浅析中美消费观念的差异
参考来源:网络 作者:秩名 更新时间:2016年08月15日 15时01分
On the Difference of Sino-American Consumption Concepts
 
[Abstract] In recent years, with the influence of western consumption options to China, especially American consumption, most Chinese people almost agree with the saying that “high incomes, high consume level, and high quality of life”. Some advertisements always show us that pursuing goods is the symbol of perfect life. Some propaganda makes the consumer forget the true significance of consumption, which is to fulfill personal need. But they deliberately pursue personal status, position and taste. It not only exists in the range of the high-income people, but in the young generation, who has low income, but also is ready for high consumption in the future. Considering this question, we should not neglect the background knowledge of these two countries. Chinese family ethics are based on human relations, they take emotion for the law to deal with family relationships. Chinese people ties to each other with blood as basic coordinates of blood. For American families, individual is the foundation, and individual is the supreme value, and it does not rely on others to exist, independent of the family relationship. Speaking of the reality, both the economic systems in the two countries are also different, so the mature degree of expense credit is also different. Therefore, the styles of consumption in US are probably not suitable for the Chinese people. Undoubtedly, America has its own advantages in some aspects; so we should consciously draw on the experience of America, not blindly follow the American.
[Key Words] historical development; family education; tourism consumption; high consumption; social security system
浅析中美消费观念的差异
 
【摘 要】近年来,受以美国为代表的西方消费主义的生活方式的影响,我国居民不论收入水平的高低对“收入越高,消费的商品越多,则生活越富裕,并且生活质量越高”有着普遍的认同。大家开始盲目的去追求高消费,那到底我们是否应该毫无保留的摈弃我们的传统美德,一味的去追求美国等西方国家的高消费呢?这是值得我们思考的。考虑这个问题。我们不得不离开它的背景知识去看。就中国而言,偏远的地理位置,相对封闭的环境,以及气候适宜的农耕区域,造成了中国人求稳的心理和好静的性格,靠天吃饭,一旦天气有什么变化就会影响生活,所以就不得不留点以备不时之需。反观美国,一个移民国家,人民多少具有开拓冒险精神,不会固守,而且它是一个新兴的工业国家,几乎没经过传统农业的时期,因此它没有那种存钱的观念。其次,双方的家庭道德教育也有所不同也造成观念上的不一致。中国的家庭道德教育,以人伦为基础,以情感和情理为法则处理家庭人际关系。而美国则推崇以个人为中心,以理性的基本原则对待家庭成员和家庭事务。就现实而言,两国的经济体制也不同,中国未必适合美国的那种消费方式。当然,不可否认,在某些方面美国是有它的优势的,因此我们不能盲目的跟从,而是有意识的借鉴。
【关键词】 历史发展; 家庭道德教育;  旅游消费;高物质消费; 社会保障体系
1. Introduction
In recent years, with the influence of western consumption, especially American consumption, Chinese inhabitants almost agree with one saying, “High income, high consumes level and high quality of life”. Some advertisement always shows us that pursuing merchandise is the symbol of perfect life. Some propaganda makes the consumer forget the true significance of consumption, which is used to fulfill personal need. But they deliberately pursue personal status, position and taste. It not only exists in the range of the high-income people, but in the young generation, who have low income but also is ready for high consumption in the future.[1]
Why such situation appeared? We should not ignore the background knowledge of the two countries. After realizing these, we can get a conclusion that although there are many-advanced aspects in America, we also should not pursue blindly, because it cannot separate from the factual. In China, economy develop imbalance and the culture is different. What we should do is to enhance the economy and improve the quality of people’s life. And for consumption, we should take moderate and reasonable consumption.
There are mainly three parts in the paper: firstly, to review the background knowledge of the two countries, which including histories and ethics; secondly, to analyze the education, entertainment, fashion and so on to show the different consumption levels; finally, to get a conclusion of the whole paper that is not to pursue the high consumption blindly.
 
2. Background knowledge
2.1 Histories
There is no doubt that there are some historical reasons for the different consumption.
2.1.1 Geographic Elements
It has vast territory in America. Most territory physiognomy is low and flat, it lies in the temperate zone where has enough rain. It supplies good resource condition for the development of American agriculture and has no limit to development.
It also has abundant water resource, which supplies reliable security for the development of American industry and resident usage.
The mineral and energetic sources are also very rich, such as iron, copper, lead, zinc, mine, petroleum and natural gas etc. These sources are taking great grade in the world. Variety and rich resources also supply great foundation to the American industry and supply great production for consumption.[2]
For China, remote location, and the relatively closed environment are the significant characters of Chinese. Geographic environmental conditions in China just like this. In the West and the North, there are plateau, mountains and desert, while in the East Central South, there is sea. These are natural barriers. Closed environment inevitably bring closure psychological and cultural anthropology. On the other hand, the psychological and the marine cultural developments do not play the important roles, which also related to the Huang - Huai basin. Huang - Huai basin natural conditions is good for farming, so the people began to get active on and formed a deep attachment to the land. Chinese people are lack of sufficient interest to the sea. Operations at sea are not only difficult but also dangerous, far less security than agriculture. We assume that, in the low standard of living condition, the need of security should be quite strong. Since people have land for farming, so why do we seek danger? From the psychosocial, the farming life also help farmers to like simple lifestyle and calm rhythm of life, and the sea-based trade or looting life will be disturbed and fast rhythm. China's natural conditions: climate, topography, and other aspects are not good for agricultural production conditions, but in general far more favorable than negative factors. On the survival of China's own conditions, agriculture is the best choice. Chinese people have a deep sense of the "food is the most important thing of people’s life”(民以食为天)" and "relying on the nature"(靠天吃饭),which derived from the experience of agricultural life. Chinese food culture is a full life-around diet, which is a factor of fundamental aspect of people's life. This factor is constrained and arranged by the “nature”(天). Therefore, the farmers had to take into account the instable climate and mutations factors. The surplus grain will be stored up for the rainy day, and the Chinese community has always been a form of self-sufficiency.[3] Therefore, Chinese people from the very young has been instilled such a concept – to keep up. Since ancient times, Chinese society is also to appraise the economy, which is many Asians’ concept to money. To sum it up in one word that is "deposit."
2.1.2 Society development
We all know that America is an immigration country, where people have adventure spirit. Then we would have to turn to the historical development of the United States. Its origins can be traced back to the 1776. In 1776, the US gained independence from the British rule. After 200 years development, the United States has developed far beyond its previous in the aspects of economic, political and military power. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States has become the sole superpower in the world. In the American War of Independence in 1776, American declared independence from the British .In 1789 they formulated the U.S. Constitution; and then the United States has become a Federal Republic, which is the first modern democracy in the world. At the same time, the United States has many overseas territories. Subsequently the two major events in U.S. history were the Civil War (1861 ~1865) and the Great Depression (1930s). BC aboriginal North America in 9000 to approximately 48,000 years ago during the period came to North America, and control of this area until the early 17-century European colonists arrived here. In the United States during the period 1776 -1789 won a victory in the war of independence, and 13 states in North America by the United States of America established. 
At the neoteric capitalist economy construction, commodity economy, which is full of vigor, excludes the natural economy prematurely. It breaks the self-sufficient pattern. Exploiting the world market and increasingly extending are all impact the nation guard and limitation.
So we say that America is an emerging industrial country, without traditional agricultural period (while China is a large agricultural country), which is definitely not on the minds of nature, and therefore they do not have the concept of depositing money. Naturally, they do not have deposits. The problem is that they dare to actively advance. They have the kind of courage.
China, as a feudal society with closed natural economy has developed for about thousands years. Its self-sufficient producing style forces most Chinese to spend all their life on farming. Once someone lost his ability of self-development, even lost his land, his family cannot survive.
2.2 Ethics
Once I saw a passage which was printed on “Chinese Youth Daily”, on Apirl.17th, 2006, has mentioned a person, Wang Jun. Now we come to see his changes. Once he was "the dinner party" positive organizer, and now starts by each kind pompous or the unthinkable excuse to refuse to participate the " corrupt" activity; whenever call him, no exception can hear a delightful female voice: "You dial the number is conversing on the telephone." Not very long time, short information has limped to, "has any matter"; each week going to soak and the fitness is cancelled, transfers each month to go to bank. To be natural, goes to pay off room loan, but is not goes to soak or the fitness. "After purchased homes, my life changed completely. Most awfully, this kind of change is not one year or so, but will last 15 years!"
The human who purchased homes called themselves as “the snails”. When they enjoy the new house they also get the heave pressure. The quality of life drop greatly: Does not dare to trade the work easily, does not dare the entertainment, the traveling, afraid the bank to raise the interest, worried falls ill, the unemployment, does not have time to enjoy the life well. Many people said that, buying house already was not the personal behavior, but for a family. A family is supplying the room. Some people use "6.1 patterns" to summarize the scene of entire family to supply the room: Six people, the youth husbands and wives, the groom's family parents, the bride's side parents invest together with many years’ savings to buy an anteroom in the city.
"We raise the room, who raises the parents?" Regarding the future, Wang Jun appear some anxieties. [4]
The example makes me pay attention to the family ethics in China and America.
2.2.1 The family link - - cordiality to be supreme and the rationalism.
China's family moral education, takes human relations as a foundation, and emotions as principal to process family interpersonal relationship. Chinese family ethics are based on human relations, and they take emotion for the law to deal with family relationships. Chinese people ties to each other with blood as basic coordinates. In dealing with family relations, the Chinese people’s genetic-based sentiments led to unusual attention. However, Chinese people have never follow a "reason" for the love, “A kind father and a filial son, a tender brother and a respecting brother, a gentle husband and a tender wife”(父慈子孝,兄爱弟敬,夫和妻柔) standard has enabled the Chinese people's feelings to follow. Chinese families used to cultivate good habits and establish relationships of caring other people. It trains personality of each family member and at last units a family a whole.      
For American families, individual is the foundation, and individual is the supreme value, and it does not rely on others to exist, independent of the family relationship. They can make all kinds of sacrifices for the family, without requiring a lot of obedience and respect. However, in addition to the enjoyment of freedom, equality, the independence of the individual in a family must also act in accordance with the fundamental rational principles.
American family education esteem takes individuals as the center, by rational basic principal treatment family member and family matter. In American family, individual is the standard, and it has the highest value, whose existence does not rely on other people between independence and diplomatic relation. The family may make all sorts of sacrifices for them, but does not request very many obeying. But the independent individual not only to enjoy the freedom with the respect in the family, the equality, but also must defer to the rational basic principle behavior to work, while safeguards "all my things is in charge of myself ", also requests to obey to the other people responsible principle. The American parents’ duty of fostering and educating the children, should do regard equally to the society and does not attempt the repayment; Children after 18 years old, leave home to rent a room to live alone, to study or to work, and nobody can accuse the parents to be unreasonable.
Clearly, the common Chinese family stresses on, "good relationship is the most important"(和为贵). American family stresses on personality, has strong colors rational.
2.2.2 The family duty - - - "the benevolence" and "the fair"
Chinese family education takes "the benevolence of the Confucianism " as the core; the basic of benevolence is loving people. This enormously affirmed and transferred family member's intrinsic noble motive. The corresponding relation of rights and duties are not important in China morality. We can say it express through the coordination between the duty and the duty. When we fulfill our obligation, we make other people enjoy the rights. This is a basic faith of Chinese family.
Americans take fair as the moral principle; everything is according with fair. And this “fair" is rational, even indifferent. And it thought the fair is opposition and agreement of the duty and the right. American is clear about the relation of the right and the duty. They work to get the reward, which also includes love. If they ask other people for help they also have to pay some reward. For example, they have paid for using relative's telephone, and the children demand the reward if they help their parents to wash car. American view of duty and right is not inconsistent with their intrinsic love. To pursue the right and the duty coexistent is the American family fair principle.
So, there are some historical reasons, which cause the different consumption of two countries. The country’s direction of development cannot separate from its history. American likes adventure, and they have strong independence and strong personality. And for China, the closed environment and closed connection of the family cause that when they think something, they have to consider many aspects. So the consumption also expresses some differences. And should we pursue the consumption of American? Before we make a decision, we can analysis some aspects.
 
3. Analysis
3.1. Education
The Chinese traditional culture influenced Chinese family education. The parents in China are good at persuading. They attach important to child excessively. Even ignore their own benefit. They even accept the obligation of educating their children without any complaint. In each stage, they still protect them from hurt. In order to make the child better, they try their best to solve the problems for children. And Chinese children, they respect the old generation and their experience. And they are also happy to accept the current experience of their parents.
Today, Chinese parents all take more attention to education than former. But the guardian lacked for the experience of science education for children, their ideas of children’s education is wrong. The parents lose the family education direction. This phenomenon is universal. People hope that their sons will grow up to be successful person. This always cause children tired of study, and they even to give up the study. Saluting the problem of family education and contradictory has become a great issue.[5]
American family and Chinese family all take moral education. Many guardians believe firmly that, the basic content of family education is not to teach children how much knowledge they should study, but to teach them how to adapt the society, how to establish the relation with other people and how to treat people. Scholar James. Baldwin said: “The children ever are not good at listening to their elder's speech, but they always cannot forget to imitate the elder."
In America, the children are cultivated the independence, confidence, explore spirit when they are young. The children have the right to choose what they want freely. Today, the children in US have more choice than their parents, but the complex situation makes it more difficult to have a decision. The parents may not make decision instead of giving free way to children. The parents only give confidence and free to children. It is the last goal of America family education that makes children to be a useful person.
The American give more encouragement than protection to the children, and we often give the excessive protection to them. American encourages the children to make each kind of attempt, which can raise their ability, interest, and the most important is to set up confidence. We take excessive protection to them, which create dependence to the parents, which may cause the child to suspect or lose the self- value. American guides the children but not instills into. The American requests the children to be comprehensive, but we use study to replace all. Some speeches, which have no intention, even destroy child's self-confidence. This kind of situation in the US is very rare. So the children in America are active, optimistic, and curiously and they have brave to attempt and like thinking.
The education also has great influence on cultivating the consumption concept, just because the American good education style, which make them consume boldly. They have enough confident to pay the debt. While for Chinese, we do anything hesitantly. And we like asking parents to give some advises. Having strong sense to depend on their parents. In this point, there is some good experience in American, which is worth studying.  
But in recent years, because the family miniaturizes day by day, and the families with only child increases, as well as the divorce rate elevates, the crisis appear in the US family education. So many television programs cause the children take more time to sit in front of the TV than their parents. Therefore children are mostly quite strange to their parents. The children, who brought up under this kind condition of family education not depend on their parents greatly. So their independence is strong, however their emotion development are short of.[6]
In this kind of situation, Chinese cannot study blindly. We should study the equality and the opening from the west. West must study Chinese students’ assiduousness and earnest. If China and the West can union, consummate unceasingly, the future will be certainly happy.
3.2. Entertainments
Why can the American "spend freely"? Because "they make little saves". Statistics have indicated this: after 2004, the income of the American tax probably is 8647billion US dollars, but the same year it is 8532billion US dollars. Their bank money is very few; the deposit rate is only 1.3%. The American make 100 US dollars only save 1.3 US dollars. Next is that it depends on bank to lend money. Many Americans do not save money, but go to bank to borrow money to buy the big-ticket item goods or overdraws through the credit card to travel. According to US federation reserve committee statistics, at the end of this June, the total amount of US credit expense already reached as high as nearly 215 billion US dollars. Each person has in debt more than 7,000 US dollars in average by national population computation.[7]
America is an immigrant nation. Two more development of the western region makes constant flow become a living. Therefore, American have no concept of the ancient precept "good thousand days at home, go to a difficult(在家千日好,出外一时难)". With the development of family vehicle and highway, other infrastructure industry and technology, travel becomes very simple. So Tourism has become a major industry in America. [8]
Chinese advocate economy, take to accumulate visibly and durable physical product expense. They also take not very important to cultural entertainment expense and service expense. The traveling expense is also the service expense, which is one kind of spirit expense, and it belongs to the people who with high income. Tourism expense is the expense after people satisfies their basic life .At present, traveling is a kind of basic accumulation expense, but it is not a kind of regular expense. People thought that the traveling expends, especially traveling aboard is luxurious expense. To borrow money to travel, most people in China think that is an incredible thing. In the eyes of most ordinary people, tourism consumption is not necessary in their lives.[9]
In future the anticipated determinism do not reduce people's expense tendency, which has currently affected the growth of the traveling credit expends in the certain degree. One is the income anticipated which is indefinite. Day by day, along with the serious employment, people's professional stability dropped and their income determinism did not enhance, people receive anticipated changes slightly. Although the total income increased, the inhabitant still could not boldly expend. The other is disbursing anticipated which is also indefinite. All of these are all restricting the increase of consumption.
We should understand that it is not because we don’t like traveling or we don’t know how to enjoy life but it tied by the traditional consumption. And the most important reason is the development of economy cannot catch up with American. If we pursue blindly and ignore the true situation in China, there may have some unimagined results.    
3.3 Fashion
American likes to catch new thing in order to take differences. Only the work- clothes have the possibility to be put on above for 3 years, the leisure clothes generally only are put on for 1 - 2 years. Moreover per capita has various seasons clothing above 10 sets. Massively from Chinese and all developing nations import clothing, the price is extremely cheap. Even if in the clothing massive expenses situation, American use in the clothing expense just only takes proportion less 5%account for the individual consumption disbursement. 
In the durable consumable aspect, the renewal speed is very quick. According to investigates, the proportion of people who having the cell phone is very high, nearly 100% university students, 50 - 70% middle-school students, 80% adults have cell phone, and after just one year they will get a new one. The automobile and other domestic electric also are very few used until it doesn’t work. Therefore, in American life trash, we can see all kinds of things, such as refrigerator, air conditioner, television, and washer and so on.[10]
In the 80's, American pursued luxuriously. The majority of Americans in the expense have only the brand in mind, especially some young people; they didn’t put on clothes, which is the non- name brand. But in the 90's, American gradually has been faint in expense idea called brand consciousness, and the price consciousness is in the upper hand. The habit, which they reformed for squandering money, is changed into careful planning.[11]
And Chinese just are on the opposite. Chinese consumer's expense behavior has two extremely remarkable characteristics: One is the admire fashion, displaying for regarding the new concept and new product craving, but the original product loyalty is low; the other is worshiping the psychology of foreign countries, favoring the purchase international brand.
We can look at American and Chinese consumable and service price level contrast at first: the professional female clothes in US cost 80 - 300 US dollars, occupying per capita income 0.27 - 1%. And Chinese price is actually in 500 - 1,000 Yuan, which occupies the per capita yearly income 5.5 - 11%. A pair of Italian leather shoes is worth approximately 100 - 200 US dollars in US, accounting for its per capita income 0.3 - 0.6%, but the same commodity must sell for above 1000 Yuan in our country, accounts for the per capita income above 11%.[12]
Surprisingly, there are great differences in consumption between two countries. The pace of the development of Chinese economy has quite lagged behind that of US, thus imposing a great impact on the resident income. Consumption concept is changing gradually, and fashion following is becoming trendy. Now American realizes the importance of thrift, while Chinese show the opposite trend: neglecting it!
American dares to spend, besides the national character aspect reason; the overall good expense environment is also a very important reason. First it should have much money. This must promote the economy to continue growing stably, make all people's income increase year by year. Another is that it does not have much extra worry. Because social security system quite perfect. The extra worries just decreasing. After some years endeavor, US have already established a social security system which is quite perfect. For the overwhelming majority US family, the retirement may receive the social insurance payments and the retirement pension, which guarantees the basic life and generally it does not have the major problem. Falling ill has the medical insurance; the unemployment also may receive the certain relief fund. The children going to the public school where they charged for free, and attending the university also can get the loan first, and so on. Therefore, American basically will not be unnecessary to save much money for the future, to see a doctor as well as the children go to school and so many other questions.
For this aspect, the development of some security system in China has not very well established, some systems just develop in recent years, and which also develop imperfectly. So there is no enough term to pursue the high consumption just like America.
3.4 Life Safety
The US is a country which land resource is extremely rich. In addition the scale modernized agriculture, all makes its majority agricultural products occupy the world leading status, which laid the solid foundation for the sufficient food, which supply for its inhabitant.
In food expense aspect, food price is extremely inexpensive according to per capita income levels surpass 30,000 US dollars in American family. Inhabitant only takes 14% on food expense. (This proportion in 2003 in our country city people accounts for 37%). so for this people there is no definitively restrain in food expense.
In the US, above 60% inhabitant has their own houses. The working couples' family yearly income level and the house price ratio is approximately 1: 2.[13]
United States is a typical model with the economy of free markets. The characteristics of the American social security system represent the general framework and nature of all other social security system in the countries with an economy of free markets. It deals with the aspects of the American social system in history, framework, substance, characteristics, operation, finance resources and management, and problems which inherent in American political and constitutional system.
We all know that the population in China has grown quickly and it has the little land in the country, what’s worse, the quality of the land is also not good. Chinese has things to consider.
“Along with the shift of China’s economic system from the pattern of a centrally planned economy to the pattern of a socialist market economy over recent years, the traditional social security system formed under the system of a centrally planned economy has increasingly shown its shortcomings: firstly, the traditional social, security system is applied to a small social group only, mainly covering state-run units. It could not meet the needs of common development of diverse sectors of the economy. Neither is it beneficial to the flow of labor among units of different ownership and to fair competition between state-run enterprises and other types of economic organizations. Secondly, the sources of funding for the traditional social security system are exclusively from the state and units concerned, and works themselves do not have to pay for their insurance. Consequently, such a system makes workers unaware of the necessity to pay for social security for them, and results in serious waste of resources of social security. Thirdly, enterprises are under the responsibility for the management and services of social security, forming a system that enterprises had to operate enterprises concentrating their resources on production and operation. Fourthly, items of the traditional social security system are incomplete. For example, as unemployment is not recognized under the system of a centrally planned economy, there was no unemployment insurance in China, it is easy for state-run enterprises to employ new workers, but it is difficult for them to reduce the staff. Consequently, state-run enterprises all have a large number of redundant personnel, making it difficult for their structure of labor force to meet the requirement of the reform of the industrial structure, the technical structure and the structure of ownership”.[14]
And now the country also has some reform to change the situation. “In view of the general situation of reform, we can see that great progress has been made in the establishment of the social security system in china: firstly, the coverage of social security has been extended. The coverage of major parts of the social security system—the old-age insurance system, the medical insurance system, the unemployment insurance system, etc----have been extended to include enterprises of non-public ownership, in the interest of common development of all economic sectors. Secondly, major parts of the social security system have initially broken away from the outdated model of “self insurance” on the part of enterprises. Instead, a common social relief security framework has been established, in the interest of fair competition among enterprises. Thirdly, the sources of funding for old-age insurance, medical insurance and unemployment insurance are no longer totally based on state finance as they were in the past. Instead, three parties—the state, employers and workers, rationally fund them today. Presently, old-age insurance and medicinal insurance are based on the combination of overall social planning with personal accounts. This has contributed to increasing the awareness of workers to pay for their own insurance. Fourthly. The management of funds for social security has been strengthened. The revenue and expenditure of funds for old-age insurance, medical insurance and unemployment insurance have been separated form each other in management. The budget and allocation of funds for social relief, social welfare,etc are under unified management, while budgetary and extra-budgetary funds for them are also under unified management. Meanwhile, competent authorities have been managing to improve the social security accounting system, in striving to prevent various forms of funds for social security from misuse or misappropriation. And fifthly, the central government has established the Ministry of Labor and Social Security as the national social security administration authority, which is designed to exercise, government agencies, public institutions and rural areas on a unified basis. The aforesaid achievements made in the reform of the social security system have played a positive role in promoting China’s economic restructuring, stability and development, and will produce far-reaching influence on the socio-economic life of China in future.” [15]
Different situation cause the different consumption options. We should not pursue blindly .we have accordant with the development of the country. But we should believe that with the development of the economy, the consume level must be improved quickly.
4. Conclusion
We should realize that American consumers’ high expense pattern and life style, also depends upon natural resources in country, and widely relies on the other national resources and takes it as their production and the material expense which grows base. The US depends upon it in the international politics, the military and economical trade status, and the US has constructed relatively stable resources and the energy supply system.
At present, the domestic inhabitant has the twofold entirely different tendency: On one hand, the majority of inhabitants are not willing to expend. Because they are receiving the low salary, having no sufficient confidence for the future income growth, and the society lacks the essential social security. Thus it seriously restricts the health growth of the national economy. On the other hand, wealthily makes Chinese study American's expense and the life style, the luxury and waste -like expense gradually becomes the fashion.
According to large population of China, per capita natural resource possessive amount is few. It is at the relatively disadvantageous position in the international division of labor, so we should not esteem the American high expense life style, only by making equitable disposition of national income by all possible means to make more use of national resources for the improvement of people’s living quality, as well as making proper guidance of the nation’s consumption activity to let them consume appropriately in the light of their actual needs, which could reduce the waste in life to the greatest extent, can we guarantee the realization of the majority’s common enrichment and minimize the expense of the resources, the environment and the ecology, which leads to the realization of the sustainable development of China’s social economy.
一、近代史上的两种文化保守主义
近代以降,面对飘洋东来、以新型工业资本社会形态为背景的西方文化咄咄逼人的挑战,中国本土文化能否继续延展其几千年来不绝的生命,曾是思想界长期纷纭不决的一大公案。文化保守主义便是在这场争论中对此始终持肯定态度,并身体力行地为重塑传统文化的现代精魂而呐喊的一种社会思潮或学术流派。
说到保守主义,人们总不免将落后、守旧的贬义与之联系在一起。这种看法,固然有其一定的依据,但是决不全面。因为它还常常用来指对于社会事物的变迁更倾向于保持其延续性和渐进性,以力求稳健的某种观念或意识。本文所讨论的中国近代文化保守主义,主要便是依据这一含义界定的。
在关于近代文化保守主义的讨论中,有人认为这一思潮在我国发端于十九世纪末康有为的今文经学及其建立孔教之说,[1]也有的将其上溯到洋务派的“中体西用”观,[2]甚至还有把近代早期的封建正统派直到“五四”以后的新儒家同作为“文化传统主义”思想脉络在各时期的不同表现形式而加以综论的。[3]这些不同的说法,表明各家对近代文化保守主义的界定标准尚存在着分歧。因此,在讨论中国近代的文化保守主义之前,自应先对其略作说明。
我们认为,近代文化保守主义的“近代”两字,按照我国学术界的通常用法,一般包含着两层涵义:一是时段概念,即指自鸦片战争到“五四”运动或1949年建国的这一历史阶段;一是社会形态概念,即指封建社会结构遭破坏而进人资本主义或半殖民地半封建社会时期。而在考察近代文化保守主义时,对于后一概念的把握显然更为关键。广义地说,文化保守主义的观念或思想,各个时代都可能有,尤其是在中国这样一个历史文化极为悠久的国家,文化保守主义更有着十分深厚的社会基础和传统。儒学的创始人孔子就是一个十足的文化保守主义者,在礼崩乐坏的春秋末期,他不仅主张“郁郁乎文哉,吾从周”,还为保存和传播古代文化遗产作了大量工作。其流风所被,使后代的儒者对于文物制度的演变大多偏向于一种保守持重的意态。进人近代以后,那种以维护封建制度为目的,深闭固守传统文化的一切,拒绝任何变革,或者坚持封建制度及其文化性质和主体不可变的保守观念,在很长一段时期内仍保持着相当强大的势力。但由于这类观念无论从内容还是表现方式看,都与一般封建社会的文化保守观念无本质的差别,故尽管它是近代社会客观存在的文化现象,从社会文化形态的角度审视,仍非我们所说的近代文化保守主义。因为严格意义上的的近代文化保守主义,应当是一种具有自觉的近代意识或以这种意识为主导的文化保守主义。也就是说,在整个中国近代的历史时段中,事实上存在着两种不同性质的文化保守主义。
一种是封建的文化保守主义,它不但主张在文化和意识形态上固守一切传统,拒斥各种异端和外来文化因素的加人,还极力要求在政治上保持旧有的封建制度或其主体。从近代前期视一切洋货洋物为“奇技淫巧”而深恶痛绝的封建正统派、洋务运动时期的顽固派,直到辛亥革命以后屡屡掀动复辟浊流的封建遗老,都是这一文化保守主义血脉相承的思想代表。至于洋务派的文化观,虽然反映了晚清封建统治集团中较为务实一派的思想,并且最初还是以顽固思想的对立面出现的,但因其基本立场仍在于维护封建制度,故本质上,也只能流为一种封建保守文化的变形。在其所设定的社会文化体系中,体现封建制度根本利益及其意识形态精神的“中学”占据了绝对的主导地位,而具有近代意义的西学或新学只不过是一种辅助和补充,且这种有限的西学吸纳,也是以不损及封建秩序的稳定及其统治利益为绝对前提的。因此,自戊戌变法到二十世纪初年,以张之洞为代表的洋务派与先前的对手顽固派,思想上实已合为一流,《劝学篇》在当时受到上自慈禧太后,下至地方劣绅叶德辉、苏舆等顽固派人士的交口称誉,便是一种明证。
另一种是近代式的文化保守主义。他们虽然也对传统怀有强烈的依恋感,并且十分强调文化变动的历史延续性,始终倾向以传统文化为根底或主体的近代文化建设进路,但却并不因此盲目维护传统社会体制。他们不仅能以理性的姿态看待和认肯整个社会的近代化趋势,有的还积极投身推翻封建专制和建设现代民主制度的革命实践。即使对于所钟爱的传统文化,也不一味偏祖,而是有所反思和批判,其文化观的内涵和关切目标都已显露出一种背离封建的近代文化建设意向。从章太炎到“五四”以后新儒家的文化保守主义,无不具有这样的特点。美国学者史华慈(B. Schwaitz)所谓“现代中国保守主义主要是‘文化的保守主义’,根本上并不是墨守现行之社会政治现状的‘社会政治的保守主义’。许多中国‘文化的保守主义者’,多半很清楚哪些是该保存下来的文化要素。”[4]指的正是这类文化保守主义。
依据这样的界定,可以看到,自1840年到1949年的整个中国近现代思想史上,文化保守主义的演变可明显地划为二个阶段:十九世纪末之前为封建文化保守主义居主流时期,此后则为真正具有近现代意义的文化保守主义形成发展时期。
封建文化保守主义所以在近代前期的思想界仍能保待主导的地位,不仅在于凭藉其原先在旧体制下形成的深厚根基及其社会意识形态机制运作的惯性影响,还在于中国社会的进人近代,本非其内部诸近代因素自然发展的结果,而是在西方资本主义向全球扩张的运动中被裹挟卷人近代化潮流的。这种被动的过程,不但使之在封建社会结构遭到破坏和瓦解的同时,未能直接走上正常的资本主义道路而沦为半殖民地半封建社会,也使其近代文化的酝酿发展呈现出一种滞后状态。加之当时社会上下因普遍憎恨西方列强的侵略行为,对近代西学的输人亦往往连带而生防范之心。以致在进入近代社会后的相当一段时间内,代表新社会形态的文化因素还无法形成一种自觉意义上与封建文化相抗衡的力量。
但是,到十九世纪末以后,情况便发生了变化。一方面,随着国内民族资产阶级的形成并登上政治舞台,以及近代思想启蒙运动的渐次展开和新文化观念在学术、教育、社会习俗诸领域的传播渗透,使整个封建文化秩序的权威大为衰落,纲常名教也遭到抨击,以至于谭嗣同激烈地发出了“数千年来,三纲五伦之惨祸烈毒由是酷焉矣’,[5]的呼声。这就从根本上削弱了封建文化保守主义的社会思想基础。另一方面,半个多世纪以来封建文化保守主义步步失败的实践,也使其走到了山穷水尽的地步。特别是戊戌政变至庚子间保守派疯狂镇压维新、盲目排外给中国人民带来的巨大灾难和种种丧权辱国的行径,更使其昏态毕露,人心尽失,并直接导致封建文化保守主义的社会影响一落千丈,不复可振。、当然,这并非说封建文化保守主义从此已告绝迹。事实上,直到“五四”以后的相当一段时间里,其遗绪依然存在,只不过因声名狼藉,在思想界已说不上有什么公开的号召力了。此外,在考察近代史上的封建文化保守主义时,还应注意一个事实:由于近代中国社会新陈代谢和文化思潮演变超乎常态的速率,使置身其中的该派人员构成、运思模式前后也不无一些变化。大抵说来,到二十世纪初年,整个封建文化保守主义的阵营实际上已成封建顽固派和洋务派完全合流之势,朝廷中最为顽固的一批大臣如徐桐、刚毅、赵舒翘等,经过庚子事变,或死或关或杀,剩下的迫于时势,在观念上遂向洋务派靠拢,1901年清政府颁布的“新政”,便是这种保守政治的实际运作。而辛亥革命以后,这一阵营又加人了部分原先有立宪倾向的人物,显得流品更杂,甚至对晚清维新派的某些主张也有所接受。这种现象的存在,自然并不意味着它的封建保守主义基本立场有所改变,但却深刻地反映了在时代大潮一往无前的冲击下,旧文化势力无可奈何、步步退却的窘态。
在中国,真正具有近现代意义的文化保守主义思潮,形成于二十世纪初年。这是一种在新的社会历史背景下产生的文化观,细审其政治倾向、运作目标和价值观念,都与前述封建文化保守主义有着本质和形态的差异。故在考察和评判这一文化现象时,不能简单视之为封建文化保守主义在新形势下的变形派生物,因为它本非这根藤上结的瓜,它的产生实在是别有更为现实的原因。时下有些人谈及现代文化保守主义,常常喜欢用“中体西用”几个字来概括其文化观的基本倾向,甚至说他们仍未脱出洋务派的思想框架,并以此来确认洋务派为现代中国文化保守主义的思想源头。我以为,用“中体西用”的词义来概括某种思想结构的状态未尝不可,但因此而将这种思想结构与晚清洋务派一律划上等号则大可不必。因为“中体”两字的涵义本可作不同的理解,洋务派的“中体”指的是政教合一,即以君主专制为载体的政统和名教纲常为核心的道统相结合的封建文化体制;而现代文化保守主义所肯认的“中体”,则更注重于体现民族历史精神的文化传统,他们不但将中国文化的道统与旧政统分离出来,还极力赋予其非封建性甚至现代意义的诊释,两者的差别是显而易见的。正如我们不能因为现代学者陈寅倍自述其“思想囿于咸丰、同治之世,议论近乎曾湘乡、张南皮之
间”,[6]便将其思想完全等同于洋务派一样。
诚然,由于这两种文化保守主义所凭藉的基本思想资源都是传统文化,其语言的表述、概念的使用乃至某些观念,常不免有相似之处,以致在“五四”以后相当长的一段时期内,往往被进步学者一概视为封建文化的余绪而加以斥责。近年来对文化保守主义的研究,则又有另一种倾向的出现,即将某些本属封建文化保守主义范畴的思想或人物混淆为近代文化保守主义加以评判。这种认识上的偏差,固然是由文化保守主义本身所具的历史复杂性所造成的,但是,如果要对这一近代文化现象进行更为深人细致的分析,我们便不能不首先对这两种不同性质的文化保守主义作出比较严格的区分。
二、近代文化保守主义思潮的流变
近代文化保守主义思潮所以在二十世纪初年的中国出现,有着广泛的国际背景。据美国学者艾恺(Guy S Alitto)的考察,保守主义作为一种思潮,几乎是与“现代化”观念并生的,近代以来,欧洲各国都出现过它的身影。在亚洲,这种以“反对西化”为主要特征的思潮直到“一次大战后才显其重要性”。[7]就二十世纪初年的中国而言,这一思潮的形成,除了一般文化保守主义对传统的依恋外,还与以下二个因素的刺激直接有关。
一是西方列强侵华程度的加深以及由此带来的严重民族文化危机感。虽然民族文化危机感的产生并非始于二十世纪,但在此之前,这种危机感至多只是局部的而非整体的。鸦片战争以后,一部分明智的官僚士大夫和知识分子已察觉到中国文化的某些缺陷,不过其最初的着眼点大多集中在制器制物等技术方面,以后才逐渐注意到经济及某些政治制度问题。直到十九世纪末,大部分人对于中国文化的主体依然十分自信,以为“五伦之要,百行之原,相传数千年,更无异义,圣人所以为圣人,中国所以为中国,实在丁此。”即西人对此,亦未尝尽废。故法制、器械、工艺可变,而伦纪、圣道、心术皆不可变,“今日学者,必先通经以明我中国先圣先师立教之旨,考史以识我中国历代之治乱……然后择西学之可以补吾网者用之,西政之可以起吾疚者取之,斯有其益而无其害。’,[8]连持维新观点的郑观应也主张:“器可变,道不可变,庶知所变者,富强之权术而非孔孟之常经也。’,[9]然而庚子事变后,瓜分危机的空前加剧和西学输人潮的急速涌起,不但极大地打击了这种盲目的中国文化优越感,还使一些爱国学者对中国文化的未来命运、特别是西方列强利用其文化优势实行侵略扩张的“灭国新法”产生了严重的忧虑,其时充斥在《国粹学报》上的各种“保教存学”言论便十分典型地反映了这种思想动向。在他们看来,数千年来中国社会虽屡经衰乱,但文化上却始终一脉相承,从未遇到过强有力的对手,“故自三代以至今日,虽亡国者以十数十,而天下固未尝亡也。何也?以其学存也。而今则不然矣,举世汹汹风靡于外域之所传习,非第以其持之有故,言之成理也。观其所以施于用者,富强之效,彰彰如是,而内视吾国萎靡颓朽,不复振起,遂自疑其学为无用,而礼俗政教将一切舍之以从他人。循此以往,吾中国十年后学其复有存者乎?’,[10]更有甚者,一些人震于西洋的发达,竟“欲尽举祖宗相传以来美丽风华、正大光明之语言文字废之不用,一惟东西之言文是依……而庸诅知其自国之粹先已蹂晌而国将无与立钦!”[11]须知近代以来,西方英、俄等列强侵灭某些弱小国家,就是采用变乱其国学语言,进而灭其种性的手段来实现的。强烈的民族文化整体危机感,激发了他们试图以保存和发扬传统文化,抵制西方列强的侵略,进而“保国保种”的文化保守意识。
二是其时西方资本主义制度暴露的种种弊端引发的文化回归情绪。由于历史机缘的凑合,当二十世纪初中国刚开始大规模输入和学习西方近代政治学说时,西方资本主义却因本身暴露的不少弊端,正在遭到人们的批判,这是一种巨大的历史反差。近代工业资本的发展,固然促进了社会的极大进步,但也带来了一些新的社会内在矛盾。1825年,资本主义经济危机在英国首先爆发。十九世纪中叶后,又波及西方各主要资本主义国家,使其体制内的各种矛盾渐趋激化,由此引起了社会的严重不满,受到了包括马克思主义在内的各派社会主义以及无政府主义的抨击。如英国的飘锦(A. W. Pugin, 1812一1852、纳斯钦(John Ruskin, 1809一1900)与莫理斯(William Morris, 1834一1896)便都指责资本主义“功利文化丑恶、非人的种种影响—工人退化成为机器而没有表达自身的自由;所有事物的卑一鄙地商业化—包括宗教与艺术;自然美的破坏与艺术的狠琐化,他们攻击现代都市的种种病态、贫病、丑恶与无情。对他们而言,所有的现代文明都根殖于自私、个人主义的放纵与物质主义之中”。[12]法国的蒲鲁东(Piuudhon, 1809一1856)、俄国的巴枯宁(Bakame, 1814一1876)和克鲁泡特金(Kropotnine, 1842一1921)也从无政府主义的角度对现实作了否定。在此风气的鼓荡下,一些国内学者开始对中国效法西方资本社会的改革前景表示疑虑。如刘师培在受到无政府主义和社会主义的影响后,便认为:西方立宪共和之国制定法律的议员,“不为贵族,即为资本家,故所定法律,名曰公平,实则贵族资本家咸受法律之保护,而平民则受法律之蹂躏。”所谓议员选举,皆贿赂公行,全靠财力运动,毫无公正可言。而“振兴实业,名日富国,然富民愈众,全国之民悉陷于困穷之境,则实业之结果不过为胺削贫民计耳”,结果只是加剧了贫富两极分化。因而,除非将来实行无政府主义,若处有政府之世,为人民幸福计,连西方物质文明亦有不如无。“至于西人之政治,一无可采”,“若欧美日本之制果推行于中国,则多数人民失其幸福及自由,其陷于困难必较今日为大苦。’,[13]在这种情形下,还不如按川托尔斯泰的主张,回到中国农业社会去。章太炎在1908年发表的《代议然否论》,同样也表现出这样一种文化回归的倾向。这一现象,正有助于我们理解何以刘、章等人在政治上一度接受激进的无政府主义之时,文化上却依然不改其国粹主义的保守立场之故。
从整个文化保守主义的演变过程看,虽然这二个因素的影响力度会因各时期形势的变化而有所不同,但却是一直存在的。这就表明,文化保守主义在近代中国始终是作为西力东渐和“西化”的对应物而出现的。
在对近现代文化保守主义的探源中,不少学者都把康有为作为其最早的代表人物,这是可商榷的。康有为的文化观,在倡导儒学并表露出某种世界主义倾向等方面,固然与后来的文化保守主义有相近处,但如从其产生的背景和实际作用看,却并不具有该思潮的典型特征。这是因为,其儒学观在十九世纪后期的思想界首先是以激进的儒学革新者,而不是以保守的姿态出现的,目的在于模仿西方文化的格局,将儒学改造成西方式的宗教,故就其当时的实际作用而言,对传统儒学的破坏实大于保守的意义。二十世纪以后,随着历史的推进,康有为守旧说不变,其文化观的保守一面始有所凸显,但与整个近现代文化保守主义的主流却仍隔着相当的距离,与主张维护君主制度的政治保守势力却在不断靠拢,对孔学也始终缺乏自觉的清理批判意识而只求将其神圣化,以致很快成为一个在思想界失去影响的过时者。故在我看来,依据前述近现代文化保守主义的理论特征,中国最早具有近代意义的文化保守主义思潮应以辛亥革命时期的国粹主义为代表。
国粹主义是二十世纪初年国内兴起的一股学术文化思潮,代表人物为章太炎、邓实、黄节、刘师培、陈去病、马叙伦等一批具有近代民主意识的知识分子,他们的文化主张,反映了当时知识界对民族文化深层危机日趋严重的某种自觉。面对席卷而来的“西化”浪潮,国粹派诸子深恐国人将失去民族精神的凭藉,因而希望通过民族传统文化的继承和发扬,激发民族自信心,抵御外来侵略而“保国保种”。由于这些人大多受过西方近代学术思想不同程度的浸润,其所倡导的“保存国粹”,尽管仍流露出对传统文化的浓厚依恋感,但在文化建设的取向上,已表现出明显的近代意识。首先,其对传统的尊重,并不意味着对旧体制的拥护,特别是在政治上,他们大多反对封建专制而向慕民主制度,有的还积极投身于反清革命斗争的实践。其次,其对传统文化的继承,亦非主固守一切旧文化,而是有所批判和取舍,尤注重其中有关民族爱国主义、个人道德修养和民主思想等“真国学”的发掘,而对那些体现封建专制文化的“君学”则公开表示鄙弃。第三国粹派对当时思想界群趋“西化”的风气虽甚表忧虑,却决无“排斥西学”的主观意图,相反,章大炎、邓实、刘师培等都为输人西方近代的社会政治学说做过不少工作,在他们所理解的“国粹”中,事实上已夹杂着不少西学的成份。如果将它的文化主张与“五四”以后的各派文化保守主义相比较,便可发现,后者的不少观念都可在这里找到它的雏形。当然,作为中国近代文化保守主义思潮的初期形态,国粹主义的文化理论和实践都还处于比较粗疏和不成熟的状态,其对传统文化价值的发掘和释义,有不少地方仍失之牵强,尚未形成具有清晰框架和严密论证的文化保守主义理论体系。
自民国建立到“五四”时期,现代文化保守士义的演变出现了一种新的格局,一时思潮起伏,流派迭兴。特别是新文化运动期间,国故派、学衡派、东方文化派等纷纷聚集于文化保守主义旗下,为维护民族文化传统和反对“西化”提出了种种主张,并在哲学、文学、史学、教育等领域展开了一系列相关的学术活动。
其中,国故派的代表刘师培、黄侃、黄节等皆晚清国粹派之旧班底,不过已失去了往日反清革命时的生气,学术上日趋于偏重考据的国故研究,在文化理论方面则无多建树,加之刘师培政治上的声名狼藉,故在思想界实际影响并不大。
学衡派则是以欧美留学归国知识分子为主而形成的一个学术群体,核心人物为吴睿、梅光迪、胡先骄、汤用彤等。他们以1922年创刊的(学衡》杂志为学术阵地,打出“昌明国粹,融化新知”的旗号,一方面继承晚清国粹派的某些论学宗旨,一方面引人西方学者白璧德的新人文主义,以一种特有的中西合璧式保守情怀,看待并从事现代学术文化的构建。这一派的活动持续时间虽较长,但因其主要精力很快就转向了比较专门的学术研究领域,以致在社会整体文化的理论建设方面也未能留下更多的东西。
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