‘We are facing something more than a mere financial crisis’

An Interview with Cuban economist Oswaldo Martínez
Luisa Maria Gonzalez García
Translated by Richard Fidler
Socialist Voice
March 23, 2009

"one of the problems of socialism is that it has adhered to a development model similar to that of capitalism ....."

Cuban economist Oswaldo Martinez, with Fidel Castro
2009 started off badly. The international economic crisis is the top priority of governments, companies, international organizations and individuals preoccupied with having a roof to sleep under and food on the table.

The situation has surprised almost everybody, albeit Cuba to a lesser degree. Almost a decade ago, Commander Fidel Castro warned that the conditions were being created for the outbreak of a crisis of enormous dimensions.

Oswaldo Martínez, director of the Research Centre for World Economy and chair of the Cuban National Assembly’s Economic Affairs Commission, had also alluded to the subject on several occasions. Looking back, the Economics PhD says: “They criticized us heavily, they called us catastrophists, but finally the crisis is here.”

Mass lay-offs all around the world, rising unemployment and poverty, shutdowns of companies and closures of banks are some of the most obvious effects of the crisis. What stage of the crisis are we in?

The crisis is just beginning, and no one can predict with certainty its duration or intensity. We are facing something more than a mere financial crisis: it is a global economic crisis that affects not only international finances but also the real economy. Due to the high degree of development achieved by speculation and financial capital in recent years, due to the extent of the breakdown in the financial sector and due to the high degree of globalization of the world economy, we can confidently conclude that the present crisis will be the worst since the Great Depression that occurred in the 30s.

What has been happening since August 2008 is the explosion of the speculative financial bubble, caused particularly by neoliberal policies. At this point the crisis is beginning to affect the real economy, that is, the economy that produces real goods and services, development of technology, and values that can be used to satisfy needs. How much more will it affect the real economy? It is hard to say. There are many opinions on this subject. Some suggest that the crisis may last between two and five years. If we use historical references, we see that the crisis of the 30s started in October 1929, developed at full speed until 1933, and the economies had not fully recovered their previous levels of activity when the Second World War started in 1939.

What finally solved that crisis, and I say “solve” in inverted commas because this is how capitalism solves a crisis, was precisely the Second World War; it was the destruction of productive forces as a result of the war that allowed post-1945 capitalism to initiate a new growth stage based on the reconstruction of everything that had been destroyed by the war. Every crisis, whether linked to a war or not, is above all a process of destruction of the productive forces.

Turning to the current situation, I would not presume to make a precise forecast on the duration of the crisis, but I will say that it is far from having hit bottom.

Which are the sectors that have been worst affected?

The explosion of the financial bubble has caused the collapse of stock markets and the bankruptcy of large corporate speculators (the so called investment banks, which in fact are not productive investors but speculative investors). Large banks have become bankrupt and credit at a global level has become scarce and expensive. The prices of raw materials and oil have plunged. Sectors of the real economy, such as the motor industry in the USA, are beginning to be affected by the crisis: the three largest companies, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, are receiving support from the government to avoid bankruptcy. Several airlines have closed down, and flights have been reduced. Unemployment is on the rise, tourism is also affected. It is a snowball effect, which can lead to a much deeper crisis in 2009.

To some specialists, this is one more cyclical crisis of the capitalist system, one of those described by Marx in the 19th century. But it has also been said that it is not just “one more” but, given the huge dimensions it has reached, it is the expression of the internal destruction of late capitalism. What is your opinion?

I think that the current crisis is, without doubt, another cyclical crisis of capitalism. It is one more in the sense that the system that has been in place since 1825, the date of the first crisis identified by Marx, has suffered hundreds of similar crises. A crisis is not an abnormality of capitalism, rather, it is a regular feature and is even necessary to the system. Capitalism follows a particular logic, since it needs to destroy productive forces in order to pave the way for another stage of economic growth. However, the current crisis is undoubtedly the mark of a deep deterioration within the capitalist system.

I believe the crisis can reach very serious dimensions, but I do not think that, on its own, it represents the end of the capitalist system or its definitive destruction. One of the things that Marx argued with great lucidity was that capitalism does not collapse through an economic crisis. Capitalism has to be brought down, through political actions.

So you agree with what Marx said, and Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg later demonstrated, that despite the self destructive nature of capitalism, there has to be a revolution to bring it down?

Of course I do. To think that capitalism will collapse on its own, due to a spontaneous force like an economic crisis, is to believe in utopia. The crisis may create conditions that promote large anti-capitalist political movements. A capable leadership of the masses that is adept at the art of politics can take advantage of the favourable conditions created by the greater poverty, unemployment, large-scale bankruptcy and desperation of the masses generated by the crisis.

Throughout history, major economic crises have been linked to revolutionary movements. For example, during the First World War there was a profound capitalist crisis, and the success of the first socialist revolution in Russia was linked to this. The crisis of the 1930’s however, was linked to the rise of fascism because in Germany and Italy the desperation of the masses as a result of the crisis was successfully turned by the right toward far-right, fascist, chauvinist and ultranationalist positions.

What I want to stress is that nothing is inevitably written in history. It all depends on the skill and expertise of the contending political forces. In the present situation, I think that it is possible to think about change: we are in a situation that in my view is quite likely to result in a radicalization of anti-capitalist movements.

It is yet another cyclical crisis, but it is different; what makes it unique?

I think the differences lie especially in the context. The present crisis is particularly complicated because the global economy is much more complicated than it was in 1929. In the first place, the level of economic globalization is vastly greater. The degree of interconnectedness of national economies back in 1929 was still incipient, corresponding to the technologies available at the time, especially in transportation and communications. In 1929 there was no internet, no email, no jet planes; they depended on telegraph communications, telephones were still quite underdeveloped, and planes were just starting to take to the skies.

Today the situation is very different. Globalization ensures that whatever happens in a powerful economy has an impact, within minutes, on the rest of the world. Markets are greatly interconnected, especially global financial markets, and that means that the world economy is like a spider web in which we are all trapped. A movement in any part of the spider web is felt everywhere else. Therefore, the capacity for this crisis to spread is infinitely greater than in 1929. That is the first difference.

Secondly, the level of financialization of the global economy is also vastly greater. Speculative capital and its operations play a much greater role than in 1929. Back then there were stock markets, but their functioning was much more simple. Today, financial speculation has achieved immense sophistication, and this sophistication is at the same time one of its weak points. That is, the speculative operations are so sophisticated, risky, unreal and fraudulent that they have been at the basis of the global financial breakdown.

Up until now no steps have been taken that are sufficiently radical to curb the crisis. However, little by little, we are seeing how states, above all the United States, have been intervening to avoid the bankruptcy of companies… with a “protagonist” approach reminiscent of the Keynesian methods used by Franklin D. Roosevelt to overcome the 1930s crisis. Today many claim that “neo-Keynesianism” will be the alternative.

In essence that is what they are trying to do: to apply neo-Keynesian methods in a very diffused manner. We can see this in what Barack Obama has announced in connection with a major public works program including the reconstruction of the highways system (roads, bridges, etc). That is a typical Keynesian method of generating employment and income and stimulating demand. But at the same time, measures like this are being combined with others that are contradictory, such as rescuing bankrupt speculators and allocating huge amounts of money to reconstitute the speculative structure which has failed and collapsed.

This is in contradiction to classic Keynesianism, and a clear expression that the neoliberals continue to hold some key positions of power; in fact, they have not been removed. We are witnessing a battle between a neo-liberalism that is unwilling to die and a neo-Keynesianism that is supposedly being established.

I very much doubt that neo-Keynesianism, even if it is strictly applied, can be the solution to this crisis, because the current crisis has new components. The crisis combines elements of over- and under-production simultaneously; it is a crisis that coincides with an attack on the environment so massive that it is not only economic, it is also environmental, jeopardizing the survival of human beings and the conditions for human life on this planet.

Do you mean that, in the form it has taken, Keynesianism will only be a temporary solution that will paper over the problems without getting at the roots?

Of course. It is inconceivable that Keynesianism and neo-Keynesianism can be an infallible recipe to resolve the economic problems of capitalism. Capitalism has suffered major crises with both neoliberal and Keynesian policies. Between 1973 and 1975 there was a severe capitalist crisis that occurred under Keynesian policies, and that was a factor that brought about the substitution of neoliberal policy for Keynesian policy.

We should put no credence in the false dichotomy according to which neoliberalism provokes the crisis and Keynesianism resolves it. Simply put, the system is contradictory and has a tendency to develop periodic economic crises. Whether they are neoliberal or Keynesian, economic policies can facilitate, postpone or stimulate, but they are not able to eliminate capitalist crises.

Then there is one solution left: socialism …

Without a doubt. I am more convinced of this than ever before and I believe that we are very clearly faced today with the quandary posed by Rosa Luxemburg: “Socialism or barbarism”. I do not believe that humanity will regress to barbarism, if only because our survival instinct is the strongest of all.

I believe rational conditions will prevail, and rational conditions imply a sense of social justice. I think we will overcome capitalism, and we will come to implement a creative socialism, socialism as a continuous search, which is not to deny that the system has certain general basic principles in common to all socialisms. However, based on these principles, there are immense possibilities for experimentation, controversy and creativity.

And that would be the socialism of the 21st century?

I think so.

President Rafael Correa, in a lecture he gave in the main assembly hall at the University of Havana in January this year, explained that one of the problems of socialism is that it has adhered to a development model similar to that of capitalism; that is, a different and fairer way to achieve the same thing - GDP, industrialization and accumulation. What do you think?

Correa raised a good point. The socialism practiced by the countries of the Socialist Camp replicated the development model of capitalism, in the sense that socialism was conceived as a quantitative result of growth in productive forces. It thus established a purely quantitative competition with capitalism, and development consisted in achieving this without taking into account that the capitalist model of development is the structuring of a consumer society that is inconceivable for humanity as a whole.

The planet would not survive. It is impossible to replicate the model of one car for each family, the model of the idyllic North American society, Hollywood etc. - absolutely impossible, and this cannot be the reality for the 250 million inhabitants of the United States, with a huge rearguard of poverty in the rest of the world. It is therefore necessary to come up with another model of development that is compatible with the environment and has a much more collective way of functioning.

Although I heard Correa say many correct things, there was one that seems incorrect to me. In his TV interview, when he was talking about this socialism of the 21st century, with which I am in full agreement, he referred to things that would be obsolete and would have to be done away with. Amongst them, he mentioned the class struggle, but I think that what he was explaining in his lecture in the main assembly hall about the political struggles that confront him in Ecuador, what he was describing is nothing more than an episode of the class struggle in which the agenda he represents is immersed.

Who opposes this agenda? It is undoubtedly the oligarchy, the bourgeoisie. Who can he rely on to support him against those enemies? The workers, the peasants, the indigenous peoples. What I have in mind is not a narrow classic definition of “class”, but the undeniable existence of social classes, broadly speaking, and the struggle of those classes is undeniable and evident. If we renounce the class struggle, what would we be left with? Class collaboration? I do not think Ecuador can proceed to 21st century socialism with the cooperation of people like Gustavo Novoa [Former president of Ecuador (2000-2003), now living in exile in the Dominican Republic -SV] or that sector of the Catholic church and all those who are now trying to overthrow Correa.

Many expectations have developed worldwide in relation to the presidency of Barack Obama. What role can his government play with regards to solving the crisis?

I do not have high hopes of change. I believe that Obama’s government may represent a certain change in U.S. politics that is more cosmetic than substantive. In my opinion, he represents the position of a certain political sector in the United States which understood that it was impossible to continue with a regime that was as unpopular, worn out and disagreeable as that of George Bush. However, there is something we must take into account, and at least give him the benefit of the doubt: Obama’s ideas are one thing, and where the deepening economic crisis may take him is another thing. And once again I have to use the Thirties as an example.

In 1932, when the crisis was full-blown, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. His ideas were nothing extraordinary, there was nothing in his election platform that would suggest what would happen next: his policy of active state intervention in the economy, of basing himself on the trade unions or regulating the private U.S. economy along the lines of a national economy.

All those measures were taken more as the result of what the crisis forced him to do, than as a result of a pre-existing political philosophy. Something similar could happen with Obama; we must give him the benefit of the doubt to see where the crisis might take him.

In the past few weeks there has been a lot on talk about the role of Latin American integration in confronting the crisis. Although this process is only in its initial stages, there have been changes at the structural level that point towards integration. How can integration help us face the crisis as a region and as a country?

I think that the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean will be a key strategic factor in the future of the region, of course, and I do not mean integration as an appendage of the United States. For decades, Latin American integration has been not much more than rhetoric, and not practice. But now we are seeing the beginning of a new period, characterized in particular by the Summit of Salvador de Bahía, held last December, when Cuba joined the Rio Group. We also have the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), a new model of integration based on solidarity and cooperation, not on the market.

This situation coincides with the big crisis that is forcing Latin America to rethink her position in the global economy. This also coincides with the profound crisis in the neoliberal policy that dominated the region during the last 30 years. It is a great moment, and I think that there is a real possibility that true Latin American and Caribbean integration is beginning to take firm steps.

Some commentators are arguing that in the wake of the current crisis the world economy will be structured in large regional blocks: one in Asia, another that will continue to exist in North America, and a new one taking shape in Latin America. This is a very interesting possibility.

Martinez was interviewed by Luisa Maria Gonzalez García, a journalism student at the University of Havana. The interview was published in Spanish on March 14, 2009 in Apporea.

Translated for Socialist Voice by Richard Fidler. A somewhat different translation by Damaris Garzón was published in CubaDebate .


G20倫敦峰會 : 美國邁左腳 歐洲邁右腳





在這個時候,「市場更願意看到實質性的行動,哪怕只是溫和的舉措,而不是什麼拯救世界、重建資本主義的大口號。」歐洲智庫Bruegel研究員尼古拉斯‧萬隆(Nicolas Veron)告訴本報。


作為東道主的英國財政大臣達林(Alistair Darling),在客人們未到倫敦時就開始不遺餘力地大喊 「行動!一起行動!」







這意味著,倫敦會議上的歐洲人會站在一個陣營裡統一 「邁右腳」:開始將更多精力放在銀行業的清理、金融業的監管體制改革上,而不再是一味地拋出經濟刺激方案。

美國年輕的新任財政部部長蓋特納(Tim Geithner)也在離開華盛頓趕往倫敦之前,發表了一番「危世危言」:「情況還在惡化……時不我待……全球危機需要全球回應!」

蓋特納並沒有否定歐洲人 「邁右腳」的必要性,就像歐洲人也認為「左腳」依然需要。「我們有兩個目標,」蓋特納說,「首先,要通力合作刺激經濟重新復甦;第二,確保我們在向金融管制改革的方向移動。」




IMF一直是政府加大財政刺激力度的鼓吹者。其首席經濟學家布蘭查德(Olivier Blanchard)去年底在華盛頓總部其辦公室接受本報專訪時說:「在一般情況下,以美國如此高的負債,我們不會建議其採取財政刺激手段。但是,這場危機實在太嚴重,屬於非常時期,因此,即便會在未來累積更高的赤字風險,我們也建議美國現在採取大規模的財政刺激政策。」








中國的自由主義與「新左派」的論爭 (5) - 韓毓海



實際上,在某些奢談「 市場」的「自由主義者」那裡,市場經濟從來就不是以官僚精英政治為對立面,而是以公共參與和人民主權的「公民道德」作為自己的對立面而提出並且被捍衛的。 「自由主義者」在讚揚市場時一般聲稱,市場規定了人人賺錢平等的原則,規定了法律面前人人平等的原則,因而,只有市場才能把我們帶到民主、公正的世界裡去。但是,他們很少去指出名義上的機會均等與現實不平等的關係,形式上公正的法律在現實中是怎樣運用的以及遭遇了什麼樣的問題。由於他們根本沒有思考僅僅是在名義上、形式上獨立公正的國家在面對強勢的經濟和弱勢的群體時所扮演的真正角色,所以,正如魯迅所指出的,這樣美麗的空話還不如不說。馬克思說,不是契約裡規定的平等,也不是法律條文上規定的平等,而是現實政治、經濟和文化資源的佔有量,決定了我們實際上的不平等和根本不可能平等。在當代中國的「自由主義者」看來,市場經濟保證的自由就是賺錢的自由,但是,根據這樣的「自由」,這樣的社會自然就有讓孩子輟學的自由,就有讓女人賣身的自由,就有允許官僚腐敗的自由——只要這些行為「符合利益最大化」的原則,只要這些行為看起來是「自願的」就行。所以,一切肯動腦子,肯思考的人,理解現實都只能從馬克思所說的現實出發,從而毫不費力地明白一個起碼的常識:在這樣的「市場」勝利的地方,站起來的從來就不是「民主」,而是一種畸形的「資本主義」。是一個不受社會公意制約,可以獨自為社會立法的,具有「自組織性」和控制社會能力的所謂「市民社會」。





實際上,稍對自由主義有常識的人就會知道,即使是功利自由主義的思想也曾經為現代西方福利國家的設計提供了依據。而今天在當代中國的「自由主義者」那裡,保留的實際上不過是古典自由主義的某些詞句,喪失的卻是自由主義的精神——反對一切形式的控制之民主的鬥爭精神。他們雖然聲稱要「回到古典自由主義」,但是,這最多不過說明他們自己是一些力圖用十八世紀的頭腦來思考二十世紀問題的智叟罷了。由於姿態化和簡單化,某些「自由主義者」——特別是自稱得到了古典自由主義真傳的人走得離現實世界的確太遠了。毫無疑問,古典自由主義的思想家僅僅是表達了對官僚制國家和國家專制的不信任。他們只是在國家干涉經濟事物方面劃出了一個限制。他們既不敢,也沒有這樣的能力,——動用國家權力,以法律和立法的名義,捍衛「市民社會」和經濟領域的唯一合法性,同時壓抑不同利益集團的聲音和組織形式的存在。但是,在當代新右派或保守的自由主義那裡,國家一方面要弱,要單純地為經濟活動提供機會;另一方面國家要強,要建立一個強有力的國家來壓抑那些對惡性經濟活動構成壓力的組織和聲音。當代新右派自由主義所謂的「最低限度的國家」概念,實際上是與某種強烈的干預思想相聯繫的,這種干預就是要抑制那些向所謂 「自由市場」所造成的不平等挑戰的行為;在這個意義上的「自由主義」和自由主義的「民主國家」必然是強制性的或強力國家。新右派已經把國家當作了經濟利益集團的統治工具。這些人的確是要歪曲和限制國家,但是,他們限制的是對國家的民主性的理解和運用,並以這樣的方式促進他們反民主的「自由主義」大業。


「保護少數人」和「防止多數人專制」是自由主義的口頭禪。但是,他們沒有結合具體的歷史狀況問一問:這種說法是誰,為什麼提出來的?它為現實政治的哪一方服務?無庸諱言,今天主張補古典自由主義課的中國「自由主義者」,實際上更多地是在重複哈耶克的新右派理論,但是,在當代中國,幾乎沒有人注意哈耶克對「經濟人」的批判,沒有人注意哈耶克理論的困境,即使拋開哈耶克的理論自身的問題不談,在現實運用方面,尤其必須慎重。在這方面,當代俄羅斯已經給我們提出了教訓。首先,哈耶克的理論是一種為了糾治西方福利國家制度之偏而設計的。但是,無論是前蘇聯還是「文革」中國,都不能算是「福利國家」,計劃經濟和國家官僚制度不是「福利國家 」制度,在前一個制度裡,廣大人民實際上沒有享受到多少「福利」。斯大林主義制度也不能被看作與資本主義國家制度判然分明的社會主義制度,恰恰相反,在那裡,國家官僚抽取剩餘價值,控制資本積累,剝奪國家企業,履行著有產者擔任的角色——只不過是以匿名的方式。在這樣的國家裡,根本不存在哈耶克所描述的「 福利國家」所出現的「多數人專制」對自由造成的威脅,因為專制的還是少數人——無論是以人民的名義還是以公共國家的名義。


當「自由主義者」暗含著對人民民主、人民主權的否定,表達他們對於「多數人專制」的恐懼時,他們沒有拿出過哪怕是一件嚴肅的事實分析作為自己學術論爭的依據,以說明人類現代歷史上真的存在過「多數人專制」。就是在他們可能舉出的唯一的例子裡,他們自己不是也承認,「文化大革命」是「個人獨裁」而不是「人民民主」嗎?實際上,自由主義通過把社會簡化為政府和市民社會兩個領域,把政治簡化為政府行為——他們通過這樣一個致命的錯誤,一方面把人民從政治活動中開除出去,另一方面,使掌握著投資和生產資料的市民社會和經濟領域實際上掌握和操縱著政府和政治。在這個意義上,現代國家就不再是人民通過積極的政治參與形成的公共領域,不再是不同階級、種族、性別和利益集團討論、競爭和表達自己聲音的制度保障;在這個意義上,知識分子也就不再是在社會的有機聯繫和利益分歧中思想的,具有總體眼光的「公共知識分子」;不再是穿行於不同利益阻隔之間的,為弱勢群體爭取發言權的「文化游擊隊」,知識分子在這個意義上成為依附於政府和市民社會的經濟領域的「有專業知識的管理者」。毫無疑問,根據「自由主義者」們的理想,這些「有專業知識的管理者」將會使現代社會的管理制度更加科學化,更加有效率,但是,真正具有諷刺意味的卻是:這種管理越科學,越有效率,它對「自由」的威脅就越大,直到它可以取消所有人的自由——包括那些可笑的「自由主義者」自己的自由 ——而在此後還不會自動停止。

實際上,我們迄今為止所受的痛苦,遠遠不是來自所謂人民民主和「多數人專制」,在人類現代歷史上,少數經濟既得利益者的專制和少數目光呆滯、不近人情的職業官僚的專制鐵籠,是我們最耳熟能詳的,是打熬我們時間最長的專制形式。自由主義者經常說,人民是目光短淺的、感情衝動的和朝三暮四的,但是,他們從來拒絕回答,使人民群眾得不到信息,使他們對當代政治既無參與能力,又無理解能力的那些制度的基礎實際上究竟是什麼呢?難道不正是少數政治精英和經濟精英造成的對政治和公共領域的壟斷才造成了「消極冷漠的大眾」嗎?——是的,在現代歷史上,人民大眾經常犯錯誤,但是,我相信,他們所犯的錯誤絕對不會比少數精英們犯的更多。今天,儘管許多「自由主義者」是以政治專家的面目出現,但是他們對政治的理解卻是狹窄的。這就是把政治僅僅理解為政府的功能,而政府的功能僅僅是保證所謂「自由化」 經濟。政治僅僅與職業管理者和資本自由有關,而與人民和公意無關。他們不懂得:自由主義在什麼意義上才是人類思想中偉大、寶貴也是有發展生命力的遺產。



今天,當代社會正在承受著這些智叟們所製造的社會方案的後果,但是,我依然十分懷疑:右派「自由主義」思想家們是明智的,明智到足以真正看到了他們方案的後果。因為面對著這樣的世界,我分明聽到了偉大的自由主義先驅依賽亞‧伯林的警示,這是對把公共參與開除出政治領域,把政治僅僅理解為政府行為的錯誤思想的警示。他借用馬克斯‧韋伯的論斷說:「在當代世界上,唯一可以選擇的是:或者公民大眾在只有議會制外表的科層制『權威國家』中既無自由權利,國家就像管理牛羊般對公民們進行『 行政管理』;或者是國家以使公民們成為『共同統治者』的方式把他們整合到國家之中。一個『主宰民族』對此只能選擇後者,因為只有這樣的民族才可能和可以在 『世界政治』中進行角逐。誠然,民主化可以一時被阻擋,因為有權者的利益,以及各種偏見和恐懼症在這裡全都聯合起來反對民主化。但為此很快就會付出代價;大眾的全部精力都會用來與國家作對,因為國家外在於他們,大眾並不覺得自己是國家的一部分。這種不可避免的政治後果或許使某些社會集團得益,但斷然違背整個民族的利益。」

當代中國的「自由主義者 」經常以國家發展的名義強調經濟的決定作用,並把壓抑政治公共性和民主參與視為代價和必然。他們忘了,對公共參與的取消,對人民主權的取消就是取消了現代國家的合法性基礎,同時也取消了經濟發展的合法性基礎,因為它最終將破壞人們「追求福祉」的理想,從而在根本上破壞人們對經濟發展追求的正義性。自由主義近二十年的得勢既不是因為它獨立於政治,也不是因為它創造了最好的政治模式。自由主義的得勢是因為它為右派政治提供了擺脫政治合法性危機的理論借口。這一政治合法性危機是指:現代國家的「公共性」名義和它實際上的「資產階級資產管理委員會」的實質之間的矛盾。這樣的國家要擺脫人民民主和普遍參與對自己責任的追究,從而使自己合法地,明目張膽地僅僅為官僚和資產階級服務,就只能借助右派「自由主義」的思想,以憲法和法律的名義,遏制引進批評市場的力量,從而單方面地維護所謂市場「自由化」的原則,因為只有這個市場的原則無可避免地要遵循「利益最大化」的準則並且合理合法地保護「最大利益者」。自七十年代末,西方世界的里根、撒切爾政權正是利用了福利國家制度出現的問題,借助右派自由主義的思想,建立起右派資產階級的強權政治。正是這個政治開動了人類歷史上最殘酷的,旨在滅絕全人類的「星球大戰」計劃,展開了最嚴酷的軍備競賽。直到最近,早已退休的撒切爾依然奔走於英國軍火商人和台灣之間,為加劇海峽兩岸的衝突出力。里根政府給美國留下的是種族暴動、失業增加和經濟衰退。金斯堡當年在《美國》中寫道:「美國我已將一切奉獻給你我如今一無所有/美國1956 年1月17日兩美元一角七分/美國我受不了自己的思想/美國我們何時休止世界大戰?/用你們的原子彈操你們自己去吧。」——只是,即使詩人的想像力也沒有到這樣的程度:他並沒有想到那個當時放狼狗到柏克利校園對付學生的加州州長日後會成為美國總統。右翼自由主義與政治的結合說明:與中國的「自由主義者」標榜的相反,自由主義政治從來就既不「獨立」也不「寬容」。

同樣,1989年在蘇東和社會主義陣營所發生的事變,是由於自由主義知識分子和掌握著生產和企業的經濟官僚共同推動才發生了這樣的戲劇性轉化的,它當然借助了人民民主的力量,借助了對現代「社會主義」國家合法性危機的批判聲音,但是,這是「自由主義」的勝利,並不是民主的勝利。因為它同樣為現代「社會主義」國家的合法性危機提供了不祥的解決方案。這種危機是指:社會主義的斯大林版並沒有真正實行生產資料的所有制改造,市場取消後所留下的空白被國家官僚填充了,國家官僚實際上扮演著有產者的角色;人民只是在名義上有參與政治和經濟事物的權力,而實際上這樣的權力操縱在少數官僚手中。對這一合法性危機的解決因此可以有兩種方案:一種是通過擴大民主參與的方式和渠道,使政治領域日益成為公共的;一種是通過實際上是受控的,自上而下的市場化和私有化,使少數人對生產資料的掌握,由匿名的,變成公開的、合法的。而主張保護最大利益者的「自由主義」思想不幸成為了後一種道路的主要理論依據。因為他們的自由最多是所謂「公開性」而已——這種 「公開性」就是「少數人」由匿名的壟斷和佔有,借助市場和「自由競爭」的名義,變成「公開的」壟斷和佔有,由對一個表面上均衡、公開的社會和理論的破除,導向一種「天然的不合理」、「自然的不公正」。

因此,當中國的「自由主義者」宣稱自由主義勝利的時候,他們是否願意回答:在那些地方,市場是「自由」嗎?人們在「自由的市場」裡是自由的嗎?不同階級、種族和性別以及各種利益共同體是否找到了形成政治公共性的新的、有效的途徑?毫無疑問,在俄羅斯,新的經濟利益集團與統治權力的關係是不清楚的,在東歐,「專業管理階層」成為最大的經濟利益集團。「自由主義者」宣稱:自由主義勝利的地方就是歷史的終結,於是,一個絕望的問題重現在我們面前:在自由主義勝利的地方,民主為何失敗? 特別是:以這樣的形式,在這樣的歷史時刻走向這樣的失敗——這是沒有公開的對民主的審判,所以不但沒有辯護,沒有討論和復議,沒有抗辯和不服,沒有上訴 ——甚至連同情都沒有,所有的只是代表著上層社會的沙龍裡的假想的意見一致,和代表著整個社會在經濟方面的利益一致。


我相信,理解真實世界的方法不是看知識分子怎麼說,而是看現實究竟是什麼。當越來越多的人作出捍衛「自由主義」和「市場經濟」的姿態時,我們要不要問:現實中的經濟狀況是什麼? 它是怎麼運作的?很多刺心的現象那能叫市場經濟嗎?自由主義者一方面說,正是自由主義為各種思想和利益集團提供了生存的場所;但是,實際上,另一方面,他們主張用法律和政府的職能去維護和捍衛他們那個意義上的市場,壓制對市場的不同理解。歷史證明,凡是用強力推行的東西,無論是好是壞,都很難造成好的效果。中國的「自由主義者」在這樣做的時候沒有考慮過,保證所有的人公開、公正,自主地參與公共領域和經濟活動,不正是自由主義的基本原則嗎?根據這一原則,市場經濟的原則難道可以不以民主和公共參與作為保障和前提嗎?根據這樣的原則,在當代生活中,真正存在單元的、唯一的「市場經濟」和「不容質疑的市場經濟的理想形態」嗎?——如果不是這樣,那麼他們要捍衛的究竟是什麼呢?

在這個不斷沉浮的世界上,自由主義的得勢是自然的,而且,我深深明白:這種得勢還會持續更長的時期。在這方面,我甚至比一切「自由主義者」都對自由主義的「前景」更為樂觀。因此,我對批判思想的前途比「自由主義者」的估計要更加悲觀。但是,自由主義的得勢並非因為它說出了什麼「真理」,相反,它以「人性的弱點」:自私、貪婪和控制欲——不可克服,不可超越的抽像人性論的名義,順應和維護的是建立在這些弱點基礎上的某種具體的政治經濟制度。並且認為,這種制度是不可克服,不可超越的。實際上,當代「自由主義」以經濟活動不得干涉的名義,捍衛並造成的是那些介入、掌握和控制著經濟活動的最大利益集團和政治力量的不得干涉的事實—— 更多地站在當時社會最強大的勢力一邊,而不是站在社會公意和人民民主一邊,這就是「自由主義者」和現代中國知識分子在歷史沉浮中的一般選擇,儘管他們(包括我自己在內)經常自稱為民主的捍衛者和人民的同路人。也正是這種選擇決定了相當多數中國知識分子的一般命運,——這是一種十分可悲的命運——因為在這種虛偽的姿態背後,暴露出的是知識分子主流的合法性危機,是作為「公意」和公共性的天平的傾覆——由於這個天平的傾斜,很多知識分子的知識和精神已經在事實上,從內部崩潰和破產了。