The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka

The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka

The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka

The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka


"A superbly researched and elegantly written study of Seki Hajime and the 'livable city' in Osaka that he envisioned, "The City as Subject opens up a fascinating world of the conjunctures among commercial policy, economic thought, social reform, and urban planning in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries." --Takashi Fujitani, author of "Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan

"Deftly researched, this intellectual biography depicts Seki Hajime, a remarkable and influential early 20th-century figure who pursued careers in academe, policy making, and as interwar Mayor of Osaka. Hanes presents Hajime as an appealing, cosmopolitan, and iconoclastic character, noting particularly Seki's sense of social responsibility, his pragmatism, his ability to keep in mind the human scale in urban planning, and, by no means least, his aesthetic appreciation of Osaka's urban pleasures."--Laura Hein, coeditor of "Censoring History: Citizenship and Memory in Japan, Germany, and the UnitedStates


In the waning years of Meiji, as the laborer question reared its ugly head, Seki Hajime was compelled to acknowledge that the Japanese nation/subject was not an organismic community (Gemeinschaft) comprised of the “folk” but a complex society (Gesellschaft) internally divided amongclasses. Questioning the universalist argument made by Listian nationalists that the nation was a unitary collectivity whose health could be measured by its wealth and power, he also questioned the universalist argument made by Meiji Marxists that the nation was a constructed community whose seeming unity actually masked irreconcilable class differences among its constituents. Rather than rejecting one or the other of these competingviews of modernity, Seki searched for common ground between nationalism and Marxism.

PROLOGUE: marx versus list

Seki could not have known that Marx himself had earlier confronted nationalism with many of the same concerns that he later would, but Marx had done precisely that in an unpublished criticism of Friedrich List. Writing in 1845, Marx pointedly dismissed and disparaged List's contention that nations, rather than classes, were the primary subjects of modernity. Because Marx's essay brings Seki's concerns into high relief—and because Seki ultimately managed to find common ground between Marx and List— I begin this chapter with a rehearsal of the battle that Marx fought with his self-declared ideological nemesis.

Thanks to the scholarship of Ernest Gellner and Roman Szporluk, who have wondered aloud how and why Marx so vehemently rejected List's contention that nations were the central protagonists in the modern meta-

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