 itself: a country may need to forget the disappointment that followed its last bout of euphoria before it succumbs to it again. It may be a decade or two before many people can believe in another New Jerusalem.)
      那么,自撒切尔夫人之后,当前英国政坛的状况绝无仅有。首先,是“议员报销丑闻”所带来的轰动反响。当前,英国政坛的罅隙不是起于党派间,而是存于选民对政治家阶层之间。他们之间的隔阂会有多深,难以预知。另一些人接受了英国在诸如《里斯本条约》和伊拉克战争一系列事务中政治普遍失势的事实。这些人煽动了对政治家的不满情绪。这意味着,工党1997年以压倒性优势胜出的选举结果,不会再现(或许,1997年的情况也如此:一个国家或许需要忘记上次乐极之后的失落之后,才能再次获得喜悦之情,。也许再过一二十年,才会有人相信另一个新时代的到来。)
Next, the financial crisis. Yes, Britain has endured shocks and humiliating public finances before. But there is something peculiar about this episode: it is the first meltdown in the era of broad consensus in economic policy. The parties were all implicated in the mistakes that led to the bust, and their remedies now are similar, unlike, say, 1979. The impact on voters is nuanced and uncertain. Meanwhile, some pre-existing political trends—the rise of small parties and the decline of tribal party allegiances—have accelerated. Put together, all that makes the general election of 2010 inconveniently unanalogous to any other.

      其次,是经济危机。是的,英国之前已遭受到打击,陷于萎靡的公共财政。但是这段小插曲里也有特别的东西:这是这个对经济政策广泛认同时代第一次经济萎缩。举例说,不同于1979年,各政党都卷入在导致经济崩溃中犯的错误,而且至今他们所开的药方都大致相同。这对选民的影响微妙不定。同时,曾经出现过的政治趋势——小政党的兴起和对一党集体拥护的衰微——在加速变化。总之,所有的当前状况使2010年的大选不会那么容易与以往任何的相同。

So, politicians and pundits: you are on your own. These queasy times—when voters are at once angry and apathetic, timid but yearning for change, sick of the incumbent but sceptical of the alternative—demand fewer comparisons and more analysis. Here, in brief, is Bagehot’s: the single most important, fixed aspect of public opinion is Mr Brown’s record-breaking unpopularity. Because of that, one common assumption about campaigns, that the gap between the big parties will narrow as the election draws near, will probably prove wrong. The Tories are still going to win the election and a majority, albeit a smallish one.
     
     因此,政客们和评论家们,我要对你们说一句:你们仅代表自己。动荡时期——选民们即刻愤怒无情,怯懦但渴望改变,讨厌现任当权者但怀疑候选者——需要少做点比较,多做些分析。简单说,这是本专栏的结论:舆论最重要不变的一面是布朗创纪录的不受欢迎度。因此,对竞选的一个普遍猜测——主要政党间的分歧会随着大选的临近而缩小——或许会证明是错的。保守党仍会赢得大选并且获得议会多数席位,即使微微胜出。

原文:http://www.economist.com/world/b ... m?story_id=14960296
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发表于 2010-4-29 01:09 | 显示全部楼层
commentariat

This is a jokey journalists’ term for that group of people whose job is to comment on the news. It seems to have first appeared in the US in the early nineties but only to have become fashionable in about 1997. It’s found often enough to suggest that it may be here to stay. It remains closely associated with political and media circles in the USA; when it appears in other countries, it is mostly in reference to American political affairs. William F Buckley, writing in the Sacramento Bee in October 1997, defined it as “the name given to talk-show hosts who opine on the Sunday shows”, but its scope is wider than that, encompassing all those experts, pundits and pollsters who analyse political events and discuss their implications. The word is a punning clipped blend of commentator with the suffix -ariat, a moderately rare ending derived from French which denotes an office or function (it’s equivalent to one sense of the English suffix -ate, as in directorate or professorate). The immediate inspiration was probably one or other of proletariat or commissariat (in the old Russian governmental sense rather than the military food-providing one), with a nod towards secretariat.
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发表于 2010-4-29 01:29 | 显示全部楼层
这个是政治评论员吧
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