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[帝国] 【原创英文论文】“人吃人”——帝国资本主义环境下病态的职场竞争,及其特征

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发表于 2011-9-13 02:01:35 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 最后的尼采 于 2011-9-13 02:16 编辑

这是我在保加利亚老师开设的“欧洲帝国主义”课程中写的专题论文,以康拉德的《黑暗之心》为材料,以欧洲帝国主义时期1870-1914为背景,以非洲——刚果作为故事发生的地点,反映了当时病态的职场竞争:


1.        伪善的自由经济:在“自由”“共同繁荣”的美好许诺下,在殖民地,我们看到的,是自然资源被掠夺,环境遭到毁坏,土著被强迫劳动,沦为唯一的工人阶级,而殖民者,即白人,作为“现代公司”的管理层,与奴隶主无异
2.        种族主义:黑人沦为雇工,被强迫劳动,工作环境极端恶劣,反人类的肉体惩罚和超长的工作时间,导致劳累致死。
3.        绝对的阶级矛盾:白人是管理层,黑人是工人阶级——没有希望,没有机会
4.        传统道德沦陷,人类信任危机:白人管理层中,人们尔虞我诈、相互排挤,争着踩着对方的尸体走上最高的岗位。


所有这些特征,基于一段血淋淋的历史:

        帝国主义时期,欧洲凭借工业革命的技术优势完成了对世界的瓜分——非洲,即是一个关键例子。1880年之前,整个非洲只有沿海地区在欧洲的影响范围内,被建设成半殖民地和贸易站。纵使是沿海地区国家,如埃及和利比亚,在经济被侵略,领土被殖民的情况下也享有基本的政治独立。但到了1880年,随着突尼斯在法国远征军的“解放下”成为其保护国(Protectorate),以及埃及被英国彻底控制后,整个非洲从沿海至内陆迅速沦为欧洲的殖民地,沦为“基督教的福音”和“先进现代文明”的试验田。

        北非的国家丧失独立,西非的伊斯兰独立运动被血腥镇压,南非的前荷兰殖民者的后代——布尔人,在抵抗英国侵略军的过程中被大批有计划地囚禁,并因卫生环境差和营养不良而成批死亡——集中营,不是1938年由纳粹发明的,而是1881年由英国首创。

        但更恐怖的事情发生在中非。比利时国王利奥波德2世,在目睹欧洲列强乘着工业革命的快车瓜分非洲时,也不愿意成为旁观者——他想拥有一块属于比利时,特别是属于自己的殖民地。于是刚果,这个热带雨林密布的不易开发却又自然资源丰富的地区成为了选择。他以“自由贸易”和“传播现代文明的使命”为名,建立了“国际非洲协会”和“国际刚过协会”,打着“探索与研究”的科学的旗号,去谋求经济利益,去掠夺刚果的自然资源——象牙,

        为了在最短时间内获得最大效益,即为了践行自由经济中利益最大化的目标,以及自由贸易神圣不可侵犯的原则,殖民者们通过金钱雇佣、肉体惩罚和强迫劳动的方式,让当地土著为他们猎取象牙。在这段时期,刚果出现了很多“无手人”——每一个刚果土著都有义务在一定时间内上交一定数量的象牙,若不能完成任务,则无论是男人、女人、儿童、妇女,都要被砍去双手。
         
        《黑暗之心》正是批判刚果这一惨无人道的罪行,在思考一个问题:在不受束缚的自由经济和不受控制的人类欲望下,人心能变得怎样黑暗?而我的论文,试图从一个侧面——病态的职场竞争,来分析这个问题。


以上这些,就是康拉德的《黑暗之心》所发生的历史背景,也是我论文的背景。



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 楼主| 发表于 2011-9-13 02:07:05 | 显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 最后的尼采 于 2011-9-13 02:18 编辑

A study from Heart of Darkness


“Human Eats Human”
Morbid occupation competition & its characteristics in the context of Capitalist Imperialism






By Alexander Chen






   


Today, occupation competition is increasingly intensive generally around the world, as a result of globalization – the expansion of capitalism. One may feel hurtful and terrible in fighting against innocent colleagues to reach a higher place at work. If he wants to find out the reason of this conflict, it is needed to observe the history. The age of European Imperialism
[1] was one and the highest stage in the development of capitalism, according to Marxist theory. And it was also the time of plot in Hear of Darkness, the masterpiece by Joseph Conrad. Various criticisms towards imperialism have been inspired by this book in different angles, in which this essay mainly concern about is human relation in career: the morbid occupation competition, in the context of European Imperialism.


Why the occupation competition was described “morbid” here is because of 2 reasons: On one side, to maximize personal interest by all means was a popular belief in occupation competition in the age of European Imperialism. At that time, the occupation competition was based on individualism, dominated by personal interest, which was the first priority and main pursuit of classic free economy. On the other side,
social interest was relatively ignored: Since industrial revolution, traditional collectivistic economy
[2] was abandoned, at the same time the sense and the institution of serving commonweal were yet to be built, until a series of reformations in major western countries after 1929 the Great Depression. Consequently, the occupation competition at that time was an “intense and unrestricted individual competition”.

The historical process leading to this phenomenon can be seen in the different stages the economic organizations and their restrictions to people’s economic behavior, in the forming history of European Imperialism[3]: In the Age of Feudalism and European Colonial Expansion, people were strongly centralized and restricted in economic behavior. Traditional organizations gathered people together to work in limited workplace for life-long time. For instance, in village, family is the basic element of agricultural economy and it tightened farmers to work with their family in agricultural productivity[4]; in city, Guild is the basic element of commercial economy, and centralized workers or merchants together, requiring all of them to obey a series of regulations. In these organizations, there were many written-rules and customary laws to restrict people’s behavior on what could do and what could not do in economic activity. Also, the strong moral restriction by church limited people’s trading, as in many areas especially zealous catholic states, making too much money was viewed as a greedy act and shall suffer condemnation. All above made people more conservative and centralized on economic behaviors compared with those in industrial period[5].

In the age of capitalism, people were violently encouraged to exercise their personal freedom by free economy. After the industrial revolution (mid 18th century - late 19th century), European Imperialism based on a new economy system and “introduced” it to the whole world by expansion: capitalism[6] – the free economic system, which was fundamentally different from any kinds of feudalistic economic form. In theory, it indicates that an economic man should abandon traditional burden such as political restriction and moral concern as much as possible, to maximize personal interest, even by hurting other people. In fact, the major economic organization at that time was free corporation, which right existed for private’s benefit – the stock holders’. Consequently, in the economic environment of capitalist imperialism, one only necessarily fights for himself, instead of family or any other collectivity. This intense and unrestricted individual competition split apart people’s common benefit in occupation, and decrease their emotional connection: sympathy to colleagues and devotion to collectivity were damaged by uncontrolled desire of personal freedom, among each economic person and their competitors.


The “Human eats Human” phenomenon in Heart of Darkness right happened in previous circumstances. Let’s follow the steps of Charlie Marlove, our leading character in Heart of Darkness, walking into the forest of despair to see from his eyes and feel inside his heart, to touch the deep misery brought to local labors, to witness the sin and struggle of white man employees, to criticize the corporation as the main economic organization in capitalist imperialism. We will examine the morbid occupation competition by specific illustrations from the context of the book.


“The corporation is divided into 2 kinds of occupations: the hopeful and the hopeless”[7]. This sentence was revised from a famous imperialist’s saying, is the true sentence to describe the unfairness between the 2 kinds of jobs in Heart of Darkness: local labors and white man employees. In the beginning period of Marlove’s journey, he once debarked from a sailing steamboat charged by a Swedish captain, and found such a scene:

“'Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair. Another mine on the cliff went off, followed by a slight shudder of the soil under my feet. The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some if the helpers had withdrawn to die.'”[8]


The local labors, black men, were having rest after working on a mine. We can see they were extremely tired, even dying after the hard work. Were they slaves who were forced to work? Were they criminals who were sentence to exercise their guilts by labour? The following paragraph in the book answered the questions.

"'They were dying slowly - it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals... Brought from all the recesses of the coast in all the legality of time contrasts, lost in uncongenial surroundings, fed on unfamiliar food, they sicked, became inefficient, and then were allowed to crawl away and rest.'"[9]



They were official employees hired by corporation, or put in another way, they were free labour claimed by capitalists, and they were legally hired as workers instead of slaves. Therefore they should be given basic human right, due to the commitment of free economy that employees are free economic men sharing the same fundamental right as same as the employers, which means they should be grantee acceptable working hours, offered enough food and an insurance to rest in a proper place. In contrast, they were basically forced to work until they lost working ability and they rested in wild field like animal. They were workers in thoery deal to the employment relationship that they actually got pay, but in working condition, they were maltreated as medieval slaves. This phenomenon implied 2 things: One is the contrast signed between corporation and native workers contained forced labour, which violate the rule of free economy that workers are not slaves. The other is if the contrast was fair, then the corporation break its promise. Anyhow, the local workers' sufferings and the corporation's inhuman act go against the commitment of free economy.

Yet, did this maltreat happen because of any objective reason? Was because the natural environment was too bad and the corporation had too limited resource to offer a good working condition? Were other employees also treated like the local ones? We can find out the answer from the white employee's condition:


"'...I made haste towards the station,. When near the buildings I met a white man, in such an unexpected elegance in get-up that in the first moment I took him for a sort of vision... a high starched collar, white cuffs, a light alpaca jacket, snowy trousers, a clean necktie, and varnished boots. No hat. Hair parted, brushed, oiled, under a green-lined parasol held in a big white hand. He was amazing, and had a penholder behind his ear.'"

Clearly the corporation had full ability to offer a good working condition, but they chose to abuse local labours. The 2 groups of employees were completely different treated by different standards. The white employees were treated fairly and good, which obeyed the commitment of free economy. Whereas the local employees were maltreated, violated the same commitment.
This double standard shows that white man had natural advantage in occupation competition: racism, which devides humans into races and believes some races are born to be superior than others. It ensured the superiority of white man employees while competing with black man ones. Put it another way, the most advantage in ocuppation competition that white man has is that there is no competition for them. Because the whole economic system was based on racism - the corporation was a white man corporation.

Thus we conclude racism, as the 1st characteristic of morbid occupation competition of capitalist imperialism. However, it was not the only factor contributed in the morbid competition, or in other words it was combined with another institution to influence the whole: the division of classes. In Heart of Darkness, the Marlove's witnesses, the white man employees of the corporation were doctors, accountants, managers, workplace supervisors, sea captains and so on; they were in a higher level of workers, managing and supervising the productivity of local labours. The white man employees mostly belong to the class of management. While the black man employees were all kinds of physical workers: mine workers, luggage carriers, coal movers on ship and so on. They sold or were forced to sell their labour in exchange a tiny bit of money with maltreats. They belonged to the class of labour worker. Hence, division of class, is the 2nd characteristic, together with racism, has badly influence the morbid occupation competition in the context of capitalist imperialism.

Occupation competition was not only between different races and classes of employees but also in the same group. Among white man employees the management, competition was intense. While After Marlove's landing on Cango, many clerks once knew him was sent by the management to search for Kurtz, the lost excellent trading post master, they appeared to be very interested, nervous in the surface and extremely jealous in the deep side of their hearts. For example, a manager that Marlove met when he touched the 1st trading post of Cango, described Kurtz as "The chief of the inner station" and "He is a prodigy... An emissary of pity and silence and progress"[10], but inside his heart he wanted Kurtz to die as quickly as possible and he just praised Kurtz to please Marlove because he thought Marlove was some big shot sent by the management and may bring him benefits. While Marlove straightly pointed out what he thought, "When Mr. Kurtz is General Manager...you won't have the opportunity."

Similarly, there are many other evidences in the book to prove the competition among white man employees, the class of management was intense and selfish, which extremely negatively influence human relationship. While Marlove found a former assistant of Kurtz the Russian, he told the Russian a secret discussion he had heard from the manager we mentioned in previous paragraph. In the discussion, the manager suggested to hang the Russian, because he was similarly crazy as Kurtz was that threatened the place of the manager.[11] From here, we can see how different between people's words and thoughts - their hypocrisy and greed while seeking a higher position in the corporation. They did not mind to hurt others in order to maximize personal interest in the context of imperialist capitalism.

In the book, before the talk between Marlove and the Russian, Marlove's ship carring the clerks helping to search for Kurtz was attacked by locals. People thought it was a purely hostile attack organized against white man, while Surprisingly, later the Russian divulged that it was Kurtz himself to order the attack, in order to stop people from taking him back to the corporation, because he thought people would harm him and take his place.[12] Such mistrust again revealed the morbid occupation competition among the white men.

By the conditions of white man employees we mentioned above: hypocrisy, expelling each other in occupation and mistrust together form the 3rd characteristic of morbid occupation competition at that period: the intense and unrestricted individual competition, which was the fundamental factor. And it is inspired by the economic system of capitalism, the free economy.

Based on the intense and unrestricted individual competition of capitalism, intensified by racism and the division of classes, the morbid occupation competition in the context of imperialist capitalism not only existed at that time, but also continues now. By the globalization of economy, and the expansion of free market. Capitalism is improving itself. Developed countries after each economic crisis would consider to strengthen the government intervention to control the free economy, to control the intense individual competition. Meanwhile, more and more developing countries are accepting and encouraging the concept of individual competition. It is clearly positive in improving social productivity for them. But without a equally strong experiences and institution to control the dark side of free economy, is it equally dangerous for social morality and fairness to encourage personal competition? Would this encouragement also damage the common traditional collectivistic economy in developing country? Is this damage a bless or curse? Whatever, we have to try our best to control individualism in occupation competition, to guide it to develop on a more healthy road, to search for the harmony between individual benefit and common wealth; unless we want the "Man Eat Man" phenomenon in the age of imperialism came back to present society in a new form.


















Word Count: 2287

References

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conard

A Global History, by L. S. Atavrianos



[1] The Age of European Imperialism: 1870 – 1914, according to European Colonial Empire 1815 – 1919, H.L. Wesseling


[2] “Traditional Collectivistic economy” refers to the traditionally centralized and restricted way of work in feudalistic Europe. It will be discussed in below paragraphs.


[3] Here we roughly divide the forming history of European capitalism into 3 parts:

preform period - The Age of Feudalism (476-1492)[3]; forming period - the Age of European Colonial Expansion (1492-1870); post-form period – The Age of Capitalism (1870-1914)


[4] This opinion is referenced A Global History, by L .S. Stavrianos


[5] "Industrial Period" here basically refers to the period of industrial revolution: c.a. 1850 -
c.a.1914


[6] The definition, comments and criticism towards "Capitalism" in this essay is basically based on Marxist Theory


[7] “The world is divided into 2 kinds of civilizations: the hopeful, and the hopeless”, told by a famous imperialist at that time, and could be revise as following


[8] Heart of Darkness: Volume 1, paragraph 39


[9] Heart of Darkness: Volume 1, paragraph 40


[10]
Heart of Darkness: Volume 1, paragraph 59


[11] Heart of Darkness: Volume 3, paragraph 20


[12] Heart of Darkness: Volume 3, paragraph 21



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发表于 2011-9-13 21:54:31 | 显示全部楼层
先帮顶一下,军训结束后再详细浏览。
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发表于 2011-9-14 09:30:05 | 显示全部楼层
搞学术研究,好得很。
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发表于 2011-10-28 10:09:22 | 显示全部楼层
文学院猛料啊。。。亚历山大丶陈
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发表于 2011-11-28 16:10:33 | 显示全部楼层
现今非洲基础建设的简陋以及民间法制建设的原始正是整个欧洲殖民大掠夺的严重后果。而无论非洲如何革命也无法恢复过去的环境生态和资源。
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