为什么美国的自由主义经济观念很多是荒谬并反常识的

昨天,在微信上看到了别人转载某已在微博上被删掉的据说来自于一位华为资深工程师的关于华为芯片备胎以及最近的美国政府对高通谷歌给华为提供核心芯片和安卓系统技术的“禁令”的文章,读了之后启发了我对经济的一些想法。我基本没学什么经济,对它没那么感兴趣,也觉得他本质上是比较扯淡的学科,觉得经济学家或专家要不就在数学界做一些过于理想化非常不完美的对经济的数学模型和估计,要不就是一些为了利益集团忽悠的人。可以,据我的经验,从严谨证明为主的纯数学,到模型为主统计和机器学习,到在公司里为业务需求做软件开发,到炒过股票买过房子知道期权,期货,信用违约互换等金融衍生工具的基本规则,到读过不少中英文的历史观政治观经常对立的文史哲文献,我的确积累了一些自己对经济的看法,准备在此文里解释一下。

经济的本质其实是优化物质资源,而非市场经济或虚拟的金钱

美国人比较盲目相信资本主义市场信号,觉得经济需求都可以用市场信号调整,并且资本主义提供的发财的机会是最好的激励人创造大经济价值。这一点不光是不太对,都可以说是反常识的。这我觉得不用多解释。现在给个很简单的例子。如果,自由市场信号那么管用,那就不会出08年09年那种危机了,也不会出30年代的那种大萧条了。

还有例子就是Facebook和Google的市值可能一个超过5000亿,一个超过8000亿,Intel的只有个2000亿。从市场经济角度,前者远远更有价值,但实际上,前者相对容易在技术上复制,后者就很难,要不是白痴都知道后者实际上远远更有价值,而前者的市值大多来自于利用美国的势力当媒体及广告寄生虫。

一个国家的实际经济实力根本源于它物质研发,生产和操作的先进程度和力量。一位原苏联军官写过,“没有一个国家可能有世界级的军队,而没有世界级的经济”。这个说法很对。世界级的军队意味着你有能力独立研发并生产最先进的使你掌握地缘政治优势的核心技术,在这一点,世界上最多三个国家才能做到。军事上的,地缘政治上的优势意味着你能够相对容易的控制他人的不少资源,若真正需要,可以直接打仗夺取,但在今天,一般来讲,这根本不需要,因为你的军事和物质上的威胁就能直接迫使他方被动顺从,这导致他方即使有财富,也能很容易转到你的手里。美国其实一直在这么做,但是好多“专家”或把这个称为市场的优越或自由民主的优越。

在这一点,可以给几个很好的例子。十九世纪中旬的中国有不少物质财富,但因为科技和军事远远落后,英国人很容易把中国打败,强加了不平等条约,把中国的茶瓷之类没有核心价值的财富很容易以廉价挖走,并可以剥削中国的劳动力。在过一百年,共产党虽然军事装备落后,但它的在中国陆地优越的被人民群众支持的军队依然能把地主资本家的财富几乎全部转到自己手里。你说那些地主和资本家的财富能算真正的财富么?不能,因为他们没有足够的武力的支撑,守不稳他们当时所“拥有”的。

如果一个人名义上很有钱,但这钱有被别人夺走的可能性,那这个人的富有只不过是表面而非真实的。你可以说有法律的保护,但是法律的执行需要政治权利,而政治权利根本是基于武力的。如果你没有枪,而与你对立的人有枪,他就可以抢走你的财富甚至奴役你。孟晚舟的事件就是很好的例子,当时,她在美国附属加拿大的土地上,在那儿主权和枪在美国人手里,他们基本可以为所欲为,要释放,中国就必得有所妥协有所让步。

所以有枪是最能够让人优化牢牢控制在自己手里的物质资源的。首先,你有枪并能自己生产它,说明你的技术和生产力是不差的。就多靠自己也很难穷到哪儿去,就不用说枪给你在贸易上的优势了。当年在中国,一开始共产党只能缴获别人的枪,自己能生产的枪非常原始,质量较低,由于是农业社会后勤生产水平也很低,可以依靠灵活的扬长避短的战略和战术,能战胜强敌,将更先进的技术和更丰富的资源(这包括人力资源)转到自己手里。后来,把原来的资本家和地主大多被浪费的或无法有效使用的资源集中起来拿去投入到工业化和现代化。过了十年时间就迈了一大步,以前有些枪,大多很烂,略好点的都是从敌人缴获的,到能够独立制造至少能勉强算得上具有真正现代化水平的枪和支撑其上下游复杂多元化的工业基础。这些肯定被GDP大大低估,也不会提升人的生活水平,但它却是远远更宝贵的财富。

经济本质上更是计划的,而非市场的

美国人普遍认为大消耗对经济好,因为能增加经济需求则创造更多的工作。美国人之所能够给这样想是因为他们的国家建立于从土著印第安人夺取一大块资源太丰富的土地并相当早就实现了工业化量产。而且,美国1865之后在本土如欧洲亚洲不一样没有经历大毁灭性的战争,没有欧洲亚洲国家人民所经历的物质欠缺。在1950年,中国是个百废待兴的农业社会,物质上及其匮乏,尤其是工业产品,能吃饱饭就不错了,谈不上什么大消耗促进需求和经济发展,谈不上什么市场经济,而是恰恰相反,怎么将稀少的资源节省并运用到极致。就是那时候,在相对先进,二战损失相对比较小的英国,老百姓的食品都是有限量的。

其实低产出而大消耗,如很美国人现在的,是一种经济上软弱无力的表现。美国人之所以能这样做是因为世界别到地方有很多人经济上在给美国人做炮灰。改革开放以来,上亿中国工人辛辛苦苦廉价给美国生产并提供不少产品,这给了美国一种物质上的富裕,收益者最多是美国的资产阶级,美国的中产也能原收益于能够买到那么廉价的产品,受害的确是失业的美国工人阶层。从长远来看,美国整个国家可能会因此受害,因为通过这个过程,美国却失去了原有的工业生产力,想恢复已经很难了。有永久的为你提供服务的炮灰其实是一种幻想,就像人类总有一天会有自然原因不得不灭亡(但那一天实在太远,根本不需要我们想),寄生虫总是一天会失去原有寄主并无法找到新的,若它无备自力更生之力,那必将灭亡。有美国自由主义者会说生产iPhone的中国依赖美国的市场,这其实大多是不对的。假设中国人虽然有能力但被禁止组装iPhone了,的确很多工人会失业。可是,中国人有计划经济的思维,传统和经验,政府可以给失业工人补贴让他们有吃有住,这都花不了多少钱,并帮助他们找到新的工作,新的市场。而美方需要找到或自己建设新的大量的iPhone组装厂,这个虽然比芯片容易低端的多,也没有那么容易,像印度那样的大但一般工业实力远远不及的国家,可能做这个在产量加质量上都难以过关。另一句话,中国是可以抵制美国的资本主义市场有戏的,在毛时代已经这么做了二十多年,也不是没有先例和经验。

市场经济的好多观念和模型似乎把人作为理性优化钱或以比较窄的形势定义的所谓个人利益的机器,这是很荒谬的。人是有感情,是需要组织的。经常,人的最强的动力不是出于钱而是出于感情,这可以是对某个行业或学科的热爱,也可以是对某宗教或政治信仰或民族的认同感。据我所观察,美国经济学家相对忽略了种族多元化和社会分化对有效组织合作所创造的问题,在美国,如果提出种族混合文化混合基本是不可逆转过程却在不少人眼里是非政治争取的。

今天的经济问题根本不是缺乏生产力的问题,而是合理资源分配的问题

原来,人饿着是因为无法生产足够的粮食,做出足够可以吃的实物。相反,今天,人饿着是因为没有虚拟的金钱能够买到所需要的食品,或者,若果以饿着更视为一种比喻,物质资源。今天,资本家的工作主要是为了加强自己对金钱和资源的控制及垄断,导致他们根本不会在乎为他们劳动的人,也不会在乎无家可归的人。那些真正吃不饱饭的无家可归的人的存在是为了给底层工人甚至中产的人,在他们眼里,劳动人就是工具,给他吃住是为了他能够劳动为资本家生产价值,就像在封建社会和奴隶社会,贵族因为需要奴隶的劳动力也不能让他们饿死,但是也基本不会给奴隶任何不防止剥削它的好处或资源。基本都是统治阶层之少数优化自己所得所享,而在这个过程中必得优化多数的产出减去消耗。中产阶层和上中产阶层,及知识分子,之所以给的更多因为他们作为脑力劳动者自然物质上的吃苦能力差些,并且因为聪明有知识有文化更可能有反抗心里所在,给他们更多钱是为了买到他们的忠诚。就像在美国,美国统治阶层给中国工程师更多钱不是因为喜欢他们,愿意接受他们是为了他们能够满足并好好工作为他们创造价值并对中国进行一定的分裂,因为中国对他们的位置威胁实在太大了。虽然历史进程随着科技的进步从奴隶社会转向了封建社会后转向了资本主义和社会主义社会的混合,人和社会的阶梯性的本质却没有改变,也无法改变。剥削压迫依然存在,只不过形势不一样,有的相对残酷一些,有的相对良性一些,而我认为社会主义制度所有的剥削和压迫总的而言不资本主义要良性的多。

好多比较无知比较幼稚的美国人把共产主义想成大家都一样的不现实缺乏激励机制的不可能成功的制度,这很荒谬。大家都知道在毛时代,虽然没有有钱人,但阶层和地位差异依然是很大的,因为人与人之间的差异,在背景上,在能力上就是很大。阶层也不是钱决定的,是文化和社会关系所决定的。一个美国人再有钱也不可能进入任何中国人的阶层,因为即使他实现了精通中国和中国文化白人几乎不可能做到的,他的明显非黄种人的面孔不得不使得中国人以另一种角色看待他。在中国,一个土豪不管多么有钱也不可能被精英知识分子阶层所接受,因为他们没有其所需要的知识,天分,和才学。好多东西不是钱能买来的,刚给的几个例子是对钱为主的自由主义经济思想的难以争辩反驳。

改革开放以来中国接受了不少来自美国的自由主义经济舆论及精神毒品

改革开放让中国人看到了西方国家的先进和富裕,塑造了一些盲目全盘西化的风气。中国的工业化和现代化可以说是从50年在开始,也是非常难得赢来的。中国有与世界最先进水平差距相对小的地方,如核武器,导弹和航天也是新兴技术,因为先进国家搞这些也没比中国早多少,所以还有可能勉强追赶。在像飞机和发动机这样的相对老一点行业,追赶就需要远远更长的时间。更不用说,中国起点太低,对外形势很多都对中国不利,大多有限的资源用到了工业化上,必然人的生活很穷。因为中国改革开放之后领导和人民更多想着如何提高人的物质生活水平,如何发财,如何融入美国为主的国际体系,其实丧失了不少核心竞争力,比如70年起马的运十飞机项目被砍掉,比如没有建立独立自主的半导体和芯片生态体系。这些东西即使有大量资源投也需要时间,不是钱能够买来的,一旦领导和国家认识到了这些不能依赖美国,已经失去了十年二十年的时间了。改革开放以来,中国形成了不少投机发财的风气,好多发财的人并没有创造什么价值,甚至做得事情对社会有害,而且他们发了财后还觉得财产不安全,试图将其一部分转到国外。他们以为有捷径,但是实际上没有捷径。如果中央要为了中国的芯片和半导体发展如五十年代初那样宰这些人,人民也不会同情。所以,过了一段时间,邓小平及其派系在中国的名声已经不太好了,历史的长河,历史的检验没有市场的鼠目寸光,还是更尊重真实的,所以也不会给他和他的支持者太高的评价。

但是,我还是对中国更乐观。虽然现在依然落后,潜力绝对是有,是时间的问题。更重要的是,中国人看经济看政治更尊重客观现实,没有美国人那种民主市场经济原教旨主义的自欺欺人。中国即有适合现代社会的红色传统,又有基于五千年文明的统一语言,文化和民族,利于正确的方向和有效的组织。相反,我看到的美国是在衰落的多种族自由主义的一片糟,它所有更多是原来的积累,而现在只不过是外强中干。

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Why Google and Facebook might be overrated

Back in undergrad, this professor I worked with once in casual conversation said something along the likes of “how to predict what kind of company will become the next Google.” As for Facebook, as a software engineer with much exposure to those places, some people have described it as a better version of Google, more equity for engineers with better perks and benefits.

Google and Facebook were considered by many as the top places to work for, especially for a new grad. Certainly better than Amazon, where you have to work harder for lower pay.

But from another perspective, it’s because Google and Facebook, as monopolistic advertising companies, can afford to pay their engineers more. Even when they do, they still make much more income than Amazon, and perhaps also Microsoft.

I recall on Zhihu, a user by the handle Zeldovich Yakov spoke of Google and Facebook as relatively shit companies. His bar was pretty high though. He would say,

Ford started a company with few tens of thousands of dollars. In a decade, it became a billion dollar company and created a whole new industry and supply chain. In contrast, all Google and Facebook did was steal the revenue of the former advertising companies. They did not create any real new economic demand or market. So, what else are they if not trash companies.

This is something that most people with the American mindset would never think, let alone an undergrad with minimal exposure to the world who would naturally overrate the superficial cool that a company like Google projects.

Heck, Nvidia I would regard as more in many ways more valuable than GoogFaces despite the market value being much lower. Its technology is, in contrast, actually extremely hard to replicate. For instance, China could easily replicate GoogFaces, but Nvidia, Intel, not so easy.

Zeldovich Yakov, who did graduate school in pure math in Russia and France, also wrote something along the likes of,

Google and Facebook are that valuable only because of the English language market. In Russia, there’s Yandex and vKontakte. Yandex was founded earlier than Google, and vKontakte has more convenient file transfer features.

Google and Facebook also are dependent on America’s geopolitical supremacy. China has proven that they can be shut out wherever America does not have geopolitical control, and we may see in the next few decades China pressuring some smaller countries to follow her example, which would deprive those two of more advertising revenue. One could also regard the success of those as having more to do with connections. Worth noting is how the founders of Google and Facebook were both Jewish, with the benefit of support from dominant Jewish media and finance interests in America that the founders of Yahoo and MySpace did not have. Of course, this is not really politically correct to say, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something of a consequential nature.

Steve Hsu has also written on his blog something of the likes of

The connection between value creation and money and power has become quite weak of late.

This is very true. The ability to create (real) value often is very different from the ability to monetize it. Software without advertising has as much value functionality wise for the user if not more than the same software but with advertising incorporated. As an example, I had read that the creator of WeChat back in the late 90s in China spent a few years singlehandedly writing some Foxmail email client, which had several million downloads not long after it was released. But economically, according to what I read, he was almost broke. Fortunately for him, he later got the opportunity to become rich in a big company with the monetization platform. More generally, we often have some smart, competent people creating the technology, creating the products, and then the politically connected people (who often know very little about technology) coming in later on take more of the equity for themselves.

I’ve also written before that in China, the people who developed the core industrial foundation and military technology created much more value than the likes of Jack Ma. The former gave the country tremendous leverage on the international stage. Without that, people like Jack Ma would not be possible. But the people in the former did not get rich. They mostly merely got high salaries from the government. So if the government decides to take out Jack Ma (who is rumored to have had some ties with US media and NGOs that displeased some party people in China), there would not be much good reason to be sympathetic.

Like ex-Soviet Red Army officer Andrei Martyanov, many Chinese, with a similar socialist tradition, view the whole market economy with a critical lens, and the same spirit seems to be utterly absent in an America blinded by liberal market fundamentalism. Keep in mind that this is a country founded on the displacement of Native Americans that was made possible by not much more than military superiority.

So whenever I hear some idiot Anglo or Anglo lackey say “rule of law,” I find it kind of a joke. Rule of law requires ability to enforce the law, which is based on political power, which must be backed by military power. Plus, the law is often phrased very ambiguously, but that is implicitly deliberate.

US-China relations are becoming ever more tense. And in this fight, Google and Facebook in spite of their high market cap provide relatively little value, aside from their media power in spreading the American liberal dogma. But how can you win in the long term with a dogma built on a house of cards. Eventually, reality will come to bite you. In actual material competition or war, propaganda helps but more critical is actual material power, in the quality and quantity of what you can produce. In actual material competition or war, you have to actually demonstrate your real power; financial games, monetary indices, economic bubbles, marketing/hype, and the ability to fool idiots mean very little. It is in wartime that relative status changes most precipitously, when there is the most social mobility. Too many examples, but I’ll give some representative modern ones: the Anglo conquest of North America (set the stage for Anglo supremacy, elsewhere, Anglo world also mostly triumphed over French, Spanish, Dutch, Germans, and other smaller European powers), the Opium Wars (finally shattered China’s position, more gain for British Empire), the First Sino-Japanese War (a calamitous drop for China, a big boost for Japan), the Russo-Japanese War (another big boost for Japan, at Russia’s expense), WWI (Germany’s loss), WWII (America the biggest winner by far, USSR next, Germany and Japan lose forever their chance at actual empire, minor gain for China), Chinese Civil War and Korean War (a precipitous leap in status for China mostly at America’s big expense, USSR benefited too from indirect association), Sino-Indian War (virtually irrecoverable loss for India, more bonus points for China), Cold War (big gain for America after USSR’s disintegration and consequent economic collapse in Russia in the 90s at expense of Russia and other Soviet derivatives, gain of smaller, more temporary nature for Japan and Four Asian Tigers per association, China did okay by being large and more independent, though the strong Soviet association surely hurt her confidence in culture and political system).

Following WWII, in an era of mutually assured destruction, it is very difficult for confrontation and competition between the big powers to be militarily 100% direct, and even during the Cold War, the actual fire, dirty work was largely done in a proxy fashion. The competition is more economic and cultural, and Google and Facebook, along with Hollywood, surely are representatives there for America on the cultural end.

Some say we have now Cold War 2.0. Again, it’s US + UK + their allies of varying degree versus Russia + China + their allies of varying degree. This time, unlike in Cold War 1.0 when trade and contact between the two superpowers was very limited, there is more interaction between the two sides in our more interconnected, globalized society. During the 90s, China, though much disliked, was still considered too poor and backwards to be a threat, and the US was mostly busy trying to ethnically cleanse Russia. They did a ton of damage, but under Putin’s leadership following American puppet Yeltsin, the Russian culture and nation has proven to be extremely resilient under the foundation of a combination of the more traditional Russian culture and the technology and expertise, not to mention international cultural ties, established during the Soviet era, which America could not fully undermine and destroy, far from it. China, in contrary to the expectation of the US elite of eventual liberalization and integration into the US world order, after growing rapidly for a few decades is acting increasingly in defiance of America. Despite an invasion of American liberal culture and ideology of the past four decades, PRC’s communist conservative core remained intact and following Xi’s ascension to power even revitalized.

I’ve observed that there are crudely speaking two types of people, two types of organizations, or at least a spectrum of them. There is the one with the grow fast get rich quick at all costs strategy and there is the other that values higher quality sustainable growth. The former tends to die or fade quickly and forever with a sour taste when its good times end, while the latter tends to persist and show remarkable resilience under crisis. One can put Google and Facebook in the former category and Intel and Boeing in the latter category.

Similarly, as for nations and ethnicities, one can put the WASPs (and their Jewish colonizers) in the former category, and the Russians and Chinese in the latter category. As for the Chinese, in English, there is not really a concept of “Chinese Empire,” and in modern times, China was very much a large but weak victim of Western imperialism and colonialism, until the PRC, but the PRC side of modern China is, needless to say, grossly distorted in the Anglo narrative. But traditionally, China was its own civilization; from the Central Plain millennia ago, it gradually expanded to all of the area of China today, with gradual conquests and assimilation, of the area of Guangdong and Fujian in the far south of China, of the more inner part in present day Sichuan, and of present day Xinjiang where the currently, much noise is made about the Uighurs in the Anglo media. The truth is that most of those places were integrated into the Han Chinese culture before the birth of Christ, with settlers in Xinjiang before then as well. Later, the Mongols and Manchus (who are basically physically indistinguishable from the Han Chinese) conquered but they were also culturally assimilated. Over millennia, the Chinese established and consolidated deep roots over a vast area of land while maintaining cultural coherence, one that even Western imperialism with its modern guns and warships could not uproot.

Not being Russian myself, I know not enough about more traditional Russian history to judge, though I know of Alexander Nevsky. There was of course, in addition to with Western Europe, much interaction with the Central Asians, in which we can crudely include the Mongol and Tatar conquerors who eventually integrated into the Russian language and culture. I can much appreciate how Russia managed to go from in 30 or 40 years time the losing European imperial power to the world’s second superpower via the pioneering of the revolutionary political and economic system of the Soviet Union. Moreover, the catastrophic fall in the 90s could not bring down Russia permanently either, and at least over the past decade, Russia has been mostly ascending, ever more prominent in international affair, though still nowhere near where it was during the Soviet era. Much of the culture of the Soviet Union is still there, and over seventy years time, it has permeated the Chinese soul in a sinicized form. Whatever of American and Anglo culture in China is in comparison more superficial, nowhere near as durable, as it is in direct odds with the political value system in China.

And I would expect over the next few decades that mostly toxic influence to wane further and ever more precipitously. We may well see a catastrophic and actually permanent fall of America and the Anglo world at large. Nowadays, taking trends into account too, America and the Anglo world does not have the benefit of the ethnic and cultural homogeneity vital for bouncing back after crisis, unlike Russia or China. Anglo imperialism was of a revolutionary nature but its base off a small island in Europe with a comparatively small population was too little for it to genuinely permeate itself over a vast land. It takes centuries to fully displace or assimilate a population, and maybe more than that if the population is extremely ethnically different, since there are physical limits on the movement of people and breeding of new ones. It is even harder to maintain the cultural coherence especially when geographically separated over a long period of time. Take the Chinese in America as an example; they are ethnically cleansed in the second generation, with examples like myself very very rare.

A call to boycott Jewish media

A few days ago, on WeChat, somebody sent me the following screenshot,

which just goes to show how egregious censorship really is in America.

Continue reading “A call to boycott Jewish media”