Democracy and Capitalism in Postwar Japan
To speak of the "other Japan" as engaged in a struggle for democracy begs questions. Isn't democracy merely a "Western" concept? By using it, am I not imposing on Japan an alien cultural concept that is not universal but peculiar to the West in one historical epoch? Is it not true that the United States and other Western capitalist countries have been remaking themselves in Japan's image rather than the other way around? Isn't democracy relative to the level of economic prosperity anyway, meaningless to those without a high enough standard of living to make it a living reality? And could it not be just another word for liberal self-interestedness that has corroded modern society in the West? While these are too grand and sweeping questions to be dealt with here, any attempt at an answer requires that the questions be addressed both structurally and historically. It is my contention that democracy in the industrialized world is in fact in direct conflict with the need of capitalism to pursue efficiency in production. Contrary to the optimism of today's boosters of unfettered capitalist growth, democracy in the real sense of truly effective popular participation in political and economic decisions has not followed development. I Development has driven out democracy, both political and economic, as hindrances to national competitiveness.2 Efficiency has been equated with top-down hierarchical control that speaks of democracy as mere mobilization of others for active participation in pursuit of goals decided upon and imposed from above.