Far Eastern Governments and Politics: China and Japan

By Paul M. A. Linebarger; Djang Chu et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
The Well-Policed Paradise of Isolated Japan

NATIONS or individuals in the history of mankind from time to time achieve an almost perfect rendering of a given dramatic and esthetic rolew-a real-life performance so consistent, so true to itself, so compelling as a work of art, that it lives on in the minds of posterity as being superb for its kind.

By such limited standards of effective emphasis, Tokugawa Japan is one of the great political creations of mankind. Nowhere else in history, it would seem, has a civilized nation made so complete an effort to attain law, order, and peace as did the Japan which The Mikado and Madame Butterfly, themselves naïve, present as a quaint and trivial little country. Yet in that Japan some of the fundamental values in which all modern men believe were carried to their logical extreme and then beyond it. With fierce and purposeful resolution the Tokugawa leaders selected certain aspects of human life for practical development and carried them through to their uttermost. Seeking ideals with strategic security beyond the wildest dreams of our Present-day Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Japanese realized those dreams so perfectly that they stood still militarily while the world went on. Dreading intrigue and espionage from abroad, the Japanese set up a quarantine beside which the Iron Curtain is a rusty sieve and enforced that quarantine for more than two hundred years, accepting--as most of us do in our more stupid moments, and as the stupidest among us do all the time--the foolish assumption that life within one nation is all that a civilized man requires. The Japanese set out to be Japanese and nothing else but; they fulfilled the ideals of nationality and nationalism so perfectly that at the end they had to cosmopolitanize themselves on an unprecedented scale in order to catch up with the rest of mankind.

The real-life superlatives of Tokugawa Japan are so extre me, so startling,

-311-

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