Feng Yongfeng: Non-Government Organizations Are Not Anti-Government Organizations

新浪专栏 July 27, 2015

中文 English

This article was originally published on Feng Yongfeng’s column on the Sina blog here. It is has been translated, abridged, and re-published by CDB with the author’s permission. Feng Yongfeng is a prominent Chinese environmental journalist and activist.

 

In the Spring of 1979, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures” (中国人民共和国中外合资企业法). In the Spring of 1986, the State Council released the “Provisions for the Encouragement of Foreign Investment” (关于鼓励外商投资的规定). In 1998, and again during the Spring season, the State Council and the Central Committee of the Communist Party jointly released the “Opinions on Further Expanding Opening-up and Improving the level of Utilizing Foreign Investment” (关于进一步扩大对外开放,提高利用外资水平的若干意见).

However the Spring of 2015 went against this trend in a bizarre manner. The Overseas NGO Management Law (境外非政府组织管理法), put together by the Ministry of Public Security, started its preliminary review, and was publicly released in May to solicit comments to contribute to further drafting. However the consensus was that this law was very difficult to make right (一个无解的法案). If implemented in its current form it would bring harm to all parties. The damage it would cause to grassroots Chinese NGOs, China’s burgeoning “overseas philanthropic investment”(公益外资), and to the overall development of China’s public sector, would be beyond measure.

Personally, I didn’t have much time to participate in the discussion, but I’d like to take this opportunity to express my opinions on the law.

All organizations outside the government can be categorized as “non-governmental organizations (非政府组织)”

Several years ago, I met with Mr. Du Shaozhong right after he had retired from the position of Deputy Director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Bureau. Half jokingly he told me: “Remember that non-governmental organizations (非政府组织) are not anti-government organizations (反政府组织).”

I never had a chance to respond to that, but I completely agree with what he said. I was even more excited that those words were coming out of his mouth because the message is much more easier to spread if it’s coming from a high-ranking official. However, I was never quite sure about the reasons why he made such a remark. I can only assume, after years of pondering, that the following thoughts might serve as answer to my question.

Governments are not omnipotent and they make mistakes. In ancient China, our society was always controlled by the ruling classes. This has affected the modern perception of government to the point that we lose sleep and appetite if the government is absent or ignored. But as a matter of fact, the government has always been just one part of our society. It’s just one type of social institution according to the theory of social classification (社会分类学). If a government becomes too powerful, it’ll devour the world around it (独霸了天下所有人的心思耳目).

Social classification is a science, and like any other types of scientific studies, it is cold and emotionless. According to the theory, the government sector (政府业) is equivalent to the sectors of politics, commerce, military, justice, science, literature, philosophy, history, mathematics and so on. In common with other places around the world, it is only in the last century that China has started to talk about the “philanthropy sector” (公益业). Every type of sector has its own cycle: from growth to decline. In between it becomes an established, integral part of society.

The industry of government has, to some extent, now become this established default setting. It’s functions have been absorbed into the societal ecosystem. In plain language, a government is a combination of laws coming from social consensus and variety of departments that safeguard public order and provide public services. Laws can be distorted, and a government can be formed and reformed at any time.

It is true that historically ruling classes have always preceded governments and laws. Doctrines to justify the myth that the authority of a government was approved by some higher power, were always created after the formation of a government. But things are different today. No matter how good a government is at political “spinning” and falsifying, or how powerful its conduits to spread lies, it can not bury one fact: a government must abide by the law.

However, law is not the entirety of social consensus (governments are never committed followers of laws anyway). Governments are therefore destined to fail to benefit from society’s creative impulses and dynamism.

Other than negligence, governments are inevitably slow and indifferent. Their slow speed means that the formation of the social consensus that informs government laws and policies is always greatly behind social trends, in some cases it could lag by hundreds of years. And it can take even more time for social consensus to be converted into laws, and even more time to transform those laws into executive powers and eventually to government actions. As a result, governments inevitably often fall behind in dealing with emergencies and correct wrongs.

Slowness also inevitably leads to indifference. Governments will try to escape their obligations when laws are clear about their responsibilities, and even more so when they are vague. Many government officials fear the shackles of potent laws and are secretly pleased every time they find a legal loophole.

The areas where governments are incompetent or ill-equipped are the exact areas where non-governmental sectors can thrive. Commerce will develop when a government is incapable of doing business; military becomes dominant when a government loses control of its armed forces; literary and art industries prosper when a government is inept in related departments.

Lots of things in this world are not government-related or “non-governmental”. Commerce and military, as well as literature, have been and should always be non-governmental. The government should silently support the development of those non-governmental departments rather than controlling or censoring them, and the governmentalization of those sectors will only lead to the death of them. Likewise, philanthropy shouldn’t be government-related either. Government intervention, which is the main reason why the Chinese philanthropic world has been “frozen” for thousands of years (冰封几千年), will only result in the extinction of philanthropy.

Therefore, any type of non-governmental institution can not possibly be against government because they are fundamentally separate and unrelated. There is no confrontation. Governments are just a small part of a huge societal ecosystem, inside of which exist many other equally vibrant parts.

Has a government ever written a novel? Has a government ever stopped a novel being written or prevented a scientific breakthrough? (哪一个政府,能生产一部小说?哪一个政府,能阻挡一部小说的产生,又能阻挡一个科学发明的闪现呢?)

China needs more foreign philanthropic investments

What the government needs to do now is to return what once belonged to the market, society, literature, and philanthropy. It’s not a big problem if it doesn’t do this. Nowadays the internet is always a few steps ahead of the government and produces innovations that neither the public or government ever expected. The internet is probably the most unstoppable philanthropic power. Established conventions of the world are collapsing around individuals: religion, politics, militaries, business, learning; all entities that millions of people once worshipped. Through the internet individuals learn that they can be the centre of their own world. When that happens, the framework that we already have in our society will become a powerful supporting system for each person. Hungry? No problem, you can stay at home and people will deliver food to you. Tired? That’s okay, because the nearest hotel is always ready for your visit. Running out of money? You can start a business just by clicking on your phone. You want to publish an article? The minute after you upload it your writing might have already been read by people from the other side of the world. In a new age like this, no one will be able to stop the globalization of philanthropy. Old rules and new policies that are blocking philanthropy to further globalize will be destroyed by the internet.

To achieve its own globalization, Chinese philanthropy will have to connect with the world in all areas such as financial capital, academia, and experience and ideas. This globalization is very different from China’s reform-era strategy of attracting foreign investment. The internet is bringing endless new opportunities to develop philanthropy. Funding and experiences are important, but interaction and interconnection are even more important. Philanthropy is thriving locally inside of China and, separately, outside of China. Local Chinese NGOs have already armed themselves with knowledge and courage, and to move forward, we need to open up and welcome outside resources to come in. We need to borrow philanthropic forces from all over the world and encourage foreign philanthropic investments to come in to further strengthen China’s own philanthropy.

 

 

 

非政府组织不是反政府组织

 

1979年,那是一个春天,全国人大常委会,通过了《中国人民共和国中外合资企业法》。

1986年,那又是一个春天,国务院发布了《关于鼓励外商投资的规定》。

1998年,还是一个春天,中共中央、国务院发布了《关于进一步扩大对外开放,提高利用外资水平的若干意见》。

但2015年的这个春天,似乎有些反常,公安部编制的《境外非政府组织管理法》开始启动了预审,5月份,正式提交给了社会大众讨论,说是征求公众意见。但社会讨论来讨论去,都觉得这是一个无解的法案,一旦通过,势必造成多伤共损的局面。对中国本土民间组织,对境外涌动的“公益外资”,对中国公益事业的发展,都会起到难以估量的损毁作用。

鄙人一直没有机会参与对这个法案的具体的讨论。现在,同样反常的盛夏来临,略微赢得了一点时间,决定在这里,写下个人的愚见。

“政府”之外的组织都是“非政府组织”

好几年前,北京市环保局副局长杜少中先生刚刚退休之际,他遇见我,就友好在而调侃地叮嘱说:“要记住,非政府组织,不是反政府组织。”

我至今没来得及回应他。因为我本来就无比同意他这句话。现在此话借他尊口说出来,更是让人无比兴奋。有时候,一个高档官员的判见,总是比草根的呐喊,要来得易传送一些。

但杜少中先生是以什么样的理由来作判断的呢?我就不得而知了。我苦思了几年之后,觉得,大体只能从以下这些理由来作推测。

政府再全能,也有疏漏之处。中国古代,说社会,似乎一直是统治者的社会。以至于大家沿习至今,没有了政府,或者忽略了政府,大家就有一种饭都不敢吃,觉都不敢睡的习惯。其实,政府一直只是社会的一部分,再强大,再丰满,也只是“社会分类学”的某一个“种”而已,生物的分类,是“界门纲目科属种”的,在“种”之上的科、目、纲、门、界,其实还复杂多元得很。有时候只是这个“种”的架式太大,满世界无处不是它,于是就以为它是某个界,某个门,独霸了天下所有人的心思耳目。

可惜,社会分类学是门科学,科学就是无情和冷静的,比政府和宫庭还要残酷的。按照社会分类学来说,政治业,工商业,军事业,司法业,科学业,文学业,哲学业,史学业,数学业,等等三百六十行,三千六百业,甚至“无业之业”,都是个政府业是平齐的类别。而最近一百来年,中国才开始有勇气谈论的“公益业”,更是最近在全世界都有泛然勃兴之势。每一种类别业务,都有其强大繁盛期,也有其慢慢隐身衰退,成为社会机体之一分子的固化期。

政府业某种程度上已经到了社会默认期、通用期,其功用已经被社会生态系统基本锁定。如果描述起来说,就是,政府是按照社会共识所结晶出来的一些法律,进行依法从事公共秩序维护和公共事业服务的诸多部门的集合体。确实,法律是可以窜改的,政府是可以随时组阁的。

确实,历史上的社会,都是先有了豪强才有了政府,有了政府才去修订服务这个政府的法律,编制政府“神权天授”的教材型传说。但时至今日,无论政府多么擅长诡辩和伪造,也无论政府掌握了多么强大的输送谎言的传播通道,一个事实终究无法掩盖:政府必须按照法律的规定动作行事。

而法律,其实并非社会共识的全部。而政府,更非法律的坚定执行者。因此,社会阳光下的诸多新鲜事,终究有极大量的一部分,无法为政府所感知。

由此,除了疏漏之外,政府又必然是滞后的和冷漠的。滞后,是指社会共识的形成总是比社会的潮流要延迟许久,甚至好几百年。而社会共识结晶为法律,法律又结晶为政府的执行力,行政的许可转化为真正的行动力,更是滞后、缓冲、消解不知道多少年。有些明明对得可以马上做的,坚决没有人去做;有些明显是错的,迟迟无法认错和纠错;有些明明是需要赶紧入法以施行的,却久久不愿意互相妥协以追逐社会公正之风。

滞后的必然就是冷漠的。法律里写着要执行的,都可以推脱躲闪,法律里只要稍许写得模糊含混的,就肯定坚决不肯热心执行。而政府官员一旦发现法律里的那些鲜明而让人疼痛的空白疏漏处,则内心中是狂喜不已,生怕有朝一日又入了法,给自己的工作带来新的枷锁和麻烦。

政府的无能和难能之处,就是非政府其他类别的业务繁忙之处。政府不能经商时,商业就会大肆繁荣。政府不能管制军队时,军队就会成为社会公共议题的主宰。政府不管文学艺术时,文学和艺术就会大行其道,各种奇思妙想、奇文妙曲随时涌出。政府不参与公益时,公益的创新、公益的大发展,才可能真正的到来。

这个世界上所有和政府无关的,都是“非政府”的。商业军事本来是非政府的,至今也应当仍旧是非政府的。文学科学本来是非政府的,至今也仍旧应当是非政府的,一政府化,必然死亡。政府可以默默地、静静地,支持商业支持军事支持文学支持科学,但就是不能管制和监控。同样,公益也不是政府的,一经政府手,公益必然死。中国公益冰封几千年,原因也多半在于此。中国公益有活力几千年,都是活跃在政府失灵之处。

由此,非政府不可能反政府,因为,非政府的所有类别,本来就和政府无关。既然无关,有何反与不反?巨大的社会生态里,政府只是一个小小的群落,其他的诸多群落,也都生机勃勃。几个群落之间,在可合作处,当然可以任性合作。但更多的时候,是双方各行其事,各尽其职而已。

哪一个政府,能生产一部小说?哪一个政府,能阻挡一部小说的产生,又能阻挡一个科学发明的闪现呢?

中国需要更多的“公益外资”

政府需要做的是,把市场的还给市场,把社会的还给社会,把文学的还给文学,把公益的还给公益。

不还也没关系,因为,互联网已经开始自动替政府偿还了。先政府多步,快政府多时,总是在政府和公众的意料之外。

互联网可能是最无情的公益力量。它正在让每个人都意识到自己可以是世界的中心。它更加让人充分意识到,如果你没有任何一个“给电的动作”,静静地悬浮在太空中,你就很可能毕生等于不存在。你不撞击别人,就不会被人撞击;你不被人消费,你也不会成为“消费者”。

当世界几十亿人都是世界中心的时候,原先的那些庞大的中心体,就可能已经悄然地瓦解。政治、军事、商业、大学、寺庙,世界上曾经的那些吸引群体朝圣和跪拜之地,都可以慢慢地释放为一个个体的中心给养的来源。

当每个人都成为世界中心的时候,社会上原先所有的管理系统,都可能由此成为此人安身立命的支持系统。一切都在为每个个体的繁荣而服务。你饿了,宅在家里可以有人送来吃的。你困了,附近的旅馆马上为你打开大门。你没钱了,打开手机就可以开始营业,获得相应的打赏和收益。你想发表什么,这边刚刚写完,那边已经传遍世界。你想把自己打扮得有多新潮,你就可以对旧秩序有多么大的瞬间摧毁力。

在这样的时代,谁也挡不住公益全球化之路。 公益既然要全球化,所有阻挡全球化的旧规章和新制度,不管此前建在多么险要之处,都会在一夜之间轰然倒塌,成为互联网中心主义者们的旅游观光和评头论足之理由。

于是,公益就必然要与全球的经验、资本、人才、思想,进行全方位的彻底互通。这边本土的公益在放肆地发展,那边全球的各种浪潮和技能不停地互动和共振,于是公益的繁荣速度,在互联网的刺激下,在全民创新的刺激下,就会很容易在极短的时候内,获得极盛大的浮世绘。

公益的全球化,和三十多年前简单的“吸引外资”的线性进阶可能已经不同。互联网带来了无限的混沌和非线性的机遇。资金当然是重要的,但与资金同步呼啸而至的诸多鲜活经验,可能也是重要的。互相间的资助和被资助是重要的,但各个中心之心激情的碰撞和滋养,可能是更为重要的。

当你的生命越强盛的时候,你对外来的营养越有消化力。当你生命越强盛的时代,对异端越有欣赏和化合的能力。

中国当前的本土公益,已经具备了相当的学识、勇气和智慧,在此之时,打开所有的大门,欢迎所有的公益外部资源自由进入,可能是中国这片公益之海,在高铁和磁悬浮的牵引下,可能由此走出死水一潭的最好时机。

也就是说,在互联网和公众同时涌向公益创新的全球大鸣大放大字报的时代,政府中心主义的有限性、局限性越来越清晰,个人中心主义的开放性、透明性、自主性、创造性越来越炽烈。以有限之政府,如何迎接无限之社会?以狭隘局限之政府,如何迎接宽广无边如佛法普渡般的全民自由表达之天网?

只有一个办法,就是那些设置障碍者,尽早搁下疑心,改变面相,放下自己,成全他人。由敌意而走向赞赏,由怀疑而转向信任,由担忧而转向欣喜,由抗拒而走向顺从,由闭关锁国而走向门洞大开。打开所有的有形无形的障碍体,尽情吸纳世界所有的公益能量;鼓励世界各地的公益外资,自由流淌和交易。由此,公益创新之大业,才可能有所初成。

互联网带来快速“公益全民化”

“项庄舞剑,意在沛公”。这是汉朝之后,所有统治者或者说资源控制集团最意味深长的一个典故,经常用来提醒当权者,要时刻保持警惕,对未知政治风险进行全力防范。把一切人都当成可能颠覆政权之人,把一切事都当成可能制造骚乱之事。宁可错杀一千,不可放过一个。

但全球互联网和全球的万众创新,把每个人都成为创业者,都成为自由思想者和自在行动者,都成为世界的无数中心的一个小小的独立电子。由此,也就成了和平主义者和理想主义者,成了公益主义者和温情主义者。电子很强大,电子也很渺小。电子很忘我,但电子也很无我。

听听菜市场嗡嗡的交易声,就知道,当所有人都在说话的时候,每一个对话的听众其实是最稀落的。看看地铁转换处那人挨人的惨状就可知道,当所有人都可以自由撞击的时候,他能撞击到的人,其实数量少得可怜。想想北京同仁医院的深夜排号者,就知道,当所有的人都以为自己有特权的时候,这个世界上已经不再可能有特权。体味一下大城市拥堵的交通就知道,当所有的人声称自己最紧急的时候,已经没有人在乎你的紧急。呼吸一下漫天的久久不散的雾霾就知道,在自然环境恶化面前,每个人都是元凶,每个人都是受害者。

每个人在公益方面的自由表达,带来的是,谁也不再可能成为世界的某个轴心。他最多能在极其局部处,抓起一些波澜;然后迅速地平伏下去,不留什么痕迹。他能拉到的最多的选票,已经远逊于过去任何一个政客。每个人都可以登高一呼的时候,登高一呼就不再可能四方响应。

于是,社会生态系统的演替方式,必将出现我们意想不到的“革新”。至少有一点是可以肯定的,中国不再可能出现暴力革命,因为暴力革命的所有基础,至今都已经荡然无存。互联网和万众创新正释放一些新的社会改良和群体重组的可能性。

中国可能会出现局部的一些公众与政府、公众与企业的博弈,但强大的国家暴力镇压力量会迅速将其消解于无形。中国可能会出现一些基于手机平台上、在虚拟社会意淫式振荡,但这些振荡比飓风消逝得还快,比闪电还难以让“城市病患者”觉察,比打催泪瓦斯还有利于社会震荡能量的消散。

世界当然不会由此进入无政府的状态,更不会有人还有兴趣去“反政府”。只是就如前面所分析,政府、商业、军事、司法等怀疑与控制的力量,将越来越遵循公众的意志,成为社会服务之公器,而文学、科学、公益等爱与美的力量,将越来越成为公众生活之主流。这时候,政治家是由党派来推选上台,还是像娱乐明星那样让大家戏谑化投票,已经不是最重要。重要的是,公众对颠覆政府之类的行为,已经丧失了基本的兴趣,大家更在意的,是如何释放自己。

大家更盼望的是在现有的基础上获取生活之美好。所栖息的环境是否天然无邪,所消费之物是否正当可信,所言说之事是否让自己兴奋同时让朋友们信赖。而每个人生命的诸多表演,可能在互联网上尽情地随波逐流,但已经不可能兴风作浪。

中国的每一个人都是项庄,每一个项庄都在舞剑。但此剑已经只是广场舞上的道具,只用于武术欣赏和表演,与花拳绣腿并无截然不同。舞剑者心中已经没有沛公,也根本不想去刺杀什么沛公。他们只想让自己高兴而已。自私地,公益地。

Environmentalist and journalist

Translated by Wu Weiming, Xiong Shiming

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