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Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism? by Robert Nozick

Why do we have so many intellectuals in the first place? They do not seem to be very productive in modern society. Maybe we need a few as keepers for our knowledge, but educating most of them are just wasting resources of the society.

Robert Nozick is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University and the author of Anarchy, State, and Utopia and other books. This article is excerpted from his essay “Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?” which originally appeared in The Future of Private Enterprise, ed. Craig Aronoff et al. (Georgia State University Business Press, 1986) and is reprinted in Robert Nozick, Socratic Puzzles (Harvard University Press, 1997).

It is surprising that intellectuals oppose capitalism so. Other groups of comparable socio-economic status do not show the same degree of opposition in the same proportions. Statistically, then, intellectuals are an anomaly.

Not all intellectuals are on the “left.” Like other groups, their opinions are spread along a curve. But in their case, the curve is shifted and skewed to the political left.

By intellectuals, I do not mean all people of intelligence or of a certain level of education, but those who, in their vocation, deal with ideas as expressed in words, shaping the word flow others receive. These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors. It does not include those who primarily produce and transmit quantitatively or mathematically formulated information (the numbersmiths) or those working in visual media, painters, sculptors, cameramen. Unlike the wordsmiths, people in these occupations do not disproportionately oppose capitalism. The wordsmiths are concentrated in certain occupational sites: academia, the media, government bureaucracy.

Wordsmith intellectuals fare well in capitalist society; there they have great freedom to formulate, encounter, and propagate new ideas, to read and discuss them. Their occupational skills are in demand, their income much above average. Why then do they disproportionately oppose capitalism? Indeed, some data suggest that the more prosperous and successful the intellectual, the more likely he is to oppose capitalism. This opposition to capitalism is mainly “from the left” but not solely so. Yeats, Eliot, and Pound opposed market society from the right.

The opposition of wordsmith intellectuals to capitalism is a fact of social significance. They shape our ideas and images of society; they state the policy alternatives bureaucracies consider. From treatises to slogans, they give us the sentences to express ourselves. Their opposition matters, especially in a society that depends increasingly upon the explicit formulation and dissemination of information.

We can distinguish two types of explanation for the relatively high proportion of intellectuals in opposition to capitalism. One type finds a factor unique to the anti-capitalist intellectuals. The second type of explanation identifies a factor applying to all intellectuals, a force propelling them toward anti-capitalist views. Whether it pushes any particular intellectual over into anti-capitalism will depend upon the other forces acting upon him. In the aggregate, though, since it makes anti-capitalism more likely for each intellectual, such a factor will produce a larger proportion of anti-capitalist intellectuals. Our explanation will be of this second type. We will identify a factor which tilts intellectuals toward anti-capitalist attitudes but does not guarantee it in any particular case.

The Value of Intellectuals

Intellectuals now expect to be the most highly valued people in a society, those with the most prestige and power, those with the greatest rewards. Intellectuals feel entitled to this. But, by and large, a capitalist society does not honor its intellectuals. Ludwig von Mises explains the special resentment of intellectuals, in contrast to workers, by saying they mix socially with successful capitalists and so have them as a salient comparison group and are humiliated by their lesser status. However, even those intellectuals who do not mix socially are similarly resentful, while merely mixing is not enough–the sports and dancing instructors who cater to the rich and have affairs with them are not noticeably anti-capitalist.

Why then do contemporary intellectuals feel entitled to the highest rewards their society has to offer and resentful when they do not receive this? Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. But a capitalist society does not satisfy the principle of distribution “to each according to his merit or value.” Apart from the gifts, inheritances, and gambling winnings that occur in a free society, the market distributes to those who satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is. Unsuccessful businessmen and workers do not have the same animus against the capitalist system as do the wordsmith intellectuals. Only the sense of unrecognized superiority, of entitlement betrayed, produces that animus.

Why do wordsmith intellectuals think they are most valuable, and why do they think distribution should be in accordance with value? Note that this latter principle is not a necessary one. Other distributional patterns have been proposed, including equal distribution, distribution according to moral merit, distribution according to need. Indeed, there need not be any pattern of distribution a society is aiming to achieve, even a society concerned with justice. The justice of a distribution may reside in its arising from a just process of voluntary exchange of justly acquired property and services. Whatever outcome is produced by that process will be just, but there is no particular pattern the outcome must fit. Why, then, do wordsmiths view themselves as most valuable and accept the principle of distribution in accordance with value?

From the beginnings of recorded thought, intellectuals have told us their activity is most valuable. Plato valued the rational faculty above courage and the appetites and deemed that philosophers should rule; Aristotle held that intellectual contemplation was the highest activity. It is not surprising that surviving texts record this high evaluation of intellectual activity. The people who formulated evaluations, who wrote them down with reasons to back them up, were intellectuals, after all. They were praising themselves. Those who valued other things more than thinking things through with words, whether hunting or power or uninterrupted sensual pleasure, did not bother to leave enduring written records. Only the intellectual worked out a theory of who was best.

The Schooling of Intellectuals

What factor produced feelings of superior value on the part of intellectuals? I want to focus on one institution in particular: schools. As book knowledge became increasingly important, schooling–the education together in classes of young people in reading and book knowledge–spread. Schools became the major institution outside of the family to shape the attitudes of young people, and almost all those who later became intellectuals went through schools. There they were successful. They were judged against others and deemed superior. They were praised and rewarded, the teacher’s favorites. How could they fail to see themselves as superior? Daily, they experienced differences in facility with ideas, in quick-wittedness. The schools told them, and showed them, they were better.

The schools, too, exhibited and thereby taught the principle of reward in accordance with (intellectual) merit. To the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher’s smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class. Though not part of the official curricula, in the schools the intellectuals learned the lessons of their own greater value in comparison with the others, and of how this greater value entitled them to greater rewards.

The wider market society, however, taught a different lesson. There the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. There the intellectual skills were not most highly valued. Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority “entitled” them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus that, although clothed with various publicly appropriate reasons, continued even when those particular reasons were shown to be inadequate?

In saying that intellectuals feel entitled to the highest rewards the general society can offer (wealth, status, etc.), I do not mean that intellectuals hold these rewards to be the highest goods. Perhaps they value more the intrinsic rewards of intellectual activity or the esteem of the ages. Nevertheless, they also feel entitled to the highest appreciation from the general society, to the most and best it has to offer, paltry though that may be. I don’t mean to emphasize especially the rewards that find their way into the intellectuals’ pockets or even reach them personally. Identifying themselves as intellectuals, they can resent the fact that intellectual activity is not most highly valued and rewarded.

The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. By incorporating standards of reward that are different from the wider society, the schools guarantee that some will experience downward mobility later. Those at the top of the school’s hierarchy will feel entitled to a top position, not only in that micro-society but in the wider one, a society whose system they will resent when it fails to treat them according to their self-prescribed wants and entitlements. The school system thereby produces anti-capitalist feeling among intellectuals. Rather, it produces anti-capitalist feeling among verbal intellectuals. Why do the numbersmiths not develop the same attitudes as these wordsmiths? I conjecture that these quantitatively bright children, although they get good grades on the relevant examinations, do not receive the same face-to-face attention and approval from the teachers as do the verbally bright children. It is the verbal skills that bring these personal rewards from the teacher, and apparently it is these rewards that especially shape the sense of entitlement.

Central Planning in the Classroom

There is a further point to be added. The (future) wordsmith intellectuals are successful within the formal, official social system of the schools, wherein the relevant rewards are distributed by the central authority of the teacher. The schools contain another informal social system within classrooms, hallways, and schoolyards, wherein rewards are distributed not by central direction but spontaneously at the pleasure and whim of schoolmates. Here the intellectuals do less well.

It is not surprising, therefore, that distribution of goods and rewards via a centrally organized distributional mechanism later strikes intellectuals as more appropriate than the “anarchy and chaos” of the marketplace. For distribution in a centrally planned socialist society stands to distribution in a capitalist society as distribution by the teacher stands to distribution by the schoolyard and hallway.

Our explanation does not postulate that (future) intellectuals constitute a majority even of the academic upper class of the school. This group may consist mostly of those with substantial (but not overwhelming) bookish skills along with social grace, strong motivation to please, friendliness, winning ways, and an ability to play by (and to seem to be following) the rules. Such pupils, too, will be highly regarded and rewarded by the teacher, and they will do extremely well in the wider society, as well. (And do well within the informal social system of the school. So they will not especially accept the norms of the school’s formal system.) Our explanation hypothesizes that (future) intellectuals are disproportionately represented in that portion of the schools’ (official) upper class that will experience relative downward mobility. Or, rather, in the group that predicts for itself a declining future. The animus will arise before the move into the wider world and the experience of an actual decline in status, at the point when the clever pupil realizes he (probably) will fare less well in the wider society than in his current school situation. This unintended consequence of the school system, the anti-capitalist animus of intellectuals, is, of course, reinforced when pupils read or are taught by intellectuals who present those very anti-capitalist attitudes.

No doubt, some wordsmith intellectuals were cantankerous and questioning pupils and so were disapproved of by their teachers. Did they too learn the lesson that the best should get the highest rewards and think, despite their teachers, that they themselves were best and so start with an early resentment against the school system’s distribution? Clearly, on this and the other issues discussed here, we need data on the school experiences of future wordsmith intellectuals to refine and test our hypotheses.

Stated as a general point, it is hardly contestable that the norms within schools will affect the normative beliefs of people after they leave the schools. The schools, after all, are the major non-familial society that children learn to operate in, and hence schooling constitutes their preparation for the larger non-familial society. It is not surprising that those successful by the norms of a school system should resent a society, adhering to different norms, which does not grant them the same success. Nor, when those are the very ones who go on to shape a society’s self-image, its evaluation of itself, is it surprising when the society’s verbally responsive portion turns against it. If you were designing a society, you would not seek to design it so that the wordsmiths, with all their influence, were schooled into animus against the norms of the society.

Our explanation of the disproportionate anti-capitalism of intellectuals is based upon a very plausible sociological generalization.

In a society where one extra-familial system or institution, the first young people enter, distributes rewards, those who do the very best therein will tend to internalize the norms of this institution and expect the wider society to operate in accordance with these norms; they will feel entitled to distributive shares in accordance with these norms or (at least) to a relative position equal to the one these norms would yield. Moreover, those constituting the upper class within the hierarchy of this first extra-familial institution who then experience (or foresee experiencing) movement to a lower relative position in the wider society will, because of their feeling of frustrated entitlement, tend to oppose the wider social system and feel animus toward its norms.

Notice that this is not a deterministic law. Not all those who experience downward social mobility will turn against the system. Such downward mobility, though, is a factor which tends to produce effects in that direction, and so will show itself in differing proportions at the aggregate level. We might distinguish ways an upper class can move down: it can get less than another group or (while no group moves above it) it can tie, failing to get more than those previously deemed lower. It is the first type of downward mobility which especially rankles and outrages; the second type is far more tolerable. Many intellectuals (say they) favor equality while only a small number call for an aristocracy of intellectuals. Our hypothesis speaks of the first type of downward mobility as especially productive of resentment and animus.

The school system imparts and rewards only some skills relevant to later success (it is, after all, a specialized institution) so its reward system will differ from that of the wider society. This guarantees that some, in moving to the wider society, will experience downward social mobility and its attendant consequences. Earlier I said that intellectuals want the society to be the schools writ large. Now we see that the resentment due to a frustrated sense of entitlement stems from the fact that the schools (as a specialized first extra-familial social system) are not the society writ small.

Our explanation now seems to predict the (disproportionate) resentment of schooled intellectuals against their society whatever its nature, whether capitalist or communist. (Intellectuals are disproportionately opposed to capitalism as compared with other groups of similar socioeconomic status within capitalist society. It is another question whether they are disproportionately opposed as compared with the degree of opposition of intellectuals in other societies to those societies.) Clearly, then, data about the attitudes of intellectuals within communist countries toward apparatchiks would be relevant; will those intellectuals feel animus toward that system?

Our hypothesis needs to be refined so that it does not apply (or apply as strongly) to every society. Must the school systems in every society inevitably produce anti-societal animus in the intellectuals who do not receive that society’s highest rewards? Probably not. A capitalist society is peculiar in that it seems to announce that it is open and responsive only to talent, individual initiative, personal merit. Growing up in an inherited caste or feudal society creates no expectation that reward will or should be in accordance with personal value. Despite the created expectation, a capitalist society rewards people only insofar as they serve the market-expressed desires of others; it rewards in accordance with economic contribution, not in accordance with personal value. However, it comes close enough to rewarding in accordance with value–value and contribution will very often be intermingled–so as to nurture the expectation produced by the schools. The ethos of the wider society is close enough to that of the schools so that the nearness creates resentment. Capitalist societies reward individual accomplishment or announce they do, and so they leave the intellectual, who considers himself most accomplished, particularly bitter.

Another factor, I think, plays a role. Schools will tend to produce such anti-capitalist attitudes the more they are attended together by a diversity of people. When almost all of those who will be economically successful are attending separate schools, the intellectuals will not have acquired that attitude of being superior to them. But even if many children of the upper class attend separate schools, an open society will have other schools that also include many who will become economically successful as entrepreneurs, and the intellectuals later will resentfully remember how superior they were academically to their peers who advanced more richly and powerfully. The openness of the society has another consequence, as well. The pupils, future wordsmiths and others, will not know how they will fare in the future. They can hope for anything. A society closed to advancement destroys those hopes early. In an open capitalist society, the pupils are not resigned early to limits on their advancement and social mobility, the society seems to announce that the most capable and valuable will rise to the very top, their schools have already given the academically most gifted the message that they are most valuable and deserving of the greatest rewards, and later these very pupils with the highest encouragement and hopes see others of their peers, whom they know and saw to be less meritorious, rising higher than they themselves, taking the foremost rewards to which they themselves felt themselves entitled. Is it any wonder they bear that society an animus?

Some Further Hypotheses

We have refined the hypothesis somewhat. It is not simply formal schools but formal schooling in a specified social context that produces anti-capitalist animus in (wordsmith) intellectuals. No doubt, the hypothesis requires further refining. But enough. It is time to turn the hypothesis over to the social scientists, to take it from armchair speculations in the study and give it to those who will immerse themselves in more particular facts and data. We can point, however, to some areas where our hypothesis might yield testable consequences and predictions. First, one might predict that the more meritocratic a country’s school system, the more likely its intellectuals are to be on the left. (Consider France.) Second, those intellectuals who were “late bloomers” in school would not have developed the same sense of entitlement to the very highest rewards; therefore, a lower percentage of the late-bloomer intellectuals will be anti-capitalist than of the early bloomers. Third, we limited our hypothesis to those societies (unlike Indian caste society) where the successful student plausibly could expect further comparable success in the wider society. In Western society, women have not heretofore plausibly held such expectations, so we would not expect the female students who constituted part of the academic upper class yet later underwent downward mobility to show the same anti-capitalist animus as male intellectuals. We might predict, then, that the more a society is known to move toward equality in occupational opportunity between women and men, the more its female intellectuals will exhibit the same disproportionate anti-capitalism its male intellectuals show.

Some readers may doubt this explanation of the anti-capitalism of intellectuals. Be this as it may, I think that an important phenomenon has been identified. The sociological generalization we have stated is intuitively compelling; something like it must be true. Some important effect therefore must be produced in that portion of the school’s upper class that experiences downward social mobility, some antagonism to the wider society must get generated. If that effect is not the disproportionate opposition of the intellectuals, then what is it? We started with a puzzling phenomenon in need of an explanation. We have found, I think, an explanatory factor that (once stated) is so obvious that we must believe it explains some real phenomenon.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 1998 edition of Cato Policy Report.

知識分子為何拒斥資本主義
羅伯特‧諾齊克 著 秋風 譯

知識分子如此地反感資本主義實在是怪事一樁。與之社會經濟地位相當的其它社會群體卻並沒有顯示出同樣強烈的反感。因此,從統計學上講,知識分子真的是太不同尋常了。

並不是所有知識分子站在“左翼”一邊。跟別的社會集團一樣,知識分子的觀點也是各種各樣的,但這個群體對于資本主義的看法卻是明顯地倒向政治上的左翼。

此處所謂的知識分子,並不是指所有受過某種程度教育或具有某種智力水准的人,而是指一批人文知識分子,他們的職業是處理用詞語表達的觀念、塑造詞語流給其他人接受,這包括詩人、小說家、文學批評者,報刊記者編輯及很多教授。這里不包括那些主要是制造和傳播數字或用數學公式表示的信息(從事數字工作的人士)的人士,也不包括從事視覺媒體、繪畫、雕塑、攝影的人士。在后面這些行業中,對資本主義的拒斥並不如從事文字工作的人士那麼強烈。這類人文知識分子主要集中在某些行業:人文學術界、媒體及政府官僚機構。

人文知識分子在資本主義社會中生活得很好,在這個社會,他們擁有生產、接觸和傳播新觀念的充分自由,也能夠自由地閱讀和討論這些思想觀念。他們的職業才能頗有銷路,他們的收入高于社會平均水平。那麼他們為什麼如此強烈地拒斥資本主義?實際上,有數據顯示,知識分子越富有、越成功,反倒越堅定地反對資本主義。他們對于資本主義的看法經常地是從左翼立場得出的,但也並不總是如此,葉芝、艾略特、龐德就是從右翼立場出發反對資本主義的。

人文知識分子對資本主義的拒斥,具有相當大的社會影響力。他們塑造著我們的觀念和我們對社會的認識,他們在某種程度上左右著官僚機構內部的政策選擇。通過論文、小冊子、口號等形式,他們提供了我們表達自己思想感情的詞語工具。特別是在社會越來越依賴于直接淺白的表述和信息傳播的時代,他們的反對立場尤其顯示出重要性。

對于何以有如此高比例的知識分子對資本主義持反對立場,我們應該區別兩種不同類型的解釋。在第一種解釋中,某個單一因素導致知識分子反對資本主義。在第二個解釋中,我們確定,有某個因素作用于所有知識分子,它有可能促使知識分子得出反對資本主義的觀點,但這種力量是否導致某些知識分子轉到抵拒資本主義的立場,卻還需取決于其他一些因素的影響。總體上,它有可能使每個知識分子拒斥資本主義,但有某一個因素導致很高比例的知識分子反對資本主義。我所作的就是第二種解釋。我將找出這一使某些知識分子傾向于反對資本主義,但並不是對任何知識分子都同樣有效的因素。

知識分子的價值

如今的知識分子無不期望成為社會上最受尊敬的人,最有聲望和權勢,獲得最高的收入。知識分子覺得他們配得上如此榮寵。然而大體說來,資本主義社會並不能如此禮遇知識分子。米塞斯曾經解釋過相對于工人階層,知識分子有一種特別的怨恨情緒,他們的社會交際對象常常是最成功的資本家,與這個集團比較,他們常常為自己低下的地位而覺得屈辱。不過那些並無這類社會交際的知識分子,也同樣具有怨恨情緒,所以僅從社會交際角度解釋是不夠的,體育和舞蹈教練也想變成富翁,但他們未能如願時,卻並沒有強烈地反對資本主義。

那麼為什麼當代的知識分子覺得社會應該給予他們最高的待遇,而不能如願時就心懷怨恨?知識分子覺得他們是最有價值的人,也具有最高貴的美德,社會理應根據他們的價值和美德給予相應的待遇。但是資本主義社會不是實行“按照美德或價值分配”的原則。在一個自由社會中,除了個人才能,祖上的傳承、運氣都能使一個人成功,市場只會青睞那些能捕捉到並滿足他人需求的人,至于獲利有多少,則取決于需求有多大,競爭的供應者有多少。所以失敗了的商人和工人並不會像人文知識分子那樣怨恨資本主義。唯有優越感不被社會接受,特殊的權利不被社會承認,才會在知識分子心中產生憤恨。

為什麼人文知識分子認為他們是最有價值的,為什麼他們認為應該根據價值進行分配?請注意,他們並不是非要后一種分配原,他們也曾提出過其他的分配原則,比如平均分配,按照美德進行分配,或按需分配。分配的公平。一個社會盡管很關注公平正義,並不表示它實行了某種分配模式就可以得到這種公平正義。分配的正義應該是存在于對公正地獲得的財產和服務,完全公平地自願交換的過程中,交換的結果不管是什麼樣的,都是公平正義的,而某一特定的分配模式並不一定會產生這樣的結果。那麼,為什麼人文知識分子認為自認為最有價值,並接受按價值進行分配的原則?

知識分子告訴我們,自有文字記錄的歷史以來,他們的活動是最有價值的。柏拉圖就說理性思考能力比勇敢和欲望更高級,並認定了哲學家應該成為統治者。亞里士多德則主張,知識分子的沉思是最高級的活動。這也就難怪,現在保存下來的文字對這些知識分子的活動都給予了很高的評價。畢竟,進行這類智力活動、運用理智並將其記錄下來的,不正是知識分子嘛。他們無異于是王婆賣瓜。那些可能把別的活動,比如打獵、比力氣、或沉溺于肉欲享樂,看得比知識思考活動更有價值的人,卻根本沒有心思留下文字記錄。只有知識分子能搞出某種理論,論証誰是最棒的。

知識分子的學校教育

何種因素使一部分知識分子產生了高人一等的想法?我將從學校教育這種制度談起。由于書本知識越來越重要,學校教育這種教育方式普及開來,大群年輕人聚集在教室里念書,學習書本知識。在型塑年輕人的觀念過程中,學校教育的影響大概僅次于家庭,而后來成了知識分子的家伙也都進過學校,並且都是那里的佼佼者。跟別人一比,他們覺得自己是優勝者。他們總是受到贊揚,獲得獎賞,他們是老師的寵兒。他們怎能不把自己視為高人一等?他們每天都體驗觀念上的日新月異,他們則可以輕而易舉地對付。學校教育告訴他們,並讓他們得出結論,他們是優秀的人。

學校教育也展示從而也教給他們按(智力上的)美德獲得獎賞的原則。從智力上的勝利所獲得的報酬是贊揚、老師的笑臉和高分數。在學校的社會分層中,最聰明的學生構成校園中的上層階級。盡管從來沒人給他們上過這一課,但從學校教育中知識分子得出結論,與社會其他階層相比,他們更有價值,也堅信靠這種更高價值,他們理應獲得更多報酬。

然而,外界的市場社會,給他們的卻是別一樣的體驗。最大的獎賞並不是給那些最能言善辯的家伙。在這里,知識分子所掌握的技能,便並不是最有價值的了。在學校中,他們總覺得自己最有價值,最配得上獎賞,最有理由獲得獎賞,而資本主義社會剝奪了他們自己覺得理應獲得的獎賞,那麼他們怎能不怨氣衝天呢?這也就難怪學,校教育培養出來的知識分子對資本主義社會抱著一種深深的敵意,當然,具體表現出來卻會有種種冠冕堂皇的其它理由,直接以上述理由總是有點不合適吧。

說知識分子自以為應得到社會給予的最高獎賞(財富、地位等),我的意思當然並不是說,知識分子認為這種種獎賞就是他們最看重的東西。他們也許更看重智力活動本身固有的價值或時間的考驗。盡管如此,他們仍然覺得自己應從社會得到最高的獎賞,他們完全能配得上最多和最好的獎賞,即使他們自己根本就瞧不起這些東西。我並不想特別強調說,這些獎賞非得進知識分子自己的腰包,甚至不一定非得由他本人獲得。只要具有知識分子身份,他們就為知識活動並沒有得到最高尊重和獎賞而怨恨。

知識分子期望整個社會就始終像學校一樣,期望著在這個環境中他們照樣最出色,也照樣得到賞識。學校里的獎賞標准與社會上的標准如此不同,則從學校出來的拔尖者未來進入社會后通常都要經歷一種心理挫折感。那些在校園等級制度中處于頂端的學生,會覺得他們不僅在校園這樣的小社會中,也在更大範圍社會中有資格也處于頂端,然而進入了社會,他們如果得不到如他們所期待的地位,他們就心生怨恨。因此,是學校教育制度在知識分子中間制造出了反資本主義的情緒,當然更多的是在人文知識分子中間制造出了反資本主義情緒。為什麼從事跟數碼打交道的知識分子沒有產生同樣的情緒呢?我推想是這樣的:這些在數字方面有天賦的的孩子,雖也能在他感興趣的科目中考得高分,也能得到老師的賞識,但與在人文學科方面有天賦的孩子相比,卻較少獲得老師面對面的關注和稱贊。能說會道的技巧,使這些具有人文天賦的孩子能得到老師本人的關愛,而正是這種格外的關愛,使他們覺得,他們是理所當然應始終受到關注。

教室中的中央計劃制度

還要進一步補充說明一點。(未來)從事文字工作的知識分子作為正式的、官方的校園社會中的成功者,獎賞則是由作為中心權威的老師分配的。而在教室、在走廊、在學校操場上還有另一個非正式的社會群體,在這些場合,獎賞則不是由某個指導中心分配的,而是由同學們一時興致和好惡進行分配,而恰在此處,知識分子表現得卻並不怎麼樣。

因此,毫不奇怪,那種由一個中央控制的分配機制分配物品和酬勞的制度,會令知識分子砰然心動,相反,對市場的“無政府和混亂”卻是避之惟恐不及。實行中央計劃體制的社會主義社會之與資本主義社會的對立,恰相當于由教師主導的分配與操場上和走廊內的分配之對立。

我的解釋並不是說,學校中學業優秀者的大多數都會變成(未來的)反資本主義的知識分子。校園中絕大部分出類拔萃之輩都是精通書本知識,善于交際,強烈地追求快樂、友情、制勝之道,並能按規則游戲(或者看起來是遵守規則),這樣的學生,必然會得到老師的格外關注和獎賞,進入社會后,他們通常也會幹得非常出色。(在校園的非正式社會中也表現很棒,所以他們並不會全然接受學校正規制度的規範)這樣的學生並不會滋生出反資本主義情緒。我們的解釋所涉及的的是那部分在校園(官方體制)中居于上層,而在進入社會中卻將經歷相當挫折的群體,或者更進一步明確地說,是指那預料到自己可能會走下坡路的群體。在進入社會,經歷社會地位之下降以前,有些聰明的學生就意識到,在進入社會后,他的地位將不如他現在在校園中,那他就將滋生出對資本主義的敵意,如果學生閱讀到反映此一情緒的作品或碰上具有這種情緒的知識分子教學,學校教育不經意間播下的種子,即知識分子的這種反資本主義的情緒,則必然會進一步強化。

毫無疑問,某些人文知識分子在學校時就脾氣很壞,喜歡提問,並不為他們的老師所喜歡。那麼他們是否會想,表現最好的應該得到最高獎賞,而他們就是最好的,卻僅僅由于老師不喜歡他們卻得不到這種獎賞,並由此而對學校制度產生憤恨情緒?顯然,我們需要更多材料來驗証我們的假說。

但是一般而言,無可爭辯的是,人們離開校園后所秉持的規範性信仰必然要受學校規範的影響。畢竟除了家庭之外,學校是孩子們學習行為方式的主要場所,因此學校教育也就是他們為進入家庭之外社會的最重要的准備。因此,一點也不奇怪,那些在學校的規範體系中如魚得水的人會對社會不滿,而沒有在學校中出人頭地的人則堅持另一套規範體系。如果繼續由這些人塑造社會的自我形象和自我評價,則我們所看到的在語言文學方面社會總是自己反對自己,就並不令人奇怪。讓你設計社會,你可能並不會刻意去設計他,而人文知識分子則會運用他們的一切勢力,把他們對社會各種規範的敵意灌輸在教育體系中。

我們對知識分子非同尋常的反資本主義心態的解釋,是立基于有點似是而非的社會學概括上的。

在某一社會中,年輕人在走出家庭所進入的人生第一個團體或制度中,如果表現很出色,就會把這一制度的規範內化為自己的行為規範,並且期望外面的世界也是按這些規範運轉的。他們會覺得自己有資格獲得按這些規範所應得的好處,或者至少達到在這些規範下所能達到的地位。而在他們人生第一個團體或制度的等級體系中處于上層地位的人,如果在進入外面世界后經歷了(或預料到會經歷)社會地位的下降,則會在失落感的驅使下,傾向于反對這一社會制度,對其規範心懷敵意。

請注意,這一點並不是確定性的定律。並不是所有經歷過社會地位下滑過程的人都會對社會制度產生敵意。這種地位下降只是促使人們敵視社會的一個因素,此一因素作用的大小在不同人那兒也是大不相同的。對上層階層的地位下降,我們可以區分出不同的類型:一種是他比別的社會集團得到的少(此處並沒有某一集團地位上升)或者是沒有增加,跟理應在自己之下的集團相比,得到的一點也不多。這是第一類地位下降情況,這會使他憤怒,覺得受了侮辱。第二類則比較更能容忍,很多知識分子按還是頗(據他們說)關注平等,只有很少一部分鼓吹知識分子實行精英統治(,所以他們不大會為了社會沒有讓他們進行統治產生挫折感,而生氣)。我們的結論是第一類地位下降,特別容易招致怨恨和敵意。

學校教育體系很少傳授和獎勵那些在進入社會后能獲得成功(畢竟學校只是一種專門化的制度)的技能,因而它的獎勵制度與一般社會截然不同。這必然導致一些人在進入社會后,要經歷社會地位下降及其所帶來的痛苦和憤怒。早些時候我說過,知識分子期望社會只是學校的同質放大。現在我們看到了,由失落感而生出的怨恨敵意,乃是因為一個簡單的事實:學校(作為進入社會的第一個非家庭的專門化的社會組織)並不是社會的縮影。

現在我們似乎可以解釋,受過學校教育的知識分子,為什麼會有那麼高比例的人反對他們的社會,而不問其社會性質,不管它是資本主義社會還是共產主義社會。(跟資本主義社會中,與知識分子處于同等社會經濟地位的階層相比,知識分子中反對資本主義的比例高得異乎尋常。另一個問題則是,與別的社會中,反對其所在社會的知識分子的比例相比,是不是也高得異乎尋常。)共產主義社會中的知識分子對其制度的態度恐怕大致相當;那兒的知識分子恐怕也對那一制度表示敵意。

所以,我們的假設需要再細化一下,以使它不會對隨便一個什麼社會都可以套用。每一社會的學校教育體系,不可避免地都會在其不能得到社會最高獎賞的知識分子中間,制造出反社會的心態。資本主義社會的特別之處在于,它宣稱它的獎賞只針對個人才能、個人創造性和個人特長。在種姓制度或封建社會成長起來的人,則決不希望、或認為根本就不應該按個人價值分配財富地位。但不管你怎麼想,資本主義社會給予個人的回報,所依據的唯一的標准,是其滿足市場所揭示的他人的欲望的程度,它只問你的經濟上的貢獻,而不管你的個人價值。不過它非常接近于按價值獲得獎賞──價值與貢獻基本上可以通用──因而資本主義社會培育出的期望跟在學校中得到的觀念差異不大。一般社會的的風氣跟學校里的風氣非常接近,而正是此種相似,導致了怨恨。而資本主義社會只獎賞個人成就,或宣稱如此,因而是冷落了知識分子,他們覺得他們才是最有成就的,因而也就特別痛苦。

我想還有一個因素起了作用。學校教育培養出如此強烈、廣泛的反資本主義心態,另一個重要因素是人的多樣性。很多未來在經濟上會大獲成功的的人,都上了別的學校,知識分子就沒有養成一種心態,就是其實有很多人比他們更優秀。當然,盡管很多上層階級的孩子進了別的學校,不過在一個開放的社會,也有一些學校包容了各種各樣的學生,其中有些未來會掙大錢,比如企業家,而未來成為知識分子的人,則滿懷怨恨地回憶起,當年自己在學術上是如何地出類拔萃,而現在有錢有勢的家伙,當初有什麼了不起。社會的開放導致了另一結果:學生們,不管未來是做了人文知識分子,還是別的職業,都不清楚他們未來的人生路是什麼樣的。他們充滿希望。而一個開放社會則令那些早年的期望破滅了。在一個開放的資本主義社會,社會似乎宣稱,那些最有才能和最有價值的人有望爬到社會最高層,在學校,他們依靠學術上的出眾之處而獲得最高地位,于是他們得到的看法就是,他們自己正是最有價值的,最有資格得到最高的獎賞,然而,到了最后,這些最有信心、最滿懷希望的學生卻看到,那些在學校中他們根本不放在眼里的家伙,卻爬得比他們還高,搶走了他們覺得本應屬于自己的獎賞。由此而對社會心懷怨懟,有應何奇怪之處呢?

假說的進一步細化

我們已經讓我們的假說更精確了。導致(人文)知識分子反資本主義的,並不是隨便一種什麼學校教育,而是某一特定社會中的學校教育。毫無疑問,這個假設尚需進一步細化,不過也差不多能說明問題了。現在該把這一假設應用于社會科學家,離開書房中的沉思冥想,用更廣泛的事實和數據來進行驗証。不過,我們尚不能肯定,在哪些領域,我們的假說會得到同樣的可以驗証的結論。首先,我們可以料想,國家的教育體系越具有精英化傾向,那兒的知識分子就越容易倒向左傾(想想法國吧)。第二,在學校里屬于“大器晚成”的學生,一般不會產生那種自以為應獲得最高地位的想法,因而,大器晚成的知識分子與成名較早的知識分子相比,只有較少比例的人會產生反資本主義的心態。第三,我們假說適用于在這樣的社會(不像印度那樣的種姓社會):學校中出眾的學生可以指望在進入社會后更上一層樓。迄今為止,西方社會的婦女並不抱有這種期望,那麼我們可以推想,女學生中,在課業上表現突出,但在進入社會后地位下降的,並不會產生如男學生那樣強烈的反資本主義的心態。我們進一步可以預料,如果一個社會,男女在職業機會方面趨于平等,知識女性中表現出反資本主義心態的比例,將與男性知識分子中一樣非同尋常地高。

有些讀者可能懷疑上述對知識分子的反資本主義心態的解釋。隨你的便,反正我覺得我已經指出了一個重要的現象。我們上邊所做的社會學的概括,確乎具有直覺的性質,不過應該八九不離十吧。校園上層階級中,某些經歷了社會地位下降的人總要作出某種重要的反應,必會產生對于一般社會的敵視。知識分子的這種反應如果不是強烈地、普遍地拒斥資本主義,還能是什麼?我們從一個令人迷惑、需要解釋的現象入手,我想我們已找到了明顯擺在那兒的(如上所述)解釋性因素,因而,我們相信,我們的假說說明了某些現實的現象。(2000,2,29譯完)

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