天涯小站 2.0

 找回密码
 注册
搜索
天涯小站 2.0 首页 拾萃 文史阅读 查看内容

拙林:【The Storm Before The Calm】 PART ONE: The Invention of America

2021-1-26 05:09 PM| 发布者: 昨夜雨| 查看: 120| 评论: 0|原作者: 拙林|来自: 小站空间

摘要: 作者在书的第一部分,主要是想确立一个观点: 美国是个被发明创造出来的国家。 在它的文化基因里有很强的‘设计’的色彩。 因为这是一部被设计,然后一步步建构起来的机器,它的历史就是一个不断地创造和再创造的过 ...
作者在书的第一部分,主要是想确立一个观点: 美国是个被发明创造出来的国家。  在它的文化基因里有很强的‘设计’的色彩。 因为这是一部被设计,然后一步步建构起来的机器,它的历史就是一个不断地创造和再创造的过程。  作者通过梳理美国的历史,从国家,地理,和人,这三个方面论证了设计和创造作为美国的核心特征。 这个部分比较轻松易读,而且很多历史在作者的梳理中显得很有趣,特别是地理方面,让我对已知的历史有了一个不同的理解。  而当触及到黑奴和印第安人的历史时,作者的解读显得非常的现实,初读之下有过于轻描淡写之嫌。  

还是来抄一些主要的段落。  虽然有断章取义之嫌,希望总体上不会偏离书的主题。


PART ONE:  The Invention of America

Chapter 1:  The American Regime and a Restless Nation

1.  The Constitutional Convention invented the American government.  It was an invention in two ways.  First, it created a government where none had existed.  Second, it created a machine, the machinery of government, which had sprung from the minds of the founders.  Unlike other governments, it had no past.  This government came into existence through design, architecture, and engineering.

2.  The machine was built on two principles.  First, the founders feared government.  Second, they did not trust the people.

3.  The founders were trying to invent a machine that restrained itself, therefore creating a vast terrain in American life that was free from government or politics.  The most important thing about the machine they invented was the degree to which it was restrained from intruding on the things they held most important, the things that were not political.

4.  The balance of powers that were created achieved three important things:  first, it made the passage of laws enormously difficult; second, the president would be incapable of becoming a tyrant; and third, Congress would be limited by the courts in what it could achieve.

5.  The government had to protect the nation and maintain a degree of internal trade.  But it was private life that would create a cycle of creativity that would allow society, economy, and institutions to evolve at remarkable speed yet not end up tearing the country apart, save for some near misses.  

6.  The moral principles were complex and sometime at odds with each other, but they had a common core:  each American ought to be free to succeed or fail in the things he wished to undertake.  This was the meaning of the idea of the right to pursue happiness.  The state would not hinder anyone.  A person's fate would be determined only by his character and talents.  The founders did more than separate the state and private life.  They created an ongoing tension between them.

7.  The Republic, in principle, was not wedded to any particular place or people.  The founders saw it as the form of government and society that was the most natural and moral.  This meant that the regime was unique.  It was not connected solely to the people who lived in America.  It was theirs if they kept it and belonged to others if they chose to have a regime like this.  That made United States radically different from other nations, which are rooted in a common history, language, culture, and place.  America is rooted in an invention, a form of government designed with a moral and practical end, but not, in principle, rooted in the American people.

8.  In a sense, the American Revolution was not directed against England alone.  It was directed against the European age that had begun in 1492.  The Americans viewed the European age as founded on oppression and inequality.  European nations believed these values to be the natural order of things.  Against this order, the founder posed not merely liberty and equality but also the domination of nature.

9.  When I say that the regime was invented, I am therefore saying that it was invented by men who were lifelong inventors.  They were technologists.  They tried to create things that would manage nature and ease human existence.  Invention was not only part of the regime.  It was built into American culture.  This inventiveness can be seen throughout American history from farm implements to smartphone.

10.  This inventiveness was coupled with a sense of urgency.  People came to the United States to live better than they had lived at home.  Time was of the essence, and time remained of the essence in American culture.  It was a combination of urgency and technology that drove the United States forward.  

11.  Once invented, the inventions had to be reinvented to deal with new challenges and new possibilities.

12.  The pursuit of happiness defines American culture.  It is not that there aren't other paths, such as duty and love and charity.  But they all orbit around the central core of pursuing an end, happiness, which is a highly individual concept and can be defined in as many ways as there are people.  All are invited to establish their own definition of happiness.  If we think of it in this way, the definition of liberty becomes clear.  Liberty is the precondition to the pursuit of happiness.  Liberty is the freedom to define one's own happiness.

13.  Happiness is the emotional engine powering the United States.  It is the only country to make the pursuit of happiness a fundamental right.  But with happiness comes disappointment, just as with technology comes obsolescence.  The regime is machine, a novel tool for getting things done.  But as what needs to get done changes, the structure of the regime must change as well.  And changing state institutions has traditionally been painful and intimately tied to war.

Chapter 2:  The Land - a Place Called America 

Setting North America
1. America consists of two large islands barely connected by a land bridge at panama.  The most striking feature of the southern island are the vast rainforest and mountain along the west.  The most striking feature of the northern island is the vast plain between two mountain ranges, the Rockies and the Appalachians, and the complex of rivers that flow from the mountains, through the plains to the Gulf of Mexico.  The southern island was rich in gold and silver.  The northern was rich in land that could be farmed.

2.  The current and winds made it harder to get to North America, and there was less obvious wealth to exploit.  The Spanish, in particular, did not come to settle but did come to steal, and therefore the Spanish focused on South America, filled with gold and sliver.

3.  In the short run, Portugal and Spain were the winners, but not in the long run.   It was English who realized that North America had, in the long term, the most valuable prize.  England was an island, and the English did not need massive number of soldiers.  They could spare settlers, and the land welcomed them.  It was the English migration, the English settlement, that transformed North America into the center of the global system.

Living in North America
1.  The Atlantic and the Appalachians defined the colonies.  The distance between the two shaped not just the commercial but the moral nature of the colonies.  South of the Pennsylvania, the Appalachians were over two hundred miles from the Atlantic coast.  There was flat, fertile land in abundance, for large commercial plantations.  North of the Pennsylvania, the distance from the mountain to the ocean was much less, the soil was rocky and hilly, and winters were long.  There was room only for family farms, craftsmen, merchants, and bankers.  This distinction defined American history, slave and free, confederate and unionist.  It was there from the beginning.  Geography made slavery desirable and profitable in the South.  In the North, geography made slavery uneconomical.  Thus, we see the geographic foundation of the institutional and moral crisis that tore the United States apart centuries later.

2.  The division wasn't just the work of Appalachians.  It was also the work of rivers.  South of New York, all rivers flowed from the Appalachians east into the Atlantic.  In the North, they ran from north to south, connecting the states.  Southern rivers didn't unite southern states.  The rivers didn't provide transportation between states, and roads were hard and expensive to build.  In the South, each colony was distinct and would remain that way.

3.  There was another fact that isolated the southern colonies form each other and from the North.  Tobacco and cotton, these two main products of the plantation were sold primarily to England, not the to the North.  The South would join the revolution, but it would have less of a sense of being American than of being distinct colonies allied with other colonies.  The idea of a unified nation under a single government ran counter to the geographic reality of most of the South.

The Origins of the United States
1.  In 1754, the Seven Year's War broke out.  The French wanted to get rid of British power west of the Appalachians.  For the British, this was a small part of a global war.  For the colonies, everything was at stake.

2.  British sent troops commanded by General Edward Braddock, who turned out to be catastrophe as a general in North America, leading his men into disaster.  It was the moment when the colonials realized that they were not English but Americans.  The struggle for the Appalachians changed the American character and began to shape the nation.

3.  The men who assigned the Declaration of Independence were part of the generation that lived through the Seven Year's War.  Almost all the signers were born between 1720 and 1740, and the United States had changed dramatically during their lives.

American Rivers
1.  America could not survive as a long and narrow strip of land along the East Coast.  The direction the rivers flowed made the United States weak.  It made the lack of strategic depth unbearable.  But on the other side of the Appalachians, there was not only depth but also an extraordinary system of rivers.  Depth would solve many problems.

2.  Jefferson foresaw that whoever controlled Louisiana would likely be the most powerful nation in the world.  He proved to be right.  Napoleon's desperate need for cash, and Jefferson's yearning for Louisiana, gave the United States the key to global power for $15 million, a staggeringly small amount even then.  Napoleon was a great soldier.  Jefferson understood grand strategy.

3.  To understand what Jefferson created, it's important to understand a bill passed by congress in 1787: the Northwest Ordinance.  Northwest Territories was a region between the Appalachians and the Mississippi.  The ordinance laid the legal groundwork for reshaping the west.  It said that the territory and states created would prohibit slavery, and perhaps most extraordinarily, every state created out of the territory would be required to found a state university, by selling land to support it.

The War with the Indians
1.  The North America was populated by Indian nations, and the early history of the United States was intricately intertwined with the history of the Indians.

2.  The intrusion of the Europeans led to a complex geopolitical situation, with Indian nations allied with European nations, sometimes fighting other European nations and sometimes fighting other Indian nations.

3.  The perception that the European settlers simply overwhelmed helpless and spiritual people, or that weak savages were brushed aside, is untrue.

4.  Indian nations occupied North America, which means that at every stage in the development of the United States, Indians were present as victims, allies, enemies, and conquerors.  In the end they lost, partly because of technology and partly for political reasons.  Until the very end, in the 1880s, they never formed a general alliance with one another.  Like all successful conquerors, the Americans used these divisions in their favor.

The Great Valley
1.  I think of all the land between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains as part of a single enormous square valley.  The valley is divided into two parts when it comes to water, making for two very different regions.  In the eastern part, the water comes as rain.  In the western part, it comes from aquifers, water under the ground.  The rain and the forest made for a much denser population in the East, and west is the empty prairie of the cowboy myth.  This area had many fewer people.

2.  This has created two sorts of American lives.  In the East, well-populated farming communities grew up, and the small towns of American memory were created.  In the West, communities were smaller and more scattered, and the settlers were less reliant on neighbors than on themselves.  Two very different ethics emerged.  In the East, there were communities.  To the west, there was a more solitary life.  It created a different political sensibility.  In the East, there had to be collaboration.  In the west, collaboration brought unnecessary complexity.

Protecting New Orleans
1.  The rivers makes the United States possible.  New Orleans makes the rivers practical.  Without New Orleans, the great valley becomes useless.  Jefferson knew that whoever controlled New Orleans controlled the Valley.  Whoever controlled the valley controlled the fate of the United States.

2.  Andrew Jackson commanded American forces that defeated the British at New Orleans.  Jackson would become an American president, the first one elected from west of the Appalachians.  He was elected president in 1828, and he remained obsessed with New Orleans.  He wanted to create a state that was a buffer zone with Mexico.  He succeeded.  In 1845, with Texas becoming a state, the threat to New Orleans seemed to have been eliminated.

3.  At this point, the first sketch of the United States was complete.  It consisted of the area east of the Appalachians, the valley between the Appalachians and the Rockies, and the areas taken from Mexico.  Each has developed a different culture, and each continued to experience life in a different way, but only once - during the Civil War - did the differences turn into bloodshed.

4.  Most Americans never dreamed of what would come.  Thomas Jefferson did, and so did Andrew Jackson.  Both understood that in creating a continental nation, the United States would discover extraordinary prosperity and a stable democratic order.  A continent filled with multiple independent nations, such as Europe, would tear itself apart as Europe did.  Therefore, Jefferson and Jackson did what had to be done to create a single continental power.  They understood America's geography, and they created a geography in seventy years that would dominate the world.

Contemplating the Whole
1.  George Washington understood the force that could tear apart the United States.  The South and the North had different economies and different moral principles.  The West consisted of the immigrant settlers, who felt only hostility for the eastern English who looked down on them.  As the geography of the country was reinvented, so were tension that threatened to dissolve the country.

2.  The problem was rooted in two things.  Institutionally, the United States is one country.  But the sensibilities of different region were deep and constantly caused disunity.  There has always been a political division in the country that of course led to the Civil War.  But even in less stressful times, like now, the view of Donald Trump is very different in the Northeast and Pacific coast than it is in the South or non-coastal West.  And the division was similar in the 1960s.  At time of stress and cyclical change, the geography referred to by George Washington reemerges.

3.  This tension actually has a virtue hidden within it.  It actually become a goad driving the country forward but leaving some behind.  There have always been winners and losers in America.  Detroit declines and Atlanta rises.  The geography changes, people move, and the United States goes on.

Chapter 3:  The American People

1.  Most nations define nationality in terms of shared history, culture, and values.  The American people had none of these.  Immigrants came to have two cultures.  One was the culture of their families, recalling their past.  The other was the culture of the nation into which they merged without disappearing.  The American culture was defined by this dichotomy, and hence the "American people" is a very real - but artificial - construct.

2.  Once here, immigrants had to invent their lives.  It was not simply a matter of choosing among the many possibilities.  It was also inventing possibilities that were not yet seen.

3.  This duality is the essential nature of the United States from the English settlers onward.  Their past was with their family lineage.  Their future with the United States.  And over time the familial and the national blurred into each other.

4.  There are three symbols that gives us a sense of the American.  Cowboy, inventor, and warrior.  There is of course one thing beyond these stereotypes.  When I think of an American, I think of subtlety.  The ability to come to a strange land and make a living, the ability to live with constantly changing technology and customs, the ability to remain oriented in land constantly being redefined, requires a great deal of subtlety and depth.  This is where American resilience comes from.

The Cowboy
1.  The cowboy is what Europeans accuse American of being and what defines manliness to both American men and women.  His virtue is not in depth but in actions.    The reality of the cowboys was different from the movie portrayal.  They were significant for only 20 years until railroads expanded.

2.  The deeper point is the speed at which ancient norms changed in the United States.  We speak of social and economic mobility.  But at the root of America is cultural mobility.  There are many startling things about American life, but none more startling than the unprecedented speed with which the role of women changed and the speed at which sexual relationships shifted.  

The Inventor
1.  Edison understood the subtlety of invention, which was not mastering the science nor building the product.  The subtlety was in understanding what society needed and what the customer would buy.  It was not enough to be a scientist or an engineer.  It was also necessary to be sociologist.  Thomas Edison became the template for Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Elon Musk.

2.  Business existed as the counterbalance to the state.  The founders understood that the private sphere without power could never control the state.  And they knew that the existence of the business interests both corrupted and undermined the state, while at the same time the state could cripple business.

3.  From the beginning, the United States was the confrontation and cooperation of money and politics, and of the application of both to war.

The Warrior
1.    America is a warrior culture.  I can say that America is about business.  I can also say that America is about making war.  The contradiction is real, and it is hard to reconcile.  Yet in speaking of the subtlety of the American people, I will argue the two have lived side by side from the beginning.

2.  As we will see, there are geopolitical reason for the increasing frequency of war.  But the cultural question is more puzzling.  How does the culture of war coexist with the culture of happiness?  A simple answer is that warrior have always occupied a unique place in societies.  War has traditionally been a test of manhood, of courage, duty, and strength.

3.  It is the contradictions within the American people that drive the rapidly evolving cycles of their history.  The unity of the utterly diverse - the cowboy, the scientist, the inventor-businessman, the warrior - constantly reinvents America in an endless cycle of rise and fall.  It is the tension between types of Americans that makes it impossible to pin down the American character.

4.  Europeans and Asians have millennia of history and culture to look back on.  Americans have only the future to consider, and the future must be invented over and over again.  The regime was invented.  The use of the continent was invented, and the nation was invented.  And that invention both continues and creates the constant pressure to abandon what Americans were, in favor of what they will become.

(第一部分完,待续)

最新评论

手机版|天涯小站

GMT-4, 2021-3-7 04:47 PM

Powered by Discuz! X3.4

© 2001-2017 Comsenz Inc.

返回顶部