关于共识 – About consensus

提要

1、没有结社自由,则共识毫无意义;

2、共识的绝对前提——任何人都有拒绝与你拥有“共识”,保持异见的权利;

3、利益一致的人,很容易形成共识;但没有共识的人,并不等于不能合作;

4、没有共识是常态,“片面合作”才是现代社会的普遍情形;

5、寻求全社会的共识,必然是社会面临重大危机的反应;

6、常识与共识。

正文

引言

“共识”成为中国社会的一个热词,大概始于孙立平2005年的一个判断“改革的共识已经破裂”。2006年3月初,应凯迪网老总牧沐的邀请,打算与网友进行“两会”相关话题进行互动,所以预先就把要与网友互动的内容写入两会旁白: 从夫妻的共识看"体制改革"》一文,然而这个互动预告一出,就被当局叫停,于是就把这篇文章上传了事。时隔六年有关“共识”的话题一直未绝,周志兴先生办的网站的名称就是“共识网”而且颇受学界关注,由是看来 “共识”之于天朝的确是个颇有生命力的概念。

因为孙立平先生等人常在搜狐微博谈论这一话题,于是我便有了前面“提要”的“非系统性”的思考。
一、没有结社自由,则共识毫无意义
托克维尔在其《论美国的民主》一书中曾一再赞叹说美国社会的一个无与伦比的特点和优势,那就是结社的自由和美国人动不动就结社的习惯。一个美国人想干一件事,一个人干不了,他便立即会想找几个合伙人——结个社,于是就把这事干起来了。

一个显然的符合实际也符合逻辑的推理是:如果你我打算什么都不做,你我与他人是否有“共识”,就是无所谓的事。而主动寻求“共识”的潜台词也就不言自明,那就是要“合伙干事”!而合伙干事,就必然是“组织行为”,就是“结社行为”,于是结社能否自由就是不可能绕过去的问题。在前互联网时代,哪怕就是为了交换读书心得,成立个读书会,也要遇到结社能否自由的问题,说起来恐怕要让互联网时代的天朝人都会大吃一惊,在中国的九十年代,还扎扎实实地出现过这样的事,北京有人因办了一个读书会,几名成员居然被逮捕判刑十年上下不等和徒刑!

二、共识与异见

谋求共识是为了干事。

但谋求共识不能用武力或暴力。在武力、暴力之下,只有屈从或洗脑,不可能有所谓共识。专制社会不需要“共识”,江湖也不需要,前者只要“统一思想”,后者要的是帮规,这些我们都不陌生。

谈论或谋求共识的人要清楚,人人都有保持和表达异见的权利,只有在这样的社会中,共识一词才有意义。

举个例子吧,比如在互联网上如何面对毛左?

我以为,基于言论自由、信仰自由,哪怕是乌有之乡这样的毛左网站也有其存在的理由。我不相信一个为乌有之乡被专制权力关闭而欢呼的人是真正的自由主义者和宪政派,即使是纳粹的言论是否合法,我看也是从宪法上找根据吧。事实上,乌有之乡被公权肆意关闭与选举与治理网被关闭其实是一回事。

毛奴说:“文化大革命就是好就是好”,我以为这不是问题。但毛奴说:“谁敢说不好,我们就砸烂他的狗头”进尔付诸行动,这才是问题。

不厚突然倒掉后,右派拍手称快,很正常;毛左这时忽然想起来呼吁要求程序正义了,应该如何对待?我以为这是好事嘛。虽然右派多有顺势讥讽它们为何从来不讲程序正义,也可以理解,但你不能不鼓励他们多讲程序正义吧。这难道不是一个应该谋求的“共识”么?

我觉得在谈论有关共识的问题时,“公约数”是一个很有用的概念,一个社会是什么样的社会,必然是这个社会所能拥有的“最大公约数”相关。

比如“无代表,不纳税”,这在美国是普遍共识,或者可以说这是可以通约这个社会绝大多数成员的一个“公约数”。这个公约数可否成为天朝的一个公约数呢?再如美国的宪法第一修正案:“国会不得制定关于下列事项的法律:确立国教或禁止信教自由;剥夺言论自由或出版自由;或剥夺人民和平集会和向政府请愿伸冤的权利。”——这是否可以成为天朝的共识或公约数呢?目前看,显然不能。

在专制王权社会,倒是“普天之下,莫非王土;率土之滨,莫非王臣”才能成为“共识”。

的确,就像我曾经多次半是玩笑半是认真地说过:对这个劣等民族而言,活着才是最大的公约数。在当今的天朝,无论什么主义,包括专制主义者,都面临同一的巨大困境:除了弹性颇大的言说空间(并非宪法意义上的“言论自由),似乎再无其他推进政治变革的办法。于是坐待“革命”爆发,还是奋起改良与“革命”赛跑,似乎就成了一个“真问题”。于是另一些似是而非,因果本末倒置、左右互搏的理论沉渣四起。比如“反对激进言论”者的理由多半会说,激进的言论无助于政治改良,只会导致革命云云。这种说法与“一言幸邦”或“一言丧邦”有多大区别呢?从因果关系上讲,难道那些激进的言论不正是现实的产物么?难道事实的逻辑不正是对激进言论的打压只能是迟早导致更大的激进么?难道让当局认清这种形势,这种逻辑不是更有益处吗?跑题了,言归正传——即使是最危险的激进言论,它也是“异见”的一种吧。如果真有必要限制这种异见,是不是也要从宪法立场上考虑规制呢?

三、利益与共识

马克思有句话说得好:思想离开了利益只会使自己出丑。

这里的“利益”不能狭义地理解为物质利益,还应该包括精神利益。

我们知道,利益一致的人容易形成共识,但却很容易忽略没有共识并不等于不能合作。举个通俗的例子:现实中的很多夫妻之间没什么共同情趣,也没什么共同语言,为了孩子等理由一直凑各着过,“维持会”一直维持到白头。

就此,我们引出一个与共识同样重要的概念——妥协。所谓妥协,不是指你能从中得到多少利益,而是当事双方甚至多方面临的共同问题是“如何才能避免更大的损失”?

“为了孩子,就不要离婚了吧”。这是妥协,但是不是也可以说是达成了一种共识呢?这和当下人们常说的共识是否大异其趣?

在真实的世界中,博弈双方或多方,基于利损益分析达成的妥协——也可以说是“阶段性的共识”,它远比我们谈论的抽象共识有实际意义得多。展开来说就是,我们对一个社会的性质判断是否准确——比如这是不是个专制社会,固然重要,但改变它的过程却必然是从可以博弈的地方入手,而且这种博弈应该是可以普遍进行,持续不断的。对此我曾过这样概括:远大目标,有限诉求,日掘一铲,终移泰山。

24年前,那个叫袁牧的老混蛋对学生“对话”的要求在CCTV上公开大加讥讽:你们有什么资格与某某对话?虽然此公面目可憎,但就事实逻辑而言,他说的并非全无道理。

首先,是要求对话者的主体有多大的“代表资格”是不是很成问题,如果我和你达成了妥协共识,我这可以说话算话,你们这些“代表”能让被你们代表的那些人同意么?

其次是要求对话者的诉求是不是很明确,是不是具有可操作的有限诉求。非如此,博弈的对手也就不可能进行实在的利益损益分析,因此也就不可能有“妥协”。这个例子或许太过宏大,就以出租车行业为例,出租车司机要求降份子钱显然比他们提出“废除行业垄断”的要求更具操作性,虽然废除权力对行业的垄断具有更高的价值。但是,如果你连降份子钱的博弈能力都没有,你还奢谈什么废除垄断?

共识与利益之间的关系的复杂性还在于不同的人们对同一事物的价值大小判断可能完全不同。在维持死亡婚姻的当事人看来有重大价值的妥协,在持“不自由,毋宁死”者的眼里可能毫无价值,反之亦然。

知道共识与利益密切相关,这很重要;知道没有共识的人之间也可能“合作”——妥协也很重要。但这依然不够,知道人们对价值大小的判断常有天壤之别可能更紧要。其紧要处在我看来有三:

1、这关系到能否完整理解“共识”的复杂性和丰富性;

2、这还意味着你是否认认同多元的价值取向。每个人都有捍卫自己正当权益,包括精神利益的权利。特别要说的是,价值大小的判断,常常涉及到千差万别根本无法用钱来衡量的“精神利益”,比如有人喜欢冒险,有人是棋痴。你从事的职业或许与公共利益的相关程度很高,很重要甚至很崇高,但你因此就有权利蔑视除了下棋什么也不想干的棋痴?人要各安其位,做你想做、能做,该做的事,而不是动不动就“捞过界”。

3、寻求共识不是目的,期望形成合作,扎扎实实地干一件目的明确的事才是目的。于是目标为何,谁才是适合合作的对象才是应予认真考虑的问题。举个例子吧,中国互联网上常有这样的奇观,谁都想借助粉丝最多的人比如明星之类,传播自己的“高尚诉求”,如若对方不予理会,则怨念丛生。若有呼应则欢天喜地,这哪是干事?这纯粹就是追求广场或剧场效应的演戏嘛。比如为拯救被拐儿童,在微博里发起的“随手拍”活动,动机不可谓不好,声势也不能不说不大,但最终还是要回归实效的考验吧。实证效果如何?没有一例成功。那些在此有“共识”也“合伙”喧哗甚久的人,又有哪个敢出来承认自己“演砸了”?没有,倒是有个薛蛮子大言不惭地宣称随手拍拯救了数万被拐儿童!如果中国互联网上多是这样的“共识”表演,那共识很快也就会像小姐一词被糟踏完了。

Summary

1. If there is no freedom of association, consensus is meaningless;

2. Absolute prerequisite to consensus – if any person refuses to be ‘in consensus’ with you, you must preserve their right to disagree;

3. Among people whose interests align, it is easy to form consensus; but when there is no consensus among people, cooperation is still possible;

4. The norm is that there is no consensus, ‘one-sided cooperation’ is the general rule in contemporary society;

5. To be seeking consensus among all of society, society must be facing a major crisis;

6. Commonsense and consensus

Text

Introduction

‘Consensus’ has become a trendy word in Chinese society. This trend might have begun with a statement from Mr Sun Liping in 2005: ‘The consensus around reform has been broken’. In early March 2006, on invitation of Cadillac Network’s CEO Mu Mu, he planned to conduct an interactive online discussion on the topic of the ‘Two Meetings’, and so in advance of the session, he wrote a text presenting the contents of what he planned to discuss, ‘Two session chorus: understanding ‘systemic reform’ with consensus between husband and wife in the background’. However, when this interactive session was announced, it was stopped by the authorities, and so he decided to post this article online. Six years on, interest for ‘consensus’ has not disappeared, and the website set up by Mr Zhou Zhixing, actually named ‘Consensus Network’, has received solid academic attention, from which we can judge that the concept of ‘consensus’ has actually retained quite a lot of vitality.

Because Mr Sun Liping and others often talk about this topic on weibo, I put a ‘summary’ at the front of my otherwise ‘unstructured’ thinking.

1 – If there is no freedom of association, consensus is meaningless

In his book ‘Democracy in America’, Toqueville has repeatedly praised a unique characteristic and advantage of American society, that is, freedom of association, and Americans’ habit of continuously forming associations. If an American wants to do something, but one person alone can’t do it, they’ll immediately look for partners – and form an association, so that they can make this thing happen.

An obviously realistic and logical way of reasoning is the following: if you and I don’t intend to do anything, it doesn’t matter whether we are in ‘consensus’ with other people. And an implicit part of ‘consensus’, which is not self-evident, is that consensus is about ‘collaborating to do stuff’ And ‘collaborating to do stuff’ has to do with ‘forming an organisation’ and ‘forming an association’, so that the question of freedom of association is a problem you cannot avoid. Before the age of the internet, even to just exchange the experience of reading and set up a book club, you bumped into the problem of freedom of association, and I’m afraid that what I will say will cause great surprise to people of the internet era, but in China in the 90s, for something as down-to-earth as that, here is what happened: people in Beijing organised a book club, and several of its members were arrested, and sentenced to ten years in prison!

2 – Consensus and dissent

We seek consensus in order to do things.

In seeking consensus, we cannot use force or violence. When force or violence apply, there is only submission or brainwash, there cannot be what we call consensus. Authoritarian societies do not need “consensus”, neither do rivers and lakes, the former just want “unified thinking”, the latter want collaboration rules. This is not unfamiliar to us.

Those who talk about or seek consensus must be clear that everyone has the right to maintain and express dissent. Only in such a society does consensus make sense.

Let’s take an example, for instance, how to deal with the Mao Left on the internet.

I think that, based on the concept of freedom of speech and freedom of belief, even if it is Utopian, this Mao left should be present on the net. I don’t believe the people who cheer at an authoritarian power shutting down Utopian thinking are real liberals and constitutionalists, and even when asking whether fascist speech is or isn’t legal, we should turn to the constitution. Actually, public decisions to shut down Utopian thinking or shut down discussions about elections and political discussion networks, this is all the same thing.

The Mao convert says: “The Cultural Revolution is good is good is good”, and I think that’s not a problem. But the Mao convert also says: “Whoever says it’s not good, let’s smash his head like a dog”: putting these words into action, then that is a problem.

That the right-wing faction should start to clap after the other camp were suddenly put down, that is very normal; but what should we think of the Mao Left then suddenly thinking they should appeal to procedural justice? I think this is a good thing. Although the right-wing laughed at them, since they’d never talked of procedural justice before – and this is understandable – yet you cannot but encourage them to talk about procedural justice. Is this not a form of ‘consensus’ we should aspire to?

I think that when talking about consensus, ‘denominator’ (约数) is a very useful concept. What kind of society are we living in? This question must be related to the “smallest common denominator”.

For instance “no taxation without representation”, this is a general consensus in the United States, or you can say that this is a “common denominator” for the bast majority of people in this society. But can this denominator become a universal common denominator? Another example is the first amendment of the American constitution: “The Congress shall make no law on the following points: establishing a national religion, or prohibiting the freedom of religious belief; deprive people of the freedom of speech or freedom of the press; reduce the rights of the people to form peaceful associations or petition the government to redress a grievance.” – Can this become a universal consensus, or common denominator? At present, obviously not.

In an absolute monarchy, only the expression ‘Under Heaven, can a Monarch be crude; and on Earth, can a Monarch not rule’ can serve as ‘consensus’

Indeed, as I’ve often said half-joking, half-seriously: for inferior people, being alive is the smallest common denominator. In today’s world, all doctrines, including authoritarianism, are facing the same dilemma: apart from allowing much more flexibility to the realm of speech (though not conceding ‘freedom of speech’ in the constitutional sense), there seems to be no other way of promoting political change. 于是坐待“革命”爆发,还是奋起改良与“革命”赛跑,似乎就成了一个“真问题”。于是另一些似是而非,因果本末倒置、左右互搏的理论沉渣四起。For instance those who ‘oppose radical rhetoric’ will generally say that radical rhetoric does not contribute to political reform, but will only lead to revolution and so on. 这种说法与“一言幸邦”或“一言丧邦”有多大区别呢?从因果关系上讲,难道那些激进的言论不正是现实的产物么?难道事实的逻辑不正是对激进言论的打压只能是迟早导致更大的激进么?难道让当局认清这种形势,这种逻辑不是更有益处吗?跑题了,言归正传——即使是最危险的激进言论,它也是“异见”的一种吧。And if it is necessary to limit the dissent, shouldn’t we consider the regulations from a constitutional perspective?

3 – Interests and consensus

Marx has a sentence that sums it up nicely: The thinker that leaves interest behind can only make a fool of themselves.

Interests here can’t be narrowly interpreted as ‘material interests’ only, but should also include spiritual interests.

We know that among people who share the same interests, it is easy to form consensus, but we easily overlook the fact that absence of consensus does not mean cooperation is impossible. To take a popular example, in reality, many husbands and wives have no tastes in common, and no common language, and for the children and other reasons 一直凑各着过,“维持会”一直维持到白头。

This example leads us to a concept which is as important as consenus: compromise. What we call compromise is not about determining how much benefit you and I will get to share, but asking, when both parties are confronting multiple problems, ‘how can we minimize losses on both sides’?

“For the children, I won’t divorce!”. This is compromise, but can’t we say that this is also reaching a consensus? And is this or is this not a very different thing from what today’s people understand as consensus?

In the real world, 博弈双方或多方,基于利损益分析达成的妥协——也可以说是“阶段性的共识”,它远比我们谈论的抽象共识有实际意义得多。展开来说就是,我们对一个社会的性质判断是否准确——比如这是不是个专制社会,固然重要,但改变它的过程却必然是从可以博弈的地方入手,而且这种博弈应该是可以普遍进行,持续不断的。对此我曾过这样概括:远大目标,有限诉求,日掘一铲,终移泰山。

Twenty four years ago, 那个叫袁牧的老混蛋对学生“对话”的要求在CCTV上公开大加讥讽:what are your qualifications to have a dialogue with so and so? Although this was seen as terrifying by the public, there was logic behind it, what he said was not without reason.

首先,是要求对话者的主体有多大的“代表资格”是不是很成问题,如果我和你达成了妥协共识,我这可以说话算话,你们这些“代表”能让被你们代表的那些人同意么?

其次是要求对话者的诉求是不是很明确,是不是具有可操作的有限诉求。非如此,博弈的对手也就不可能进行实在的利益损益分析,因此也就不可能有“妥协”。这个例子或许太过宏大,就以出租车行业为例,出租车司机要求降份子钱显然比他们提出“废除行业垄断”的要求更具操作性,虽然废除权力对行业的垄断具有更高的价值。但是,如果你连降份子钱的博弈能力都没有,你还奢谈什么废除垄断?

The complexity of the relationship between consensus and interests also lies in the fact that, about the same thing, various people may have completely different value judgements. 在维持死亡婚姻的当事人看来有重大价值的妥协,在持“不自由,毋宁死”者的眼里可能毫无价值,反之亦然。

Knowing the close relation between consensus and interests is very important; knowing that “cooperation” is still possible when there is not consensus among people – compromise – is also very important. But this is still not enough, and knowing that there may be huge differences between people’s value systems is even more pressing. In my opinion, there are three critical points:

1. The first has to do with whether we can fully understand the complexity and the wealth of “consensus”

2. The second has to do with whether you recognize the diversity of value judgements. Everyone has the right to defend their own interest, including their spiritual interest. But what I particularly want to say is that value judgements often involve widely diverging “spiritual interests” that can’t be measured by money. For instance, some people like to take risks, and some people are mad about Chinese chess. You profession may be strongly aligned with the public interest, be very important or noble, but does it give you the right to despise those who don’t want to do anything outside Chinese chess? 人要各安其位,做你想做、能做,该做的事,而不是动不动就“捞过界”。

3. Seeking consensus is not an end in itself. If we hope to organise cooperation, then our goal should be to clearly state a down-to-earth objective. And depending on the goal, we will be able to assess who is a suitable collaborator, and what problem needs to be seriously considered. Let’s take an example: the Chinese internet often shows the following scene, everyone wants to help those with the most followers, for instance stars and celebrities, to spread their ‘noble aspirations’, and if you ignore the wave, then resentment might arise. But does echoing cheers count as action? It’s nothing but theatricals and play-acting. For instance, to rescue abducted children, a ‘shake your phone’ movement was launched on weibo. We can’t say that the motivation was wrong, nor that it didn’t gain momentum, but let’s try and assess if effect. Did it have any actual positive effect? No trace of it. 那些在此有“共识”也“合伙”喧哗甚久的人,又有哪个敢出来承认自己“演砸了”?没有,倒是有个薛蛮子大言不惭地宣称随手拍拯救了数万被拐儿童!如果中国互联网上多是这样的“共识”表演,那共识很快也就会像小姐一词被糟踏完了。

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