Pressed by rival capitalist states (above all, the USA) Japan is being forced to open its agricultural markets, which in turn is leading to political disaffection on the part of the farmers. Not so long ago a young Japanese who happened to be studying at an American university wrote to me for information on the anarchist movement in Japan after she had read one of my articles in the Bulletin of Anarchist Research. In the first place, there was the anarchist communism advocated by Kropotkin and others. Zenkoku Jiren remained a federation of labour unions even after the anarchist syndicalists had withdrawn from its ranks. These figures compared with the 35 unions (with around 20,000 members) which had remained in the reformist Japanese Confederation of Labour when 32 of its constituent unions (with 12,500 members) had split away in 1925 to form the Bolshevik-led Japanese Labour Union Council. Bolshevik policy, he wrote, “has cast the chains of wage slavery for the Russian proletariat and has dragged the workers down into a worse situation than the conditions of labour found in other capitalist countries”. This train of thought was given added plausibility by the frequency with which exploited workers were answering the bosses’ arrogance with strikes, some of which reached insurrectionary proportions. Secondly, and more fundamentally, it was argued that victory in the class struggle at most changes the pecking order between classes but does not bring about the classless condition which is implicit in anarchism. In the seminal text Appeal to the Farmers, which was written by Miyazaki Akira, the farmers in their villages were urged to delink from the cities, refuse to pay taxes or recognise the state in any other way, and switch immediately to a communist system of production and consumption. Other prominent members of the Anarchist Communist Party and Nôseisha received shorter sentences than Futami. Whether Japanese anarchists can rise to the challenge is something which concerns us all. Japanese words for anarchist include アナーキスト and 無政府主義者. Lenin’s regime put down the Kronstadt uprising against Bolshevik despotism in March 1921, Ôsugi soon started to translate eyewitness reports by Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman of Bolshevik repression of the Russian anarchists and before long Ôsugi had concluded that there was nothing to choose between Russian state capitalism and Western private capitalism. Although many have survived for only a few years, or even a few months, they have continually been replaced by others. Not only did this formalise the split within the anarchist union movement, but subsequently the same open opposition between anarchist communists and anarchist syndicalists manifested itself in all the other fields where anarchists were active. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, all that was known about Lenin and his followers was that they had executed the tsar, extricated Russia from the war and thereby earned themselves the hatred of the bourgeoisie and the reformist social democrats alike. Opposed though the students’ groups were to the existing state, few doubted the need for a political state of some sort. During the “winter period”, which lasted until 1918, anarchists were aware that they were all but defenceless in the face of a particularly vicious state which had overwhelming force at its disposal and would not stop at even legally sanctioned murder to suppress anarchism. By the time of Kôtoku’s execution on 24 January 1911 the Japanese anarchist movement was already reduced to a state of near hibernation in what became known as its “winter period”. Even though it was recognised that anarchist syndicalism was ideologically committed to abolishing the state, Hatta maintained that there would be an inherent tendency for some form of arbitrating or coordinating body to emerge in order to deal with conflicts of interest between different economic sectors and those who worked in them. Click here for the guide. Like the German SPD, the Japanese social democrats largely kept silent on the imperial institution. Full-scale war with China from 1937 merged into war with the USA and its allies after 1941 and ultimately led to the carpet bombing of Tôkyô and other major cities in 1945, not to mention the ultimate horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [22] Labour Movement continued to be published intermittently until October 1927 but, after the brief anarchist-Bolshevik flirtation which was a feature of its early numbers, it soon settled down into a 100 per cent anarchist journal which was unambiguously opposed to Bolshevism. [46] To a large extent, this was a re-run of previous history and even some of the principal figures involved were the same. Reviewed by Joseph P. Ferguson Center for Strategic and International Studies Sho Konishi's book, Anarchist Modernity, opens a rich trove of historical material about a movement that has been … However righteous the indignation which fired these attempts to retaliate against the cruelty perpetrated by the ruling class, terrorism proved to be totally unproductive in advancing the anarchist cause. 8. If the bandit chief (equivalent to the capitalists) was ousted and replaced by one or more of his henchmen (equivalent to the conventional labour movement), the pecking order (class structure) could be said to have changed, but not the exploitative nature of society (represented in Iwasa’s analogy by the continued marauding activity of the bandit gang). Inappropriate The list (including its title or description) facilitates illegal activity, or contains hate speech or ad hominem attacks on a fellow Goodreads member or author. In exchange for the farmers’ votes, the Liberal Democratic Party kept the prices of agricultural produce high behind trade barriers which excluded rival products from abroad. We do not aim to offer in this short preface an in-depth analysis of these or the many other important issues raised by the Japanese movement. The Party was founded as a highly secretive group, whose existence was not openly proclaimed and whose membership was restricted to a hand-picked elite. We have heard something about a current theoretical dispute between the pure anarchists and pure syndicalists within the Japanese libertarian labour movement. In other words, anarchist publishing and propaganda activity has continued unabated, even if on a limited scale, and isolated cases of direct action have erupted periodically. ...What the working class needs is not the conquest of political power — it is the “conquest of bread”. Mass arrests and stepped up repression were the inevitable outcome of attacks which mostly missed their targets and inflicted insignificant damage on the structures of power. During the 1920s the anarchists in Japan were organisationally stronger than ever before, and there was a corresponding flowering of ideas and theories, particularly among the anarchist communists. What brought the “winter period” to an end was the spontaneous outbreak of popular anger which expressed itself in the summer of 1918 in the form of nationwide “rice riots”. There was a belief among syndicalist-inclined anarchists that, however many trump cards were in the hands of the state and the bosses, they still had their Achilles’ heel. However, the important thing was that the ideas did not die. This city was rapidly industrialising and the emergence of the young working class was accompanied by unrest and the spreading of radical ideas. (A complete translation of this article appears in Crump [1983] pp. Ōsugi’s translations of western anarchist literature shaped not only the anarchist movement in Japan, but also his personal life. Despite the fact that Nôseisha had ceased coordinated activity more than three years before in September 1932, another wave of arrests, targeted at its ex-members and beyond, was unleashed in May 1936. Although the Ashio dispute was the best known instance of an insurrectionary strike at this time, it was far from being the only one. He brought out a collection of American proletarian poetry, which he and others had translated, in 1931. It was the importance they attached to these two factors which induced them to channel considerable time and energy into theoretical work aimed at clarifying the nature of the new society and the social forces which could bring it into existence. Furthermore, in a highly repressive society such as Japan, where all known dissidents were kept under close watch, it took considerable time to acquire the necessary information and materials. Conditions in Japan made anarchist communism seem highly relevant and attractive. Relations between Kokuren and Zenkoku Jiren were extremely close, with the former acting as a hard core of committed and battle-hardened activists within the wider ranks of the latter. The first explicitly and recognizably anarchist presence originated in France and Japan with the Chinese study abroad programs for the children of wealthy families that were established after the failed Boxer Rebellion. Orphaned in 1918, Rexroth spent his teens travel- These figures might sound meagre by present-day standards, but they need to be set against the figure of less than 1.5 million workers employed in all factories at the time. Kôtoku started to correspond with Kropotkin during his time in the USA, but was also exposed to anarchist communist ideas from many other quarters as he interacted with the numerous political activists in California who held such views in the early years of this century. One point which has often been made regarding postwar anarchism is that, while the self-declared anarchist movement is smaller than previously, unconsciously “anarchist” organisation and activity have been noticeable among various groups engaged in struggle. In other words, now Japan is forced to oppose American capital in China. ...I hope that from now on our socialist movement in Japan will abandon its commitment to a parliamentary policy and will adopt as its method and policy the direct action of the workers united as one.[10]. Not only were the peasants for many years the backbone of the economy; they were also the mainstay of the sizeable conscript army which the new state rapidly established. tered in its early years around the poet and anarchist activist Kenneth Rexroth, who founded the San Francisco Anarchist Circle in the late 1940s, drew inspiration from European and American anarchist thought and from an influx of Asian, especially Japanese, immigrants and philosophers. Yet the fact that such methods had to be employed illustrated the extent to which anarchism had lost what had hitherto appeared to be its “natural constituencies” on the farms and in the factories. As soon as Kôtoku returned from the USA, a large public meeting was organised in Tôkyô to welcome him back and to give him the opportunity to report on how his ideas had developed while in America. Most were accustomed to accept the SPD’s assurance that its doctrine represented the forces of reason, progress and good order within society, whereas they had been taught by the same source that anarchism was a primitive and chaotic reaction to political repression, which had nothing in common with “scientific socialism”. ...If I were to put in a nutshell the way I think now, it would be along the following lines: “A real social revolution cannot possibly be achieved by means of universal suffrage and a parliamentary policy. Rather they should rise against the bosses and take their industrial skills to the countryside, thereby enriching village life and achieving unity with their brothers and sisters on the farms. [38] This attitude was carried over into Zenkoku Jiren’s second conference when it reconvened in March 1928. The years of the First World War were a period of boom for Japanese capitalism as Japanese companies took advantage of the problems, brought about by the war, which interfered with the operations of their European rivals. To repeat: the last thing the workers should do is to put their trust in votes and MPs. One of the Anarchist Communist Party’s frequently employed tactics was to manoeuvre its members into key positions in larger organisations, which could then be manipulated from within. Yet, compared to major imperialist powers, such as the USA, Britain or France, Japan’s colonial territories were insufficient to provide it with adequate markets or sufficient supplies of cheap raw materials. Yet, while there may be something “anarchist” about these attributes, surely it is appropriate to insist that by themselves they fall short of anarchism. Download full Anarchist Portraits Book or read online anytime anywhere, Available in PDF, ePub and Kindle. Japan's popular image is of a hierarchical and regimented society, while the Japanese are widely regarded as unswervingly loyal servants of the company and the state. As for the citizens’ movements, most focus on a single problem, which they seek to solve in isolation from the “big questions”, such as the nature of the state, because they feel (probably rightly) that these wider issues would divide them politically and therefore undermine their campaigns. Also in 1919 another anarchist-inclined printworkers’ union, the Seishinkai, was formed by 500 newspaper workers. What this signified was that, with the ending of the “winter period”, anarchist syndicalism moved from the realm of theory to the field of practice. Perhaps it was predictable that, given their emphasis on extreme decentralisation, they would gradually come to question the need for their own organised existence. This pamphlet is dedicated to Ôshima Eizaburô, whose undiminished passion for anarchist communism, despite his advanced years, is an inspiration to many younger comrades. Agriculture was the basis of the economy, since industries could only be established by squeezing wealth out of the peasants and channelling it into the factories, shipyards and mines which were set up with the state’s encouragement. Formed in February 1931, Nôseisha was a network of anarchist communists which pushed decentralisation to its furthest limits. In 1922 there was one last attempt to form an all-encompassing federation of unions, this time in the shape of the All-Japan General Federation of Labour Unions (Zenkoku Rôdô Kumiai Sôrengô). The Liberal Democratic Party used its position in government to distribute the spoils which maintained the status quo, while the holier-than-thou Japan Socialist Party struck postures for the sake of those who failed to benefit from the largesse or who found it morally unacceptable, The system cracked when the Liberal Democratic Party failed to secure its customary majority in the general election of 1993. Crump, John, Hatta Shûzô and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993). If you'd like to upload content to the library which is in line with the aims of the site or will otherwise be of interest to libcom users, please check out our guides to submitting library/history articles and tagging articles. [31], Allied to these criticisms of anarchist syndicalism, Hatta in particular wrote extensively about how an anarchist communist society could overcome the division of labour and, in doing so, he pushed forward the theoretical frontiers of anarchist communism in a way which had not been done since the days of Kropotkin. Anarchist Portraits. Launched an attack on Jun Okamoto for his Stalinism in 1956. [41] Jiyû Rengô Shinbun (10 November 1931) p. 4. After Kôtoku emerged in July 1905 from the five months he had spent in prison, he claimed that he “had gone [to jail] as a Marxian Socialist and returned as a radical Anarchist”. That year he started contributing to the magazine Aka to Kuro (Red and Black) that had been founded not long before by Jun Okamoto(1), Shinjuro Kuwahara, and Shigeharu Sakurai, all anarchist poets. Moreover, just because Japan was such a highly conformist society, so the reaction against conformity was all the more intense when it occurred, since the state’s demands for absolute obedience and loyalty left little room for compromise, liberal half-measures or the escape route of eccentricity. This was the first ever translation into Japanese of The Communist Manifesto and not only was the issue of the Common People’s Newspaper which carried it banned from sale, but Kôtoku and Sakai were heavily fined. Tsuzuki, Chûshichi, “Anarchism in Japan” in D Apter & J Joll, Anarchism Today (Basingstoke: [4] Ibid., p. 434. Not a few anarchists disappeared without trace, victims of the blitz or of some other disaster brought about by the war. The turning point for the prewar anarchist movement came in 1931, when the so-called Manchurian Incident occurred. The bombs are all around you and are on the point of exploding. Contributed to anarchist poetry magazine Poetry Battle in 1924. The atmosphere within the Anarchist Communist Party soon became infused with the paranoia habitually found in vanguard organisations. The line of reasoning at work here was that the capitalist state needed to industrialise in order to realise its economic and military ambitions but that, since industry depended on the working class, the stronger Japan became industrially the more it became vulnerable to a general strike carried out by determined and well organised workers. In the same month the anarchist communists set up the Japan Anarchist Club (Nihon Anakisuto Kurabu), with the result that the Japanese anarchist movement was once more back to the divided condition it had been in between 1928 and 1934. The most that had been achieved was the successful detonation of a trial bomb in the mountains. As in the case of Kôtoku and his comrades a generation earlier, only a small proportion of those arrested were eventually brought to trial. The Anarchist Communist Federation have decided to reprint John Crump’s pamphlet The Anarchist Movement in Japan (which is a summary of his book Hatta Shûzô and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan) for a variety of reasons.. One is as a tribute to the continuing struggle of … His vision of anarchist communism was essentially of an array of “small societies” (communes), each of which would be largely self-supporting by virtue of engaging in all-round agricultural as well as (small-scale) industrial activity.In theorising about how this might work in practice, he developed further some of the ideas which had remained in a fairly rudimentary form in Kropotkin’s writings (e.g. Yet anarchist unions were by no means confined to the printing industry alone. Anarchists in Japan! For a time, anything seemed possible. While Kôtoku had been away in the USA, a second attempt had been made to form a social democratic party. Rôdô Undô [Labour Movement] (Isezaki: Kokushoku Sensen, 1973). In one sense this represented the maturing of anarchist syndicalism in a Japanese context, but in another it forced many Japanese anarchists to face up to problems inherent in syndicalism of which they had previously been unaware. At its founding conference on 24 May 1926, 400 delegates attended, representing 25 unions with a combined membership of 8,400. For example, in a dispute at the Nihon Senjû Company in April 1931, the Jikyô-affiliated union not only occupied the factory but used innovative methods of struggle, such as the hunger strike and the extensive involvement of women in the surrounding community. In addition, following the Communist Party’s taking power in China in 1949, the USA needed a showcase in East Asia to demonstrate the superiority of “capitalism” over “communism”. The only thing that prevented the authorities from involving even larger numbers in the affair was that various prominent anarchists, such as Ôsugi Sakae, were already serving prison sentences for other offences and could hardly be implicated in plotting which was supposed to have taken place while they were behind bars. For example, the flourishing anarchist literary and cultural movement split in the same way into communist and syndicalist wings which were henceforth at daggers drawn. There was another sense too in which Kokuren and Zenkoku Jiren could be said to have been widely based when first formed. Some of the Japanese social democrats were resistant to the new train of thought. In many ways, this strategy was precisely the opposite of that favoured by Nôseisha. Before 1920, a partly anarchist inspired movement was represented by one of the most famous revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement, Bhagat Singh.Though a Marxist, Bhagat Singh was attracted to anarchism. And if a majority of the seats in parliament are occupied by our comrades, then socialism can be put into effect by means of a parliamentary resolution.” It is true, of course, that I recognised at the same time the urgent need for workers’ solidarity, but still I believed that at least the first priority for the social movement in Japan was universal suffrage. But the blanket suppression of all activity was no longer possible and the anarchists were quick to seize the opportunities that presented to regroup, launch new journals and involve themselves in the workers’ and peasants’ movements. One is as a tribute to the continuing struggle of the libertarian movement in Japan, bringing to the attention of English-speaking comrades what is unfortunately a little known part of the global struggle for a free and equal society. In the same month a distinct Anarcho-Syndicalist Group (Anaruko Sanjikarisuto Gurûpu) was formed. In Spain too, anarchists and syndicalists apportion between them concern for economic questions and for the spiritual side of things in such a way that theoretical disputes do not arise. Wada was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, but committed suicide while in prison in 1928. A short biography of Japanese anarchist poet Ono Tozaburo. At this meeting, held on 28 June 1906, Kôtoku spoke on “The Tide of the World Revolutionary Movement”, which he asserted was flowing against parliamentarism and towards the general strike as “the means for the future revolution”. The police cast their net as wide as it would stretch and some 400 anarchists were taken into custody in the closing months of 1935. Unions of different ideological persuasions jointly organised the first ever May Day demonstration in Japan in 1920 and out of this emerged a Labour Union Alliance (Rôdô Kumiai Dômeikai). For many the very idea is surprising. Even if a change in society came about by means of the class struggle, it would not mean that a genuine revolution had occurred. From the point of view of the desperately poor tenant farmers, who comprised the bulk of Japan’s population in this period and far outnumbered factory workers, the reasons for this are perhaps not difficult to understand. In this way, the price of Japanese rice, for example, has been artificially maintained at a level at least six times higher than that found on the world market generally. The one exception was Modern Thought, which Arahata Kanson and Ôsugi Sakae started in October 1912 and which they managed to publish monthly until September 1914. As frustration mounted due to the lack of headway achieved (the result of the obstacles outlined in the paragraphs above) so the old tensions between anarchists of different persuasions started to resurface. Many accounts of anarchism in Japan, particularly those which are sympathetic to Bolshevism, suggest that from about the time of Ôsugi’s death anarchism was locked into a downwards spiral. Other notable American poets of anarchy in the 1910s and ’20s were Irish-born Lola Ridge; Japanese-born Sadakichi Hartmann, reputed to be the first writer of haiku in English; IWW organizer Covington Hall; and IWW songwriter and humorist T-Bone Slim (Matt Valentine Huhta), who was renowned for his anarchist aphorisms (“Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack”). The Emperor’s pronouncement of 30 October 1890, known as the Imperial Rescript on Education, well conveys the beliefs which the authorities attempted to implant in youngsters’ minds. However, like many other Japanese anarchist poets of the time, he dropped out after 8 months. The whole sordid business has been an object-lesson in the opportunism of politicians and the nonsense of parliamentary shadow boxing. 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