​​​Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture

为美国中产阶级文化的衰落付出代价


​【题图:Films in the 1950s and ‘60s, such as John Ford’s “The Searchers,” starring John Wayne, reinforced the prevailing bourgeois culture.】

【1950-1960年代的电影,如约翰·福特导演、约翰·韦恩主演的《搜索者》,强化了当时盛行的中产阶级文化。】

附Amy Wax教授演讲链接:[https://youtu.be/vXZ-s5ASHnw]

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

大量美国人无法胜任所能找到的工作。适龄男性劳动力的劳动参与率低至大萧条时期的水平。毒品滥用普遍存在。内城区恶性犯罪横生。几乎一半的儿童非婚生,由单身母亲养育的比例则更高。许多大学生缺乏基本技能,而高中生的水平低于其他二十多个国家的同龄人。

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

这些现象的成因多样且复杂,但它们和其他社会痼疾一样,都显露出了美国中产阶级文化的衰落。

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

这种文化曾为人们认为理应追求的理想生活编写了脚本:先结婚再生子、为了孩子维护婚姻,为一份好工作接受教育、努力工作并且免失业,为雇主或客户竭尽所能,做一名爱国者、愿意报效祖国,友善、热心并宽容,在公共场合不口出恶言,尊重权威,远离毒品与罪行。

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

这些基本的文化规范盛行于1940年代后期至1960年代中期,不同背景与不同能力的人都会遵循,尤其是当它们得到公众普遍支持的时候。对这些规范的遵循提高了当时的劳动效率、教育回报和社会凝聚力。

Did everyone abide by those precepts? Of course not. There are always rebels — and hypocrites, those who publicly endorse the norms but transgress them. But as the saying goes, hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue. Even the deviants rarely disavowed or openly disparaged the prevailing expectations.

那么当时所有人都会遵守这些社会规范吗?当然不是。总会有一些叛逆者和阳奉阴违的伪善者。但正如老话所说,伪善恰恰是邪恶对美德的致敬。即使那些离经叛道者也很少否认或公开诋毁主流观念。

Was everything perfect during the period of bourgeois cultural hegemony? Of course not. There was racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism. However, steady improvements for women and minorities were underway even when bourgeois norms reigned. Banishing discrimination and expanding opportunity does not require the demise of bourgeois culture.

在那段中产阶级文化的统治期,一切都是完美的吗?当然不是。那时有种族歧视、对性别角色的限制和零星出现的反犹主义。但即使传统观念仍主宰社会,当时女性与少数群体的权益已经开始逐步改善。抑制歧视与扩大机会并不需要以终结中产阶级文化为代价。

Quite the opposite: The loss of bourgeois habits seriously impeded the progress of disadvantaged groups. That trend also accelerated the destructive consequences of the growing welfare state, which, by taking over financial support of families, reduced the need for two parents. A strong pro-marriage norm might have blunted this effect. Instead, the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, crime, and poverty.

恰恰相反,中产阶级习性的丧失,严重阻碍了弱势群体的进步。中产文化的衰弱趋势也加速了日益膨胀的福利国家带来的破坏性影响,因为福利国家接管了家庭的财务责任,削弱了对双亲共同养家的需求。一种强有力的鼓励婚姻的规范也许本可以减弱这种影响。然而,单身父母的数量如天文数字般地增长,他们的孩子更有可能遭遇学业挫折、药物成瘾、失业、犯罪及贫困问题。

This cultural script began to break down in the late 1960s. A combination of factors — prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War — encouraged an antiauthoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal — sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll — that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society. This era saw the beginnings of an identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender, and now sexual preference.

这种文化范式在1960年代末开始瓦解。经济繁荣、避孕药、高等教育的扩张和对越战的质疑等多种因素交织,催生出反权威主义的、天真幼稚的、和及时行乐的理想——性、毒品和摇滚——这些对于一个成熟与繁荣的成人社会是毫无价值且不切实际的。这一时期也见证了身份政治的兴起。原本志向上不论肤色的民权运动领袖们,如尊敬的马丁·路德·金博士,转而沉迷于种族、族群、性别和如今的性取向议题。

And those adults with influence over the culture, for a variety of reasons, abandoned their role as advocates for respectability, civility, and adult values. As a consequence, the counterculture made great headway, particularly among the chattering classes — academics, writers, artists, actors, and journalists — who relished liberation from conventional constraints and turned condemning America and reviewing its crimes into a class marker of virtue and sophistication.

而那些具有文化影响力的成年人基于各种各样的原因,放弃了他们的职责,没能捍卫尊重、礼仪和成人价值观。由此,反主流文化登堂入室,尤其兴盛于如学者、作家、艺术家、演员和记者等闲聊阶层,他们乐见传统约束瓦解带来的自由,并且开始谴责美国,宣称犯罪是美德与高雅的阶级标志。

All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.

并非所有文化都一样,至少并非所有文化都能使人拥有发达经济体所需要的那种生产力。适合游动性狩猎者的大草原印第安文化,并不适合发达国家和21世纪的环境。单亲家庭、反社会行为并不普见于所有工薪阶层白人,内城黑人群体也并不一味赞同反“假白人”的饶舌文化,反同化观念也正在一些拉美移民中赢得市场。

These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans. If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.

上述文化倾向不仅不符合发达自由市场经济和可行民主制度的要求,还对美国人的凝聚心与互助传统产生了极大破坏。如今中上阶层仍普遍遵循中产阶级文化范式,但已惮于公开宣扬它们。假如这一范式无法得到广泛复兴,我们的未来很可能进一步恶化。

Would the re-embrace of bourgeois norms by the ordinary Americans who have abandoned them significantly reduce society’s pathologies? There is every reason to believe so. Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now. All schools and neighborhoods would be much safer and more pleasant. More students from all walks of life would be educated for constructive employment and democratic participation.

如果美国民众回归中产阶级的行为规范,这是否会显著缓解整个社会的病痛?我们完全有理由给出肯定答案。在那些谨遵旧训的人群中,不论教育背景和经济状况如何,凶杀和吸毒成瘾都比较罕见,贫困比例也很低。那些遵循着曾为多数人接受的简单准则而生活的人群,最终未必会大富大贵或占据显赫职位,但他们的生活将变得比现在更好。所有学校和社区都会更加安全与怡人。更多来自各个阶层的学生将被培养为建设性的劳动者与民主参与者。

But restoring the hegemony of the bourgeois culture will require the arbiters of culture — the academics, media, and Hollywood — to relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden. Instead of bashing the bourgeois culture, they should return to the 1950s posture of celebrating it.

但回归中产文化需要文化界的权威人士——学者、媒体和好莱坞——放弃对多元文化喋喋不休的执念与自我标榜捍卫弱势群体的沾沾自喜。他们该做的不是诋毁中产阶级文化,而应当回1950年代那种积极颂扬它的姿态。

Amy Wax is the Robert Mundheim professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. awax@law.upenn.edu
Amy Wax 是宾州大学法学院Robert Mundheim 讲席教授,邮箱为 awax@law.upenn.edu 。
Larry Alexander is the Warren distinguished professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. larrya@sandiego.edu
Larry Alexander 是圣地亚哥大学法学院Warren 杰出教授,邮箱为 larrya@sandiego.edu。


翻译:程鹏
校对:Eartha(@王小贰_Eartha)
编辑:辉格@whigzhou

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