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【纽约时报】经济巨头,你真的应该害怕!

【纽约时报】经济巨头,你真的应该害怕!


垄断和行业的过度集中被视为促使法西斯崛起的重要经济因素。二战后,不少国家通过法律约束经济巨头,以避免其带来的负面作用。如今,随着行业集中度进一步上升,经济巨头再次涌现,给民主和自由带来实实在在的威胁。


经济巨头——你真的应该害怕


【纽约时报】经济巨头,你真的应该害怕!

作者:Tim Wu

译者:徐嘉茵 & 邵海灵

校对:王津雨

策划:邹世昌


In the 1930s it contributed to the rise of fascism. Alarmingly, we are experimenting again with a monopolized economy.

在20世纪30年代,巨型经济体促成了法西斯主义的崛起。值得警觉的是,我们正以垄断经济的形式重蹈覆辙。


本文选自 New York Times | 取经号原创翻译

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In the aftermath of the Second World War, an urgent question presented itself: How can we prevent the rise of fascism from happening again? If over the years that question became one of mostly historical interest, it has again become pressing, with the growing success of populist, nationalist and even neofascist movements all around the world.

在第二次世界大战的善后工作中,出现了一个紧迫的问题:我们怎样才能阻止法西斯主义再度崛起?如果说它在这些年来成为了人们最关注的的历史问题之一,那么如今,随着民粹主义、民族主义甚至新法西斯主义运动在世界各地的成功推进,它已再次成为亟需解决的问题。

 

Common answers to the question stress the importance of a free press, the rule of law, stable government, robust civic institutions and common decency. But as undoubtedly important as these factors are, we too often overlook something else: the threat to democracy posed by monopoly and excessive corporate concentration — what the Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis called the “curse of bigness.” We must not forget the economic origins of fascism, lest we risk repeating the most calamitous error of the 20th century.

常见的解决方法都会强调新闻自由、法治、稳健的政府、健全的民间机构和行为操守的重要性。这些因素无疑很重要,但我们却过于频繁地忽略了别的因素:垄断和产业过度集中对民主造成的威胁——最高法院法官路易斯·布兰代斯称之为“巨头的诅咒”。我们绝不能忘记法西斯主义的经济根源,否则就有重犯二十世纪最具灾难性错误的风险。

calamitous /kə’læmɪtəs/ adj.  If you describe an event or situation as calamitous, you mean it is very unfortunate or serious. 灾难的、不幸的


Postwar observers like Senator Harley M. Kilgore of West Virginia argued that the German economic structure, which was dominated by monopolies and cartels, was essential to Hitler’s consolidation of power. Germany at the time, Mr. Kilgore explained, “built up a great series of industrial monopolies in steel, rubber, coal and other materials. The monopolies soon got control of Germany, brought Hitler to power and forced virtually the whole world into war.”

包括西弗吉尼亚州参议员哈雷·吉尔格在内的战后观察员认为,垄断和同盟在德国经济结构中占据主导地位,这对希特勒的权力巩固至关重要。吉尔格解释说,当时德国“在钢铁、橡胶、煤炭和其他材料行业建立了一系列行业垄断机制。垄断很快就控制了德国,让希特勒得以掌权,也在无形中将整个世界推入了战争的深渊。”

cartel /kɑː’tel/ n.  A cartel is an association of similar companies or businesses that have grouped together in order to prevent competition and to control prices. 卡特尔; 同业联盟 [商业]


To suggest that any one cause accounted for the rise of fascism goes too far, for the Great Depression, anti-Semitism, the fear of communism and weak political institutions were also to blame. But as writers like Diarmuid Jeffreys and Daniel Crane have detailed, extreme economic concentration does create conditions ripe for dictatorship.

如果说以上原因均导致了法西斯主义的崛起,那未免有点言过其实,因为大萧条、反犹太主义、对共产主义的恐惧以及薄弱的政治体制同样促成了法西斯主义的崛起。但正如作家迪尔米德·杰弗里斯和丹尼尔·克兰所阐释的那样,极端的经济集中确实为独裁提供了成熟的条件。

 

It is a story that should sound uncomfortably familiar: An economic crisis yields widespread economic suffering, feeding an appetite for a nationalistic and extremist leader. The leader rides to power promising a return to national greatness, deliverance from economic suffering and the defeat of enemies foreign and domestic (including big business). Yet in reality, the leader seeks alliances with large enterprises and the great monopolies, so long as they obey him, for each has something the other wants: He gets their loyalty, and they avoid democratic accountability.

这是个听起来熟悉到令人不适的故事:一场经济危机造成了大范围的经济灾难,而这正好满足了一个民族主义和极端主义的领导人的胃口。为了上位掌权,这个领导人许诺会让国家重回伟大巅峰,把人民从经济低迷中拯救出来,把来自国内外的竞争对手(包括商业巨头)统统打败。然而在现实中,他却在寻求与大型企业和垄断机构联盟,只要他们服从自己就行了,因为彼此都有对方想要的东西:他能得到联盟的忠诚,联盟则能够顺利逃避民主的问责。

 

There are many differences between the situation in 1930s and our predicament today. But given what we know, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we are conducting a dangerous economic and political experiment: We have chosen to weaken the laws — the antitrust laws — that are meant to resist the concentration of economic power in the United States and around the world.

20世纪30年代的环境跟我们如今的困境还是有很多区别的。但综合已知的情况,很难不得出这样的结论:我们正在进行一场危险的经济和政治实验:我们已选择削弱法律——反垄断法——该法律旨在抵制美国以及世界各国经济权力的集中。

 

From a political perspective, we have recklessly chosen to tolerate global monopolies and oligopolies in finance, media, airlines, telecommunications and elsewhere, to say nothing of the growing size and power of the major technology platforms. In doing so, we have cast aside the safeguards that were supposed to protect democracy against a dangerous marriage of private and public power.

从政治角度而言,我们对存在于金融、媒体、航空、通讯和其它行业的垄断和寡头现象采取了不顾一切的纵容态度,更不用说那些规模和势力都在日益扩大的重要技术平台了。在这种情况下,那些原本用于保护民主政体免遭公私权力勾结破坏的保障措施已经形同虚设了。

 

Unfortunately, there are abundant signs that we are suffering the consequences, both in the United States and elsewhere. There is a reason that extremist, populist leaders like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, and Viktor Orban of Hungary have taken center stage, all following some version of the same script. And here in the United States, we have witnessed the anger borne of ordinary citizens who have lost almost any influence over economic policy — and by extension, their lives. The middle class has no political influence over their stagnant wages, tax policy, the price of essential goods or health care. This powerlessness is brewing a powerful feeling of outrage.

不幸的是,诸多迹象表明我们正在自食其果,美国如此,其它地方亦如是。极端主义和民粹主义领导者掌权是有原因的,他们都遵循相同模式下的不同变体,比方说巴西的杰尔·波索纳罗和匈牙利的维克托·奥尔班。在美国,普通民众几乎失去了任何对经济政策的影响力,结果就是失去对人生的掌控权,我们已经见证了他们的满腔怒火。在停滞的工资水平、税收政策、必需品的价格和医疗保健等方面,中产阶级也毫无政治影响力。这种无力的背后恰恰酝酿着巨大的愤慨。

 

After the fall of the Third Reich, the Allies broke up the major Nazi monopolies specifically so that they could not be “used by Germany as instruments of political or economic aggression,” in the words of the law used to do so. The United States took its medicine, too: In 1950, Congress passed the Anti-Merger Act of 1950 to curb politically and economically dangerous concentrations. It empowered the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to block or undo mergers when the effect was “substantially to lessen competition or to tend to create a monopoly.”

第三帝国覆灭后,协约国特地解散了纳粹主要的垄断企业,以免“德国将其作为政治侵略或经济侵略的工具”——这是当初法律条文的原话。美国也不得不自行了断:1950年,为了遏制政治和经济过于集中的危险趋势,国会通过了1950反合并法案,规定如果企业的合并行为“本质上是为了减少竞争或企图制造垄断”,司法部门和联邦贸易委员会就有权阻止或取消这项合并。

took one’s medicine: to accept something that is unpleasant because it is necessary and cannot be avoided 因为无法避免而无奈地接受


It would be understandable if you assumed that the Anti-Merger Act of 1950 had been repealed. But in fact it remains on the books. It has merely been evaded, eroded and enfeebled by the corroding effect of decades of industry pressure and ideological drift, yielding hesitant enforcers and a hostile judiciary. Consequently, over the last two decades we have allowed successive waves of mergers that make a mockery of the 1950 law, and have concentrated economic power in ways that are dangerous to the polity.

你当然有理由认为1950的这项法案肯定已经撤销了,然而事实上,它仍是美国法律的一部分,只是经过这数十年,产业领域的压力和意识形态的变化使执法者变得犹豫不决,司法部也对反合并持敌对态度,两者的共同作用侵蚀了这一法案的效力,导致它被规避、被架空,以致于形同虚设了。于是在过去的二十年,我们放任一波又一波合并浪潮席卷而来,使1950法案彻底沦为了笑柄,经济权力也逐渐集中,使民主政体落入了危险。

 

In recent years, we have allowed unhealthy consolidations of hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry; accepted an extraordinarily concentrated banking industry, despite its repeated misfeasance; failed to prevent firms like Facebook from buying up their most effective competitors; allowed AT&T to reconsolidate after a well-deserved breakup in the 1980s; and the list goes on. Over the last two decades, more than 75 percent of United States industries have experienced an increase in concentration, while United States public markets have lost almost 50 percent of their publicly traded firms.

近年来,我们允许了医院和制药企业之间的非正常联合;我们接受了一个极度集中的银行业,尽管他们的不法行为屡禁不止;我们未能阻止Facebook这样的企业收购他们最有力的竞争对手;我们允许美国电话电报公司在八十年代被拆分后再次合并…… 凡此种种,不胜枚举。在过去二十年时间里,超过75%的美国工业加强了权力和资源的集中,而美国市场则失去了将近一半上市公司。

AT&T公司(American Telephone & Telegraph的缩写,也是中文译名美国电话电报公司由来,但近年来已不用全名)是一家美国电信公司,美国第二大移动运营商,创建于1877年,曾长期垄断美国长途和本地电话市场。AT&T的瓦解过程开始于1984年。在美国政府反垄断政策的强制干预下,公司的本地电话业务被分裂出去,重新组建了7个子公司。2005年,其中一个子公司西南贝尔以160亿的价格收购AT&T,合并后的企业继承了AT&T的名称。2016年10月, AT&T宣布收购时代华纳。尽管遭到美国司法部抗议,但美国商会和其他一些实力强大的商业团体还是请求美国一家上诉法院不要撤销这笔交易。


There is a direct link between concentration and the distortion of democratic process. As any undergraduate political science major could tell you, the more concentrated an industry — the fewer members it has — the easier it is to cooperate to achieve its political goals. A group like the middle class is hopelessly disorganized and has limited influence in Congress. But concentrated industries, like the pharmaceutical industry, find it easy to organize to take from the public for their own benefit. Consider the law preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices: That particular lobbying project cost the industry more than $100 million — but it returns some $15 billion a year in higher payments for its products.

权力的集中与民主进程的扭曲之间有着直接的联系。任何一个政治学专业的本科生都能告诉你,一个产业越是集中——该领域的成员数量越少——就更容易通过合作来达成他们的政治目的。像中产阶级这样散沙一般无法组织的群体,在国会的影响力是非常有限的。但像制药业这样经过集中的企业就能轻而易举地组织起来,打着公众的旗号谋求一己私利。举个例子:国民医保计划原本可以争取更低的药品价格,却没有得到法律的许可。推动这项立法的游说计划耗费了医药企业一亿多美元——但维持高价带来的利润高达一年150亿。

 

We need to figure out how the classic antidote to bigness — the antitrust and other antimonopoly laws — might be recovered and updated to address the specific challenges of our time. For a start, Congress should pass a new Anti-Merger Act reasserting that it meant what it said in 1950, and create new levels of scrutiny for mega-mergers like the proposed union of T-Mobile and Sprint.

我们需要弄清楚,那些对抗企业过度扩张的有效对策——反托拉斯法和反垄断法——要怎样才能得以恢复和修正,以解决我们当前面临的挑战。首先,国会应该通过新的反合并法案,重申1950法案的要义,且字字落实,不放空炮,同时建立更严格的监督机制,对像T-Mobile和Sprint这样大规模的合并计划进行更全面的审查。

 

But we also need judges who better understand the political as well as economic goals of antitrust. We need prosecutors willing to bring big cases with the courage of trustbusters like Theodore Roosevelt, who brought to heel the empires of J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, and with the economic sophistication of the men and women who challenged AT&T and Microsoft in the 1980s and 1990s. Europe needs to do its part as well, blocking more mergers, especially those like Bayer’s recent acquisition of Monsanto that threaten to put entire global industries in just a few hands.

但我们的法官也需要对反托拉斯的目的达成更加清醒的认识,不但是从经济的角度,也是从政治的角度。我们需要检察官拿出像西奥多·罗斯福那样的勇气,他的胆识与决策迫使摩根大通和美孚石油的垄断帝国最终解体;也要像那些在八十和九十年代挑战AT&T和微软的人一样,对经济形势运筹帷幄,了如指掌。我们的检察官得愿意扛起这样的大案子,站在巨头企业的对立面。欧洲也要负起相应的责任,阻止更多合并发生,特别是像拜耳收购孟山都这样的行为。这种合并可能会让全世界的产业都落入少数几家企业的手中。

 

The United States seems to constantly forget its own traditions, to forget what this country at its best stands for. We forget that America pioneered a kind of law — antitrust — that in the words of Roosevelt would “teach the masters of the biggest corporations in the land that they were not, and would not be permitted to regard themselves as, above the law.” We have forgotten that antitrust law had more than an economic goal, that it was meant fundamentally as a kind of constitutional safeguard, a check against the political dangers of unaccountable private power.

美国似乎总是遗忘自己的传统,忘记了鼎盛时期的美国到底是在为了什么而奋斗。我们忘记了美国才是反垄断法的先锋,用罗斯福的话来说,“要给这个国家最大的企业首脑一些教训,让他们知道他们从来不曾、也永远不许将自己凌驾于法律之上。”我们已经忘记了,反合并法不仅是为了经济层面的目的,从根本上说,它更意味着宪法层面的保障,有了法律的筛查,才能能避免不负责任的私有权力对国家政治造成危险。

 

As the lawyer and consumer advocate Robert Pitofsky warned in 1979, we must not forget the economic origins of totalitarianism, that “massively concentrated economic power, or state intervention induced by that level of concentration, is incompatible with liberal, constitutional democracy.”

正如消费者维权人士兼律师的皮托夫斯基在1979年就曾发出的警告,我们千万不能忘记极权主义的经济根源,不能忘记,“大规模集中起来的经济力量,或是同等规模的政府介入,与自由和宪政的民主是水火不容的。”


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【纽约时报】经济巨头,你真的应该害怕!


<原文地址:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/10/opinion/sunday/fascism-economy-monopoly.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion >



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