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SOFIA, Bulgaria — It is a “force majeure”moment in Europe. In France, the “yellow vest” protesters are burning cars anddestroying shops, accusing President Emmanuel Macron, the darling of thepro-European progressives, of Marie Antoinette-style arrogance and disrespectfor the concerns of the ordinary people. In the United Kingdom, the utterfailure to broker a Brexit deal has turned into a national tragedy. Severaldays ago, in an open letter to his compatriots, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutteconcluded that Britain had “dropped the vase,” shattering the country’sdelicate unity. He compared politicians who stir up divisions to “screamingsideline football dads” shouting loudly without thinking about the consequencesof what they say.

写于保加利亚索菲亚——对欧洲来说这是一个“不可抗力”时刻。在法国,“黄背心”示威者正在焚烧汽车并砸毁商店,他们控诉亲欧进步人士心爱的总统马克龙的玛丽·安托瓦内特式傲慢以及不尊重普通百姓的关切。在英国,谈出一项英国脱欧协议的彻底失败已成为了国家悲剧。几天以前,荷兰首相马克·吕特在写给他同胞的一封公开信中,得出了英国已经“破罐子破摔”的结论,粉碎了这个国家脆弱的团结。他将煽动分裂的政客比作“观看孩子比赛时在边线上尖叫的爸爸”,只是大声喊叫,全然不考虑他们所说言语的后果。

(译注:玛丽·安托瓦内特,Marie Antoinette ,1755-1793,法王路易十六的王后)

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“Force majeure” is a legal concept that allows you to get out of acontractual obligation under exceptional circumstances. It is also the name ofRuben Ostlund’s 2014 film, a black comedy about a professional couple who taketheir two beautiful young children to an upscale ski resort somewhere in theFrench Alps and face an unexpected “trauma” that permanently alters theirrelationship. Everything is going perfectly until the family, while enjoyingsome sunshine at an open-air mountain restaurant, sees an avalanche descendingtoward them. A tidal wave of snow envelopes the restaurant. And withoutthinking, the father flees, abandoning his family to save himself. When thesnow settles, everyone realizes that it was a false alarm — it was a“controlled avalanche” gone slightly awry. No one is hurt. The father returns,and behaves as if nothing significant had happened, but the mother is livid.The rest of their trip is soured by the father’s moment of instinctualselfishness and his refusal to admit fault.

“不可抗力”是一个法律概念,即允许你在特殊情况下摆脱契约责任。这也是鲁本·奥斯陆2014年电影的名字,这是一部黑色喜剧,说的是一对职业夫妇带着他们两个漂亮的孩子去了阿尔卑斯山法国一侧的一个高级滑雪胜地,然后遭遇了一次始料未及的“创伤”,永久地改变了他们间的关系。一切都顺风顺水,直到这一家子在山上的露天餐厅里享受阳光时,看见一场雪崩向他们扑去。一大波的雪封盖住了餐厅。然后,这位父亲不假思索就逃跑了,为了救自己的命抛下了他的家庭。解决了雪的问题后,所有人意识到这只是一次误报,是一次“人工引发的雪崩”,出了点小差错而已。没有人受伤。这位父亲回来了,表现出没什么大不了的样子,但母亲面如死灰。因为父亲一瞬间出自本能的自私行为以及拒绝认错,他们余下的旅程就变得很难堪了。

Ostlund’s film is a perfect analogy for whythe meritocratic elites have lost the trust of the people. The collapse ofLehman Brothers was the world’s “controlled avalanche,” and the best and thebrightest ran away — and quick — to save their money and banks, forgettingabout those who needed their help. They have never ceased to deny that theyhave done so. And thus, not surprisingly, the majority of the people have cometo regard the meritocratic elite as a mercenary elite, always ready to run fromthe table. They lack the word “sacrifice” in their vocabulary. They do notbelong to the community, but they want to be respected, admired and even loved.

奥斯陆导演的电影是关于精英管理体制中的精英们为什么已经失信于民的一个完美类比。莱曼兄弟的崩溃便是全世界的一次“人工引发的雪崩”,最优秀和最聪明的主儿为了挽救他们的金钱和银行逃之夭夭了,而且跑得极快,把那些需要他们帮助的人们抛诸脑后。他们也一直在否认如此这般的行径。因此,民众中的大多数慢慢把精英管理体制中的精英视为唯利是图的精英也就不足为怪了,他们时刻准备着从牌桌上跑路。他们的字典里没有“牺牲”这个词。他们并不属于社群,却想要得到尊敬、赞美甚至爱戴。

(译注:莱曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)申请破产的时间为2008年,系有史以来最大的破产事件)

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So who do the people trust, then, if theydisdain the meritocrats and disregard the populists? The answer, based onopinion polls, is a profoundly puzzling one: Today, the military turns out tobe the most trusted institution in most European countries. It is likely notbecause of any recent glorious victories nor because Europeans love war. Mostprobably, the public’s trust in the military elites could be explained by thefact that they are the only ones who do not have a “force majeure” clause intheir contracts. For the military to serve, it must sacrifice for others. Thisis exactly what people expect the elites to do.

那么如果民众贬损精英又无视民粹主义者,他们信任的又是谁呢?根据民意调查,这是一个极度让人摸不着头脑的答案:原来在如今的大部分欧洲国家,军方才是最受信任的机构。这可能不是因为最近有过什么辉煌的胜利,也不是因为欧洲人喜欢战争。最可能的解释是,公众对军队精英的信任,缘于他们是唯一在其合约中不存在“不可抗力”条款的人。因为军队服役时,必须为他人作出牺牲。而这恰恰是民众期望精英们做的事。

If leaders like Macron wish to counter thedivisive strain of nationalism that grips their nations with their own brand of“patriotism,” they must recapture the public’s trust. And to do so, they musttie their own hands to the table to prove that when the next avalanche hits,they will not flee.

如果像马克龙这样的领导人希望对那些造成分裂的、用他们自己品牌的“爱国主义”把持了国家的民族主义压力作出反击,他们就必须重拾公众的信任。而为了做到这一点,他们必须把自己的双手绑在牌桌上,以此证明下一次雪崩来袭时,他们不会溜走。