EUI MWP Working Paper; 2015/12
This paper aims to show that two eminent Italian and Japanese Marxists in the 1930s, Antonio Gramsci and Tosaka Jun, shared four important characteristics of so-called Western Marxism. These are: 1) a rejection of crude economism; 2) an acknowledgement of the critical role of civil society in obtaining people’s consent for the governance of modern states; 3) a scrutiny of the mechanism with which people were mobilized through internalization of social norms; and 4) the proposition of an alternative reform plan based on the autonomy of politics. Showing that Gramsci and Tosaka shared these four characteristics enables us to revisit the framework of Western Marxism, which confusingly consists of both theoretical characteristics and geographical criteria. The geographical element comes to the forefront in determining what does not count as Western Marxism, drawing boundaries behind those theoretical characteristics that were shared beyond these boundaries. As this paper maintains, Tosaka’s case may suggest that, during this time, the four theoretical characteristics had simultaneously developed in the “periphery,” in the places that were neither central nor remote in glowingly globalized values and problems, which clashed, and were often mixed up with, still-resilient domestic circumstances. This allows us to examine Italian and Japanese Marxists on the same plane, without endorsing the essentialist West–East dichotomy that obscures their shared characteristics.