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Red star rising: With global capitalism on ropes, communism gains in Japan

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By C B Liddell

Even before the global economic crisis started to bite late last year, political pundits in Japan had already noticed a surprising phenomenon. A 1920s novel about the harsh lives of the workers on Japanese crab fishing and canning ships in the Sea of Okhotsk, written by a young communist author, had become a surprise bestseller. "Kanikosen" (The Crab Factory Ship) sold well over 500,000 copies last year, while a manga version published by East Press added another 200,000 to the total.

The book, detailing the tyrannical management practices and inhuman living conditions on the ships and the struggle of the workers to unite in their defense, was penned by a 26-year-old bank clerk named Takiji Kobayashi in 1929 — four years before he was arrested and tortured to death by the Japanese police.

Last May, the media began taking note of the renewed interest in the book and started to link it with growing dissatisfaction with modern capitalism, especially among the younger generation. The Yomiuri Shimbun ran a story titled “Kanikosen: Sad Reminder, Lamenting Disparity, Young People’s Empathy,” and the Mainichi followed with “Kanikosen, Proletarian Masterpiece—Unusual Bestseller.” The success of the novel, written from a Marxist viewpoint, also signaled a growing interest among ordinary Japanese voters in the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), which until recently had been greatly vilified.

Throughout the boom times of Japan’s “economic miracle,” the JCP had looked like a ghost at the feast of an incredibly successful capitalist system. The truth, however, is that Japan’s former economic success had been bought at a high cost in human terms, with unpaid overtime, low quality of life, and even the infamous phenomenon of "karoshi," or death caused by overwork. To this has been added a two-tier employment system of higher-paid, directly employed workers and lower-paid agency staff, as major Japanese corporations have sought greater competitiveness through cost cutting. It’s this situation that makes the extreme exploitation depicted in "Kanikosen" resonate with the present generation.

In a recent essay in the Daily Yomiuri, Waseda University literature professor Hirokazu Toeda wrote, “Kanikosen is discussed and analyzed every time a critical social issue occurs — the disparity society, severe labor conditions, consumer product falsification, random killings. This is a unique characteristic of the ‘Kanikosen’ boom and it now is symbolizing or mirroring all those negative aspects of current day Japan.”

The Japanese Communist Party, which operates from a large headquarters in Tokyo’s Yoyogi area, has seen the benefit. In the last general election in 2005, the JCP grabbed a solid 7.25% of the vote, behind only the Liberal Democratic Party (38%), the Democratic Party of Japan (31%), and Soka Gakkai-sponsored New Komeito (13.25%). Since then, support and membership has been growing. Throughout 2008, approximately 1,000 new members joined every month, swelling the ranks of party members to more than 415,000.

In the same month that the major daily newspapers started running articles about "Kanikosen," the JCP’s leader, Kazuo Shii, was invited onto a “wide” show to explain Marxism to the masses. “TV Asahi asked me to appear and pick up some words and phrases from Marx’s 'Das Kapital' to show using flip boards to the audience,” the 54-year old Shii said at his party’s headquarters.

“I made flip boards with three messages: ‘After me, the deluge.’ This is the slogan of capitalism — in order to get the profits, they don’t care at all what will happen afterwards. The second phrase has been borne out by the subprime crisis: ‘Excessive credit system will give rise to excessive speculation.’ The third one was Engel’s expression that “nature will revenge itself on people,” connected to environmental destruction. This was the first time in Japanese history that a commercial television station has shown such phrases from Marx and Engels.”

Since being elected leader in 2000, Shii, a robust looking man who emanates an atmosphere of pugnacious concern, has worked hard to champion the rights of Japan’s increasing army of temp workers, who are usually the first in line to suffer in any economic downturn. He has also made strides in the party’s decades-long struggle to rebrand itself.

Communist party rebranded

During the Cold War, the JCP was typically seen as a dangerous undemocratic organization, fomenting violence and chaos at the behest of an international communist conspiracy to take over the world — an image that still resonates with many older voters. But, spurred by a sense of disillusionment with the manipulative regimes in Moscow and Beijing, the JCP started to distance itself from international communism in the ’60s and develop a more democratic and nationalistic communism that focused on the concerns and values of ordinary Japanese voters.

This process had advanced so far that, when the Soviet Union collapsed, leading to the disbanding of the Soviet Communist Party in 1991, the JCP reacted enthusiastically and was the only communist party in the world to issue a statement that positively welcomed its demise. For many years before this, the JCP had been a stern critic of Moscow’s attempts to extend its power around the world.

“The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as if it represented world socialism, continuously caused evils of great-power chauvinism and hegemonism which had nothing in common with socialism,” Shii pointed out in a recent speech.

Because of its rejection of foreign control of Japanese affairs, whether from Moscow, Beijing or Washington, it could be claimed that the JCP is actually a more nationalist party than the so-called far right groups with their sound trucks and imperialist rhetoric. Like the far right, the JCP calls for the return of the Kurile Islands from Russia and restricts party membership to Japanese citizens, but unlike these parties, it also strongly and vocally opposes Japan’s subservience to the US. According to Shii, many of the problems Japan faces come from its unequal relationship with its main ally.

The most obvious symbol of this skewed relationship is the continued large-scale U.S. military presence, 18 years after the Cold War ended. To many Japanese, this represents a continuation of the postwar occupation that can no longer be justified by the threat of a Soviet superpower.

Economic data tells a similar story. In 2007 the U.S. ran yet another trade deficit with Japan — $82 billion — suggesting that Japan’s economic role is to make the goods that America consumes. In order to support such exports, however, Japan has kept the yen artificially low by buying dollars and driving down interest rates.

Opposed to subservience to U.S.

“America has a lot of debts and these have been exported to other countries,” Shii comments. “For example, Japan bought a lot of national dollar bonds. In order to support this, Japan’s interest rate has always been very low, almost zero, which is unbelievable in the capitalist system. This is in order to support the United States, and this shows how Japan is subservient to the United States economically.”

Although the JCP’s rhetoric sometime strikes an anti-American and anti-globalist note, Shii is keen to point out the importance of good international relationships. “We don’t endorse anti-globalization,” Shii points out. “What we are calling for is democratic and orderly globalization. This means that the economic sovereignty of each nation should be respected and equal, and mutually beneficial relations should be respected.”

At a time of economic instability linked in the public’s mind to international finance and speculation, the JCP’s message is a popular one. But what about the details?

“In the face of the present financial crisis, three things are important. First, we have to prevent the negative effects of this being imposed on ordinary people. Second, we have to change the character of the Japanese economy, from one depending on foreign demand to one based on internal domestic demand. Third, we have to be clear that the financial crisis we are currently witnessing has been the result of excessive deregulation.”

In 2009, the LDP-Komeito coalition government of Prime Minister Taro Aso will have to call a general election. With the economic situation shaky, the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, led by Ichiro Ozawa, looks set to win. But for Shii, the two main parties are almost identical in terms of economic outlook and their views of Japan’s continuing relationship with America. The fact that Ozawa used to be secretary general of the LDP before joining the DPJ has strengthened this perception among voters who are increasingly cynical about the main parties.

“The people are disillusioned by the LDP and the Democratic Party of Japan,” Shii says. “A public opinion poll recently showed a very interesting result. When asked who would be a better prime minister, Ozawa or Aso, Ozawa narrowly won. But a majority of the respondents also said that neither of them is appropriate. People are beginning to realize that it isn’t enough to change the face on the package, you have to change the contents of government as well.”

Although economic times are hard, conditions are far from being as bad as they were on Kobayashi’s fictitious factory ships in the waters off Siberia. Nevertheless, Japan’s export-geared economy, dominated by large corporations keen to retain competiveness by squeezing labor, supported by a political system that relies heavily on big business contributions, is creating the dissatisfaction needed to fuel political change. Although the Communists are unlikely to win power anytime soon, under the leadership of Kazuo Shii, they seem set to make impressive gains in 2009.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


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I'd like to say some thing regarding this article:

1st. All communism loving people should ask for political asylum on North Korea or Cuba and after living there some years come and tells (if they are allowed to) what they think of communism (if they still love it).

2nd. Japan wouldn't of develop as fast as it did with out good relations with the USA (all the help the USA gave to japan after WWII (google economic history of japan)) and without trade with the USA.

3rd. An internal market based economy on Japan is only possible to a degree (Japan being a nation poor on natural resources), no economy in the world can exist parallel to the USA economy (if you don't trade with the USA , you trade with a nation that does trade with the USA).

4th. I don't like globalization and I believe that any nation that wants to be self-sufficient should have the rigth to do so (not a full autarky but trade the less it can with other nations [natural resources, goods or know-how it can't get/make/invent by itself]).

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Hail to the Red Nins!

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Remember that Communism was strong in Japan both before and especially after WW2. A lot of it was directed at the Zaibatsu style running of the economy, and a lot of it was fashionable intelligensia idealism imported from Europe.

There were large protests against government corruption and for worker's rights in tearly days of the American Occupation (I say American rather than allied because it was an American show from start to finish). Indeed, the Communists were great admirers of MacArthur and Co. until the crackdown began in the latter half of 1947.

Also, remember that Communism doesn't neccessarily imply becoming like North Korea or Cuba (or the PRC for that matter), but rather they may see themselves as a viable distinctive alternative to the current political parties. I doubt that they are personally, but they may represent legitimate concerns and points of view on Japan's future.

I guess what I am saying is - they all seem to be idealists, but they should not be totally dismissed out of hand simply because they are 'Communist'.

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4A4350 is so obviously American. Unfortunately, there are few Americans who can discuss communism logically and not emotionally. It appears that most are as brainwashed as North Koreans.

Communism should not be condemned out of hand because of the excesses of Stalinism, Maoism or Kimism. Similarly, capitalism should not be condemned out of hand because of the excesses of the Bush administration.

The danger of condemning all communism is the assumption that anyone who opposes communism, Park, Marcos, Diem, Pinochet, to name but a few, is good and justifies support.

Let's listen to the communists and hear what they have to say. A true democrat should think, to quote Evelyn Beatrice Hall, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

In Japan the JCP provides a most useful function. They oppose the LDP and often they are the ones who uncover corruption.

"We're run by the Pentagon. We're run by Madison Avenue. We're run by television. And, as long as we accept those things and don't revolt, we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche. "As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy. We're at the mercy of the advertiser. And, of course, there are certain things we need, but a lot of the stuff that is bought is not needed. We all live in a little village. Your village may be different from other people's villages, but we are all prisoners." Patrick McGoohan R.I.P.

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The Protestant Reformation-like revolt by European Communist Parties against the Soviet and Chinese regimes started decades ago. The Japanese Communist Party is part of this development. The significance of this, of course, flies right past the typical brainwashed American nationalist.

One significant thing is that these Communist parties, in rejecting the Soviet and Chinese models as successful failures, embraced a earlier democratic model of socialism (the one that should have happened in Russian but didn't). The other is that they became social democratic in nature--reformist rather than revolutionary.

While I disagree with the Japanese CP's stance on the so-called Northern Territories (which rightfully belong to Russia) I think the rise of the CP is a good thing. It is genuinely for the rights of working people and far less prone to compromise. As a significant opposition party it will help keep the LDP and Democratic Party in check and more or less honest.

I do not see the CP as ever becoming the ruling party or even being part of a ruling Democratic Party led coalition, less capitalism takes a radical plunge.

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The danger of condemning all communism is the assumption that anyone who opposes communism, Park, Marcos, Diem, Pinochet, to name but a few, is good and justifies support.

You could add Chiang Kai-shek to that list. I can certainly sympathize with people's fears due to job insecurity where the social safety net has frayed. Our governments often do seem beholden to corporations, through forms of institutionalized bribery. The little guy just can't compete. Yet to hark back to this book may not offer much of a guide to how to make the present more equitable:

The book, detailing the tyrannical management practices and inhuman living conditions on the ships and the struggle of the workers to unite in their defense,

As Nick Kristof wrote in defense of sweatshops:

[A]s bad as sweatshops are, the alternatives are worse. They are more dangerous, lower-paying and more degrading. And when I struggle to think how we can really make a big difference in the development of the poorest countries, the key always seems to be manufacturing.

The problem is that for those with minimal education, and that includes those in developed countries with no more than a high school diploma as well as citizens of third world countries with less, factory work is probably a good job. In this day and age, however, corporations can send those jobs off-shore in a sort of a race to the bottom. And they can find people to fill them wherever they go regardless of conditions. There are simply many more people in the world than there are jobs which provide more than a subsistence living.

Communism in itself doesn't offer any way around this because few people would desire a return to autarky. If the world financial situation gets worse, however, we may see a return to some form of protectionism. Democracies will be the first to go simply because politicians cannot expect to be reelected by voters who are unemployed.

Moderator: Readers, please keep the discussion focused on communism in Japan.

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China and North Korea delighted.

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Reading this article is like comparing Linux (open source/communism) and Windows(R) (capitalism). Sure, Linux, er I mean communism seems like a really good idea at first, until you see how many holes (bugs and errors) it contains, once you have it up running. Switched back to Windows in a matter of weeks.

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I think the first lesson that needs to be learned is that the opposite of communism is not democracy. You hear that parroted all the time and it's hilarious to anyone with more than half a brain.

And secondly, there are different types of communism/socialism just like Switzerland and the US are different types of capitalism. JCP are no Maoists, for example.

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Distribution of power can make or break just about any institution. Communism, democracy, capitalism - need to be flexible for adaptation, similarly civilization. The latter holding more value than all. What "works" once for some is not always the answer for all always. A decent thermometer is usually how much people love their neighbors.

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They need to change the name from Japan Communist Party to Japan Socialist Party for the bourgeois leftists on the universities or to Japan Labourist Party for ties with the unions.

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The US under bush moved rapidly toward a communist state, ala China, by essentially nationalizing the finance industry and now the auto industry. Crony capitalism failed, say hello to something quite old and something red. Chairman Mao would be proud of bush. The US government is the only thing keeping the economy alive right now, and still the bush depression may hit soon.

In Japan, clearly the current government is a complete failure. People in Japan are looking for change, just like the 85% who support Obama now in the US. If the JCP is the only option for change, then I am not surprised its gaining ground now.

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I think these recent "converts" are people who think the Japanese government has failed them. After years of having it easy they don't know how to look after themselves and so they turn to the people who they think will look after them. Once the economy improves again however these people will vanish like the morning mist.

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betting

very very true. the Japanese think they are really hard done by, they dont understand that what goes around comes around, they really think the world shud just buy & bunch of their stuff & leave Jpn alone, hopefully they will learn something from what is happening but.........

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I think the first lesson that needs to be learned is that the opposite of communism is not democracy.

Communism is a system in which the government owns society's economic assets. Democracy is a means to select leaders and to hold those leaders accountable. One can have an elected communist government.

Communism was envisioned as the solution to some of the problems the Japanese are now confronting. Ironically, it took hold in many pre-industrial countries where the government built up the industry it owned. That meant its control was much more comprehensive. By contrast, what the Japanese are looking for is to reorient their economy away from export-led growth to one focused on the domestic market and the welfare of Japanese workers. As China abandoned state socialism and followed the Japanese model, it too developed rapidly. Yet both countries are now confronting the down side of dependence on global marketplace, really the American consumer, to fuel their growth. Once demand drops, factory inventories pile up and lay-offs follow.

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The primary difference between communist systems is the level at which planning done. In the former USSR and Eastern bloc countries it was done at the national level. Bureaucrats in Moscow allocated goods for the entire country.

By contrast in countries where communist governments came to power via prevailing in a civil war (China, Vietnam), planning was decentralized and each province was responsible for setting and fulfilling its own production targets. The reason is obvious: in the event part of the "liberated" area went back into enemy hands the rest could still function.

But this is state socialism, not want the Japanese are interested in adopting. Rather they are looking for greater worker protection from the insecurities of the capitalist market economy. I'm not sure anyone knows how to achieve that in an age where capital is mobile while labor is not.

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For the sake of political maturity it may be far better for Japan to try to walk the middle ground for a while. It's about time the endless chain of right wing domination of the LDP is broken, but do they really need to go extreme left as the answer? Communism has failed, simply because the people in power will always put their own interests above the common good and thus every nation that dabbled with communism instantly turned totalitarian. Let's try to take some baby steps towards a more social policy first before taking to the streets waving your communist mangas.

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Communism is fine until you get all the statues and posters on every wall and free space. Then you have all the trinkets and books you must buy. New communist wool hats and jackets. =Not everyone can afford being communist right now.

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Then you have all the trinkets and books you must buy. New communist wool hats and jackets.

Nobody is forced to buy anything. The problem is that the quality of what's available is poor. Factories are tasked with making a certain number of something (and the customers are a captive base). There's no incentive to improve the product since there's no competition in the marketplace. I really don't think the Japanese want to go down this path....

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Pretty much all governments are the same. The difference is the illusion of freedom it gives its people.

I have walked pass the Communist parties office at night from Harajuku to Shinjuku. It looked normal to me. I also had a lot of drinks that night.

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this guy drives a Lexus

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"this guy drives a Lexus"

Heh, this guy is also the best whiner I've ever heard, surpassing even those whiners Kan and Ozawa.

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'Can't say that it can work, but this guy at least makes it sound reasonable and fair. And that makes it a lot more attractive than capitalism's "greed is good"-style pride in its inequities.

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like the monk/priest (I dont know which is appropriate and don't care) in the temple/shrine (as above) near my house, this fellow preaches one thing and lives another. humble? wassat? new word? hardship? fellow man? don't believe a word these people say

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I am willing to put a ¥100 Red-Star-Commi trinket on my cell that must compete with the other cell trinkets presently affirmed to said cell. But a nice shade of pink would be nicer than the red. I would even be willing to try a darker pink.

-but no CDs, Dvds, books, Castro/Mao shirts, boots, or brooms (to sweep the streets at retirement) at this time please.

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Communism is State Capitalism, the state owns every thing yet still exploits the workers. The Japanese Communist party can never achieve that or power because of the collectiveness of the Japanese culture. The Japanese Communist party needs to forget Marxism which could never work in Japan and adopt Humanism as their ideal. Humanism as a non-exploitive idealism would fit into Japanese culture better than socialism or communism. A Humanist party would be welcomed by the Japanese people who already hold all the values of humanism and its pyramid of needs. The true values looked for by "Communist" reformers who were against exploitation where never in communism and had the Humanist ideal been know to them, they would have adopted that instead of communism. The Japanese "Communist Party" flies under a false flag and needs to change if it aims to help Japan into a new brave future.

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Put Hello Kitty on a communist banner and sell it to the people. Bow down to your new fearless leader Hello Kitty!

=Communism just needs a new mascot and theme song. But who needs communism when you already have blue tarp camps in Japan --> Some people are already living the communist lifestyle (and taking up precious park space)

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Not sure where this article is getting its information. The Communist Party is losing seats in every election, and will most likely hold none after the next election. It's been irrelevant for decades, and will be extinct in a matter of months.

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The Japanese in fact incorporated an aspect of communism into their corporate capitalist economy: presumptive job security. It was similar to China's "iron rice bowl" (鐵飯碗) which conferred job security to state factory workers as well as the right to bequeath the job to a family member upon retirement. Such a provision can only exist when the work requires few skills.

Now job security is gone and that causes serious social disruption. This is explored in the movie Tokyo Sonata, in which a Tokyo salary man loses his job after the position is outsourced but is too ashamed to tell his family. It's done well on the festival circuit; it may not have sold too many tickets in Japanese theaters.

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The utopian concept of equality for the mankind never worked. Great Soviet States and ChiCom proved that. It’s a dream world concocted by Marx; in reality communism suppresses man’s creativity and free will. Intelligentsias’ bureaucratic class, whether political, educational, military class ends up controlling the masses for their own concept of benevolence to all.

If you like 3 hour bread lines and like government to tell you what you should read and watch, it’s the system for you. Your life from birth to grave is looked after. Nobody has much but all are supposedly equal except people on the bureaucratic ladder of benefits.

TS

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It’s a dream world concocted by Marx; in reality communism suppresses man’s creativity and free will. Intelligentsias’ bureaucratic class, whether political, educational, military class ends up controlling the masses for their own concept of benevolence to all.

I had the opportunity to observe the tail-end of communism in China. What's immediately apparent is that the system offers no social mobility. Once you get your job assignment, your future is set. Though officially unemployment didn't exist, the waiting for work period could drag on for over a year. If you turned down what was offered, the waiting period began anew and there was no guarantee the next placement would be better.

What constituted a good job really had nothing to do with the nature of the work but what came with it. State-owned factories had the best housing and other benefits for their employees. Collectives, usually light industry, offered much less. They were disproportionately staffed by women who, the logic went, could marry a man with a better job. But a man would face poor marital prospects if he were employed by a collective.

Because there was a shortage of everything, people spent inordinate amounts of time making friends who could provide access to this or that. A whole vocabulary developed in conjunction with socialism that has now fallen into disuse.

Were people unhappy? Not really. They had a lot of time to spend with their families and those relations could be quite close (like Elian Gonzalez and his father). Some may have genuinely appreciated the security the system provided them. The long-term effect is stifling, however, and such a system can never be in the forefront of innovation. I really can't see it taking root in Japan, or any other post-industrial society for that matter.

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Free-market capitalism is failing. But we don't know much about how/if communism can work, because until now it's only been tried and enforced at the point of a gun. Meanwhile, free-market capitalism is still failing.

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Capitalism is not perfect, but what is perfect in life! It has done more good to more people and advanced civilization than any pie in the sky ideals. So in the mean time keep on dreaming how great communism is if it were not for the guns.

TS

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Communism makes the grand assumtion that the goverment knows what is best for the people. But to do that government would have to be nearly infallible and in responce to that let me offer a quote "There has never been a perfect government, because men have passions and if they did not have passions, there would be no need for government." - Voltaire

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This is why!!

"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalised, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism."

Karl Marx, 1867

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in this chaotic but also rancid political environment, the last thing Japan needs is another policitcal party to introduce even more conflicting opinions and policies.

In other countries like India, the large number of political parties makes it impossible to reach a concensus on the most basic things. Everytime something needs to be voted on, numerous backdoor deals and short lived alliances have to be made, and this reduces transparency and accountability to the constituents.

China's economic miracle for the last 30 years was not all due to the opening up of market economy, it was mainly due to the concensus based decision making which resulted in very effective policies that could be consistently applied over decades. Even in the US with 2 parties, you see a lot of going back and forth between policies, and wasting time.

However, now that China is a market economy, it must follow the rules of international economics, and the crutches from the old days, such as state owned entities and heavy government subsidies and protecions, must be reduced or eliminated.

If Japan were to have any chance of repairing its political system, the various parties need to find common ground in the main policies. Communism is just too far out of left field to go along with any other parties.

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Should Shii san ever get his political party into a position of power watch out, because his 'communism' simply-is-not.

Several points to be aware of here: Communism in fact evolves out of Socialism just as the latter emerges out of Capitalism. To hold onto a system of politics and economics that is capitalist when it has exhausted itself is to see powerful nations turn to war.

The problem with the JCP is that even while it distances itself from Stalinism, it is precisely the same. As Trotsky died pointing out, a nationalist socialism is not possible, neither theoretically as Marx and his supporters theorised it, not practically as Trotsky saw himself in historical events of the time. The only kind of socialist system that works is one that is international.

This is the understanding of successive 'Internationals' (International Socialist conferences). It is the understanding of the 4th International. Note though this is not the 'reality' depicted by those writers deluded by the fantasy of everlasting capitalism who wish for us all to believe to depart from capitalism is to step back into a tyranny of dictatorship in the image of Stalin and Mao.

Ishii has this to say above:

"the JCP started to distance itself from international communism in the ’60s and develop a more democratic and nationalistic communism that focused on the concerns and values of ordinary Japanese voters."

Ishii and his brand of communism offers no hope, no break away from the move toward nationalism over these past few years, and in fact he is echoing the call by Western leaders to answer the 'problem' of globalism by returning to protectionism itself.

The end result of a world full of nations turning inwards is ultimately military action on a grand scale, because nation states and capitalism although the first derives from the needs of the last, is ultimately a contradiction. History makes it very clear, that the only way to solve the contradiction is to bust up the status quo. In other words, a world war.

Never forget that World War 1 was preceded directly before hand by a long and deep recession across the larger part of the industrialized world, and that the Great Depression directly preceded World War 2. There is a reason that nation states go to war, that reason is resources! The fact remains that the raison d'être behind the existence of nation states is the capitalism itself, specifically the drive by elites that rule each nation to increase their profits. When resources are few conflict erupts between nations.

Global trade like the Internet is a natural progression, the need to unite to share resources is the reason International Socialism is actually inevitable. The trick is to stay alive long enough to see this system finally give us all a world we can live in. We do not want to suffer a new world war, and that as I have posted here many times in the past is, gloomy git that I am, is the very likely outcome of where we are heading.

To avoid history repeating itself yet again of course calls for a revolution, but that call cannot ever be made from those who actually own means by which most people live, that too would be a contradiction, actually an impossibility.

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Communism makes the grand assumtion that the goverment knows what is best for the people.

I think for communists that was self-evident; rather it was a matter that the government could provide it better. That being "economic security." In a lot of places where it took root, the economy was not well developed or had been developed by outsiders who repatriated the profits.

In Southeast Asia, both British and French colonists transformed the agrarian landscape into plantation agriculture and incorporated their colonies into the global economy. But when the Depression hit a lot of farmers, who often took out loans which were repaid after harvest, went belly up and were left far worse off than before the foreigners showed up on the scene.

Communism's appeal in such a situation was deeply rooted in nationalism. The problem was that Marxism is very dogmatic and applied in pre-capitalist societies when it was conceived as a post-capitalist utopia. Thus, for example, when it time to "hunt down capitalists" a farmer with two pigs might be made the village capitalist because everyone else had only one. And thereafter he was going to be made to pay for his sins by doing all sorts of uncompensated work.

By contrast land reform in Taiwan, seen as necessary to diminish the appeal of communism, was carried out in a much more non-judgmental manner. "We don't really care how your family accumulated this much land, we're [the US govt] going to redistribute it but here is your compensation."

The Japanese are certainly not interested in such sweeping redistribution schemes, simply more economic security. The same issues have come up elsewhere in communities where outsourcing has resulted in a lot of pink slips.

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look at pyong yang now. that's real communism; just a dead end.

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look at pyong yang now. that's real communism; just a dead end.

It may not look all that bad to someone unemployed, lacking health insurance, and in danger of losing their home. I'd prepare just in case; communism may be coming to a neighborhood near you soon!

Unfettered free-market capitalism took the United States, both government and citizen, heavily into debt. And it pulled the economies of Japan and China, both dependent on exports to the US, down as well. It's unclear what is going to replace all of this and revive global prosperity. But it's unlikely the American appetite for Asian-manufactured goods will again approach previous levels. A lot of that purchasing power owed to cheap credit which is a thing of the past.

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Communism is making gains in the U.S. too. In fact, it takes a big step on Tuesday.

Betzee, free-market capitalism isn't what took the U.S. heavily into debt. It was reckless congressional spending, which has nothing to do with capitalism and eveything to do with socialism/communism (the confiscation of wealth from citizens for the unchecked use of the state).

And did I understand your 12:28 post right, that communism could work if adequately funded? Well hey, what wouldn't?!?

It isn't so much a matter of funding, really, as it is conscience. And between the two, capitalism-with-a-conscience would be the much better system than communism-with-a-conscience.

I'm still waiting to see the wealthy who praise communism and champion its leaders move to a communist country and donate their wealth to the citizenry. You see, that's another problem with communism: Nobody wants to pay for it. They always want someone else to pay for it.

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Communism is making gains in the U.S. too. In fact, it takes a big step on Tuesday.

Not as big as the one which occurred last year, namely nationalizing banks.

It was reckless congressional spending, which has nothing to do with capitalism and eveything to do with socialism/communism (the confiscation of wealth from citizens for the unchecked use of the state).

The president can wield a veto pen. Instead he created the biggest new entitlement program since LBJ's "Great Society," the medicare prescription drug plan for seniors, with no provision to pay for it, incidentally. Socialism by another name. And why? To get the senior vote.

Entitlement programs are part and parcel of all democratic systems of governance, which are much more prone to run deficits for that reason, which in turn drives inflation. And nobody's gonna touch them once they are in place. (The economic situation in the USA would be a lot worse had GWB's privatization plan for social security gone through given that in entailed investing in the stock market).

It's not surprising in hard times, be it in Japan or the USA, citizens lobby their elected officials for some relief (just as corporate interests do).

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Not as big as the one which occurred last year, namely nationalizing banks.

That was a big step, I'll grant you that, but Obama has already promised even bigger steps.

The president can wield a veto pen.

And I'm very disappointed in him for not doing so.

Instead he created the biggest new entitlement program since LBJ's "Great Society," the medicare prescription drug plan for seniors, with no provision to pay for it, incidentally. Socialism by another name. And why? To get the senior vote.

Actually, he already had the senior vote (and Gore made even bigger promises, remember?), he just kept his campaign promise. Something some of us hoped was just a hallow campaign promise became yet another tax burden.

Entitlement programs are part and parcel of all democratic systems of governance, which are much more prone to run deficits for that reason, which in turn drives inflation. And nobody's gonna touch them once they are in place.

So it's better to turn to communism?

(The economic situation in the USA would be a lot worse had GWB's privatization plan for social security gone through given that in entailed investing in the stock market).

That's how gambles go sometimes. But investing in government bureaucracy has only one outcome, as the SS plan has proven. Just wait 'til you see the economic situation when that bill comes due!

It's not surprising in hard times, be it in Japan or the USA, citizens lobby their elected officials for some relief (just as corporate interests do).

Not surprising, but disappointing. Especially when previous generations expecting the government to guarantee their lifestyles have already run up over ten trillion in deficits.

If Japan takes bigger steps to communism, who will pay their tab? The U.S.? Who will pay the U.S. tab? China?

So, was I right about the inentions of your 12:28 post?

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First off we should be 100% clear. What most of you call communism is in fact "State Capitolism" where a totalitarian government controls the means of production. China and the Soviets were both State Capitolist nations who simply used "Communism" as propaganda. There has never been, let me repeat this clearly, never been a communist or truly socialist government anywhere. Everything you think you know about socialism or communism is tainted by either the Soviet/Chinese interpretation of the western anti-communist propaganda.

So before you start talking about the failure of communism and socialism, please get the historical facts right. None of the so called communist nations complied with even the most fundamental concepts in true socialism. On the contrary, all aligned themselves with strong totalitarian controls on social, political and economic levels which is not socialism. It is State Capitolism.

We like to think that competition is the natural state of human beings, when in fact it is our capacity for cooperation that has raised humanity from the apes to our current capacity. We are collective, cooperative creatures with personal inclinations to help each other, work together and event care for each other. But we have been sold on the idea that we need to trample each other to be successful. And look what that has achieved. 1. Evironmental disasters world wide, 2. Raging uncontrolled capitolism that has enslaved millions, overworked countless others and left a huge percentage of the global population in poverty while a tiny percent have more money than many poor countries. How is that right, or moral or the natural path for humanity.

Socialism can and should be about values. Values like equal opportunity to education, work, housing, food, shelter etc... It can co-exist with rewarding hard work and invention. And it can better co-exist with the strengthening of social fabric in the community while working to help people become connected to each other instead of isolated and alienated.

Societies have a responsibility to all citizens. To assure they are cared for. This is a value shared even in the religious concepts of the Good Samaritan.

We have been sold that socialism is evil. But the fact is we see positive aspects of socialism at work in many northern European countries. And we should see more of it integrated in a modern and liberal interpretation in nations like the US and Japan.

We should look to the ideas of leades like Emma Golman and other liberal thinkers who saw socialism as an idea of how to improve our societies and not how to rule them. And take those ideas and apply them in protective and supportive ways to make life better for the vast majority of workers and to limit the ability of the few to oppress the many.

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One more note. Utopian notions are misplaced. A worker's Utopia cannot exist.

But a balanced society with strong social structures to assure the well being of the working class and the improvement and development of a society based upon political and social equality can and should exist. A society where social and societal responsibility are wed to individual rights and protections. And a society with the wisdom to balance progress with responsiblity for its people, their needs, the enviroment and society as a whole.

This is not idealism. Japan needs this to reverse the alienation that is leading to so much domestic violence. It needs it to protect the environment. It needs this to reverse corruption and put political efforts towards building a foundation to support the demographic and economic challenges facing Japan's future. And it needs it to restore the health of Japan's family structures to enable people to have lives outside of work.

Wage slavery in Japan can only be swept away is socialistic values take priority over the dominance of this society by ravaging capitolism. The people here feel the loss of their social contract for secure employment and a relatively flat economic profile. Socialist ideas can help to restore some of this by calling for more accoutability and social responsibiltiy from government and the business world. That is why this is becoming popular and why it will grow as things get worst.

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Before it gets buried in other people's bickering, I would just like to congratulate tkoind2 on a fantastic couple of posts.

I wish I could have said it like that!!!

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It boils down to the following two choices:

A system which tries to prevent humans by force from pursuing their own interests, and fails (socialism).

A system which allows humans to pursue their own interests, and creates wealth, while taking into account that the unpleasant aspects of human nature cannot be changed.

I'll take #2.

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The above article shares a number of quite remarkable similarities (be they only on the surface) with one article written by John Chan for the WSWS in November 2008. For those who are interested in a clearer picture on the JCP, and why its rising popularity go to this link below.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/nov2008/japa-n24.shtml

Anyway, Mesieur (Madam) Liddell, nevertheless I commend you for paying attention to one of the best researched sources I have routinely cited, and occasionally plagiarized, over the years I have posted here on JT.

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Shugotaokumaru. Is your outlook on humanity that dire? There is a third choice. One that is essential if we are to survive as human beings.

Wealth now means the continued overconsumption that is destroying the only environment we have to exist in. This cannot continue. Likewise the year on year massive growth to feed the unrealistic expectations of stock holders and business leaders can also no longer be sustained.

We need to re-engineer our global economy to be sensible for the coming age of humanity. We must account for the requirement to reduce our impact upon the planet. We must change how we think.

A third choice must be a compromise. A system that works to empower all through political and social empowerment and through the equal protection of rights. This includes increasing social accountability and responsibility for business as well as realigning government to represent the people first and business second.

We must retool to encourage local economies as well. This is environmentally and socially sound thinking. Local economies are accountable to their communities and micro economics provide local wealth and prosperity. We've seen this tested and it works.

Modern socialistic practice must allow for and empower prosperity while assuring that weath is not centralized in a tiny few but shared among the workers and members of society. Wealth only exists for anyone because of the collective efforts of people in a society. From workers to the supporint service providers. And all must be given opportunity to be prosperous instead of centralizing wealth in a 1% narrow field of global residents.

It is time for a change and the collapse of the global economic virus provides the best opportunity for us to raise ourselves up since our ancestors first fought for worker's rights and political empowerment. It is now our turn to make decisions that are good for humanity as a whole and for our planet. Socialistic ideas are a key to making that work. And a departure from unchecked capitolism is the first step required.

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I guess it is just communism in name the way japanese politics works it is all the same just a different party name

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"The only kind of socialist system that works is one that is international."

The certainty, the faith, the tiresome persistence that certain socialists show in regard to this laughable fantasy and its supposed historical inevitability makes the most zealous Jehovah's Witness or Mormon holy-roller or celebrity "Scientologist" seem like a beacon of rationality.

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The certainty, the faith, the tiresome persistence that certain socialists show in regard to this laughable fantasy and its supposed historical inevitability makes the most zealous Jehovah's Witness or Mormon holy-roller or celebrity "Scientologist" seem like a beacon of rationality.

Yes, it is a lot like the tiresome persistence of the belief that capitalism is the only possible option for a political and economic system. Even now as we face the unthinkable, the reality of the utter failure of capitalism to deliver its promise of erasing world poverty, of bringing peace, and even the most basic promise attended to by every libertarian of capitalism as the driving force behind democracy for all. Even as the financial crises beats its way through our collective front door there continue to be lemmings like the above poster crying out, there is no other way but over that cliff ahead of us.

Nothing equals the mysticism of religious fervour like the belief that Adam Smith's invisible hand (i.e. the free market) will make all the right decisions for us. Right, and just look at where that has bought us to today.

You know, capitalism bought us rapid industrial development, technological innovations, and intellectual creativity in a very short time. But that does not mean that what began in the West a little more than 3 centuries ago is the final statement on reality. The world changes, discoveries are made, and what is needed now to correct the extreme disfunction bought on by capitalism in its dying stages is truly a scientific approach to politics and economy, one that embraces all of the developments. This step is what socialism entails, an historical materialist approach to the reality of living together in a world of depleted and ever diminishing resources.

To continue to listen to the irrational and reactionary voices that are driven by nothing but pure greed is to give up every intellectually and spiritually to these postmodern poststructural delusions which amount to mysticism.

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"Nothing equals the mysticism of religious fervour like the belief that Adam Smith's invisible hand (i.e. the free market) will make all the right decisions for us. Right, and just look at where that has bought us to today."

It's Adam Smith's hand clicking your mouse, feverishly working your i-pod, tweaking your digital camera, dialing away on your cell phone...

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Wuzz

Try reading the whole post. Capitalism was a step forward, a beneficial one initially, as I pointed out. But nothing lasts forever. To believe so is not only to delude yourself but to be a lemming in a crowd of lemmings, believing there is no other path but the one everyone is following, over the cliff. This is where we are going now. Capitalism died yesterday, it is on life support but it is virtual only. Socialism is the next step forward, but it must be international socialism and not the lie of 'socialism in one nation'.

Are you aware that the process of globalism undermines the nation state? That nation statehood and the elevation of personal profit above all other values (i.e. capitalism) is locked in contradiction, and the outcome is conflict between nations. In a situation like we have headed into, a global recession world war threatens. Another point to consider about this financial crises is that the underlying aggravating causes are intractable, far worse than those that resulted in the Great Depression. Back in the 1930's China barely suffered the kind or recession that took place in the US, the UK, and Australia. Today EVERY country is falling into recession, and EVERY economy is locked together. In other words, what is suffered by one is likely to be suffered by all. The Great Depression ended with a world war, just as did the deep recession two decades or so prior to that.

Today, with the kinds of military weapons at the disposal of the great powers, and with resources across the world vastly more diminished by comparison to all those decades ago, contemplating the outcome of the next 'solution' to a deep world recession is sobering indeed.

Moderator: Readers, please keep the discussion focused on communism's appeal in Japan.

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Communism ignores basic human motivations and can't succeed because of this. Capitalism uses greed as a motivator and is relatively successful as long as it is regulated properly. Unfortunately the amount of regulation is often botched, especially by craven politicians. But this too shall pass...

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I lived only seven years in communism, but that was already enough for me. And what I heard from my family (who lived under communist terror for 45 years), made me hate it even more. If you want Christmas to be forbidden, if you want to get picked up by a black car at night (like my grandfather), just because you said you don't agree with the regime, or simply want to go to a concentration camp, then hell yeah, communism is what you need. Oh, and the black car doesn't take you to Disneyland, but to a political correction centre. Does who turn to communism, are either stupid or simply didn't experience communism in it's full "glory".

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If you don't want communism, then be a responsible capitalist and respect democracy. Obviously that has not happened for a while.

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There is no utopia, it is an illusion where preditors don't eat prey. True Capitalizm and Communism doesn't exist except for on paper in some peoples minds somewhere. Yes humans are greedy, and innovations come out of someones desire to, dare I say it, capitalize on that want. There will always be a raising chaste, and falling chaste as fluidity in those populations is needed. Still it is harder to become rich, than it is to become poor and that makes sense. Just as when animals begin to over populate an area and eat all their resources nature corrects the problem. So in term does the system, now when we have overreached our greed we are getting a much needed correction, like it or not. Innovations is the key to human success and growth. I system that doesn not properly reward one for making the innovation will fail. Commmunism is two pure an idea to work. So pure that it easily becomes corrupted and loses it's strenght. Capitalizm is flexible enough to endure corruption still the sharp correction is much unliked.

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To take a slight diversion from the topic of the story, Capitalism is a subject that seems to have gone beyond the point of sensible discussion. Capitalism can be either a weapon of unabashed exploitation or a useful social tool. Which one it is depends entirely on the way it is regulated.

Capitalism does not equal democracy, nor does democracy automatically deliver capitalism. Capitalism in its purest, most visceral sense, is happiest in a non democratic society - dissent is discourage and/or crushed, social obligations and ethics are of minor importance, if a factor at all. Remember that Capitalism was happiest under people like Marcos and Pinochet.

Capitalism itself has no sense of ethics, no morality and it does not regulate itself. The societies that it is a part of does. Capitalism has nothing to do with regualtion of corruption or punishment of offenders. The same can be said for Communism. Adhering to one or the other as the absolute rule is a recipie for disaster. After all, human beings are more than thier wallets and jobs.

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The kind of socialism envisaged by the JCP is Stalinist communism, nationalistic and so inward looking and doomed to failure. Socialism is not the same as communism. The steps are from a capitalist system to a socialist system to a communist system. And NO, Stalism and Maoism et al were not communism, as envisaged by all the great socialist thinkers from Marx on down, nor by the famous supporters of socialism such as Albert Einstein, Charles Chaplin and so on.

A nationalist form socialist state is by definition a dictatorship, and arguably Castro's Cuba apart the end result is a bloody tyranny.

Socialism to be successful entails necessarily internationalism, i.e. all countries become socialist. Is this a utopian notion? Well, at this present time it sure looks like it. But then again, if capitalism stays in place the free world expires. And by the way, Socialism necessarily entails democracy. Dictators like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, ruled over a political and economic system that was socialist in name only, and as such proved to be a gift to the capitalist leaders worldwide who held up those tyrannies to be proof that socialism itself was actually an 'evil'.

If there is an evil system at all, it is that which we witness in place right now. Capitalism in its dying stages will kill a very large portion of the world's population if it is allowed to continue.

Capitalism more than two hundred years ago created the nation state system we have in place today. This was a necessary development, and so too has been the process of globalization. But the two things capitalism and nation states cannot co-exist forever. They are fundamentally in contradiction with one another. Now, as the world economy caves in on itself, the end result of the dying stages of capitalism when all means of production has been gathered in the hands of a few (read corporations and ruling families), and there are no more markets that can be developed, capitalism is left with one terrible solution to save itself.

That solution entails killing off it is estimated something like half the world's population. The vehicle by which this killing is done is likely to be a world war. This is the only way left for the great powers to redivide the pie. This is not the answer.

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Taniwha - that post was scary. Hence my comment about Capitalism being beyond the point of sensible discussion.

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Japan is anyway a Socialist state in all but name......

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wakarimasen: Rubbish is coming out of yoou mouth.

A socialist state has free health care, high taes and more equality between rich and poor.

Strewth, look at Japans ststistics for poverty, they is a scandal, and loads die of malnutrition. But don'T trust the red flag mob to help, only the top ones do well out of it, strewth that's been proven through theyears and all that.

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Hmmmm. Can get free health care here. Also taxes seem pretty high to me. As for equality, a few punters living rough in Ueno Park doesn't make for massive income inequality. Japan has gotten worse but still nowhere near as large an income gap as other "Capitalist" countries.

They are closet socialists, I tell you. look at how they educate, the "for the good of society" ethos, lack or individuality, no initiative takers etc.

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Any serious discussion can be scary to some degree or another, but does that mean we simply avoid the discussion? The results of refusing to discuss alternatives, and simply allowing 'things' to happen can be far scarier with permanent and far reaching damaging effect. Don't you think this financial crises is scary?

I would vouch that every leader in the world whether in the political or corporate world are right now extremely scared. The reason being there simply is NO solution to the situation that could be deemed by the marijority of any population to be rational and reasonable. The truth is the situation we are now in was foreseeable and was written about in considerable detail, by Karl Marx, Engles, Trotsky et al. The only thing they did not get right were the exact dates. Ask yourself why the average Joe and Jane no nothing about these writings, and attach the names to some reprehensible chapter in history when the good capitalist world was under threat by some evil known as communism.

It is far better for us all to be aware of the alternatives and to be part of honest and open debate, than it is to hide from a subject because it looks scary.

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I for one am not scared of discussion, my point is that it quickly goes to extremes and dilutes or corrupts proper discussion with 'evil empire' and 'decadent countries' sound bytes. Whatever problems nations or the world faces, there is no ideology be it Capitalism or Communism, that is a fix for the issues present today or in the future.

To claim that one is the reason or defining idea of civilization is to refuse to acknowledge human experience, wisdom, ethics, reason and intuition.

As for being scared of the financial crisis, I simply say that we (as a nation, a group of nations and a civilization) have been through bad stuff before and come out of it. The scale is much larger this time, but anyone with a sense of history can see the opportunity and the pitfalls of courses of action or solutions we may choose in these circumstances.

I haven't been affected by the financial crisis (yet) and I doubt I will be much. I also understand that it is a matter of perception and I refuse to let a 2 minute spot on the news or numbers in the paper rule my overall wellbeing. Am I saying that it is unimportant? Not at all. What I am saying is this - myself, my girlfriend, my city, my country, my civilization, my species - are more than the sum of a few numbers and some absolutes espoused by idealogues.

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there is no ideology be it Capitalism or Communism, that is a fix for the issues present today or in the future.

Capitalism is the economic and political system in place throughout the entire world. But this was not the case in the middle of the last century. I am saying capitalism is the root cause of the where the world is at present. From your comment above it looks like you don't think the 'issues' we are discussing involve an ideology to begin with? Actually they do.

How else do you think the line of decisions that bought the financial crises upon America first and then the entire world the next day came about? Through adherrance to an ideology, firstly capitalism and secondly Monetarism. The latter, to the masses, amounts to having blind faith in the markets, to those who actually control the means to production (i.e. corporations, Wall Street financiers, the 'royal families' of industry etc) this means manipulation of markets through legislation to further generate enormous profits into their own coffers.

So yes, recognizing that this disaster is a result of a systemic failure of belief - actually pure greed - is essential to finding away to address the problem.

By the way, socialism is science, not mysticism, it is not ideology in the sense that capitalism remains, because unlike capitalism, socialism is based on historical materialist reasoning. Capitalism in the later twentieth century justified itself increasingly on the mythical governance of Adam Smith's invisible hand, and underlying that ideology is the myth that human kind are basically disinterested in helping each other, greedy bastards in effect. The last however, is just not true, any knowledge of the histories of peoples around the world teaches us that entire communities address the survival by staying together and sharing their resources, and all of these societies prior to the arrival of dominant capitalist economy and politics were, naturally, not capitalist societies!

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Yeah, communism worked out so well in Russia, Cuba, China and elsewhere. Communism in practice leads to haves and have nots just like unrestrained capitalism. The only difference is that as practiced here on earth communism has always depended on brutal repression to keep the populace under the thumb of the party elites. I don't see the communist party in Japan making too many gains but I guess they can always dream. Yes folks there is something worse than LDP rule as strange as that seems.

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Socialism in concept as well as Communism if followed by the rules would work. Unfortunately though it doesn't as history has so soberly proven. The whole redistribution of wealth concept is a good one but how do you decide you deserves it more then someone else. Does the man on the street deserves it more then the waiter in the restaurant trying to feed his family? Well to some it would but this can easily be abused. Did the guy on the street deserve it which didn't even work for the money vs the man in the restaurant who actually did. This is just one example of coarse. Another being of coarse: Where do we get the wealth? From the government. Where does the government get the wealth? From the rich. Where do the rich get the wealth? From exploiting the poor. So the money runs a cycle back to its rightful source. This is pure bunk as the world doesn't work that way.

Socialism doesn't’t work as its structure denies incentive, innovation and information, which in turn leads to dissatisfaction, waste, inefficiency and possible war. Communism is another story but has similar problems. Communism does not take into account human nature. The result is not plenty with everyone content but is more commonly the expectation to consume exceeding the commitment to produce. If everyone were economically equal, everyone would be poor. Otherwise, it is necessary (1) to imprison/eliminate those who will not contribute, (2) to rely upon human nature changing from living on a "conscious level" to living on a "conscience level." It is the most common flaw I find in these theories that result in utopian mind frame. Another problem with communism as an entire economic system is it must remain pure. It cannot blend with a little capitalism and a little socialism. As such repressing, eliminating, or silencing opposing concepts is necessary for the system to remain pure.

Finally, and most importantly, those who are in charge are in control of all the resources and power. It tends to corrupt them even though their intentions may have been good at first or in their minds eye at least. Though it happens in all systems to some degree. In pure communist systems it is very important for those in the community to remain in the good graces of those who will wield their power against anyone deemed dissident, non-productive, or of different thought. Instead of equality, there are vast chasms separating the few in control from the controlled masses. I guess if a return to a dark ages type rule is what people want then this is certainly a option. Capitalism has it problems as well but I doubt society on it's own can come up with anything better which ultimately will have to deal with the same issues in the end.

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The whole redistribution of wealth concept is a good one but how do you decide you deserves it more then someone else.

After they have established power, communist governments are not really interested in redistributing wealth but in accumulating it for, say, defense (North Korea), industrialization (China prior to the mid-1980s). The public has no say in the state's investment priorities. Though corporate interests may carry far greater weight in the capitals of many countries with market economies such as Japan, citizens can at least weigh in.

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Socialism is working fine. Look at many of the European countries not to mention the Nordic countries who all have socialist governments they all do fine and enjoy a high standard and quality of life which most Americans can only dream of.

Americans with their free-market fundamentalism fail to recognize that the socialist model which is working is aneconomic system which involves a balance between the government and private business and this no different than what the Japanese Communist Party wants.

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Americans with their free-market fundamentalism fail to recognize that the socialist model which is working is aneconomic system which involves a balance between the government and private business and this no different than what the Japanese Communist Party wants.

It's the name of the party which causes that reaction. I don't think the JCP's intention is to replicate North Korea but to offer a greater safety net and more job security. The question is, can this be done in an era when capital is mobile? The Scandanavian countries have enjoyed some success here.

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I can agree to the name. The name JCP has a bad ring to it. Should scrap the communist word and call it something milder. In American terms they would be on the very very left of the Democrats which I do not think exists there. They do have Chomsky and other left leaning scholars there but. In European terms they would be the Socialists, or the Reds and in most European countries the socialist parties do fairly well. I used to live in Yoyogi right next to the head quaters of JCP. Id read the posters and agree to lots of the things they were saying but I was more irritated by the noise pollution they were causing at Sendagaya Station spewing out their propaganda through their microphone. WIsh they could have kept quiet in a residental area and gone to Shinjuku or Shibuya instead.

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Socialist parties have long been part of governing coalitions in most parliamentary democracies. To the best of my knowledge, none have advocated appropriating private property, a hallmark of communist dictatorships.

All governments face the same challenge, namely to create stable societies which usually requires a majority of residents have above subsistence level livelihoods. The standards are higher for democracies because dissatisfied constituents can vote elected officials out of office. Hence, in the "free market" US it's standard operating procedure for local governments to waive taxes for some period of time on businesses which agree to put so many jobs in the community. Economists would recognize that as an implicit subsidy.

It's not a great surprise that parties on the left see improved prospects at the ballot box when the economy goes south. People may even seek out information about them, reducing the need to bombard the public in high density locales!

The problem for the JCP is that by representing the interests of the workers, their demands may cause private enterprise to outsource jobs to low wage locales where a segment of the local populace is highly educated, such as India or China.

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Roger2

Socialism is working fine. Look at many of the European countries not to mention the Nordic countries who all have socialist governments they all do fine and enjoy a high standard and quality of life which most Americans can only dream of.

Roger, I'd like to make two points here for you to consider. I am taking for granted your post is not being ahem, ironic.

Firstly, there are no Nordic countries that are presently "doing fine", and secondly no none of them actually governments that fulfil the basic criteria of what it means to be socialist. The last of course hinges on just whether we are using the phrase 'socialist' government to refer to one that is to some degree 'left leaning', or whether we are actually mistaking what the term 'socialist' in fact means.

Messing about with the meaning of the terms we use is really the critical point here, because as you may appreciate this is one trait of political leaders and corporate directors that recently the majority of us have grown exceedingly wary of.

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Betzee

Your post is something of an exercise in obfuscation. You appear to construe socialism to equal those existing political parties that choose to label themselves as 'socialist parties'. All OFFICIAL political parties that are part of any so called existing democratic nation are by definition according to their policies, capitalist.

At least since Roosevelt's presidency there has been a steady progress undertaken by all political powers to bring all socialist political parties into the mainstream. The fact that any political party that has refused the status quo has meant effectively disallowed from taking part in any national election list, and in many cases made outright illegal with dire consequences for any individual found to be a member of that banned socialist political party.

The problem for the JCP is that by representing the interests of the workers, their demands may cause private enterprise to outsource jobs to low wage locales where a segment of the local populace is highly educated, such as India or China.

This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the effects of globalization and actually of the history itself. In the past four decades the principle component of cost to a company has shifted from being the price of raw material to wages (as you yourself note above). The reason wages go up is because wage earners in those previously 'poor' countries demand it. This generally is a tendency across the working demographic, and is not an attribute solely attached to any 'segment of the local population' and certainly doesn't confine itself to the 'highly educated'.

Since when have factory workers been considered to be 'highly educated'?

It is the general manufacturing plants, the factories, that have been the source of any 'real value added products' that have led say, China and India to enrich their economies. In the case of South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan earlier in the previous century there was a shift from agricultural raw products, to value added food products, onward until they were producing most of the world's high end electronics.

Now here is the point with respect to capitalism and globalization. Thee sweep of capitalism in the last three decades has meant the pace of the process of globalization has vastly increased. Today, maintaining an acceptable rate of profit means that corporations, no matter whether they are American, Japanese, or Indian, must today look toward cutting costs. The reason is globalization has meant that local products become progressively too expensive compared to comparable imported products. Local produced goods such as American cars not produced overseas cannot compete with imports. Result, local production is virtually killed off. Consumers just prefer quality at a lower cost, particularly when they have so little money of their own to spend.

Manufacturers find they can only put up their prices so far, in effect, globalization means the capitalist requirement of ever increasing profit is no longer a possibility. When consumers refuse to buy products at higher prices, no matter the bells and whistles added, or the choice of flavors offered, corporations cut wages! This cut in wages has a direct effect both on what consumers within an economy spend (they have less spending power). Meanwhile back in the once 'poor' economy where all the factories are now producing goods once made in the rich economies, workers demand higher wages NOT because they are 'highly educated' but simply because increasing production requires more labour, i.e. they are in demand and so they are now a valuable quantity and can demand increased wages!

Whether the JCP gets into power or not will not change one iota what happens outside of Japan. Point of fact, the JCP have a nationalist agenda, as does every single OFFICIAL and LEGAL communist political party existing in the world at present. Which means if the JCP took control of Japan they would just replicate the problems suffered by any other country in the past that labeled itself communist. Of course, the JCP has itself a conundrum. To be effectively communist, they must control all facets of the economy, including as you point out private ownership, and this would mean they would have to effect a dictatorship.

Socialism and nationalism are oxymorons. The nation state is a product of capitalism itself. But socialism to work at all requires the dissolution of nation states. And by the way, the dissolution of nation states is absolutely the only way to avoid the world returning to medieval times. International socialism is the true form supported by the Fourth International, it is the only workable form, and it is true democracy.

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I just laugh at the opponents of capitalism, using the internet - as fine an example of 'the invisible hand' and the genius of free markets as could be found - to propagate their ludicrous fantasies of 'international' socialism.

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This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the effects of globalization and actually of the history itself.

That's quite an assertion, and an incorrect one at that. For several years I lived in a community which experienced the different trends evident in today's globalized economy. One was the mobility of labor, principally undocumented Latinos, who gathered in various places designated by the community to await offers of lawn and construction work. Most probably had very few years of formal education, if any. (California has the highest illiteracy rate in the USA).

In the community there was also no shortage of skilled, highly educated IT workers who'd seen their jobs outsourced, principally to India. Capital was mobile and they were not. Some parts of India have skipped the manufacturing stage of development and gone right into activities we associate with post-industrialism. Moreover, it's no longer a back office operation; sophisticated financial work, along with preparing legal documents, has been outsourced to educated Indians. It will be along time before they are in a position to get American-level wages; for one thing their cost of living is much lower. China has attracted both ends of the FDI spectrum, both the low end and the high end stuff. Hence the huge deficits it runs with just about every post-industrial country it trades with.

So this leaves the JCP in exactly the position I outlined. If they make too many demands on private enterprise to provide higher salaries or greater benefits to salary men those companies are in a position to say, adios pal. Factory jobs disappeared long ago; now it's white-collar workers who face the same prospect.

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Betzee

You are all over the place with this one. Your example of latino migrant workers in California is spot on as an example of the process of globalization above. Your example of educated workers in the IT industry in India is also part of the process. The two examples lie at different ends of the process. A process which is world wide, has been happening over this last century, but that accelerated quickly under the dominant free market policies actioned by the world's nations.

For several years I lived in a community which experienced the different trends evident in today's globalized economy. One was the mobility of labor, principally undocumented Latinos, who gathered in various places designated by the community to await offers of lawn and construction work. Most probably had very few years of formal education, if any. (California has the highest illiteracy rate in the USA).

Well, let's take up your example here.

The mobility of labor is a direct manifestation of the forces of globalisation. Workers move to where wages are highest. This is precisely what free market policies encouraged, no prescribed. Low wage rural contract work attracts Mexican laborers, the majority unskilled and many barely may not be literate. It is this group of workers that have been attracted into crossing the border to take up the kind of work that unskilled Americans did not For the Mexican laborers the money offered is marginally better than they could receive at home for similar work. This is a phenomenon NOT confined to California or even America, it is also typically seen throughout Northern Europe, the UK, Australasia, the Emirates in the UE, and in Japan to name just a few examples.

Actually, we should keep in mind this is largely in the past now. American unskilled labor forces faces increasingly extremely diminished employment opportunities, and of course as a result now must accept the kind of work conditions they would not have accepted prior to 2008. Recent immigrant workers legal or not are now a lot less able to find work since the face competition from the local native language speakers. Language is only one reason though that employers may now choose not to hire immigrant workers over locals given there is no shortage of supply.

What you are describing is a WORLD WIDE phenomenon, a direct result of the processes of globalization, driven over the past few decades to quicken under free market policies. The same free market policies that are at odds with globalization itself. You don't seem to understand the contradiction these two entail. At least you fail to address it, preferring instead to engage in generalizations, and now this reference to 'post industrialization'. What the heck do you mean by this precisely? Are you attempting to invoke the still born notion of 'postmodernism'. This dream child loved by self deceived academics and intellectuals, and deceiving liberal political historians, the idea that history has ended, that everything amounts to a universe of disunity where all is equal and cause has no effect.

Hey, did you realise the financial crises has beaten down the front door of just about everybody else's house bar yours? Its real, its an effect with a cause, the end result of an entire series of cause and effect.

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Wuzz,

I just laugh at the opponents of capitalism, using the internet - as fine an example of 'the invisible hand' and the genius of free markets as could be found - to propagate their ludicrous fantasies of 'international' socialism

An example of the 'invisible hand'? The free market?

Actually none of this relates to how the Internet came about. Its roots lie in the rigidly controlled environment, of top down management you might know as the American military. The next major creator of the Internet as a means of mass communication for the general public was a direct result of developments from that one traditionally free-market free environment of the 1970's and 1980's inhabited by academic researchers, i.e. western universities.

You know what? Today the Internet exists as the most democratic tool of mass communication in existence, it has global reach and the ability to link every individual able to access a terminal, and the terminals come in many forms. As such the Internet is not only the number one way for people to 'break through the matrix', but also offers a very good approximation of what international socialism represents! Good eh!

It is this free movement of ideas around the globe and a multitude of languages that now presents a threat to the various nation states. Ideas are disseminated beyond the control of governments. The response of course by governments is to attempt to control the Internet by censorship structures. The commercialization of the Internet was always inevitable under the Capitalist system and we can see how the corporate world sets about attempting to maintain markets through laws and regulations.

In reference to the JCP, one of the first policies they would action would be to censor the Internet. After all the very concept of the Internet is democratic and runs counter to the raison d'être of a nationalism and particularly one that is a dictatorship, which as I said above, would be the only possible way for a 'communism' modeled on Stalin's Russia to be enacted in Japan, or any nation. And this as I have said above would not in any way equate with what socialism is about.

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You are all over the place with this one.

No. I pretty much made the same point (over and over again).

What you are describing is a WORLD WIDE phenomenon, a direct result of the processes of globalization, driven over the past few decades to quicken under free market policies.

Exactly. Japan doesn't stand a chance of avoiding it whether the JCP improves its electoral fortunes or not.

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I just laugh at the opponents of capitalism, using the internet - as fine an example of 'the invisible hand' and the genius of free markets as could be found

If it were really the offspring of the free market, well using it wouldn't be free. Indeed, UC Berkeley, that bastion of leftism which is also in the forefront of technological innovation, has realized "we can't give away anything for free."

Though a public university, they increasingly operate in a privatized economic environment which necessitates getting the best return you can on whatever you invent.

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