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Marxism and National Socialism in Taishō Japan: The Thought of Takabatake Motoyuki

  • Germaine A. Hoston
Abstract

Takabatake Motoyuki was one of several prewar Japanese socialists who combined the Marxian ideal of proletarian socialism with nationalism. The first to produce a full Japanese translation of Karl Marx's Capital in 1919, Takabatake formulated a doctrine of national or state socialism that same year and dedicated the rest of his life to the promotion of that ideal. While Takabatake continued to call himself a Marxist, he criticized Marx's understanding of the state and drew on the work of Western political theorists such as Thomas Hobbes to construct his own functionalist interpretation of the state. Takabatake's work not only exposes some important lacunae in Marxist-Leninism, but his continued appeal to Marxism while embracing an ideology usually associated with the political Right defies analysis on the basis of conventional Left-Right distinctions. As his treatment of contemporary domestic and international problems demonstrates, both socialist and nationalist movements of this era constituted impassioned responses to social, economic, and political crises that were already apparent in the Taishō years.

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