chapter  5
THE LEGACY FROM THE OLD SOCIETY
Pages 27

On 9 February 1900 the popular Tokyo daily newspaper Yorozu Chōhō (Morning News) carried an article written by Kōtoku Shūsui with the striking title Kinsen o Haishi Seyo (‘Abolish Money!’). 1 At first glance, here was a modern idea borrowed from Western socialist theory-and Kōtoku himself claimed in the article that ‘the modern European socialists…have the abolition of money and the suppression of the private ownership of capital as their ideals’.2 The fact was, however, that although the European social-democrats (Kōtoku’s ‘modern European socialists’) might on rare occasions have sought to prove their Marxist pedigree by parading slogans such as ‘Abolish money!’ and ‘Abolition of the wages system!’, in practice they were committed to maintaining the monetary economy in existence. Kōtoku referred to ‘modern European socialists’ in his article in order to bolster his argument (the implication being that, if an idea was believed in the West, it was self-evidently correct-a common enough assumption in the Meiji era) but the actual argument itself owed far more to traditional samurai attitudes than it did to socialism. In fact, the ideals which Kōtoku attributed to the ‘modern European socialists’ were unmistakably those of the samurai and were as remote from social-democracy as they were from genuine socialism itself:

(the socialists) want to replace money by strength and honour, by right and duty. Indeed, truth and righteousness lie in doing just this.3