chapter  11
Japanese ‘cultural eclecticism’ and a reinterpretation of Marx and Keynes on the instabilities of capitalism
Pages 15

Cultural eclecticism is often said to have taken root in the Japanese mentality, technology and way of life. After the opening of Japan to the world at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Japanese wavered between adopting Western civilisation and rehabilitating the Japanese pre-modern tradition. At this time they sought some method of integrating modernity and pre-modernity by blending one with the other, or by finding a framework within which to arrange the configuration for the two. In applying Marx’s theories of the capitalist economy to analyse pre-war Japanese capitalism, Japanese Marxists faced the similar problem of how to handle the conflict between modernisation and backwardness. Needless to say, Marxists qualified pre-modernity as backwardness in modernisation, whilst cultural eclectics considered pre-modernity to be of no less positive value than modernity. Thus the problem that Marxists and cultural eclectics each tackled was quite different in kind. Nevertheless, the common origin of the problems they addressed lay in the historical conditions in which Japan was placed as a latecomer in capitalist development. Modernity existed side by side with pre-modernity in pre-war Japanese capitalism. This dual character of Japanese capitalism occupied the interest of both Marxists and cultural eclectics.