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What if Humans Just Can’t Get Along Anymore?

已有 310 次阅读2022-1-24 16:08 |个人分类:译国译民实践| 翻译

What if Humans Just Can’t Get Along Anymore?

By Farhad Manjoo, Aug. 5, 2021, New York Times

At the broadest level, human history is a story about cooperation. Individually, we big-brained, hairless primates are fairly ridiculous creatures, easy pickings for any dad-bod Simba roaming the plains. But get us together and we achieve dominion over land and sky.

Reluctantly, violently, often after exhausting every other possibility, people keep stumbling toward one another to get pretty much everything done. From the family to the village to the city, nation-state and global mega-corporation, cooperation and coordination among groups of increasing size and complexity is, for better or worse, how we all got to now.


But what if we’ve hit the limit of our capacity to get along? I don’t mean in the Mister Rogers way. I’m not talking about the tenor of our politics. My concern is more fundamental: Are we capable as a species of coordinating our actions at a scale necessary to address the most dire problems we face?


Because, I mean, look at us. With the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change, humanity is contending with global, collective threats. But for both, our response has been bogged down less by a lack of ideas or invention than by a failure to align our actions as groups, either within nations or as a world community. We had little trouble producing effective vaccines against this scourge in record time — but how much does that matter if we can’t get it to most of the world’s people and if even those who have access to the shots won’t bother?


Global failures of cooperation are, of course, nothing new; we did have those two world wars. But now we’re facing something perhaps even more worrying than nationalist enmity and territorial ambition. What if humanity’s capacity to cooperate has been undone by the very technology we thought would bring us all together?


The internet didn’t start the fire, but it’s undeniable that it has fostered a sour and fragmented global polity — an atmosphere of pervasive mistrust, corroding institutions and a collective retreat into the comforting bosom of confirmation bias. All of this has undermined our greatest trick: doing good things together.


It is true that each of us is affected differently by a changing climate and Covid-19, but with both, our fates are linked; what happens to each of us is tied up with the actions of others. Often the links are blurry. Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest could well affect the sea level in Florida, but it’s probably difficult to forge much common cause between poor farmers in Brazil and retirees in Boca Raton.


Sometimes, though, our fates are so obviously intertwined, you want to scream. Vaccines work best when most of us get them. Either we all patch up this sinking ship or we all go down together. But what if lots of passengers insist the ship’s not sinking and the repairs are a scam? Or the richest passengers stockpile the rations? And the captain doesn’t trust the navigator and the navigator keeps changing her mind and the passengers keep assaulting the crew?


I should say there is a good chance my take is too dreary. There has been a great deal of scholarship on how humans coordinate their actions in response to natural threats, and a great deal of it has echoed my pessimism — and been wrong. In 1968 the ecologist Garrett Hardin published a famous essay arguing that because people tend to maximize individual utility at the expense of collective good, our species was doomed to blindly exploit the world’s resources. He called this the “tragedy of the commons,” and in the following years he was among a group of intellectuals who advocated tough measures to avert the coming “population bomb,” among them curtailing the “freedom to breed.”


But Hardin was proved wrong both on the theory and on the prediction. (He was wrong about a lot of other things, too: He opposed immigration and global famine relief, and he maintained an interest in eugenics. The Southern Poverty Law Center says that white nationalism “unified his thought.”) The population bomb never went off. The world’s birthrate declined as the poorest people were lifted out of poverty. And as the pioneering political economist Elinor Ostrom showed over a lifetime of research, there are countless examples of people coming together to create rules and institutions to manage common resources. People aren’t profit-maximizing automatons; time and again, she found, we can make individual sacrifices in the interest of collective good.


思维导图&精读详解

What if Humans Just Can’t Get Along Anymore?

人类还能彼此好好相处吗?

标题说明:本文介绍的是,由于人们倾向于以牺牲集体利益为代价来最大化个人效用,我们这个物种注定要盲目地开发世界资源,这就是所谓的“公地悲剧”。在如今面临全球气候变暖和新冠疫情这两个共同敌人时,人类的不团结显得尤其荒唐。标题字面意思为“如果人类就是无法再好好相处该怎么办?”这里根据文章内容,将其改译成“人类还能彼此好好相处吗?”

what if ...:如果……会怎么样/该怎么办

:What if it rained and then froze all through those months? 如果那几个月一直下雨然后结冰,该怎么办?





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