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议论文:大西洋到底有多宽

2006-05-17 14:08

  Separated by Civilization: Trans-Atlantic Impasse (1)

  The war in Iraq has made the Atlantic seem wider. But really it has had the effect of a magnifying glass, bringing older and more fundamental differences between Europe and the United States into focus. (2)

  These growing divisions? over war, peace, religion, sex, life and death? amount to a philosophical dispute about the common origins of European and American civilization. Both children of the Enlightenment, the United States and Europe clearly differ about the nature of this inheritance and about who is its better custodian. (3)

  Start with religion. The United States is experiencing a revival of the Christian faith in many areas of civic and political life, while in Europe the process of secularization continues unabated. (4)Today the United States is the most religious-minded society of the Western democracies. In a 2003 Harris poll (5) 79 percent of Americans said they believed in God, and more than a third said they attended a religious service once a month or more. Numerous polls have shown that these figures are much lower in Western Europe. In the United States a majority of respondents in recent years told pollsters that they believed in angels, while in Europe the issue was apparently considered so preposterous (6) that no one even asked the question.

  Terms that President George W. Bush has used, like "crusade" and "axis of evil," and Manichaean exclusions like his observation that anyone who is not on our side is on the side of the terrorists, reveal the assumption of a religious mantle by a secular power, which in Europe has become unthinkable. (7) Was it not, perhaps, this same sense of religious infallibility that seduced senior members of the Bush administration into leading their country into a war with Iraq on the basis of information that has turned out to be false? (8)

  Another reason for Europe's alienation from the United States is harder to define, but for want of a better term, I call it American narcissism (9).

  When American troops in Iraq mistakenly shoot an Arab journalist or reduce half of a village to rubble in response to the explosion of a roadside bomb, there will inevitably be a backlash (10). Only a fool would maintain that an occupying power could afford many such mistakes, even if it is under constant threat of suicide attacks. The success of an occupation policy — however temporary it is meant to be — depends on the occupier's ability to convince the population, by means of symbolic and material gestures, that it is prepared to admit to mistakes.

  In its use of the language of power the Bush administration has created the opposite impression, and not just in Iraq. The United States apparently cannot be wrong about anything, nor does it have to apologize to anybody. In many parts of the world people have come to believe, fairly or not, that Americans regard the life of their countrymen as infinitely more valuable than the lives of any other of the earth's inhabitants.

  Of course, even in Europe only a pacifist minority denies the existence of necessary, unavoidable, justified wars. (11) The interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan (12) were supported by many European nations, even if some took a long time to make up their minds. European soldiers took part in those wars and continue to play a part in the peacekeeping aftermath (13).

  What arouses European suspicion, though, is the doctrine of just, preemptive wars Bush has outlined. Anyone who claims to be waging a preventive war in the cause of justice is confusing either a particular or a partisan interest with the interests of humanity. A president who makes such a claim would be arrogating the right to be the ultimate arbiter of war and peace and to stand in judgment over the world. (14) From there it is but a short step to dismissing a basic insight of the Enlightenment, namely that human judgment and decisions are fallible by their very nature. This fallibility cannot be annulled or ameliorated by any political, legal or religious authority. The same argument goes for the death penalty. (15)

  Animosity (16) isn't the only feature of the trans-Atlantic relationship. Europe is rightly envious of America's multicultural society. There can be no doubt that the United States has produced the World's most varied and integrative culture, and it is no accident that it is the only one to have a worldwide appeal.

  But the American multicultural model also generates an illusion. Since Americans really have come from all over the world, in the United States it is easy to believe that you can know and understand the world without ever leaving the country. Those who were born and brought up in America forget that these people "from all over the world" first had to become Americans? a condition that new immigrants generally accept with enthusiasm? before they could celebrate their cultural otherness. (17)

  The impressive integrative power of American society seems to generate a kind of obliviousness to the world, a multicultural unilateralism. (18) The result is a paradox: a fantastically tolerant and flexible society that has absorbed the whole world, yet has difficulty comprehending the world beyond its borders.

  These differences and irritations add up to a substantial disagreement on the joint origins of American and European civilization. Europeans think that Americans are on their way to betraying some of the elementary tenets of the Enlightenment, establishing a new principle in which they are "first among unequals." (19)

  And Washington accuses Europe of shirking its international responsibilities, and thus its own human rights inheritance.

  Unfortunately, we cannot expect the news media in the United States or Europe to present a nuanced20 views of this dispute. In (20) years of traveling back and forth between Germany and America I have become convinced that news broadcasts usually confirm their audiences' views: in Europe, about America, the "cowboy nation," and in the United States, about Europe, the "axis of weasels (21)."

  These disagreements will be influenced but cannot be resolved by the American presidential election in November. The divisions are too deep, and Europe cannot meet the United States halfway on too many issues? the separation between church and state, the separation of powers, respect for international law, the abolition of the death penalty——without surrendering its version of its Enlightenment inheritance (22).

  On other contentious issues the United States feels as strongly: the universality of human rights and the need to intervene —— if the United Nations is unable to act —— when there is genocide or ethnic cleansing, or when states are failing. (23)

  So are we standing on the threshold of a new understanding or a new historic divide, comparable to the evolutionary split that occurred when a group of pioneer hominids thousands of years ago turned their backs forever on their African homeland? (24)

  So far it has usually been the Americans who have had to remind the Europeans of these common origins, which the Europeans, in turn, have so often betrayed. Maybe this time it is up to the Europeans to remind the Americans of the promises of the Enlightenment that the Unite States seems to have forgotten.

  (1). impasse:僵局。

  (2). 但实际上这场战争具有放大镜的效果,让欧洲和美国之间由来已久的、更为根本的区别凸显出来。

  (3). 美国和欧洲均为启蒙运动的后代,但它们对这份遗产的性质以及谁才是其最佳继承人的看法显然不同。child:后代/深受某种影响的人;the Enlightenment:启蒙运动,指18世纪欧洲以推崇“理性”、怀疑教会权威和封建制度为特点的文化思想运动;custodian:原意是“保管人”,这里指遗产的继承人。

  (4). secularization:世俗化;unabated:不减弱的,不衰退的。

  (5). Harris Poll:哈里斯民意测验,在美国很有权威性。

  (6). preposterous:荒谬的,愚蠢的。

  (7). 布什总统使用着“十字军东征”、“邪恶轴心”之类的词儿,奉行不在我们这边,就在恐怖主义那边的排他主义,这都反映了一个世俗政权继承了宗教衣钵的架势,而这种架势在欧洲是不可思议的。manichaean/;m*n!#ki:2n/:二元论者的,非此即彼的;mantle:(作为权力标志的)衣钵。

  (8). infallibility:绝对可靠性,下文中的fallibility则指“不可靠性”;seduce:引诱。

  (9). narcissism:自我陶醉,自恋。

  (10). backlash:强烈反应。

  (11). 当然,甚至在欧洲也只有少数的和平主义者否认存在着必要的、难以避免的正义战争。pacifist:和平主义者,反战主义者。

  (12). Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan:波斯尼亚、科索沃、阿富汗,1995年、1999年和2001年,以美国为首的北约曾对这三个地区或国家进行军事干预或占领。

  (13). aftermath:指战争结束后的一个时期。

  (14). 而引起欧洲疑虑的是布什提出的先发制人的正义战争理论。任何人宣称自己是以正义的名义发动一场预防性战争都是在混淆个人或党派的利益与整个人类的利益。作此言论的总统都是僭取了对战争与和平的最终仲裁权,并操纵对整个世界的裁判。preemptive:先发制人的;partisan:党派的;arrogate:僭取;arbiter:裁决人,决定者。

  (15). 这种犯错误的必然性并不会因为任何政治、法律或宗教的权力而消除或得到改善。这一论断同样适用于死刑(多年来,美国的死刑制度一直受到来自欧洲的压力,欧洲委员会每年都以报告的形式呼吁美国废除死刑——编者注)。annul/2#n7l/:废除,取消;ameliorate:改良,改善。

  (16). animosity:(尤指表现于行动的)仇恨,敌意。

  (17). 那些在美国出生并长大的人忘了这些“来自全世界”的人们首先必须变成美国人(新移民通常积极热情地接受此条件),然后才能庆祝他们自己的文化相异性。otherness:另一性,不同性。

  (18). obliviousness:忽视;multicultural unilateralism:多元文化的单边主义。

  (19). tenet/#ti:net/:信条,宗旨;“first among unequals”:“在不平等人群里的上等人”,这是对美国人信仰里的“人生而平等”的极大讽刺。

  (20). nuanced/#nj u:#4:nst/:细致入微的。

  (21). “鼬鼠轴心”,这是美国媒体给反对美国出兵伊拉克的法、德两国冠以的称号。鼬鼠在美俚中是“推诿责任的人、小人”之意。

  (22).如果不放弃其(指欧洲)关于启蒙运动遗产的看法。

  (23). 在其他有争议的问题上美国同样毫不退让:人权的普遍性,以及——当出现种族灭绝和清洗行为或国家摇摇欲坠之时——干预的必要性(如果联合国无法采取行动的话)。contentious:引起争议的。

  (24). 因此,我们是否站在了一个新的理解或一个新的历史性的分界线的门槛上,而其意义可与千万年前一批类人猿的先驱永远地告别了他们的非洲故土、开始向人类进化相媲美?hominid:人科的动物。

  阅读感评

  我们常说“东西方文明”或“中西文化”,似乎包括欧美及其他一些具有“犹太—基督教传统”的国家的“西方”是一个整体(按当前学界时髦的提法是“共同体”),铁板一块,难以撼动。然而事实是,现在中外各种媒体却时时在提醒我们:欧洲与美国正在分道扬镳。据说这发端于1989年的冷战结束,在巴尔干半岛危机和“9?11”恐怖袭击后进一步表面化,而到了美国入侵伊拉克后,“大西洋就显得更加宽广无边了”。

  记得我去年参加“世界启蒙大会”时,注意到有一个议题是“跨大西洋的启蒙:旧世界的遗产和新世界的观念”(the Trans-atlantic Enlightenment:Old World Legacies and New World Ideas)。不可否认,欧洲的遗产和美洲的观念必然会有渊源关系;但是,一个大西洋的距离以及当时欧洲与新大陆之间自然、社会条件的迥异,“启蒙”在那片蛮荒之地是足以变化出让当事人都吃惊的变体的,更不用提到了两、三个世纪之后的今天了。就在那次大会上,甚至还有学者组织了一个研讨会,“Is there a European Culture?” 在他们看来,不用说“西方”,即使是“欧洲”诸国也是各说各的话,差异很明显。

  当然,学者在研讨会上的讨论也不能全信,因为当今的学术有时为了逻辑性常常会把问题简单化,而且为了提出一种独特的理论或观点往往还会走极端。由此看来,在欧美之间穿梭来回的这位德国作家Peter Schneider的看法可能会更中肯些。

  他认为,虽然欧洲和美国均为“启蒙运动”的后代,但它们对于这笔遗产的性质以及谁是最佳继承人各执一词。它们在战争与和平、宗教、性、生与死方面观点相悖,而且越走越远。接着,作者在属于当前热点的几大方面对美国和欧洲各自的观点进行对比:在宗教上,美国的基督教信仰正在复兴,而欧洲却越来越世俗化。由此引申,以布什为首的美国人比较热衷“二元对立”,将自己的事业看作“十字军东征”,而反对他的任何人均属“邪恶轴心”,欧洲人对此觉得有些不可思议。第二个方面是作者所谓的“美国式的孤芳自赏”,即美国人认为自己不会犯错误,而且认为美国人的生命要比地球上其他人的生命珍贵得多,因此他们从不认错或道歉,而且一旦受到攻击,便会疯狂地报复;美国宣扬“先发制人”的战争的合理合法性,而欧洲人质疑美国人的动机,认为这很容易把一己的利益与整个人类的利益相混淆,导致美国总统自封为世界战争与和平的最后仲裁者这样的后果。说到底,欧洲人对此持不同看法的理由是人人都难免犯错误,没有什么永远正确的“神”或“权威”,其实这正是“启蒙思想”的一个核心原则。在美国人所谓的“多元文化”上,作者坦言美国创造了世界上最多样、最有凝聚力的文化,而且是唯一的一个具有世界性魅力的文化。然而,作者也清醒地认识到,美国的多元文化是有条件的,即你要先承认美国的价值观,也就是说,美国人对“他者”容忍的前提是你首先要“崇美”,否则就要以所谓的“un-Americanness”予以调查甚至剥夺你的自由,如20世纪50年代的麦卡锡主义直至前几年对美籍华人科学家李文和的间谍指控以及近年来对在美阿拉伯人的防范与歧视等等都是佐证。最后,在美国愈演愈烈的单边主义问题上,欧洲人认为应该在国际关系中提倡谈判协商与妥协,而美国人认为人权是普遍性的,干预是必须的。总之,欧美相互指责,美国人说欧洲人逃避责任,是“axis of weasels”;而欧洲人却说美国人背离了启蒙思想的理念,是“cowboy nation”。(牛仔会引起以下联想:reckless,arrogant,oblivious to the world。)

  文明如同文化,是个相当大的话题,我们不妨给它分分类,如政治文明、经济文明、日常生活文明、文学艺术文明,等等。显然,以上涉及的欧洲与美国(其实主要是美国与所谓“旧欧洲”的代表——法国与德国)的分歧属于政治文明的范畴,而在这个范畴里,“西方”作为一个整体确实显示了分崩离析的迹象。美国人现在大多采取攻势,而欧洲则处于守势。但是,文明在这里到底扮演了多重要的角色呢?

  众所周知,面对一场政治冲突时,人们可能采取的对策不外乎三种:谈判解决、动用武力、接受失败。美国与欧洲在处理国际政治问题时的分歧可以简单地用以下的“两分法”来展示:Power vs. Weakness, Armed Intervention vs. Negotiation, Unilateral Action vs. Multilateral Consultation,而这些分歧其实与西方的文明传统并没有太直接的关系,直接有关的是美国与欧洲目前所面临的“形势”,换句话说,是“形势”或许还有因此而来的对“利益”的考虑才迫使他们做出抉择。美国在冷战后完全可以凭借其强大的军事和经济实力,按“丛林原则”一意孤行而绝少有较大的风险,而欧洲就不一样了。二战以后,德、英、法各国均不同程度地受到削弱,他们不可能完全凭自己的力量称霸,因此类似“欧盟”这样的“妥协产物”就成了他们主要追求的目标,这与二战前显著不同。文明通常“无国界”,具有稳定性;政治则往往局限在一个国家里面,反复无常。所以,我在此要借用文明的声音为文明申冤:近年来我受够了“替罪羊”、“出气筒”的角色,我是无辜的!

  这里有两个悖论很有趣,不妨特别提出来让大家看个明白。一是原文提到的崇尚“多元化”、“全球化”的美国,却对外部世界的声音置若罔闻,执行单边主义;美国社会崇尚容忍与灵活性,但对国界之外的“不同社会”的态度和政策均僵化。二是美国总统口口声声说自己的国家是“democracy”,偏偏就是他对联合国安理会的“democratic decision”毫不理会,甚至称后者“irrelevant”。美国人号称自己是解放者(liberator),给伊拉克人送去民主,但在联合国的舞台上他们就显得很不民主。难怪有学者说,美国人的这个做法致使人类社会倒退了至少一个时代!

  2003年,美国学者Robert Kagan在其著作Of Paradise and Power:America and Europe in the New World Order里宣称,美国是世界上最“modern”的国家,而欧洲国家是最“postmodern(后现代的)”的,但他并未做进一步阐释。也许在他看来,modern即意味着强大并崇尚武力,而postmodern意味着拒绝使用武力吧。最早提出后现代理论、并有着为数最多的后现代理论家和文学作品的美国却把这个the most postmodern nation的桂冠拱手献出或拒绝接受,这大概也算是个不大不小的悖论吧。

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