Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview
Japan or who would do so in the future. In the Summary of Incidents (Shojiken Gaiyo), the investigation of the Police Bureau of the Home Ministry into the causes of right-wing terrorism, it is stated: "We see the importation of socialist and communist thought influenced by the Russian Revolution.... After the Great Earthquake [1923] graduates from colleges and high schools, the so-called educated class, were most susceptible to the baptism of bolshevist thought, and finally we see the succession of members of the Japan Communist Party who even advocate the overthrow of our splendid national polity. This has even appeared within the Imperial Army." A situation in which the organization of the workers and farmers was so slight as to present no problem, but in which the élite and educated class had become "bolshevized," is completely abnormal according to the laws of Marxism, and it is ironical that this abnormality should have been regarded as a fearful menace by the ruling class of Japan. As we see in the Konoe Memorial to the Throne (Konoe Jōsō Bun), what gave the rulers of Imperial Japan nightmares until the last was the "bolshevization" of the State from within rather than revolution from below. Moreover, even the so-called bolshevization of the educated class and of children from good homes had certainly not gone far enough to be alarming from the point of view of the system as a whole. The question must therefore be carried forward to the spirit and structure of Imperial Japan, which gave rise to immediate allergic reactions to the phenomena of ideological dissemination. On this point see above, "Theory and Psychology of Ultra-Nationalism."
Any systematic treatment of this subject must examine the distinctive characteristics of the Imperial government structure and the mechanism of the process by which loyal Imperial subjects were fostered, a process of intense homogenization and de-politicization. In Imperial Japan the two supports of structural stability were de-politicization at the bottom of society (government by men of repute, which was the basis of "good morals and manners," and the Japanese version of local self-government, which ensured it) and trans-politicization at the apex (the transcendence of the Emperor and his officials over all political rivalries). There was a powerful inclination to regard as dangerous all trends towards political and ideological diversity that might interfere with the homogeneity of the community (the "spirit of harmony"). This tendency becomes strong in direct proportion to the acceleration of a sense that the structure is in danger. In this sense the pet saying of the fascists and national polity advocates, that "liberalism is the hotbed of communism," has a special validity. It is a general law of fascism that it always concentrates its attack on marginal ideologies in concrete situations. But since the first task of fascism—i.e. the destruction of the vanguard organizations of revolution—had already been effected in Japan under political party Cabinets, the Japanese right-wing and national polity movements were bound at an early stage to change the chief target of their attack from communism and socialism to liberalism (the "hotbed"). This distinctive character was extremely significant in Japanese political and social processes after 1932-3.
Bakumatsu Period: The last part of the Tokugawa Period, 1603-1867. rōnin: originally referred to disenfeoffed samurai (e.g. the Forty-Seven Rōnin), but later came to apply in general to adventurers, soldiers of fortune, and others who lived by their wits, courage, and readiness to break the law.
Tōyama Mitsuru O no Shimmemmoku.
House of assignation (machiai). Sometimes incorrectly described as "geisha houses," these are places traditionally used by a certain type of Japanese politician for behind-the‐ scenes political dealings. "Machiai politics," referring to political negotiations conducted in these houses, have a strong connotation of shadiness and corruption. Since the Meiji Period, geishas, who met their customers in these houses, frequently established close ties with Japan's political and military leaders, and some of the more intelligent ladies of this class were in a position to exert a good deal of influence.

Fascism, Right and Left

Hugh Seton-Watson

Twenty years after the destruction of the Third Reich, the essence of fascism is still elusive. There are at least two governments in existence today, in Spain and Portugal, which can plausibly be described as fascist. The first owed its victory in large measure to the support of Mussolini and Hitler, and in both countries official spokesmen were at one time proud

to identify themselves with fascism. Apart from this, communists freely use "fascist" as a smear-word, designed not so much to identify anything specifically fascist as to discredit persons or groups which appear, for whatever reason, to be hindering communist purposes. The word is also often used as a term of abuse by woolly-minded persons of "left‐ wing" views, many of whom are too young personally to have suffered, or to have faced serious danger, as a result of fascism.

Polemical and inexact use of the word has inevitably discouraged scholars. Some may be tempted to argue that it can only usefully be applied to one

From Hugh Seton-Watson, "Fascism, Right and Left," in Walter Laqueur and George L. Mosse, eds., International Fascism, 1920-1945 (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1966), pp. 183-197. Copyright 1966 by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Contemporary History. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Inc., and Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd.


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