中国社会的两大底色 – The two main backgrounds in Chinese society

记得我小时候(七十年代中期,我五六岁),一次与邻家的小姑娘到第四人民医院门前的小河边去玩,河边另有几个玩耍的孩子。忽然,一幕令人震惊的情景发生了,我们看见一个很小的孩子被一个稍大一点的孩子推入水中。目睹这一场景,我惊呆了。我看见水面上不时露出伸出水面的那孩子的手脚。与我一起的那个小姑娘则似乎显得十分冷静,提醒我赶快走开,因为我们很可能被人诬陷是我们将那个孩子推下去的。这令我更加无所适从。幸好有人赶来救起了那孩子。直到今天,那孩子被救起时惨白的脸与直直张开的五指令人记忆犹新。今天回忆这件往事,我忽然意识到,我们这一代人成长起来的那个社会背景的底色——人与人之间的极度的不信任。

 

 

在一些城市的公园里,通常有着一种婚姻“市场”,一些为人父母的老年人以及一些婚介行业的从业人员是这里的常客。为人父母的老年人们手握着自己子女所拥有的物质条件与社会地位的“价码”,就像猎人一般搜寻着出得起相应价码的潜在的媳妇或者女婿。在他们眼中,价码是唯一的。因为他们认为如果想让自己的子女获得幸福的话,就必须用自己拥有的物质价码去换取一个更好的物质价码。在他们的潜意识里,婚姻是改变整个家庭的命运的途径。难怪有外国人抱怨,娶中国人为妻就等于娶了她全家。不过吊诡的是,那些为人父母的老年人们如果手握的子女的价码很高的话(比如所谓高学历、高收入、高职位),则他们猎取到他们的“猎物”的几率反而很小。为什么呢?因为他们希望用他们手中的较高价码换取更高的价码,而真正拥有更高价码的人是根本不需要到这种婚姻市场上来求偶的,他们不乏交配与结婚的机会。而在这婚姻“市场”达成了交易的人们又怎么样呢?没有更多的在婚姻“市场”达成交易者的幸福指数的调查记录,故不好下一个断然的结论。不过可以想见,那些试图通过婚姻来攀高枝、改变命运的人的期望通常是要落空的。因为建立在利益基础上的婚姻隐藏着天然的“病灶”。因利而合,必因利而破。

 

 

来到这充斥着油爆爆的物质条件交易的婚姻“市场”,我们会感受到中国社会的另一基本底色———人人都急于在物质与社会地位上改变命运。

 

 

底色决定着现实。在现实中的人是认不清现实的。只有跳出这个现实,去到另一种现实的可能性中,才能认清我们所处的现实的本质。

 

 

在人与人的信任度较高、相对成熟的社会中,我们可以看到其中有一个可循的规律————那个社会保有着基本价值观持续性,而人群所属社会阶层也具有相当的稳定性。稳定的基本价值观保证着那个社会的成员之间的基本认同感与信任感。人如果在自己所属的阶层与行业都可以实现自己的价值,人就不需要急于跳出自己所属的被认为低贱的阶层与行业而寻求改变命运。在这样的社会中,人不会因助人而反遭诬陷;在这样的社会中,人可以更纯粹地去爱和建立家庭。

 

 

与之形成鲜明对比的是:文明与国家的失败导致了中国走上了越来越激进的革命的道路,基本价值观一而再再而三地遭到颠覆。不断的斗争让人失去了最基本的价值归属感。普遍的不信任让中国人更习惯做虚伪的两面派,以能高水平地忽悠别人为荣。而普遍地在物质层面改变命运的冲动让中国人更愿意成为一个没有信仰、没有原则的机会主义者。不真诚的相互忽悠的风气断送了我们民族内在的凝聚力与创造力,而普遍的机会主义与虚无主义则让中国人到头来只剩下一具空洞肉体,疯狂地抓去物质与社会符号的支撑。如果最终抓不到,就只好参与到集体性的报复性的打砸抢中去。

 

 

底色决定着社会现实。一个普遍缺乏基本价值认同、每个人都急于在物质层面改变命运的社会土壤会生长出什么样的政治制度与社会现实呢?想来真让人感到悲观。

I remember when I was a kid (in the middle of the 70s, I was five or six years old) , I once went to play by the little river next to the 4th People’s hospital with the neighbours’ little girl. There were many other children playing by the river. Suddenly, something shocking occurred: we a saw small child pushed into the river by a bigger child. As I witnessed the scene, I was stunned. I saw the hands and feet of that child come in and out of the water. But the little girl with me seemed very calm, and told me that we should quickly run off, because we could be framed as those who pushed that kid into the water. This confused me even more. Fortunately, someone came by and rescued the boy. To this day, the pale face and open fingers of that child as he was rescued remain very fresh in my memory. As I was remembering the past today, I suddenly realized that our generation grew up against that particular social background – one of extreme distrust among people.

In some Chinese city parks, you can find a sort of ‘marriage market’, regularly visited by elderly parents and professional match-makers. Parents hand out their sons and daughters with a ‘price tag’ specifying economic conditions and social status, and like hunters, look out for a potential daughter- or son-in law with a corresponding price-tage. In their eyes, the price-tag is all there is. Because they think that, if they want to make their child happy, they have to somehow exchange their own price tag for one of higher value. Subconsciously, they view marriage as a way to change the fate of the whole family. No wonder foreigners complain that marrying a Chinese person is like marrying their whole family. But the paradox is that, if the price tag in the hands of these elderly parents is high (with requests of ‘high education level’, ‘high income’, ‘high position’), the probability of them catching the ‘prey’ is very small. Why is that? Because they hope to get a higher price tag by holding a high tag price in their hands, but the people who really have such a higher price tag don’t need to go to such ‘marriage markets’, they have no shortage of opportunities for matching and marriage. But what happens to people who have made a transaction in this marriage ‘market’? There is no happiness survey records for people trading in the marriage ‘market’, and so we can’t categorically say that the result is bad. But we can imagine, the expectations of people who hope to climb up the social ladder and change their fate through marriage are generally crushed. Because a marriage established on the basis of interest hides natural ‘lesions’. And what was united by interest will be broken by interest.

From this marriage ‘market’ filled with the oily smell of material conditions, we can perceive another fundamental element of Chinese society — that everyone is eager to change their destiny at the material level and in terms of social status.

Background determines reality. People who are immersed in ‘reality’ cannot interpret that reality. Only by escaping this reality for the possibilities of another can we recognize what it is in essence.

We can see that a relatively mature society with high levels of interpersonal trust follows a particular rule — that society consistently protects some fundamental values, and that the social classes that the people belong to also have considerable stability. The protection of stable fundamental values guarantees the sense of identity and interpersonal trust among the members of this society. If people can experience their own real value in their own position and career, people don’t need to eagerly jump out of a position or career that others consider inferior, and seek to change their own fate this way. In such a society, people will not be blamed for helping others; in such a society, people can purely love and start a family.

In stark contrast to this, the failure of integrating civilisation and the State has led China down an increasingly radical revolutionary road, when fundamental values have been subverted again and again. Constant struggle has made people lose their most fundamental sense of sharing common values. Widespread lack of trust has accustomed Chinese people to hypocrisy and duplicity, and turned the capacity to manipulate others into a source of pride. And the widespread impulse to change one’s fate at the material level has led Chinese people to become opportunists who have no faith or principles. The dominant atmosphere with its lack of mutual trust has ruined our nation’s inherent coherence and creativity, and the common opportunism and nihilism left Chinese people but a hollow body, and the insane pursuit of material symbols of social success. And if you don’t succeed in gaining these, the only way is to take part in collective retaliatory vandalism.

Background determines social reality. From a social humus with a fundamental lack of common values and where everyone is eager to change their own fate at the material level, what kind of political system and social reality will emerge? Thinking about it would truly make one pessimistic.

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