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瓦尔登湖:经济篇14

2006-07-28 19:01

  In the savage state every family owns a shelter as good as the best, and sufficient for its coarser and simpler wants; but I think that I speak within bounds when I say that, though the birds of the air have their nests, and the foxes their holes, and the savages their wigwams, in modern civilized society not more than one half the families own a shelter.  In the large towns and cities, where civilization especially prevails, the number of those who own a shelter is a very small fraction of the whole.  The rest pay an annual tax for this outside garment of all, become indispensable summer and winter, which would buy a village of Indian wigwams, but now helps to keep them poor as long as they live.  I do not mean to insist here on the disadvantage of hiring compared with owning, but it is evident that the savage owns his shelter because it costs so little, while the civilized man hires his commonly because he cannot afford to own it; nor can he, in the long run, any better afford to hire.  But, answers one, by merely paying this tax, the poor civilized man secures an abode which is a palace compared with the savage's.  An annual rent of from twenty-five to a hundred dollars(these are the country rates) entitles him to the benefit of the improvements of centuries, spacious apartments, clean paint and paper, Rumford fire-place, back plastering, Venetian blinds, copper pump, spring lock, a commodious cellar, and many other things.  But how happens it that he who is said to enjoy these things is so commonly a poor civilized man, while the savage, who has them not,is rich as a savage?  If it is asserted that civilization is a real advance in the condition of man —— and I think that it is, though only the wise improve their advantages —— it must be shown that it has produced better dwellings without making them more costly; and the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.  An average house in this neighborhood costs perhaps eight hundred dollars, and to lay up this sum will take from ten to fifteen years of the laborer's life, even if he is not encumbered with a family ——estimating the pecuniary value of every man's labor at one dollar a day, for if some receive more, others receive less; —— so that he must have spent more than half his life commonly before his wigwam will be earned.  If we suppose him to pay a rent instead, this is but a doubtful choice of evils.  Would the savage have been wise to exchange his wigwam for a palace on these terms?

  It may be guessed that I reduce almost the whole advantage of holding this superfluous property as a fund in store against the future, so far as the individual is concerned, mainly to the defraying of funeral expenses.  But perhaps a man is not required to bury himself.  Nevertheless this points to an important distinction between the civilized man and the savage; and, no doubt, they have designs on us for our benefit, in making the life of a civilized people an institution, in which the life of the individual is to a great extent absorbed, in order to preserve and perfect that of the race.  But I wish to show at what a sacrifice this advantage is at present obtained, and to suggest that we may possibly so live as to secure all the advantage without suffering any of the disadvantage. What mean ye by saying that the poor ye have always with you, or that the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?

  "As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.

  "Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die."

  在野蛮状态中的每一家都有一座最好的好住所来满足他们的粗陋而简单的需要;可是,我想,我下面的话还是说得很有分寸的,我说,虽然天空中的飞鸟都有巢,狐狸都有穴,野蛮人都有尖屋,然而在摩登的文明社会中却只有半数家庭是有房子的。在文明特别发达的大城市中,拥有房屋的人只是极小一部分。极大多数人若要身外有所荫蔽,得每年付出一笔租金,在夏天冬天,荫蔽是少不得的,可是这祖金,本已足够他买下一个印第安人的尖屋的,现在却害得他在世上活多久也就贫困多久了。这里,我并不是把租屋与拥有房屋之优劣拿出来做比较,然而很明显的是,野蛮人拥有房屋是因为价格低,而文明人通常租房子住,却是因为他财力够不上拥有房屋。有人就答辩,可怜的文明人只要付了租金,就有了一个住所;和野蛮人的尖屋比较,这房屋岂不像皇官一样?每年只要付租金二十五元至一百元,这是乡区价格,他就得到了经过多少世纪改良才进步的宽敞房间,有清洁的油漆和墙纸、鲁姆福壁炉、内涂泥灰的墙、百叶窗、铜质的抽水机、弹簧锁、宽敞的地窖,还有许多别的东西。然而,这究竟是怎么一回事?享受着这一切的,通常总被称为“可怜”的文明人,而没有这一切的野蛮人,却生活得野蛮人似的富足。假若说,文明乃是人的生活条件的一种真正改进,——我想这话是很对的,虽然只有智者才能改进他们的有利条件,——那未,它必然能证明,它不提高价钱就把更好的房屋建造起来;所谓物价,乃是用于交换物品的那一部分生命,或者立即付出,或者以后付出。这一地区的普通房屋也许要八百元一幢,为了节俭地储蓄起这一笔数目的钱,恐怕要一个劳动者十年以至十五年的生命,还必须是没有家累的才行;——这是以每一个人的劳动,每天值一元来计算的,若有人收入多一些,别的人收入就要少一些——这样,他通常必须耗费他的大半辈子生命,才能赚得了他的一幢“尖屋”。假定他依旧是租房居住的,那他还只是在两件坏事中作了一次可疑的选择。野蛮人懂不懂得,在这样的条件底下,用他的尖屋来换得一座皇宫呢?

  也许有人猜想,拥有这样的多余房屋,是为了未雨绸缪,防患于未然,我认为对个人而言,这样做的好处不过是可以够他偿付他的丧葬费罢了。但是人也许是用不到安葬自己的。然而,这里面就指出了文明人和野蛮人中间的一个重要区别;有人给文明人的生活设计了一套制度,无疑是为了我们的好处,这套制度为了保存种族的生活,能使种族的生活更臻完美,却大大牺牲了个人的生活。可是我希望指出,为了得到这好处,我们目前作出何等样的牺牲,我还要建议,我们是可以不作出任何牺牲就得到很多好处的。

  你说可怜的穷人经常和你在一起,父亲吃了酸葡萄,孩子的牙齿也发酸,说这些话有什么意思呢?

  “主那和华说,我指着我的永生起誓,你们在以色列中必不再有用这俗语的因由。”

  “看啊,世人都是属于我的,为父的怎样属我,为子的也照样属我,犯罪的他必死亡。”

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