从细节看美国的民主(Seeing American Democracy from the Details)

This is a travel note (in Chinese) after I came back from the U.S.A., talking about how (street) details present American Democracy. Some ideas are from the book Tocqueville’s «Democracy in America». This note has been translated into English by machine learning but seems not that reliable. I will improve it when I have time. (The English version is below the Chinese version)

— in Chinese — (前注:文中省略了大量的“我觉得”)

作为来自数据隐私领域的人,美国给我的第一印象是:美国街道的监控摄像头是真的少。2019年5月份,旧金山成为美国第一个通过立法,禁止当地警方及其他市政机构使用监控技术/脸部识别技术的城市。而后,马塞诸塞州的萨默维尔市和同样来自加州的奥克兰市等多个城市,也加入了禁用脸部识别技术的行列。正如所有民主国家一样,美国对于人权也十分看重。

民主与人权,是美国的一个关键词。美国的历史不长,从18世纪中期开始,才由西欧的各国入侵,建立殖民地。而在此之前,北美洲只有印第安人组成的原始社会文明。由于种种原因,在短短200多年中,在美国这一片土地上产生的现代文明超越了欧洲,组成了当前在各个领域都足够领先的超级大国。究竟是什么力量使美国如此优秀?一个窥其堂奥的方法,就是回到美国刚建立之时。法国思想家托克维尔于1840-1850年完成了著作《论美国的民主》,他将“民主”作为美国成功的关键词。而这“民主”就是最初欧洲移民的中产及失意者,与土著居民社会融合的产物。美国抛弃了阶级,而选择了建立民主平等的社会。相较于美国,那时的欧洲还是贵族阶级社会。

作为一篇游记,本文并不会谈分析美国民主的产生(《论美国的民主》分析的非常透彻),而会从本人游览之中的所见所闻,谈谈其中的趣事,并尽量说说这些事情与美国社会的种种联系。

让我们回到美国的街道。取代监控摄像头的,是大量的美国国旗。这些国旗不仅存在于景点、地标建筑,而是处处都有。就连在麻省的一个普通丁字路口,都能见到4面美国国旗插在不足几平米的转角。美国街道上的国旗之多,观感甚至超越了越南街头(部分越南街道的路灯两侧,常会各插一面国旗)。国旗象征着国家,街头大量的国旗足以看出美国对于爱国主义教育的看重。

Constructocat by Fan

有趣的是,美国人民不仅爱自己的国家,也爱自己的州。从麻省到纽约的大巴,会经过康涅狄格州。在高速休息区的小商店,能够买到真正本地生产的小纪念品。这些纪念品会标有“made with pride in the U.S.A.”(美国制造,带着骄傲)。由于紧邻的纽约足够有名,所以这里会有两种不同属地的冰箱贴售卖,分别表示着“康涅狄格州”和“纽约州”。购买了“纽约州”纪念品的我,毫无疑问的收获了售货美国大妈的吐槽:“come on! This is Connecticut!”(我晕,这里可是康涅狄格啊),一通教育。他们爱自己的州,一定程度上因为各州的相对独立。

美国是联邦制国家,这也是其民主体制的发展,美国的每个州都高度自治。这种自治也向下蔓延到城镇,这也是为何如文中最开始,不同州的不同城市,可以分别通过法律禁用脸部识别技术。不一样的州,也有不一样的商品税率,以至于游客的退税都成为一种困难。不同州的酒店,也都会贴有所在州的法律。为了达到各州的自治,联邦政府只负责制定最基本的法律,而把其他细节交给各州来控制。联邦政府不进行行政集权,各州充分享有行政自由。但与此同时,根据托克维尔的研究(他也是法国的法学家),不能不强调联邦政府依然拥有高度的政府集权。这一政府集权甚至强于其他所有国家(18世纪时)。政府有很强的权利,但将行政的细节下放给各州。各个城市在各州之下,也享有行政自由。

美国的建筑,多数都极其精简。在美国西部,例如加州,许多建筑均为土黄色外墙,外形方正,整座建筑上均匀分布着尺寸统一的窗户,仿佛就是一个方盒子上面掏了简简单单的许多个长方形的洞,极少见到其他任何外部装饰。而英国、意大利等欧洲建筑,外形常更为精致。仅仅窗户,就包括上沿装饰,以及边侧的立柱形式。美国的这些建筑,即使相较于德国的建筑(德国偏好四四方方、非常工整的建筑),也不能看到更多的细节。这种简约的建筑设计风格,也能体现出美国民主平等的调性。他们没有欧洲贵族遗留下的精致气质,不偏好精巧而费尽心思的设计,而更重视建筑的实用性。

这一对实用性的偏好,充斥于他们对艺术及工艺的看待方式。美国的冰箱贴,也是我见过最粗糙,最丑陋的。如同喜欢皮卡之类的大型号车辆,他们也喜欢设计大型号的冰箱贴。更贵的价格不意味着更精致的设计,而意味着更大的尺寸。你能见到最贵的冰箱贴,就是设计成半张A4纸大小的磁贴。整张磁贴绘制成一张百元或1dollar的美元,美元中间印着特朗普。这种设计,虽然不美,但可以说很美国了。

Constructocat by Fan

当然,建筑设计风格也有例外,例如美国东部大城市的建筑—-纽约。这里的建筑非常宏伟,时代广场、华尔街等地,如果你在其中,常常能够发现极具地标性,极具创意的建筑。这些建筑存在的意义就是对平庸建筑的补充。美国民主使个人变得很微弱,他们的建筑趋近于平等化,也会很平常,但这些人反而会期望将大集会场合的建筑搞得气势恢宏。这些建筑,提醒人民记住伟大。美国民主使美国人即建造平庸的建筑物,也建造宏伟的建筑物。

Constructocat by Fan

但纽约市采用的大道没有名称,而是阿拉伯数字。阿拉伯数字对来自任何文化和民族的人来说,都是易读的。这能够反映美国作为民主国家对一般观念的热爱,也就是普遍大多数能够接受的观念。与纽约作为对比,伦敦也是最大的国际化大都市之一。两座城市都有来自世界各个地区和民族的人口。伦敦的街道,你在有生之年是不会看到他们把街道改成1街、2街、3街,这对英国人民来说太不文雅了。

在纽约这些密集的商业街道中,每隔3-5个街道,就有一座宏大的教堂,这些教堂算是对美国民主的补充。作为基督教信仰比例最高的国家之一,美国认为只有依靠宗教才能使民主制度道德化。民主的实用性会使人更多的追求物质享乐,宗教中心灵净化的信条,让人的心灵转向非物质享乐,放下私欲与私利。通过这种方式,政府可使用宗教来调节民主。此时另一个问题就是宗教对政治的影响。当神职人员能够通过信仰来控制信徒的行为,“太平天国”等神学与政治相混合的问题就可能会出现。正如托尔维尔的观点,控制宗教的方法就是政府去迎接宗教,以控制宗教不要越界。政府建立大量教堂,便可看作是方法之一。

美国对实用性的喜爱,也体现在科学上。美国喜欢应用科学,因为其更为实用。能够作出研究成果的人,能够较快的将其转化为经济产出。美国作为科技第一强国,居然没有粒子对撞机。对于物理粒子尺度的研究,能够引领跨时代的技术革命(随便举个例子:搞定了引力子,人类说不定可以造出反重力飞船,光速飞船)。但这一研究太费钱了,而且距离产业应用太远。欧洲作为具有理想主义情怀的地方,有全球最强大的粒子对撞机。这些老贵族社会喜欢理论科学,也更追求精神享受。西方近现代的哲学家,也多来自欧洲。而来自超级大国美国的哲学家,属实不多。

靠着科技及产业的结合,以及一战、二战的机遇,美国拥有了全球科技霸权,并以此为基础拥有了美元霸权、军事霸权、和文化霸权。其中的文化霸权,可以说是最不易发现,而又对我们平民百姓影响最大。

到了纽约,要看自由女神像,而坐上小型邮轮从水面上的各个角度观看是一个非常好的选择。坐在船上,你会发现,关于纽约的歌曲从来没有中断过,而且都是朗朗上口的流行风格。网络上也有关于纽约的最佳10首歌曲的总结(Top 10 Songs About New York City)。纽约(New York City,NYC)也是一个非常流行的元素,以至于经常会被印制在帽子和T恤上。现在人人都知道纽约是个梦中的美好大都市。

好莱坞的文化宣传让美国坐实了文化霸权。在复仇者联盟4中,美国队长作为一个打了激素的普通人类,领导众超级英雄,并最终拿起雷神之锤,并没有受到多少观众的质疑。你可以想象一下,这换成中国队长或者其他什么队长,会受到什么待遇。

最后,管中窥豹,回到我的领域来看看中西方。从人权的角度出发,欧洲在2018年出台了《通用数据保护条例》(General Data Protection Regulation),并因此使进入欧洲的企业面临了关于用户数据处理的难题。美国也于最近两年频频出台法案控制大数据应用的发展。与此同时的中国,则建立了最强大的天网监控系统。对于数据隐私,两方貌似冲着相反的方向前进。此时我想起邓小平曾经的翻译——张维为针对此问题的一个观点“要先发展,有问题再治理”。这是一种非常相信政府及政府力量的观点。事实上,欧美的这些限制数据应用的法案,确实在一定程度上减缓了IT技术的产业应用。这是精英治理和全民治理的较量,是中华文化和西方文化的较量。

央格鲁撒克逊人在英国搞出第一次工业革命,在美国搞出第二次和第三次工业革命。期待中华民族能在中国搞出第四次工业革命。

— in Enligsh — (Previous note: I have omitted a lot of “I think” in the text)

As a person from the field of data privacy, the first impression that the United States gave me was that the surveillance cameras on American streets are really few. In May 2019, San Francisco became the first city in the United States to pass legislation prohibiting local police and other municipalities from using surveillance technology/face recognition technology. Then, the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, and the city of Oakland, California, also joined the ranks of disabled face recognition technology. Like all democracies, the United States also values human rights.

Democracy and human rights are keywords in the United States. The history of the United States was not long. It was only in the mid-18th century that the countries of Western Europe invaded and established colonies. Before this, North America had only the primitive social civilization of Indians. For various reasons, in just over 200 years, the modern civilization produced in this land of the United States has surpassed Europe and constitutes a superpower that is currently leading in all fields. What is the power that makes the United States so good? One way to get a glimpse of it is to return to the time when the United States was just established. The French thinker Tocqueville completed his book “Democracy in America “ from 1840 to 1850. He regarded “democracy” as the key to American success. And this “democracy” is the product of the integration of the middle class and the frustrated of the original European immigrants with the indigenous people. The United States abandoned the class and chose to establish a society of democracy and equality. Compared to the United States, Europe, at that time, was a noble class society.

As a travel note, this article does not talk about the analysis of the emergence of American democracy (“Analysis of American Democracy” is very thorough) but will talk about what is happening from the tour, talk about interesting things, and try to talk about it. These things are related to various kinds of American society.

Let’s go back to the streets of the United States. Instead of surveillance cameras, there are a lot of American flags. These flags are not only found in scenic spots and landmark buildings but everywhere. Even at a common T-junction in Massachusetts, you can see four American flags inserted in the corner of less than a few square meters. The national flag on the streets of the United States, the perception even exceeds the streets of Vietnam (some of the street lights on the streets of Vietnam, often inserted a flag). The national flag symbolizes the country, and a large number of national flags on the streets are enough to show that the United States values the importance of patriotic education.

Interestingly, the American people love not only their own country but also their own state. The bus from Massachusetts to New York will pass through Connecticut. In the small shops in the high-speed lounge area, you can buy small souvenirs that are truly locally produced. These souvenirs will be marked “made with pride in the U.S.A.” (made in the U.S.A., with pride). Because the neighboring New York is famous enough, there are two different types of refrigerators for sale, which represent “Connecticut” and “New York State”. I bought the “New York State” souvenir, and undoubtedly harvested the American aunt’s spit: “come on! This is Connecticut!” (I am dizzy, here is Connecticut), an education. They love their own state, to some extent, because of the relative independence of the states.

The United States is a federal state, and this is also the development of its democratic system. Every state in the United States is highly autonomous. This kind of autonomy also spreads down to towns, which is why, as at the beginning of the text, different cities in different states can separately disable face recognition technology through law. Different states have different commodity tax rates so that tourists’ tax rebates become difficulty. Hotels in different states will also be subject to state laws. In order to achieve state autonomy, the federal government is only responsible for formulating the most basic laws and handing over other details to the states to control. The federal government does not exercise administrative centralization, and states enjoy full administrative freedom. But at the same time, according to Tocqueville’s research (he is also a French jurist), it cannot be underestimated that the federal government still has a high degree of government centralization. This government’s centralization is even stronger than all other countries (in the 18th century). The government has strong rights, but the details of the administration are delegated to the states. Each city enjoys administrative freedom under the states.

Most of the buildings in the United States are extremely streamlined. In the western United States, such as California, many buildings are khaki-colored exterior walls, and the shape is square. The entire building is evenly distributed with uniform windows as if it were a square box with many simple rectangular holes. Rarely see any other exterior decoration. European architecture, such as the United Kingdom and Italy, is often more refined in appearance. Only windows, including the upper edge decoration, and the side column form. These buildings in the United States, even if compared to German architecture (Germany prefers square, very neat buildings), can not see more details. This simple architectural design style can also reflect the tonality of American democracy. They do not have the exquisite temperament left by the European nobility, do not prefer the delicate and thoughtful design, but pay more attention to the practicality of the building.

This pragmatic preference is immersed in the way they look at art and craft. The American refrigerator sticker is also the roughest and ugliest I have ever seen. Like large models like pickup trucks, they also like to design large models of refrigerator stickers. Higher prices do not mean more refined designs but mean larger sizes. The most expensive refrigerator sticker you can see is a half-size A4 paper tile. The entire tile is drawn in a hundred dollars or 1dollar dollars, and Trump is printed in the middle of the dollar. This design, although not beautiful, can be said to be very American.

Of course, there are exceptions to the architectural style, such as the architecture of the big cities in the eastern United States - New York. The buildings here are very grand, Times Square, Wall Street, and other places, if you are in it, you can often find a very landmark and creative buildings. The significance of these buildings is to complement the mediocre architecture. American democracy makes individuals weak; their buildings tend to be equal, and they will be normal, but these people will instead expect to make the building of the big gatherings magnificent. These buildings remind people to remember greatness. American democracy has made Americans build mediocre buildings and build magnificent buildings.

But the avenues used in New York City have no name, but Arabic numerals. Arabic numerals are easy to read for anyone from any culture or nation. This can reflect the United States’ love of general ideas as a democratic country, that is, the generally accepted concept. In contrast to New York, London is also one of the largest cosmopolitan cities. Both cities have populations from all regions and nations of the world. In the streets of London, you will not see them change the streets into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd streets in their lifetimes. This is too unconventional for the British people.

In the dense commercial streets of New York, every 3-5 streets have a grand church that complements American democracy. As one of the countries with the highest proportion of Christian faith, the United States believes that only relying on religion can moralize the democratic system. The practicality of democracy will lead people to pursue more material enjoyment, the creed of spiritual purification in religion, the turn of the mind to non-material pleasure, and the release of lust and self-interest. In this way, the government can use religion to regulate democracy. Another issue at this time is the influence of religion on politics. When clergy can control the behavior of believers through faith, problems such as the “Tai Ping Heavenly Kingdom” and the combination of theology and politics may arise. As Thorville’s point of view, the way to control religion is that the government should greet religion to control religion and not cross the border. The establishment of a large number of churches by the government can be seen as one of the methods.

America’s love for practicality is also reflected in science. The United States likes applied science because it is more practical. Those who can make research results can turn it into economic output faster. As the country’s number one technology, the United States does not have a particle collider. The study of physical particle scales can lead the technological revolution across the ages (as an example: to get the gravitational force, humans may be able to create anti-gravity spacecraft, light speed spacecraft). But this research is too expensive and too far from industrial applications. As a place of idealism, Europe has the most powerful particle collider in the world. These old aristocratic societies like theoretical science and are also pursuing spiritual enjoyment. Western modern philosophers are also mostly from Europe. There are not many philosophers from the superpowers of the United States.

Relying on the combination of technology and industry, and the opportunities of World War I and World War II, the United States has global technology hegemony and based on this, it has dollar hegemony, military hegemony, and cultural hegemony. Among them, cultural hegemony can be said to be the least difficult to discover, but it has the greatest impact on our civilian population.

When you arrive in New York, you have to look at the Statue of Liberty, and it is a very good choice to sit on a small cruise from all angles on the water. Sitting on the boat, you will find that the songs about New York have never been interrupted, and they are all popular styles. There is also a summary of the top 10 songs about New York on the Internet (Top 10 Songs About New York City). New York City (N.Y.C.) is also a very popular element so that it is often printed on hats and T-shirts. Everyone knows that New York is a beautiful metropolis in a dream.

The cultural propaganda in Hollywood has given the United States a cultural hegemony. In Avengers 4, the captain of the United States, as an ordinary hormonal human, led the superheroes and eventually picked up the Quake, and was not questioned by many viewers. You can imagine what it would be like to change to the Chinese captain or any other captain.

Finally, take a look at the leopard and return to my field to see the Chinese and Western. From a human rights perspective, Europe introduced the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018, which has made it difficult for companies entering Europe to deal with user data. In the past two years, the United States has also introduced laws to control the development of big data applications. At the same time, China has established the most powerful Skynet monitoring system. For data privacy, the two sides seem to be heading in the opposite direction. At this time, I think of Deng Xiaoping’s previous translation. Zhang Wei’s point of view on this issue is “to develop first, to have problems and then to govern.” This is a view that strongly believes in government and government power. In fact, these bills restricting data applications in Europe and the United States have indeed slowed down the industrial application of I.T. technology to some extent. This is a contest between elite governance and universal governance. It is a contest between Chinese culture and Western culture.

The Yangglu Saxons made the first industrial revolution in Britain and the second and third industrial revolutions in the United States. Lets who can be the maker of the fourth industrial revolution.

Written on September 24, 2019