《经济学人》:英国陷入无政府状态
日期:2011-08-15 11:06

(单词翻译:单击)

Riots in Britain
英国骚乱

Anarchy in the UK
英国的乱局

A bout of violent mindlessness that has shaken Britain’s sense of self—and may be exportable
极端的无知动摇了英国的自我意识,并可能祸水外流

Aug 13th 2011 | from the print edition

SHAME was the first response of many people in Britain to the riots that started in the Tottenham neighbourhood of London on August 6th, skipped across the capital in the following days and nights and spread to Manchester, Birmingham and many other cities. Alongside the shame, there was a jolting bafflement. The law-abiding majority suddenly saw that some of their compatriots were happy to torch cars and buildings, loot shops, and attack firemen and ambulance crews. The confidence trick at the heart of the social order was violently laid bare: it turns out that if sufficient numbers of criminals want to create havoc on the streets, they can. In the absence of internal, moral restraints, external ones can only do so much.

许多英国人对该国骚乱的第一反应是羞耻。这场骚乱8月6日始发于伦敦托特纳姆地区,在随后几天里掠过首都蔓延到曼彻斯特、伯明翰和其他一些城市。人们在羞耻之余,还深感困惑。那些守法的大多数突然看到,一些国人竟乐于焚烧汽车和房屋、劫掠商店以及袭击消防员和救护人员。社会秩序深层的骗局昭然若揭:原来,如果意图在街头制造大破坏的罪犯足够多,那么他们就能达到目的。当缺乏内在道德制约的情况下,外在制约的作用仅此而已。

The world watched London in fascinated amazement. Other nations tend to regard Britain as enviably orderly and law-abiding, at least compared with many of its more excitable continental neighbours. That peaceable image is only partly justified: contagious rioting has broken out before, typically during the summer, including in the 1980s, when Tottenham and some of the other flashpoint areas this week last erupted. This time, however, the complexion of the trouble is different from those earlier flare-ups. In its sheer mindlessness, it was, in a way, even more depressing.

全世界都惊异地看着伦敦。其他国家往往对英国的遵纪守法颇为羡慕,认为英国至少强于它的一些更易冲动的大陆邻邦。而它的这种平和形象只是部分才有正解:四处蔓延的骚乱先前已然爆发过,它们通常发生在夏季,其中就包括1980年代的那场骚乱,那是本周托特纳姆和其他一些“火药桶”地区最近一次骚乱。然而这次困局与早期的那些冲突不同,从其十足的无知一面来看,它在某种程度上更让人忧虑。

Moral malaise
道德痼疾

This week’s multiplying riots had some common features—looting, arson, attacks on the police—but they spanned different places, races, ages and sexes. Race was not the defining issue, as it was in many of the disturbances of the 1980s. One of the first to appear in court for looting was a 31-year-old teaching assistant: hardly an identikit hooligan. That left politicians free to project their own rationales on the carnage.

本周愈演愈烈的骚乱具有一些共性——抢劫、纵火、袭警——但它跨越了不同地区、种族、年龄和性别。同1980年代的历次骚乱一样,种族并未在这次骚乱中扮演关键角色。法庭上出现的第一个被控抢劫罪的人是一个31岁的助教:他几乎不是一个通常意义上的街头恶棍。这让政客们对这场残杀的原因莫衷一是。

For some on the left, the real villain was the government’s public-spending cuts. This view is given superficial support by the fact that the 1980s outbreaks happened during the “Thatcher cuts”. But it is still a lazy fantasy. It might be comforting to think of the riots as an extension of a familiar debate—and to argue that the underlying ills can be easily remedied with a little more state largesse—but there is little reason to do so. Unlike the riots in Britain in the 1980s, Los Angeles in 1992 or France in 2005, these were not overtly political or racial. And since the cuts have barely bitten yet, that explanation doesn’t wash.

对于左派的一些人来说,真正的祸根就是政府削减公共支出的举动。这一观点貌似得到1980年代“撒切尔紧缩(Thatcher cuts)”期间爆发骚乱这一事实的佐证,但这仍是不求甚解的想法。他们将骚乱看做一场常见的论战的延伸,并主张多给一些国家救济就能轻松祛除病根,这种看法可能令人感到欣慰,但其理由却基本上站不住脚。与1980年代发生在英国、1992年发生在洛杉矶或2005年发生在法国的骚乱不同,这场骚乱并不具有明显的政治性或种族性。既然财政削减几乎尚未造成不良后果,这个解释也就经不起推敲了。

But the right’s knee-jerk response—that this is criminality, pure and simple, and that to seek a deeper explanation is to excuse the culprits—is also wrong. There is clearly a cadre of young people in Britain who feel they have little or no stake in the country’s future or their own. The barriers that prevent most youngsters from running amok—an inherent sense of right and wrong; concern for their job and education prospects; shame—seem not to exist in the minds of the rioters. Britain needs to try to understand why that is so.

但右派的第一反应——这是十足的犯罪行为,查找更深层原因就是为罪犯开脱——也是错的。英国显然有很多年轻人对国家或自己的前途漠然置之。阻止大多数年轻人胡作非为的条条框框——固有的是非感、对工作和教育前景的挂虑、羞恶之心——似乎对这些暴徒形同虚设。英国需要设法搞清楚为什么会这样。

It is unlikely that the closure of, say, a local youth club has caused that alienation. Perhaps it has something to do with the changing nature of the economy and consequent shortage of low-skilled jobs, or the long crumbling of family structures and discipline. Technology, too, may have had a role, for BlackBerrys were widely used to summon mobs. Digital communications have tipped the balance of power away from the authorities towards the streets, as they did in the Arab spring; but in Britain, the effect has been terrifying rather than inspiring.

诸如关闭地方性青年俱乐部一类的事件不可能导致这种疏离。可能这与经济的多变性和由此带来的低技能工作的短缺,或由来已久的家庭结构和纪律的解体有关。技术也可能在其中扮演了角色,因为黑莓手机曾被广泛用于召集暴民。数字通讯打破了权力的平衡,当局的权利已让渡于街头政治,这在阿拉伯革命中可见一斑。但在英国,数字通讯的作用与其说鼓舞人心,不如说令人震惊。

If technology is a major factor, perhaps such scenes will be replicated in other countries. On the other hand, a peculiarly British set of conditions may be at work. Near-American levels of inequality may have combined with laxer European attitudes to criminal justice to create an incendiary mix of rage and boldness. Whatever the reasons, a moral malaise has gripped a minority of young Britons, a subgroup that is nevertheless big enough to terrorise and humiliate the country.

如果技术是主要因素,那么这种场景将会在其他国家重演。另一方面,英国的特殊国情可能发挥了作用,其不平等程度与美国接近,而在刑事司法上却采取了更为宽松的欧洲式态度,两个因素若合在一起很容易使人们因一点不公,就大发雷霆之怒,四处煽风点火,并采取鲁莽的行动。不论是何原因,有一件事是肯定的,即少数英国年轻人染患了道德痼疾,这个群体的数量虽少却足以让这个国家受到威胁和羞辱。

The thin blue line
警察

David Cameron, the prime minister, recalled Parliament to discuss the crisis, declaring that pockets of Britain were “frankly sick”. Politicians will no doubt come up with all manner of responses over the weeks to come. Job-creation and welfare schemes will surely play a part in the debate. But the immediate focus was on policing, and why, especially on the first few nights of trouble and particularly in London, the police seemed unable to cope.

首相卡梅伦召回议员商议危机事宜,他宣称有些地方的英国人“脑子显然有病”。政客们无疑会在未来几周提出各种应对措施,创造就业机会计划和福利计划谅必在争论中占有一席之地,但当前关注的焦点是治安问题和为什么警察似乎不能应付骚乱,尤其是头几个晚上的骚乱和发生在伦敦的骚乱的问题。

The spark for the initial incident in Tottenham was a fatal shooting by police officers; some hooligans cited resentment of the police as a motive. But as the violence spiralled and spread, the main criticism levelled at them—particularly London’s Metropolitan Police—was that they were too soft. That criticism was partly justified. The Met was caught out by the scale of the unrest and unable to respond quickly enough. In some parts of the capital the police were outnumbered, outmanoeuvred and unable or unwilling to prevent looting.

托特纳姆骚乱是由警方射杀了一名男子引起的。一些街头恶棍称自己的动机源自对警察的不满。但随着暴力急剧升温和四处蔓延,他们——特别是伦敦警察署的警察——则主要被指责过于软弱。这种批评在一定程度上是正确的。伦敦警察署对危机的规模准备不足,疲于奔命,不能足够快速地应对。在首都的一些地区,暴徒在数量上超过警察,警察无计可施,不能或不愿阻止抢劫行为。

With suitable reinforcements and better tactics, they and other forces performed better on subsequent nights. Nevertheless, there were widespread calls for much more draconian measures. One opinion poll suggested a third of respondents favoured the use not only of rubber bullets but of live ones. The imposition of curfews and the deployment of the army were discussed but thankfully not implemented.

由于适当的增援和更高明的战术,他们和其他警察部队在随后的几个晚上表现得更加出色。然而,各界普遍呼吁加强严管力度。一项民意测验显示,三分之一的应答者支持使用橡皮子弹甚至实弹。强制实行宵禁和部署军队也被讨论过,幸好没有施行。

Thankfully, because that sort of response would make Britain a different place from the open, liberal country most of its citizens want it to be. Yet one message of this week’s events is that the reality of modern Britain doesn’t quite live up to that hope. The widespread assumption that, for all their inequalities and fissures, the country and its capital are fundamentally orderly and harmonious, has been revealed to be complacent. The cracks in British society—economic and moral—have opened up, and they are deeper than they seemed.

真是谢天谢地,因为那种应对措施将使英国悖离于其大多数公民所期待的那种开放、自由的国家。而本周骚乱的要旨是现代英国的现实并没有完全达到期待的标准。尽管英国和其首都存在不平等和社会裂痕,但普遍认为它们从根本上讲是秩序井然和和谐的,而今这个看法被证明不过是自以为是而已。英国社会的裂痕——经济和道德上的——已经扩大,其深度超过想象。

The riots have been bad for Britain’s already stuttering economy. They have been ruinous for the people whose homes and businesses have been damaged and destroyed. They have tarnished Britain’s image around the world. But most of all, they have been desperately disorienting for the country’s own sense of itself.

这场骚乱对英国已然迟滞的经济来说无异于雪上加霜。一些人的住宅和公司也遭到了损毁,这对于他们来说是灾难性的。骚乱也玷污了英国的国际形象,但最糟糕的是,它使英国严重地迷失了自我感的方向。

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重点单词
  • villainn. 坏人,恶根 n. 罪犯
  • socialadj. 社会的,社交的 n. 社交聚会
  • initialn. (词)首字母 adj. 开始的,最初的,字首的 v
  • sparkn. 火花,朝气,情人,俗丽的年轻人 vi. 闪烁,冒火
  • ragen. 狂怒,大怒,狂暴,肆虐,风行 v. 大怒,怒斥,激
  • violentadj. 暴力的,猛烈的,极端的
  • ruinousadj. 破坏性的,招致毁减的,零落的
  • continentaladj. 大陆的
  • inspiringadj. 令人振奋的,激励人的,鼓舞人心的
  • contagiousadj. 传染性的,会蔓延的,会传播的