BBC Radio 4的Rethink栏目在23号请来了Niall Ferguson,Francis Fukuyama(福山)还有Steve Hilton探讨疫情的影响。

Niall Ferguson念了事先写好的Essay,我翻译如下:

Pandemics, like world wars and global financial crises, are history’s great interruptions. Whether man made or naturally occurring, whether anticipated or bolt from the blue. They are also moments of revelation. It isn’t just that a catastrophe divides us all up into three groups: the prematurely dead, the lucky survivors, and the permanently wounded or traumatized. The catastrophe also separates the fragile from the resilient and the anti fragile. Nassim N. Taleba’s wonderful word to describe something that actually become stronger under stress. Remember in nature what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Some cities, corporations, states, and empires collapse under the force of a shock, others survive. But a third category emerges stronger from the crisis. Much about this pandemic still remains uncertain. Three things however can be said now with some confidence.

大型瘟疫,跟世界大战和全球金融危机一样,是历史的中断,无论人为触发还是自然造成,意料之中还是意料之外。他们同时也是暴露问题的时刻。灾难不仅把我们分成这么三类,过早死去的,幸运活下来的和受到永久伤害的;灾难同时把脆弱的和能适应的和反脆弱的分开。反脆弱是Nassim N. Talebe创造的词用来描述有些东西在压力下愈发坚强。别忘了在自然界,凡未能至我于死地者,于我有磨砺之功。有些城市,有些公司,有些国家,有些帝国,会在强烈冲击下崩溃,另外一些则能够存活下来。还有第三类在经历之后变得更为强大。关于此次瘟疫,还有很多事情不能确定,但是下列三点比较确定。

First Covid19 is to social life what AIDS was to sexual life. It will change our behaviour though by no means enough to avert a significant number of premature deaths. There’ll be unsafe socializing, just as the still unsafe sex.


Second, and for that reason, most big cities aren’t over. It takes a lot to kill a city. True, just over a century after Thomas Mann wrote Death in Venice, Venice is pretty much dead. But it wasn’t the Cholera that killed it, try the shifting pattern of international trade. Just as COVID-19 won’t kill London and New York. It’ll just make them cheaper and grandeur.

第二,因为上述原因,多数大城市不会就此完结。毁掉一个城市需要很久。没错,在Thomas Mann写下《威尼斯之死》仅仅一个世纪之后,威尼斯基本上完了,但威尼斯并非毁于霍乱,国际贸易模式的变化可以更好地解释其衰落。正如COVID-19不会毁掉伦敦和纽约,只是会它们更便宜,更宏伟。

Finally let’s reflect on the pandemic’s impact on generational imbalances that had grown intolerable in many societies in recent years. Has COVID-19 been sent by friar, the goddess of youth, to emancipate millennials and generations Z from carrying the fiscal burden of an excessive number of elderly people? It’s tempting to marvel at this age just virus, no previous pandemic was so discriminating against the elderly and unfavourable young. But in truth the impact of COVID-19 in terms of excess mortality will probably not be great enough to make much difference.


Plagues don’t hold progressive if progress is happening. The same London that suffered the last great bubonic plague outbreak of 1665 was about to become the central harbor of extraordinary commercial empire, humming hive of scientific and financial innovation. No pathogen could stop that. Our plague is likely to have the biggest impacts on places where progress had stopped and stagnation had set in.


First in line, I hope, will be the bureaucracies that in some countries, including Britain and America, so badly failed to deal with this crisis.


Next I hope will be those universities that were more interested in propagating work ideology than teaching all that can profitably be learnt from the human past.


Finally may the pandemic clear out those media institutions that insisted on covering it, as if it were all a function of the fables of a few presidents, prime ministers, and advisers.


If stagnating institutions are shaken up by this disaster that just a chance that we’ll see a return to progress, in places where up until 2020, the most striking trend had been degeneration. By killing those parts of our system that failed the test, COVID-19 might just make us stronger.



Oh I think it is absolutely correct. I mean, that’s kind of stress test and if you have weak institutions, you are gonna fail the test and you’ll get weaker. And I do think it will actually open up the possibilities for things getting better.


It is kind of musing. I actually had an argument with Niall Ferguson a few days ago on precisely this topic. His view of what it means to get better is quite different from mine. In my view the kinds of weaknesses that are going to be revealed have to do with the inequalities and health systems. The fact that in the united states for example it’s primarily racial and ethnic minorities that have suffered. His weak institutions are the media universities other kind of liberal icons. One of us is going to be right about, you know, which are the main targets. But I do think the general principle that there’s gonna be a weeding out is correct.

有意思的是,几天前我刚刚跟Niall Ferguson争论了这个话题。他所说的改善跟我说的完全不同。我认为,被揭露出来的薄弱环节在于不平等和卫生系统。比如在美国,遭受苦难的主要是少数族群。他说的薄弱环节是媒体,大学等自由象征。到底哪些是薄弱环节,我们两人只有一个人是对的。但是关于筛选淘汰的一般原则,是没有问题的。

主持人又问Steve Hilton是否同意Niall Ferguson所预计COVID-19可能带来的剧烈变化。Steve Hilton的回答如下:

Well I hope so. I’m always happy to join Niall and anyone else in taking a swipe at sclerotic bureaucracies, but I have to say I think I agree more with Francis on this, which is that the way in which the impact of this disease has exposed underlying structural problems I think could be the reason why we see positive outcome. And I think that the really big impact could be not so much from a pandemic itself, but from our response to it.

我希望是这样的。我很乐意跟Niall Ferguson或者其他人一起批评僵化的管理机构。但我必须说在这个问题上我跟福山的观点更接近。也就是说,疾病因为暴露了深层的结构化问题,才有可能有正面作用。而我认为重大的影响可能来自我们对于瘟疫的响应方式,而不是来自瘟疫本身。

The shut down and the accompanying action by government which was so dramatic, I think it will actually show us that the limits of what is politically possible in addressing issues like long standing inequality and so on are far greater than we’ve previously imagined.


For example if you look at [hope] inequalities on things that kill far more people than this disease has or will in the future. Things like heart diseases and obesity also connected to poverty and inequality, because/by our industrialized food system factory farming sugar the prevalence all of that subsidized in many cases by the government action to tackle those long standing problems. I think now ministers and officials in governments around world might say well look while we shut down the economy to deal with corona virus, we can start dismantling some of these things that cause ill help and death in a far bigger scale in the future. So in that sense I think we could see a positive outcoming the long term.




Well the great depression I think have massive long term impacts of nobody anticipated. Some of them were extremely negative. I think the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy was one of the consequences, but it also did lead to the kinds of results that Steve Hilton was talking about it created the basis for the welfare state in the united states and the rise of a new kind of progressive politics which after 1945 went on to dominate the world.

大萧条带来很多没有想到的长期影响。其中一些极端负面。我认为法西斯在德国和意大利的兴起是其后果之一,但是它也导致Steve Hilton所说的正面结果,它为美国变成福利国家和一类进步政治的兴起打下了基础,这种进步政治在1945年之后成为主流。

主持人问Steve Hilton的意见,Steven Hilton回答说长期来看肯定会有重大的改变,并说George Floyd之死引发的抗议浪潮也并非偶然,而是跟医疗系统危机有关,人们看到问题的方式也在转变。他相信全球的政府都需要有全然不同的应对方式。

I think we’re gonna see really big changes in the long term. I think it’s not coincident  that we’re seeing suddenly in America the civil unrest prompted by the killing of George Floyd turning into really significant demand to change right across the board, not just in terms of police reform the immediate issue there, but systemic and structural injustice to throughout American society that people have been aware of for very long time. It’s come to the surface now. The anger behind that, the urgency, the demands I think is really connected to the fact that we’ve had this health crisis and it’s drastic response and its meant that people I think are just looking at the world and its problems in a new way. And I think the response to that from governments around world needs to be dramatic.

主持人最后问福山,Niall Ferguson认为官僚体系的应对不力是当前危机的重要原因而不是政治领袖们,你怎么看。福山回答:

I think he’s got it completely wrong. I mean the center for disease control in the United States did screw up the early testing, but if you want to place blame for the bad American response to this epidemic, it falls squarely on the shoulders of Donald Trump. He ignored the crisis for most of January February into half of March. And we got a very very late start because he wouldn’t even admit that there was a problem going.


This COVID epidemic may actually lands the boil of populism. I don’t think there’s any correlation between being a democracy and doing well or poorly, but there is definitely a correlation between being a populous leader and doing badly. And the two prime examples of that are really Brazil under Bolsonaro and the United States under Trump, because populous want to be popular they don’t want to associate themselves with anything bad. they are not willing to take responsibility for a national emergency.


主持人问Steve Hilton,好像人们在危机的时候更喜欢民粹型的领导人?Steve Hilton回答:

Well I think that’s only been true in historical term. That word that term is applied in many different contexts. People talk about Donald Trump as Francis has, and  possibilities but also Bernie Sanders on the left and what I mean by it something that I think will be a positive outcome from this if politicians make the right decisions which is putting more power in people’s hands.


And again going back to my point earlier I think that we can start to reimagine many of the services that we accepted in the past as provided from unrightly government wether that’s policing or their centralized education system the health care system and so on and actually start to see it broken up decentralizing the power of rule about, but moderately in people’s hands people are asking for power they want the power back that’s why they’re on the streets. So that kind of popular I think would be a positive outcome for all of this.