理论视野 2009年12月01日 20:28

爱因斯坦:为什么要社会主义?

    本文选自许良英等编:《爱因斯坦文集》第3卷
    后附英文原文

  一个既不是专门研究经济问题和社会问题的人,却要对社会主义这个题目发表意见,这是否适当呢?从一些理由来看,我相信是适当的。
    
  首先让我们从科学知识的观点来考查这个问题。天文学同经济学好象并没有什么根本的方法论上的差别:这两个领域里的科学家都企图发现对一类范围有限的现象普遍适用的规律,尽可能地弄清楚这些现象的相互关系。但实际上,这种方法论上的差别还是存在的。在经济领域里,由于所观察到的经济现象时常要受到许多很难分别开来估计的因素的影响,使得要发现普遍规律就很困难了。此外,从人类历史上所谓文明时期开始以来所积累下来的经验—正如大家都知道的—在很大程度上决不是完全由经济性质的原因所影响和制约的。比如,历史上多数大国都靠征服别的国家而得以存在。征服的民族在法律上和经济上自封为被征服国家的特权阶级。他们夺取土地所有权的垄断,并且从自己的队伍里派出教士。教士控制了教育,使社会的阶级分化成为永久的制度,并且创立一套社会伦理准则(a system of values),从此以后人民在他们的社会行为中就在很大程度上不自觉地遵守着这套准则。
  
   
  但是历史的传统可以说是昨天的事;无论在哪里,我们实在都还没有克服索尔斯坦·月,布伦(Thorstein Veblen)所说的人类发展的“掠夺阶段”(the predatory,phase)。可观察到的经济事实都属于这个阶段,甚至我们能从这些事实推导出来的规律,也不能用到别的阶段上去。既然社会主义的真正目的就是要克服并且超过人类发展的掠夺阶段,所以处于目前状况下的经济科学就不能说明未来的社会主义社会。   
  
  其次,指引社会主义方向的是一个社会-伦理目的。可是,科学不能创造目的,更不用说把目的灌输给人们;科学至多只能为达到某些目的提供手段。但目的本身却是由那些具有崇高伦理理想的人构想出来的,只要这些目的不是死胎,而是有生命的,并且是生命力充沛的,它们就会被许多人所采纳并且向前发展,这些人半不自觉地决定着社会缓慢的进化。
   
  由于这些理由,在涉及人类的问题时,我们就应当注意不要过高地估计科学和科学方法;我们也不应当认为只有专家才有权利对影响社会组织问题发表意见。
  
  前些时候以来,曾有过无数这样的论调,说人类社会正经历着一种危机,它的稳定性已遭到严重的损害。这种情况的特征是:个人对于他所属的集体,不论大小,都漠不关心,甚至有敌对情绪。为了说明我所讲的意思,让我在此讲一件我亲身经历的事。不久以前,我同一位有才智的并且是好脾气的人讨论下一次战争的威胁,我认为下次战争会严重危害人类的生存,我说,只有超国家的组织才能防止那种危险,我那位客人却无动于衷,而且冷言冷语地对我说:“您为什么要那样强烈地反对人类的绝灭呢?”
  
  我深信,在短短一个世纪以前,还不会有人那么轻率地讲出这样的话。说这话的人,他曾努力想达到自己内心的平衡,但无结果,并且多少已失去了成功的希望。这表示了在这些日子里多少人所遭受到的痛苦的寂寞和孤独。它的原因究竟是什么呢?难道真没有出路吗?
  
  提出这样一些问题是容易的,但却难以给它们作出有任何把握的回答。不过我还是要尽力去试试看,尽管我非常明白,我们的感情和努力时常是有矛盾的,模糊不清的,不能用简易的公式把它们表述出来。
  
  人既是孤独的人,同时却又是社会的人。作为孤独的人,他企图保卫自己的生存和那些同他最亲近的人的生存,企图满足他个人的欲望,并且发展他天赋的才能。作为社会的人,他企图得到他的同胞的赏识和好感,同他们共享欢乐,在他们悲痛时给以安慰,并且改善他们的生活条件。只是因为存在着这些多种多样的、时常相互冲突的努力,才能说明一个人所独有的性格,而且这些努力的特殊结合就决定了个人所能达到的内心平衡的程度,以及他对社会福利所能作出贡献的程度。这两种倾向的相对强度很可能主要取决于遗传。但他最后表现出来的个性,它的形成主要取决于人在发展中所处的环境,取决于他所成长于其中的社会的结构,取决于那个社会的传统,也取决于社会对各种特殊行为的评价。对于个人来说,“社会”这个抽象概念意味着他对同时代人以及以前所有各代人的直接关系和间接关系的总和。个人是能够自己进行思考、感觉、奋斗和工作的;但在他的肉体、理智和感情的生活中,他是那样地依靠着社会,以至在社会组织以外,就不可能想起他,也不可能理解他。是“社会”供给人以粮食、衣服、住宅、劳动工具、语言、思想形式和大部分的思想内容;通过过去和现在亿万人的劳动和成就,他的生活才有可能,而这亿万人全都隐藏在“社会”这两个小小字眼的背后。
  
  因此,个人对社会的依赖,显然是自然界的一个不能抹煞的事实—蚂蚁和蜜蜂也正是那样。可是,蚂蚁和蜜蜂的整个生活过程,甚至在最微小的细节上也都是由遗传下来的不变的本能所决定着的,而人类的社会型式和相互关系却是非常不固定的,容易改变的。记忆力、重新组合的能力、口头交谈的才能,已在人类中间造成了一种不听命于生物学上的必然性的可能发展。这种发展表现在传统、制度和组织中;表现在文学中;表现在科学和工程成就中;表现在艺术作品中。这也就解释了,为什么在某种意义上说来人能够通过自己的行动来影响生活,为什么自觉的思考和愿望能够在这种过程中起着作用。
  
  人在出生时,通过遗传已得到了一种生物学上的素质,我们应当把它看作是固定的和不变的,这种素质包括那些作为人类特征的自然冲动。此外,在他的一生中,他也得到一种文化上的素质,这是他从社会中通过交往以及其他许多类型的影响而取得的。这种文化上的素质,随着时间的流逝而起变化,它在很大程度上决定着个人同社会之间的关系。近代人类学通过所谓原始文化的比较研究告诉我们:随着主要的文化型式和社会中占优势的组织类型的不同,人类的社会行为可以相差很大。那些企图改善人类命运的人就可以以此为根据,建立起他们的希望:人类不是由于他们的生物学的素质而注定要互相毁灭的,或者要听任那残酷的、自作自受的命运来摆布的。
  
  如果我们问自己,社会结构和人的文化面貌应当怎样改变才能尽量使人类生活感到满意,那末,我们应当经常意识到,有些条件我们是无法改变的。如前面所提到的,人的生物学本性实际上是不会变化的。此外,最近几个世纪来技术和人口的发展所创造的一些条件,也已扎下根来。在定居人口比较密集的地区,要为他们继续生存生产必需的物品,极细的分工和高度集中的生产设备都是绝对必要的。个人或者相当小的集团完全自给自足的时代—回顾起来,它似乎多么地有田园风味呀—己一去不复返了。只要稍微夸张一点,不妨说:人类甚至在目前就已经组成了一个生产和消费的行星公社。
  
  现在可以扼要地说明我们时代的危机的本质究竟是什么。在我看来,这个问题牵涉到个人对社会的关系。现在的个人比以往都更加意识到他对社会的依赖性。但他并没有体会到这种依赖性是一份可靠的财产,是一条有机的纽带,是一种保护的力量,反而把它看作是对他的天赋权利的一种威胁,甚至是对他的经济生活的一种威胁。而且他在社会里的地位总是这样,以致他性格中的唯我倾向总是在加强,而他本来就比较微弱的社会倾向却逐渐在衰退。所有的人,不论他们的社会地位如何,全都蒙受这种衰退过程。他们不自觉地做了自己的唯我论的俘虏,他们感到忧虑不安、孤单寂寞,并且丧失了天真、单纯和淳朴的生活乐趣。人只有献身于社会,才能找出那实际上是短暂而有风险的生命的意义。
  
  照我的见解,今天存在着的资本主义社会里经济的无政府状态是这种祸害的真正根源。我们看到在我们面前一个庞大的工商业界,它的成员彼此在不断地拚命剥夺他们集体劳动的果实,这种剥夺不是通过暴力,整个来说,而是严格按照法定的条例去进行的。在这方面,重要的在于认识到生产手段—那就是生产消费资料以及附加的生产资料所必需的全部生产能力—可以合法地是,而且大部分已经是个人的私有财产。
  
  为了简便起见,我在下面的讨论中,将把所有那些不占有生产手段的人统统叫做“工人”—虽然这并不完全符合于这名词的习惯用法。生产手段的占有者有条件来购买工人的劳动力。工人使用生产手段生产新商品,而这些商品就成为资本家的财产。这个过程的关键是在工人所生产的东西同他所得的报酬(两者都用实际的价值来计量)之间的关系。在劳动合同是“自由刀的情况下,决定工人的收入的,不是他所生产的商品的实际价值,而是他生活的最低需要,以及资本家对劳动力的需求同就业竞争的工人数目的关系。甚至在理论上,工人的报酬也不是由他的产品的价值来决定的;了解到这一点,是很关紧要的。
  
  私人资本趋向于集中到少数人的手里,这部分是由于资本家之间的竞争,部分是由于技术上的发展和不断增长的分工促使更大生产单位的形成,从而牺牲了较小的生产单位。这些发展的结果造成私人资本的寡头政治,它的巨大权力甚至连民主组织起来的国家也无法有效地加以控制。事实的确如此,因为立法机关的成员是由政党选出来的,而这些政党要不是大部分经费是由私人资本家提供的,也是在其他方面受他们影响的,他们实际上把选民同立法机关隔离开来了。结果是,人民的代表事实上不充分保护人民中无特权的那一部分人的利益。此外,在目前的条件下,私人资本家还必然直接或间接地控制情报和知识的主要来源(报纸、广播电台、教育)。因此,一个公民要达到客观的结论,并且理智地运用他的政治权利,那是极其困难的,在多数场合下实在也完全不可能。
  
  因此在以资本的私人所有制为基础的经济中,最常见的情况是以两条主要原则作为其特征:第一,生产手段(资本)是私人所有的,所有者以他们认为是最恰当的方式来处置它们;第二,劳动合同是自由的。当然在这个意义上的纯粹的资本主义社会这种东西是不存在的。尤其应当注意到,通过长期艰苦的政治斗争,对于某些行业的工人来说,他们已取得了形式上多少有点改善的“自由劳动合同”。但从整个看来,今天的经济同“纯粹的”资本主义并没有多大差别。
  
  经营生产是为了利润,而不是为了使用。并没有这样的规定:凡是有能力并且愿意工作的人总有就业机会。“失业大军”几乎一直存在着。工人经常受到失业的威胁。既然失业的和报酬微薄的工人提供不出有利可图的市场,消费品的生产就受到限制,结果造成巨大的经济困难。技术的进步经常产生的是更多的失业,而不是使劳动负担普遍有所减轻。追逐利润,加上资本家之间的竞争,使资本的积累和利用不稳定,从而导致日益严重的不景气。无限制的竞争导致劳动力的莫大浪费,也导致个人社会意识的消沉;这我在前面已提到过了。
  
  这种对个人的摧残,我认为是资本主义的最大祸害。我们整个教育制度都蒙受其害。人们还把夸张的竞争姿态教给学生,训练他们对好胜喜功的崇拜,以作为他们未来生涯的一种准备。
  
  我深信,要消灭这些严重祸害,只有一条道路,那就是建立社会主义经济,同时配上一套以社会目标为方向的教育制度。在这样一种经济制度里,生产手段归社会本身所有,并且有计划地加以利用。计划经济按社会的需要而调节生产,它应当把工作分配给一切能工作的人,并且应当保障每一个人,无论男女老幼,都能生活。对个人的教育,除了要发挥他本人天赋的才能,还应当努力发展他对整个人类的责任感,以代替我们目前这个社会中对权力和名利的赞扬。
  
  然而应当记住,计划经济还不就是社会主义。计划经济本身还可能伴随着对个人的完全奴役。社会主义的建成,需要解决这样一些极端困难的社会—政治问题:鉴于政治权力和经济权力的高度集中,怎样才有可能防止行政人员变成权力无限和傲慢自负呢?怎样能够使个人的权利得到保障,同时对于行政权力能够确保有一种民主的平衡力量呢?



Why Socialism?


     by Albert Einstein

    This essay was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949).

    Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

    Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has — as is well known — been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

    But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

    Second, socialism is directed toward a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and — if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous — are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half-unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

    For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

    Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supranational organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”

    I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

    It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

    Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society — in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence — that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”

    It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished — just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human beings which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

    Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

    If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time — which, looking back, seems so idyllic — is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

    I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

    The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor — not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production — that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods — may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

    For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production — although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. In so far as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

    Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

    The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present-day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.

    Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

    This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

    I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

    Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

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