Saturday, July 06, 2013

Ruminations 52: Surmizing Liberty and Equality in American Political Ideology

(Pix from Great Seal of the United States, State Symbols USA)

For American Independence Day I started considering the essence of American ideology.  (Democracy Part 28/Ruminations 51: On the Contradiction of Voting, Democracy and Revolution in the U.S. and Egypt).  But Americans don't think much in ideological terms; Americans think even less in historical terms, except perhaps to the extent necessary to reach back to a term useful in new ways for current debates. Americans invoke ideology instrumentally, especially in defense of their customs and traditions, or sometimes against them, in either case with sometimes profound effects.

So I have wondered how I might answer the following question were it ever posed by an individual who is not a U.S. national: What is the original American ideology? Equal opportunity (to become rich, important, or whatever one wishes to be) or equality (equal rights, or "deserving-ness") among people?  It is to an attempt to briefly answer this most profound set of hypothetical questions that this post now turns. The post is provided in English and Chinese.

You have asked: What is the original American ideology? Equal opportunity (to become rich, important or whatever one wishes to be) or equality (equal rights or "deserving-ness") among people? You ask a very interesting set of questions. You ask a very interesting question. I am happy to give you my personal reflections, the thrust of which might be a different than what you might have expected.  Before I begin elaborating on the complexities of the issues, perhaps it would be useful  to begin with a direct and succinct (though inevitably over-simplified) answer to these questions. My object is to provide a direct answer to the questions asked first, and then elaborate in detail. In this way, I hope to be able to avoid the dual-risks of over-simplification and appearing too abstruse.
I begin with the direct response: In terms of the original American ideology, I think that it would not be correct to speak either equal opportunity or equality. Instead, 'American ideology' is grounded in the traditional notion of personal 'liberty' arising out of a shared understanding of customary and traditional  prerogatives. With regard to the difference between 'equal opportunity' and 'equality', in most simplistic terms, the concept of 'equal opportunity' is more traditional and accepted. It is grounded squarely in the ancient notions of protections of individual prerogatives, liberties and rights to function within society free of constraints grounded in characteristics other than personal effort. It is in its essence effectively formal in nature. Equality, on the other hand, combines the traditional anti-discrimination ideology with notions of anti-subordination. It is far more attuned to the functional effects of discriminatory constraints and is suspicious of formalism as a mere cover to the preservation of traditional mechanics of discrimination.
Now let me elaborate: If we are to consider the original American ideology, then I think that it would not be correct to speak either equal opportunity or equality. I will suggest here that these, powerful enough in current American ideological debates, are better understood as products of the struggles of the 19th and 20th centuries (race, class, gender, religion). It is true enough that the seeds of these doctrines—now sometimes in great tension in American political ideology—might be extracted from the words of our Founders, but I suspect that our Founders might be surprised by the development of these terms into what is now the developed ideology of the U.S.
So perhaps it might be useful to start at the beginning and work our way back to 2013. In its simplest form, I believe the original American ideology was bound up in the protection and preservation of the customary rights and privileges of English citizens, which after independence became the foundation for the basic rights and privileges of American citizens. The notion was originally feudal and aristocratic (understood in the way that, for example, Catalonia’s current claims to autonomy are feudal in the sense that they are based on its ancient basic rights and prerogatives guaranteed from ancient times). In the United Kingdom this was memorialized in the Magna Carta—and then deepened during the course of the English civil war of the 17th century (through Coke, an important figure in colonial political jurisprudence) and naturalized among the English colonial population. At its base, this original ideology was premised on the idea that people were protected in their customs, morals and traditions. Those must be respected by the government (whether in the form of a monarch or representative democracy (parliamentary or otherwise)) and enforced through the judiciary that served to protect the king’s peace (later social stability and harmony). No one, including the king (and thereafter the state) had power to usurp or interfere with the enjoyment by the people of their rights, customs and privileges unless lawfully entitled. And the courts were empowered to ensure respect for these constraints (formalized by the end of the medieval period into the common law as modified by the people represented by the Crown-in-Parliament; and thereafter in the U.S. legislature with the concurrence of the President).

The “rights of free Englishmen,” then, had both a constitutional and a substantive dimension. Its constitutional dimension was libertarian in tone—constraining the state from asserting authority beyond its jurisdiction and requiring the state to conform to law (common and statutory law). It’s statutory dimension required conformity to the forms of law-making (representative government) and a respect for the fundamental privileges and rights of Englishmen (protection against tyranny, now understood more generically as protection against arbitrary government). Within this system the executive (King or President) enjoyed tremendous discretion and power to keep the peace and administer the state; and the legislature enjoyed broad authority to change rules to reflect changing views. And respect for jurisdictional limits was imperfect at best. But the theory, meant to protect traditional liberties and prerogatives grounded on respect for tradition and custom, remained strong.

The explosion that lead to the American revolution, ironically enough, then, was conservative: the U.K. government, under Enlightenment principles (ones that would produce Marxist ideology, the 20th century welfare states, and scientific development) became more progressive and instrumentalist in its operation. Its actions were deemed in the colonial empire as efforts to usurp the prerogatives and rights of Englishmen at the heart of the American political ideology. When the break with the U.K. came, the colonies had redefined the details but sought to preserve the ancient forms of the relationships between traditionally organized society and its governmental apparatus. The evidence of this critical expression of foundational American ideology is then found in the Declaration of Independence. Note I do not give it the modern and fairly bland reading, but seek to place it more profoundly within its historical context. Most people focus on the first sentence of the second paragraph and its expression of fundamental principles (“We hold these truths to be self evident. . . . .”), and most tend to detach the words from its historical context (recall at the time that society was deeply divided by race, class, gender etc.) and have now scientifically developed modern principles from ancient terms giving them meaning that resonate among the living.

But it is the material that follows the initial description of general principle that tends to be more enlightening. First, is the principle of constitutional fidelity: confirmation that government remains legitimate only so long as it conforms to constitutional constraints (the ideological constraints, for example that apply in China with respect to the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, etc.). Second, that long established governments are not lightly overthrown even in the face of usurpation (the principle of imperfection in government). Third, where there is evidence of a long history of abuses and usurpations of basic rights (and thus of an abandonment of fidelity to respect the basic rights, liberties, privileges and customs of the people) then the government is illegitimate and may be overthrown and replaced by one that again protects the traditional rights, liberties and prerogatives of the people. Note, though that the usurpations must be of a fundamental character going to those prerogatives and liberties that it was beyond the Crown or unrepresentative Parliament to usurp; the Crown could run its government as it liked in ordinary course (closer to modern notions of administrative authority), subject to the petitions of Parliament, its ordinary course legislation, and its willingness to raise taxes to support government. Note also that while the usurpations were described as those of the King, the second ot the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence also noted the complicity of Parliament (“We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us”). Fourth and most important, people tend to forget that the principal section of the Declaration of Independence was not its initial recitation of theoretical ideology, but rather the precise application of that ideology to the situation as the colonial establishment saw it, by the listing of the many alleged usurpations by the Crown alone as the administrative apparatus of government, and perhaps most tellingly, the King “has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.” It is in this long list of more specific acts of usurpation that one can understand the meaning of the ideological but general statements of the first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of independence, and ultimately of much of what was thereafter memorialized in American constitutional structures.

Taken together, then, the original exposition of American ideology was both conservative and grounded in traditional protections of customs and liberties against depredations of government, at least of government without the consent of the people affected (in theory representative capacity at a minimum in a legislature convoked for that purpose) but subject to certain clear and ultimate constraints. These original liberties and prerogatives, these customs and traditions which the American Revolution was meant to protect, might not have included either the idea of equal opportunity or of equality as an obligation of the state. Indeed, the notion of an aggressively instrumentalist state might have appeared contrary to the very liberties whose usurpations ignited the revolution in the first place. But that does not mean that American political ideology rejected notions of equal opportunity or even of equality. Rather, these might be best understood, at least at the beginning of the Republic, as private rights rather than state obligations. Social norms and customs assumed equal opportunity among people deemed social equals (white Christian men, etc.) but tolerated social inequality between classes, or based on race, gender, religion and the like. Thus, for example, Benjamin Franklin could rise form relative poverty to positions of substantial wealth, social and political standing through hard work. That was his prerogative as a “free Englishman” and then as a citizen of Pennsylvania (and the Union represented by the United States). It might be noted that until about a century ago it is hard to find any political society that did not implicitly or explicitly discriminate as a matter of public policy or private social norms. This original ideology is reflected, in modern form, in libertarianism, though modern libertarianism has moved quite a bit away from its origins and in extreme form would be unrecognizable two centuries ago. But it is also reflected in the American ideological embrace of private solutions to problems, on suspicion of the state, and on reliance on the non-state sector for social stability and discipline. These notions are now much attenuated, of course; Americans increasingly turn to the state to solve problems. But the pull of the old ideology ought not to be discounted, even among many sectors of the Democratic Party. The old American Dream also echoes this—the idea of being left alone to make the best of circumstances and talents within a society where the state protects the space in which these talents may be put to use as the individual desires.

Where does that leave equal opportunity and equality? These are critically important modern developments of American political ideology and form a complex network of premises grounded in approaches to the issue of discrimination by the state, in society or by individuals. Over the last century it has moved from a fairly radical ideal to substantial incorporation as a basic part of the rights, liberties and prerogatives of Americans against not just the state but increasingly against individuals and non-state actors in the private sphere. Thus, the ideological foundations of equal opportunity and equality derive from a development out of ancient notions of liberty and the prerogatives of the individual citizen now re-focused as a set of normative constraints against discrimination. To speak to either form of equality is really to speak to distinctive approaches to the scope of protection against discrimination as well as to the forms by which the government ought to implement and social mores ought to conform to anti-discrimination policies. Historically, both are intimately connected with the struggles over the last century and a half by successive waves of traditionally lower orders of social sub-sectors in the United States—African Americans, religious minorities, women, ethnic minorities, the poor, etc.—for constraints against governmental discrimination and ultimately to deploy the power of the state to interdict private discrimination on the basis of a distinguishing character trait of the affected group. Now generalized, it is likely to become more broadly applied beyond the narrow (though important) classifications that now mark its legal borders).

There is a strong historical context to this movement. In a sense if the revolutionary period was the father of American ideology (in the sense of protection of traditional liberties against arbitrary government), then the Civil War era was its mother. Indeed, to understand the movement from an ideology grounded principally on the protection of liberties (within traditionally constituted and custom driven societies in which courts stood as a mediating force between popular liberties, customs and traditions, and the assertion of instrumental power by executive and legislature) to one in which those protections are filtered through the ideological lens of discrimination, one has to consider the decisive role that the Civil War era played on the re-constitution of foundational American political ideology. While the causes and consequences of the Civil War were many and complex, one can distill at least one important ideological strand that goes to the answer to your question: the issue of slavery contained within it the seeds of all discourse about discrimination that was to follow. The roots of course, go deeper, and the pattern that will emerge as the central themes of anti-discrimination ideology might be traced back to the settlement of religious differences by posting a toleration of a broad range of diverse religious practices under the umbrella of a privileged political space (the theories of John Locke for example would be important referents). But these had been limited. My sense is that the slavery debates changed the context and the course of these ideals.

So slavery played an important role in catalyzing an important shift in ideology. If society grounded on ordered liberty concepts could not tolerate discrimination in its most severe form (the institution of slavery as a social and political institution and normative behavior framework), then the issue of discrimination itself becomes central to the ways in which a society must think through the application, the functional effect of ordered liberty within its political (first) and social (later) institutions. This ideology was developed through mass action in the 19th and 20th century. It was also slowly institutionalized through judicial and legislative action over the course of a century. Starting slowly—with the recognition of formal political equality but the preservation of the right of private social, economic and other forms of discrimination against former slaves (and then broadened to all African-Americans)—the courts over a century began to declare and frame the ways that anti-discrimination ideologies would come to frame political, social and economic behavior constraints. It has since been broadened to include women, conditions of disability, ethnicity and continues to broaden still further with the recent dismantling of formal discriminatory constraints against sexual minorities (U.S. v. Windsor (2013), the gay marriage case). It has even been in evidence in cases of discrimination in law making which treats states unequally ( Shelby County v. Holder, the recent case voiding a key provision of the Voting Rights Act). Ironically, the one area where discrimination remains a preserved space is in the very context that first gave rise to this anti-discrimination ideology. Society and the state continue to preserve and protect the right of individuals and institutions to discriminate on the basis of religion. And with respect to issues of class, the anti-discrimination ideology has been less effective. It might well have produced protections for labor unions in the early part of the 20th century, but wealth remains a marker of individual success, the fruits of personal liberty and it has been quite difficult to identify and constrain institutional or social structures that may adversely affect individuals on the basis of class (even to the extent that Americans can agree about the meaning of the term).

As you mention, anti-discrimination ideology now appears in two distinct forms. The first privileges equality of opportunity or access, and the second focuses on equality of result. The first is the more traditional and accepted. It is grounded squarely in the ancient notions of protections of individual prerogatives, liberties and rights to function within society free of constraints grounded in characteristics other than personal effort. It is in its essence effectively formal in nature. The other, equality, combines the traditional anti-discrimination ideology with notions of anti-subordination. It is far more attuned to the functional effects of discriminatory constraints and is suspicious of formalism as a mere cover to the preservation of traditional mechanics of discrimination. Discrimination understood as a set of constraints on personal attainment has been accepted increasingly as part of our public and social ideology. The anti-subordination theme of equality has not been as well accepted. Though one can find traces of its power in the great efforts to correct discriminatory effects on ethnic and racial minorities, and on women, these have continued to be viewed by many as extraordinary and temporary exceptions to the base line ideology. One can get hints of this unease, as well as of the current character of the dialogue, by reading through recent judicial opinions about affirmative action. From American ideology, the difficulty of embracing anti-subordination theories as political ideology is understandable precisely because it might clash in some respects with the ancient ideology of personal prerogative and liberty and with the fundamental approach to state power which is meant to preserve individual liberties and constrain institutional power—especially where it seeks to be used instrumentally to change social, moral, economic or other customary practices.

I will end by suggesting that though I have tried to outline in very broad strokes the complexities of American political ideology, one should understand that this description has certain substantial limits. First, consensus on ideology in the United States is rarely attained; there remain large communities with distinct beliefs about ideology, some of which might view the description I provided here with horror. Second, such consensus is invariably temporary, and shifts with changes in the dominance of particular ways of thinking about things or in the face of a particular crisis. Third, ideology is hardly ever uniformly applied in all situations; it is sometimes more likely that desired results are justified by calls to ideology rather than constructed from out of its application. Fourth, institutionalized ideology might not always run parallel to social ideology and in cases of conflict can produce substantial and unexpected consequences (for example, the possible relationship between government efforts to implement anti-discrimination ideologies through racial integration of public schools may have contributed to either segregation of housing and the move by people from public to private education, contributing to what might be understood as the stresses on public education in the US today). Fifth, while anti-subordination combined with anti-discrimination ideology is not dominant, it can have strong effect from time to time, especially as a means of assessing the effectiveness the implementation of formal anti-discrimination structures. Sixth, the ancient ideology of liberties, rights and prerogatives, now reframed, continues to be a powerful ideological force even if it is no longer spoken of or understood in its original forms. Seventh, whatever the strength of its ideology, the United States, perhaps like many states, has neither applied them fully or consistently, even at times of substantial consensus around a specific issue. The application of ideology remains a work in progress, one better characterized by the lag between formation of ideological consensus and governmental or social action in implementation thereof. As in many states, sometimes function appears too little and too late.

I hope this answer, though far longer than I had intended, might prove helpful. As in most of the great global civilizations, even the simplest elements of its operations are grounded in sometimes complex and dynamic patterns and historical context that makes a simple answer generally unhelpful except as a starting point for closer and more nuanced analysis.

(Larry Catá Backer)

适逢美国国庆独立日,我不免联想起关于美国人思想意识形态的精髓与实质的问题。不过有意思的是,美 国人对意识形态甚至宏观历史这样的叙事并不热衷,除非这种思考与叙事可以为现行讨论提供新的视野。尤其是有人对美国的社会传统与风俗进行批评时,美国人会 策略性地诉诸于美国的思想意识形态,为自身的文化做辩护,亦或反击那些不被自身接受的旧传统。无论何种情形,这种思辨不时激发出深远的影响。
因此,我面对一位非美国读者提出的下列问题尤感踌躇: 何为美国思想体系的正本之源,这一意识形态要义是以是以机会均等为主导(equal opportunity, 实现或者追求财富的公平机遇) 还是以人人平等 equality, 平等的公民权利或人民应得的公平)为主导?
我认为这位读者提出的问题非常有意思。尽管我的见地未必符合她的胃口,但我仍乐意在此提出个人的几 点拙见。本篇博文旨在试图简要回答这一深刻的问题。为了使我的论述与解释避免流于形式的过分肤浅与抽象,我觉得有必要在我深入错综复杂的细枝末节前,对这 一问题首先进行一个直截了当的答复。
“何为最初的美国思想意识形态?”我的直接回答是“机会平等(equal opportunity)”或者“公平 (equality)”都不能确切地概括美国思想意识形态的精髓之泉源。相反,这一思想意识形态是由起源于传统意义上的“天赋自然权利(liberty)”的“个人自由意识”所构成的。至于“机会平等”与“公平性”,简单来说“机会平等”这一说法传统上更为美国社会广泛接受。其思想直接来源于一项古老的社会理念 ---“保护社会个体天赋的自然权利,自由以及其他社会特权,在一个不受他人干扰的社会中以按社会自身的特质得到发挥”这一理念随着时间自发演化概括为“机会平等”。 “公平”这一说法则融合了反歧视与反对 社会次阶层群体被社会附属边缘化。此外,“公平”对歧视性社会制约嗤之以鼻,在“公平”的眼里,“形式主义”显得形迹可疑,往往被看做是是掩盖某种社会歧 视性机制的遮羞布。总而言之,我认为确切地讲“公平机会”与“公平”都并非我们所探寻的“美国思想体系意识形态之本”,而是19世纪和20世纪美国关于种族,社会阶级,两性以及宗教方面的社会争论对当下美国思想意识形态问题的理解与讨论 的产物。诚然这些源自当年美国国父们的政治口号也许为当今美国政坛思想意识形态不时出现的冲突买下了伏笔,不过我怀疑美国国父们会对当年那些政治口号所造 就的当今美国的思想意识形态感到惊讶。
因此,我们的讨论应该从头讲起、然后慢慢顺着历史追回2013年。个人认为所谓美国思想意识形态之本,在最初其纯粹是指保护英国侨民的风俗习惯与殖民特权。至独 立战争之后,开始演化为保护美国国公民的基本权利和特权。需要指出的是,这一风俗习惯与特权始于封建社会意义上的特权。例如西班牙自治区加泰罗尼亚当初索 取自治权就是基于其古代封建王朝时期所享有的基础权利和殖民地特权。对于英国来说,最值得感怀的便是通过爱德华.柯克的才智(殖民地判例政治法学的泰斗)而在17 纪英国内战得到强化的英国大宪章以及大英帝国殖民地地区人口的本地国民化进程。也就是说,北美思想意识形态起初是在于保护殖民地英国侨民的传统习俗与道德 规范。无论是采取君主制还是代议民主制(议会制或其他制度),执政机关都需要对其予以尊重并通过司法机关的强制力来保证君主王权的封建秩序(后来演变为保 证社会秩序的稳定与和谐)。这也就意味着,除非获得合法的授权,包括君主在内的任何权力主体都不得侵犯和干涉个人的权利,风俗习惯和天赋自然权利。而法庭 则被赋予司法权力以保证这些制度规范得到好的遵守。(这些制度规范在中世纪后不断形成:在英国出现了“君临国会”制度下的由人民代表革新的普通法,而在美 国出现了立法机构与总统共同分权的制度)
先要谈的是这一制度规范下的“自由英国人的权利”这一概念。这一概念既有宪政规范层面又有实体层面上的意义。其宪政规范的层面是一种自由主义的基调,即限 制国家权威不得超越其管辖范围并依法治国(判例法或成文法)。在法律规范层面则要求执政行为符合立法规范(代议制政府)并尊重英国人基本的权利和特权。 (在过去是反对专制政府,如今是反对过分自由裁量的政府专断)在这样制度规范下,执政者(君主或总统)享有广泛的自由裁量权来维护国家或者君主的秩序稳 定,而立法机构能够享有广泛的权威来通过立法以满足社会的需求。可以说尊重“司法限权”的制度是接近完美的不完美。但是理论上,“自由英国人的权利”仍印 有维护传统自由与天赋自然权利等社会风俗规范的深深痕迹。
具有讽刺意义的是,引爆美国革命的不是进步主义势力而是保守主义势力。当时的历史背景是,英国政府在欧洲启蒙思想影响下(欧洲的启蒙思潮同时孕育了马克主义,20世纪福利社会理念以及科学发展理念)在殖民地倡导愈发激进的国家工具主义政治理念。英国政府在殖民 地的这一执政理念侵害了未来美国政治意识的核心,即“自由英国侨民的权利。”当北美殖民地与大英帝国决裂之后,殖民地虽然在细枝末节上做了新的界定,但是 总体上仍试图保留传统社会组织结构与执政机关的关系。这一关于美国思想意识形态的关键结论可以在《独立宣言》中找到佐证。需要注意的是,我在此处对《独立 宣言》文本的解读不是没有前提的泛泛而谈,而是必须置于特定历史背景之下考虑的。绝大多数人在讨论《独立宣言》都只关注了第二段的第一句(“我们认为下面 这些真理是不言而喻的。。。”)却没有考虑到这段文字产生时的社会历史背景(当时社会严重的种族,阶级和性别鸿沟)并基于当年的口号发展出了适用于现世的 原则。
其实真正具有启迪意义的在于那些跟随于这一句话之后的文本内容。首当其冲的莫过于忠于宪法原则: 确立了政权的合法性在于尊崇宪法对权力的限制(对于中国来说,忠于宪法就是遵守宪法的核心宗旨:马 克思列宁,毛泽东思想,邓小平理论,江泽民三个代表以及胡锦涛科学发展观等思想谱系)第二;不轻易推翻已经长存的政府(政府执政不完美原则)。第三;当政 府确实存在长期滥用和侵害人们的基本权利,自由,特权和风俗的时候,政府的执政就丧失了合法性。此时的政府将会被一个愿意去尊崇宪法对权力的限制以及保护 人们基本权利,自由特权与风俗的新政府所取代。需要注意的是:首先,《独立宣言》所谈的滥用和侵害的主体是指根本无视于人民自由与特权的君主以及不代表殖 民地利益的大英帝国国会。在当时,君主日常管理行政机构的权力(类似于现代意义上的执政权)受制于立法机构的议案,立法,以及增税的权力。其次,在理解这 里的“替代”之时我们还需要注意《独立宣言》倒数第二段强调了英国议会与君主政治体制的复杂性。《独立宣言》有云:“我们(殖民地人民)时常提醒他们(大英帝国),他们的立法机构企图把不合理的管辖权横加到我们头上。” 第四;也是最重要的一点,许多人没能意识到《独立宣言》所宣扬的政治原则与理念并不是援引理论上的政治思想意识形态,相反《独立宣言》把这些理论原则具体的适用于殖民地的社会现实之中。殖民地的建制派详细列数了君主和帝国政府种种不法举措“他勾结他人,使我等隶属之司法体制,既逾越于宪法,亦未经律令之认可。御准虚有其表之议会所炮制之种种法案。”也正是从《独立宣言》对君主与帝国政府其罄竹难书的罪行罗列之中,人们可以更准确地理解第二段之首所提及的“自由,生存,追求幸福”的权利,这一奠定美国宪政大厦根基的抽象而“不言而喻的真理。”
系起来,美国最初的政治思想意识形态是保守意义上的保护自由与风俗道德,反对政府不经受影响人民的同意就对其恣意妄为以及倡导政府受制于一些明确和基本的 权力限制。(理论上代议制最基本的一点就在于设立立法机关执行这一程序)美国国革命所保护的这些原始的自由与天赋自然权利,以及殖民地风俗传统既不要求政 府实施“机会平等”,也不要求政府实施“公平。” 尽管出乎进步主义者的意外,点燃美国革命之火的是具有保守主义性质的激进式的国家工具主义。但这并 不意味着美国政治思想意识形态是排斥“机会平等,”甚至“公平”理念。相反的是,我们需要明白至少在共和国之初的政治思潮是以私权而不是国家义务为主导 的。社会规范和社会风俗意义上的“社会公平”仅局限于成年白种人男性基督教徒之间,社会阶级,种族,性别和宗教等领域的不公并不被视为社会不公。因此,本 杰明弗莱克林可以通过个人努力与勤奋从一个无名小辈白手起家成为富甲一方的政客。他的奋斗代表了一个白人基督教男子所享有的“自由英国人”或者之后的“自 由宾州公民”的公民特权。我们要明白,就在在一个世纪之前,作为一项公共政策和社会风俗规范,或公开或私下的社会歧视是普遍存在的。显而易见的是,在现代 自由主义(libertarianism)的推动下,当初的政治思想意识形态与2个世纪后的今天对比已经发生了翻天覆地 的巨变。这种巨变也反映了美国政治思想意识形态对私力解决问题的偏好,对国家机器的不信任以及依赖私力维护的社会稳定与秩序。尽管当下美国也正不断开始依 靠国家机器来解决问题,但这对于美国,甚至对于很多民主党人们来说不意味着我们应当忽视其旧的传统偏好。传统意义上的“美国梦”也正是如此的,政府保证提 供一个不受干涉的社会空间使得个人可以凭自身的才智改变自身的处境实现个人的人生意义。
这一切对“机会平等”和“公平”又意味着什么呢?这一问题对美国政治思想的意识形态现代化发展进程及其重要,并关系着形成解决解决国家,社会及个人歧视等社会议题纷繁理论网络。在过去的一个世纪中,“机会平等”和“公平”逐渐从一个激进的社会观点转变为构成美国公民基本权利的重要元素,并被用以对抗来自国家权力[s1] [s1]的歧视甚至挑战来自非国家机构的歧视。因此,“机会平等”和“公正”等概念最初衍生于早期的公民自 由,天赋自然特权等理念,并后来转向建立反对歧视的社会规范的目标。不过这两种“平等”形态其实都是围绕着关于政府反对歧视,保护平等的不同程度问题,以 及社会采取何种手段实施反歧视以及社会风俗习惯如何反歧视的问题。回望历史,美国社会在过去的一个半世纪中经历了一波又一波的社会主流阶层与非裔美国人, 与少数族裔信仰,妇女,少数族裔以及贫穷阶层等社会边缘化次阶层间的社会斗争浪潮。这些社会浪潮的目的就在于设定反对政府性歧视的社会规范,并最终将这种 社会规范升华为禁止一切公共与私人权力基于社会某一群体的独特之处而产生的歧视。总结起来,当下反歧视的社会规范的适用领域正不断扩展。
些社会浪潮运动有着极强的历史背景。如果说美国革命时期是美国思想意识形态之父(其本质在于保护传统意义上的个人自由以反对专断政府)那么美国南北战争时 期则是美国政治思想意识形态之母。要想充分了解美国政治思想意识形态从主要保护传统意义上的个人自由与习惯风俗(法庭在其中充当仲裁调解公民自由,社会风 俗传统与公权力以及立法机构的矛盾)到增加反歧视滤镜的保护的历史性过渡,我们必须要考虑到美国南北战争这一决定性的历史转折点。尽管南北战争的起因和结 果是多重而复杂的,但是我们仍然可以从中至少提炼出一个关键的线索:有关奴隶制的问题其本身就蕴含了将来可出现的有关歧视性的争论。如果深入挖掘这一根 源,其形态将显现。所谓反歧视思想意识形态的中心可以追朔至政治特权空间下的宗教信仰多元化现象。(可以参照洛克的相关理论)我的感触是有关美国南方奴隶 制的争论改变了这些理论的历史背景与论述。
而美国奴隶制的废黜在其思想体系意识形态的演化中扮演了极为重要的角色。如果整个社会视歧视为最为不可接受的反自由秩序的行为,(奴隶制度其实就是一种社 会层面和政治层面的制度以及一种指导社会行为的规范网络)那么有关歧视的问题实际上就成为社会必须思考先在政治机构层面然后社会机构层面如何有维护自由的 秩序免受歧视的干扰。反歧视的思想意识形态在19世纪到20 纪得到了极大的发展,并是在近一个世纪的司法和诉讼进程中缓慢地被制度化。这一进程的起始是缓慢的,在起初是仅限于对政治层面上的反歧视。经济层面上的, 社会层面上的,个体私人对前奴隶(以及广义上的非裔美国人)的歧视仍然广泛存在。美国法庭花了整整一个世纪的时间才开始逐步全面地将反歧视思想政治意识形 态适用于政治,社会已经经济行为的规范之上。这一进程逐步推进并开始涉及到妇女,残疾人,少数族裔的反歧视,以及近期美国最高法院对于同性恋群体婚姻权利 的反歧视(U.S. v. Windsor 2013)。甚至出现了因歧视性的立法行为不平等对待某一州而违反权利法案(Shelby County v. Holder)。充满讽刺意义的是,在孕育反歧视思想体系意识形态的领域至今仍保留了一种形态的歧视,即在宗教 信仰自由框架下宗教内部的歧视行为。美国当今的反歧视意识形态从很大程度上是基于保护信仰群体不受迫害的,但是很多宗教内部却保留了很多歧视性行为,由于 “信仰自由”与反歧视原则之间存在的矛盾,反歧视思想意识形态对此仍显得束手无策。至于在贫富阶级方面,美国后来兴起的公平理念并没有成功地带来经济收入 上的相对平等。在20世纪早期也许产生了保护劳工权益的制度,但总体上对于个体自由理念的尊崇使得限制基于社会群体方面的歧视仍难以行之有效。
如你提问中所示意的那样,反歧视思想意识形态已经分化为两种不同的表现形态。其中之一关注于机会层面的平等,另一个关注于结果上的平等。第一种形态的平等 在传统上更为美国民众们所接受。其思想根源在于保护人们的天赋自然权利,自由和其他权利在一个不受他人干涉的社会中依社会自身的特质得到充分发挥。其本质 上是一种形式上的平等。反歧视思想意识形态的另一表现则为“公平”。“公平”这一理念将反对社会次阶层的附属边缘化与传统的反歧视意识形态相融合。在“公 平”的眼里,“形式主义”的实质往往是[s2] 某种社会歧视性机制。无论怎样,我们社会环境和社会观念越来越意识到歧视是一种对个人努力奋斗的束 缚。然而歧视的另一表现形态“反对社会次阶层的附属边缘化”并没有被社会很好的接受。尽管人们可以发现反歧视在对待少数族裔,妇女等问题上进行拨乱反正, 但这些无与伦比的现象在许多人眼里目前仍只能看作基本意识形态中的例外。尽管难以接受,但人们还是可以通过阅读近期有关平权法案方面的司法判决来了解到目 前的实际状况。对于美国思想政治意识形态而言,承认“反对社会次阶层被附属边缘化”的难点在于这一理念与保护个人天赋自然权利,自由,限制公权力这一处理 社会个体与公权力关系的基本准则相冲突。尤其是反对社会次阶层的附属边缘化期望于公权力的介入来改变社会,道德,经济和其他方面的传统实践。对于美国思想 政治意识形态而言,承认“反对社会次阶层被附属边缘化”的难点在于这一理念与保护个人天赋自然权利,自由,限制公权力这一处理社会个体与公权力关系的基本 准则相冲突。尤其是反对社会次阶层的附属边缘化期望于公权力的介入来改变社会,道德,经济和其他方面的传统实践。
本文最后我希望强调的是,对于复杂的美国政治思想意识形态我只是做了一个粗略概述。这一概述是极为有限的。首先美国自身对于意识形态问题就鲜有一个普遍共 识。许多领域对于争议问题都保有自己独特的见解与看法,我在此的观点也许并不被其他领域所欣赏。其次,关于意识形态的共识总是处于动态变化之中,受不同时 期的思潮或者危机的影响。第三,思想意识形态并不适用于所有情形,有时候思想意识形态可以事后解释事态的发展,但是不能从事态的发展自身演化而来。第四, 思想意识形态的制度化进程与社会意识并不是同步发展的,有时候甚至会相互冲突并产生严重不可预料的后果。例如政府在在公立学校实施种族融合的反歧视政策也 许会驱使人们从公立学校转向私立学校从而导致社区的种族隔离,最终的后果就是公立学校面对生源流失的压力。第五,尽管反对社会次阶层的附属边缘化与反歧视 的意识形态融合还未成为一个社会主流认识,这种融合对于实施反歧视的体制还是会产生重大影响。第六,关于个人自由,天赋自然权利与其他权利的理念虽然已经 脱离了其旧时代背景的表现形态,但是对如今的思想意识形态的形成仍具有强大的影响力。第七,正如同许多其他的国家那样,美国在历史上从未达成全面性的“思 想高度统一”,并完全一致地实施某一种意识形态。即使绝大部分民众因某一具体问题而形成某种共识的时候思想分裂也依旧存在。思想意识形态的实施是一项不断 完善的事业,这其中可改善的空间就在于形成理论共识与社会政府实施共识之间的差距。对于许多国家而言,社会进步的失败就在于这种理论共识不足或者国家政府 没有及时去实施。

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