The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan
By John Crump
Routledge – 2011 – 374 pages
Socialism first gained a major foothold in Japan after the revolution and the subsequent Meiji restoration of 1868. Against the background of the rapid development of capitalism in Japan after the revolution, and the accompanying emergence of the working class, this study shows how early Japanese socialists drew on both Western influences and elements from traditional Japanese culture. In the early 1980s most of the world interested in Japan was fascinated by its educational system, industrial policy or low crime rates – things which explained the economic miracle and made it ‘Number One’. John Crump, however, was searching for the origins of socialist thought there. Historians of the socialist movement before and since the 1980s have described the thought of those who figure in the dramas Crump describes. What sets his study apart is the degree to which the theoretical debates discussed matter to him. Other authors often lack sympathy with, or seem frustrated by, the importance given to apparently trivial differences that consumed endless debate. However, at the time he wrote this book, the author was still an activist, even though his activity manifested itself mainly in his scholarship. His aim was to do more than give an account of the formation of socialist thought in Japan. He wanted his readers to think more deeply about the development of capitalism in Japan. This book made an original contribution to the study of Japan in the 1980s. Its unique perspective shines a bright light on debates still relevant today.
Part 1: To the End of the Russo-Japanese War (1905) 1. The Development of Capitalism in Japan and the Forming of a Working Class 2. Populism (Narodnism) and Other Russian Influences 3. Studying at the Feet of European Social-Democracy 4. Influences from English-Speaking Countries – America, Britain, New Zealand 5. The Legacy from the Old Society 6. Japanese ‘Socialism’ to 1905 Part Two: From the End of the Russo-Japanese War (1905) to the Great Rice Riots (1918) 7. The Further Development of Capitalism and the First Flexing of the Working Class’ Muscles 8. Kōtoku Shūsui and the American Connection 9. Inspiration from Russia 10. Social-Democracy and Syndicalism in Contention – European Battles Refought in Japan 11. Christians and Terrorists 12. Japanese ‘Socialism’ to 1918 Appendices. Bibliography. Glossary. Index.