Harry HarootunianNov 19, 2023
Archaism and Actuality
Japan and the Global Fascist Imaginary
Duke University Press 2023
In Archaism and Actuality: Japan and the Global Fascist Imaginary (Duke UP, 2023) eminent Marxist historian Harry Harootunian explores the formation of capitalism and fascism in Japan as a prime example of the uneven development of capitalism. He applies his theorization of subsumption to examine how capitalism integrates and redirects preexisting social, cultural, and economic practices to guide the present. This subsumption leads to a global condition in which states and societies all exist within different stages and manifestations of capitalism. Drawing on Japanese philosophers Miki Kiyoshi and Tosaka Jun, Marxist theory, and Gramsci’s notion of passive revolution, Harootunian shows how the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and its program dedicated to transforming the country into a modern society exemplified a unique path to capitalism. Japan’s capitalist expansion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, rise as an imperial power, and subsequent transition to fascism signal a wholly distinct trajectory into modernity that forecloses any notion of a pure or universal development of capitalism. With Archaism and Actuality, Harootunian offers both a retheorization of capitalist development and a reinterpretation of epochal moments in modern Japanese history.
Jingyi Li is a PhD Candidate in Japanese History at the University of Arizona. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing.