1943 Imperial Japanese editorial declares liberalism collapsed and liberal civilization as incapable of maintaining peace and order, and attacks the “analytical spirit of modernity”, “extreme analysis”, “abuse of the intellect”, and “divisive individualism” while praising fascism and Nazism for building holistic, organic communal societies


The True Meaning of National Identity and the Righteous Peninsula (5)

By Kamata Sawaichiro

The Rise of Internal Cohesionism

Replacing Analytical Spiritualism

The West has brought about an unprecedented revolution in the realm of natural science and technology in human society, shortened distances in space and time throughout the world, and given the world the consciousness that the earth is a unified organism. In this respect, we praise the great achievements of modern Western civilization. The ideas of liberalism and individualism that formed the basis of modern Western civilization dominated society throughout the 19th century and created a history of spectacular progress.

It was the most glorious, most revered, and most progressive era in the history of human civilization to date.

On the other hand, it also contained great invisible weaknesses and shortcomings. In other words, modern civilization has neglected the deep spiritual problems of human existence. It has ignored the fact that there is a kingdom of the spirit outside the realm of natural matter. People thought they were free when they were freed from the laws of God and all the restrictive order of society. This is where the idea of modern freedom, the ferment of individualism, arose.

Thus, liberalism, which emerged as a reaction to medieval civilization, broke through the darkness of that time and made us discover “human beings” in the modern sense, which was thought to be the eternal truth of humanity. When individualism and materialism were taken to the extreme, the point of self-intoxication was reached, and what we now see before us is a state of anarchy in the sphere of life.

The result of subjectivism, rationalism, and positivism is skepticism, materialism, and competition for survival; the result of the Reformation is the loss of tradition and authority, and the anarchy of faith to which the spirit has no return; the result of contract theory and utilitarianism is the tendency toward anarchy in politics; and the result of the economic principle of laissez-faire is economic anarchy, which is the root of modern social unrest.

In short, it then became clear that liberal civilization was incapable of maintaining peace and order in the community of mankind. The mutual interpersonal relationships of trust, and the internal and international relations between ethnic groups had begun to show phenomena full of contradictions as though they were losing their foundations. Then the First Great European War broke out. The general tendency of division, confrontation, struggle, and lack of control was further promoted, and pessimistic criticism of the nature of Western civilization itself became widespread. Oswald Spengler’s “The Decline of the West” became a worldwide topic of conversation, as the pessimistic criticism grew by leaps and bounds and was further validated in the Second World War.

At this point, the world turned around and became convinced that there was a spiritual kingdom outside the realm of nature, and that it was time to rise above the extreme analysis, utilitarianism, and vulgarization that were caused by the abuse of the intellect.

There were efforts to rebuild the world by excluding the analytical spirit of modernity, which sees the tree and not the forest; by confirming that there is a rich, holistic, and concrete emotional state, including feelings and motivations, outside of the intellect; and by seeing the whole as an internal cohesion of people.

The rise of fascism in Italy is the first manifestation of this. Fascism was not a reorganization of capitalism as Marx theorists claimed, nor was it merely a conservative reaction to the Russian Revolution. The Italian word “fascio” means “union”. In other words, it is a matter of tensing up and bringing under control those things that have been relaxed and divided up to now.

Therefore, fascism, or unificationism, firstly overcomes capitalism, which is based on divisive individualism, and also overcomes communism, which divides society into only two classes (bourgeois and proletarian) and establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat only through class struggle. Fascism builds a communal society which is holistically organic in a novel way. The principle of fascism is clearly a totalitarian philosophical idea.

Mussolini said, “Fascism is not something to be exported. It is a typical Italian phenomenon, but some of its theories are universal, because many countries are suffering from the corruption of their liberal and democratic institutions.”

As he said, the fascist movement was unique to Italy, and it emerged in the unique environment of Italy after the European War. Therefore, fascism was not born as an internationally unified theory. However, similar social trends and movements emerged, one after the other, in many countries around the world, thereby opening opportunities.

Although each of these movements and theories is unique in appearance, they are essentially driven by a common tendency, which is why the movements and theories cannot be limited to Italy.

Next came the rise of the Nazis. In 1919, the German National Socialist Workers’ Party made its first appearance in Munich and continued to make rapid progress unparalleled in the history of the world, which is continuing to the present-day. However, almost all the scholars, thinkers and critics in Japan adopted the liberal worldview and looked at this movement with a blank eye, and have even described it as a “violent movement with no ideological content”.

However, if we look at the spiritual basis of the Nazi movement today, we can see that it emphasizes the ethnic group over the individual, regards the life of the ethnic group as absolute, and establishes a new worldview of ethnic totalitarianism in contrast to the conventional individualistic worldview.

There are many causes for the rise of the Nazis. One of the most important causes was the social situation after the European War. Through the ordeal of the post-war period, people realized that the power of the instinctive feelings of the members of the ethnic society to unite into a common society was far stronger than the international unity of workers as claimed by the socialists.

In addition, the world economy after the war encountered an unprecedented depression, and each country took various emergency measures both domestically and internationally, but these measures had almost no effect. Thus, each country adopted a policy of national control over capitalism for the welfare of the whole nation domestically, and a policy of national empowerment abroad. This tendency could be seen in all countries, but it is not surprising that it was stronger in countries with great national difficulties, such as Germany and Italy.

In Germany, the chaos was particularly severe due to the exhaustion caused by the ravages of war, the payment of reparations, the flood of unemployed people, the corruption of political parties, and the conversion of the military into political parties. The Marxist system of social democracy did not contribute anything other than to guide the German people towards the abyss. The only thing left for Germany to do under those circumstances was to stand up for a profit-driven society, to stop socialism, to form an ethnic-national communal society, to arouse national sentiment, and to begin marching its troops towards a grand reconstruction, starting from the brink of the abyss.

However, we must not overlook the fact that in both Italy and Germany, the collapse of liberalism was the cultural historical cause that formed a major background to these political and social phenomena.

Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo), February 26, 1943

Source: https://archive.org/details/kjnp-1943-02-26

Reddit Link: 1943 Imperial Japanese editorial declares liberalism as incapable of maintaining peace and order, and attacks the “analytical spirit of modernity”, “extreme analysis”, “abuse of the intellect”, and “divisive individualism” while praising Fascism and Nazism for building holistic communal societies : badphilosophy (reddit.com)

(Transcription into modern Japanese orthography)

京城日報 1943年2月26日