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傲慢与偏见

 

我们翻译这篇文章的理由

 

苏珊·桑塔格在《疾病的隐喻》一书中说到,任何一种病因不明的致命疾病背后都被赋予了各种意义。许多人往往将潜意识中恐惧的事物与疾病联系起来,将恐惧被影射到某一群体身上,这是历史上流行病爆发之后社会上出现大规模歧视现象和排外事件的深层原因。人类倾向把一种未知的致命疾病归咎于外国人,即“瘟疫一律来自他处。”就像此前的鼠疫和梅毒,关于疾病的想象往往和一个种族对“异邦”和“他者”的想象有关。随着医学的高度发展,许多曾经致命的流行病变得可以医治,也就褪去了异族联想,成为纯粹医学层面的疾病。但即使在21世纪,许多难以治愈的传染性疾病依然无法摆脱污名化,比如艾滋病。桑塔格指出,20世纪西方世界对艾滋病的想象充斥着“欧洲中心主义”意识形态,将非洲视为艾滋病的摇篮,将艾滋病视为一种来自第三世界的病毒。如今,新冠病毒也是如此

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傲慢与偏见

 

作者:Marius Meinhof

 

OTHERING THE VIRUS

病毒“他者化”
 
Europe seems to be shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic. Germany does not contain centres of the outbreak, but has closed national borders. Italy is left alone as no one can spare any medical resources. Countries block each other’s delivery of medical supplies. Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, has stated that the EU may have underestimated the Virus.
欧洲似乎正遭受新冠肺炎疫情的冲击。德国虽然没有控制疫情爆发的中心,但也已关闭国界。没有国家能腾出多余的医疗资源,意大利因此陷入了孤立无援的境地。欧洲各国都禁止出口医疗物资。欧盟委员会主席乌尔苏拉·冯德莱恩表示,欧盟也许低估了这一病毒的严重性。
But, after seeing what the virus did in China, how could Europeans have underestimated it? Why did Chinese experiences not matter to them? Why did they not respond fiercely the moment when the first cases without known infection routes emerged? I believe that one part of the answer may lie in the way public discourse framed the virus along the lines of liberal/authoritarian or modern/backward. Despite the fears of some ‘China-Experts’, ‘we’ did not see a great threat, because ‘we’ perceived the virus as something related to the Chinese authoritarian or backward other, disconnected from the West. 
但为何在目睹了病毒在中国肆虐之后,欧洲各国仍然对这一病毒预估不足?为何他们毫不在乎中国的遭遇?为何当第一批感染途径未知的病例出现时,他们没有做出充分反应?我认为部分原因可能在于,公共话语以“自由-独裁”或“现代-落后”的思路来建构新冠病毒的概念。尽管一些“中国研究专家”对这一病毒深感担忧,但“我们”并未将其视为一大威胁,因为“我们”认为这一病毒与西方无关,是与中国的威权体制或落后面貌密不可分的“他者”。
This othering hampered responsible preparations in Europe and at the same time prepared the stage for Chinese propaganda using Covid19 to claim superiority of their system.
将病毒他者化的做法使得欧洲各国没有承担起积极防疫的责任,也为中国利用其成功抗疫的成果来宣传其体制优越性铺平了道路。
 
This article is based on intense, but non-systematic reading of newspapers, Twitter, Weibo and WeChat posts from Australia, UK, USA, Germany and China. Because it is not based on systematic sampling and analysis, these are preliminary impressions rather than in-depth research findings.
本文收集了大量非系统性的信息,分别来自澳、英、美、德、中的报纸、推特、微博和微信。由于它并非基于系统性的抽样和分析,因此只是初步印象,而非深入研究的成果。
Covid19 in Chinese Discourse
中国话语下的新冠病毒
Chinese News and Internet coverage on the Covid19 outbreak roughly went through 4 stages. Before the 19th of January, the outbreak was largely covered up. Reports on a new SARS-like pneumonia in Wuhan appeared, but were censored and dismissed as rumors. End of December the Chinese Ministry of Health reported a new disease to WHO but at the same time, Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang and others, who spread news about an outbreak on the Chinese internet were censored and reprimanded.
中国有关新冠肺炎疫情的新闻和网络报道大致经历了四个阶段。在1月19日之前,大部分关于疫情的消息被掩盖,武汉出现新型类SARS肺炎的报道遭到审查和辟谣。12月底,卫生部向世卫组织报告了一种新型疾病,与此同时,武汉的李医生和其他相关人员却遭到审查和训诫。
At the end of January, after the outbreak became publicly known in China, the tight censorship apparatus began to show some cracks. People were enraged about the cover-up. Because Li Wenliang, when reprimanded for spreading news on the outbreak, had to answer the questions “can you stop your wrongdoing” and “do you understand you could be punished if you continue”, the internet was flooded with the slogan “I can’t. I don’t understand”. The propaganda apparatus, too, seemed distorted: State newspapers continued to print stories about Xi Jinping visiting rural family homes into February, seemingly out of touch with reality. Xi himself was not seen on television for several days. Within these ruptures of power, some more fundamental critique appeared, too, when dissident voices attributed the outbreak to Xi Jinping’s attitude to political top-down control.
1月底,疫情掩盖不住后,严密的审查机制开始出现漏洞。人们对此前的隐瞒行为深感愤怒。李医生因传播疫情信息受到训诫,他不得不回答诸如“中止违法行为,你能做到吗”和“继续进行违法活动,你将会受到法律的制裁!你听明白了吗”等问题。一时间,网上充斥着“不能、不明白”的口号。宣传机关似乎也有些失灵。直到二月,官媒仍持续刊登领导人慰问农村的报道,这似乎都脱离了当前国内现状。领导人也连续几天没有出现在电视荧幕上。在这些权力的碰撞冲突下,社会上出现了更本质的批评声,异见人士将疫情爆发归咎于上下一言堂的政治态度。
By the beginning of February, the Chinese government started responding on several levels: (1) they created new regulations for disease control and applied fierce anti-epidemic strategies (2) they censored and manipulated online discourse, (3) they came up with their own narrative on a people’s war against the virus: News was flooded by stories of everyday heroes like doctors, nurses and deliverymen. Li Wenliang was declared a national hero. At the end of February, before it was even clear whether the disease control would work, Xinhua announced a book praising China’s success in disease control to be published in six languages.
2月初,政府开始从几个层面做出反应:
(1)出台疾控新规,采取果断的卫生防疫策略;
(2)删评控评;
(3)提出“打响疫情防控的人民战争”这一新话术,新闻中充斥着医生、护士和快递员等普通人民的英雄故事,并称李医生为民族英雄。在疾控效果还不明显的二月底,新华社便宣布将出版一本赞扬中国疾控成果的书,并以六种语言出版。
But the control of discourse was not perfect: When a critical article written by Wuhan doctor Ai Fen was censored, netizens mass-uploaded her article in all kinds of writing styles, such as Classic Chinese, in Mao Zedong’s handwriting, even in pre-historic Jiaguwen scripture, in order to trick censorship algorithms. One version written in the extinct Jinwen scripture was headlined as: “Language can be erased and destroyed, but thoughts and memories will last”. Another one was subscribed with the words: “I hope our next generation will use Chinese language freely and without anxiety”. Only when facing the apparent failure of ‘the West’ to manage the outbreak, people started to accept the official narrative. Now, governments of UK and USA were perceived by many Chinese as malign, caring more about economic stability than the health of their people.
但政府对于公共话语的控制并非滴水不漏。当武汉艾医生写的批评性文章遭到审查时,许多网民以各种形式上传她的文章,比如用毛泽东手迹写的古汉语,甚至是史前的甲骨文,以此躲避算法审查。其中一篇用金文写成,标题为:“语言可以被抹去和毁灭,但思想和记忆将永存。”另一条微博也写道:“我希望下一代能自由使用汉语。”直到西方国家在疾控方面出现明显疏失,民众才开始接受官方说辞。如今,许多中国人视英国和美国政府为洪水猛兽,认为他们更关心经济稳定而非人民健康。
Responses in the West
西方的应对
In the West, perception of the virus as a threat came only very late. Terrifying news from China was available since late January: High death rates, permanent damage from the disease, people dying in their homes or in the street in front of overloaded hospitals, entire families dying.  But far into February, western observers did not see an urgent need to act.
This was supported by three types of attitudes:
西方迟迟才意识到新冠病毒是一大威胁。1月下旬以来,骇人听闻的消息不断从中国传出:高死亡率、永久性损害、人们不是死于家中就是倒毙街头,甚至全家死亡。但直到今年2月,西方观察人士仍然认为无须立刻采取行动,这背后体现了西方世界的三种态度:
 
The first type was sinophobic racism. The Chinese, racists argued, were at fault for the outbreak due to cultural traits, such as eating bat soup, and now were going to spread it to the West.
第一,恐华种族主义。种族主义者认为,由于喝蝙蝠汤等特有文化,中国人应该对这场疫情的爆发和扩散负责。
A second type produced a New Orientalism portraying Chinas as the authoritarian ‘other’ which ultimately must become democratic or break down. Once more, scholars debated whether the end of the rule of the communist party of China (CPC) was near, or debated conspiracy-style thesis of China’s breakdown. The outbreak was taken as proof that the authoritarian system had failed. In doing so, orientalist discourses (1) perceived events through the framework of liberal/authoritarian, (2) read the outbreak as a proof of the inevitable failure of the non-liberal, (3) delegated the virus into the sphere of the authoritarian other, (4) muted Chinese voices by making all statements from within China suspicious: Official Chinese case numbers, death rates, reports on successful containment strategies – always there would be someone to suspect manipulation by the authoritarian regime, which made it difficult to act upon these information.
第二,新东方主义。新东方主义将中国描绘成专制的“他者”。中国最终必须走向民主,否则就会崩溃。学者们就中国执政党的统治是否即将终结或中国崩溃的阴谋论展开过多次辩论。他们认为,这次疫情爆发便是独裁体制失败的一大证明。在东方主义者的话语体系下:(1)他们在自由-独裁的框架下看待事物;(2)将疫情爆发看作非自由体制必然失败的证据;(3)将新冠病毒视为专制主义的他者;(4)质疑中国发布的所有信息,如官方病例数、死亡率、成功措施的报告等,以此压制来自中国的声音,这样一来,总会有人怀疑专制政权在背后操纵,使得他国难以根据这些信息采取行动。
In many instances, the new orientalism blurred the line between political critique and racism. For example, German newspaper Spiegel called the virus “Made in China”. Foreign Policy equated containing the Virus and containing China. The Wall Street Journal called China “the real sick man of Asia”, reactivating a colonial term which was used to justify invasion into Chinese territories after 1895, including the genocidal invasion by the Japanese.
在多数情况下,新东方主义都模糊了政治批判和种族主义之间的界限。例如,德国《明镜周刊》称这种病毒为“中国制造”;《外交政策》将遏制病毒与遏制中国划上等号;《华尔街日报》更是重提殖民主义术语,称中国为“真正的东亚病夫”。1895年后,这个术语曾被用来为入侵中国领土(包括日本侵华大屠杀)辩护。
A third type of reaction followed a pattern I have called ‘colonial temporality‘. Here, the perception of China as the ‘other’ was not so much informed by the distinction liberal/authoritarian, but rather by modern/backward.
第三种态度我称之为“临时殖民主义”。在这一态度下,将中国视为“他者”的观念并不是由自由-独裁来区分,而是由现代-落后决定的。
For example, German state media did not portray the CPC as an evil or failing regime. They treated the virus strictly as a natural phenomenon, letting virologists, not social scientists, make sense of it. But this did not make Germans become sufficiently wary of the virus. Even in March, German experts still insisted that the German healthcare system, lauded as  “one of the best in the world”, could handle the outbreak without major problems. At the same time, despite Chinese successes at containment, German experts insisted that the outbreak was not containable, and all one could do was “flatten the curve” of infection rates. Mass media and online users seemed mainly concerned to keep the population calm. Even in March, many concerned online posts started with phrases like “I know there’s no need to worry about Coronavirus, but…”. Until the 12th of March, I found people on online discussion boards arguing that the disease was not dangerous to the healthy (I do not provide sources to protect them from online outrage).
例如,德国官媒并未将中方当局描绘成一个邪恶或失败的政权。他们将这一病毒严格视为自然现象,让病毒学家而非社会科学家进行研究,但这也并没有让德国人对这种病毒足够重视。在今年3月,德国专家仍然坚称,被誉为“世界领先的”德国医疗体系足以应对疫情。与此同时,尽管中国在控制疫情方面取得了成功,但德国专家坚称疫情无法控制,唯一的应对措施就是“拉平”感染率曲线。大众媒体和网络用户则更关心如何安抚民众情绪。同期,许多相关的网络帖子都以此开头:“我知道没有必要担心新冠病毒,但……”。直到3月12日,我发现在论坛上仍有人表示这一病毒不会危害健康(在此隐去信源,以免网络暴力)。
Reports from China telling a story of a deadly virus were not marked as relevant for Germany. They were not framed as lies, as in New Orientalist discourse, but they were not perceived to matter for Germany. Behind this was not so much a logic of animosity, but rather an idea that an epidemic that is deadly in developing countries would not be to harmful in a modern country like Germany. This, too, contained an element of othering and thus made it implausible to perceive COVID 19 as something immediately threatening Europe.
在人们来看,致命病毒肆虐中国的报道与德国毫无关联。不同于新东方主义话语,这些报道并没有被构建为谎言,但人们也不认为新冠病毒会对德国造成任何影响。这背后的逻辑与其说是仇恨,不如说是一种观念在作祟,即发展中国家的致命流行病不会对德国这样的现代国家造成任何伤害。这一观念也体现了他者化的倾向,因此欧洲人难以相信应对新冠病毒已迫在眉睫。
Colonialism strikes back
殖民主义卷土重来
This othering of the virus had at least four problematic effects: Firstly, this framework tied together the Chinese, China and CPC, and thus allowed the disguise of some crude racism as political critique. At the same time, it ironically reinforced the CPC propaganda narrative that tries to equate CPC and China. Secondly, it distracted from the question how well-equipped Europe and the USA were to fight the virus. Thirdly, it informed the argument that Chinese successful strategies against the outbreak would not be applicable in democratic countries. Fourthly, being obsessed with liberal vs. authoritarian disease control, many people overlooked the possibility to learn from liberal democratic South Korea, which excelled at getting Covid19 under control.
病毒的他者化至少造成四方面不良影响:首先,这种叙事框架把中国人民、中国和北京当局绑定在一起,从而将某些赤裸裸的种族主义言论伪装成政治批评。讽刺的是,它同时强化了北京试图将自身等同于中国的宣传叙事。其次,它转移了人们对欧美防疫效果的关注。第三,它传达了一种论调:中国的成功经验并不适用于民主国家。第四,由于许多人执着于疾控手段是否保障自由,导致他们忽视了向自由民主的韩国学习的可能性,而韩国在这方面表现十分出色。
Thus, what failed in Europe is not liberal democracy but postcolonial arrogance. There was no lack of information, language ability, or time to learn what had happened in China. There was a lack of relating Chinese disasters to ‘us’, due to prevailing notions of orientalism and colonial temporality. Regrettably, Chinese state media have now started, too, to tell the story of the outbreak as a contest between ‘our’ and ‘their’ political systems rather than a natural disaster, and started to spread similar conspiracy theories as new orientalists did before. This may in turn make them underestimate the danger of a return of the virus in the coming year.
因此,在欧洲破产的并非自由民主的观念,而是后殖民时代的傲慢。我们有足够的信息、语言能力或时间来了解中国的现状。但由于盛行的东方主义和殖民主义观念,我们并未将中国的灾难与“我们”自身相联系。遗憾的是,中国官媒现在也开始将疫情的爆发构建为“我们”和“他们”这种政治体制间的二元对抗,而非一场自然灾害,并开始传播与新东方主义人士类似的阴谋论,这反过来可能使他们低估了病毒在来年卷土重来的危险。
Postscript [posted April 2nd]:
后记
Since this article was posted on March 21st, there has been a re-consideration of policy in some countries after they were themselves struck by the virus. However, in many cases, the New Orientalist narrative remained pronounced, most simply by reducing the Chinese approaches to Covid-19 to authoritarian elements, that is: lockdown and home quarantine for all. A number of intellectuals have spoken against this ‘Chinese solution‘. Yet others have applauded this representation of the ‘solution’ and pushed their own governments to do so, too. A Chinese saying follows the same logic. It roughly translates as: ‘with isolation there are no human rights, without there are no humans left’.
自文章在3月21日发表以来,一些饱受病毒侵袭的国家已经重新考虑调整政策。然而在多数情况下,新东方主义叙事仍然占主流,他们将中国方案简化为威权主义措施,即对所有人实行封锁和家庭隔离。一些知识分子反对这种“中国式的解决方案”,但也有部分知识分子表示赞赏,并敦促本国政府效仿中国。正如中国有句话所言,“隔离,人权没了;不隔离,人全没了。”
But reducing the ‘Chinese solution’ to lockdown is dangerous on two levels: Firstly, it again eliminates the possibility of learning from China, that in addition to lockdown, mass testing and strong protection of healthcare workers is necessary to get the outbreak under control. Secondly, a kind of inverted New Orientalism now seems to make people desire their government to impose authoritarian lockdowns, because they believe China has ‘proven’ that it works. This, too, is dangerous because it leads people to believe that a lockdown without additional measures is the solution.
但从两方面来看,将“中国方案”等同于全民封锁的观念极为危险。首先,它再次排除了向中国学习的可能性,即除了封锁之外,大规模检测和对医护人员的有力保护对于控制疫情也十分重要。其次,“逆向新东方主义”现在似乎让人们希望他们的政府实施威权封锁,因为他们相信中国已经“证明”这一做法行之有效。这种想法同样十分危险,因为它使人们相信单纯封锁而不采取其他措施才是解决问题之道。
A difference this time is, that many leading newspapers push against reducing Chinese solutions to the lockdown. But the older narrative that did so constitutes a dangerous heritage that needs to be challenged, urgently.
这次的不同之处在于,许多主流报纸反对将中国方案等同于全面封锁,但过时的叙事方式仍迫切需要改变。
 

参考阅读:

《疾病的隐喻》 ——苏珊•桑塔格【美】
疾病从来就不仅仅是疾病,它已经成为生活中随处可见的一种修辞,借以抒发个体的愤怒,谴责道德和 社会的败坏,甚至成为政治角力的武器。结核病是旧时代的潦倒文人画像,浪漫却忧郁;梅毒是犯罪与淫靡的报应;瘟疫是作恶多端的惩罚;癌 症则是破败、抑郁和了无生气的代名词,既寓意个体的消亡,也代表社会的无能。苏珊•桑塔格从自己患病的体验出发,反思了社会对疾病的一系列隐喻。“疾病的隐喻绝不是 清白的”,它怂恿人们把复杂的问题简单化,走向狂热,要警惕这些疾病的隐喻。

  • 本文原载于 Discover Society

  • 原文链接:https://discoversociety.org/2020/03/21/othering-the-virus/

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