Japan and American 'Democracy'

Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Tue Jul 14 23:47:16 PDT 1998

On Tue, 14 Jul 1998, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> As to American help to 'install democratic systems,' little did Japanese
> lovers of democracy suspect that it would come with red purges and
> re-installment of war criminals and keiretsu in power, but they were naive.

The prewar Japanese corporations were zaibatsu, family-run holdings, not keiretsu, which are bank-centered conglomerates. The US occupation was crucial in breaking up the former and permitting the latter to form; the same thing happened to IG Farben, which spawned Bayer, Hoechst and BASF, and the old Deutsche Bank, which was split up into Commerzbank, Dresdnerbank, and the present-day Deutsch Bank (a tremendous boon to Japanese and German industry). The US occupation was hardly disinterested, but did provide things like a limited right to organize, to free speech and assembly, expropriation of the rural landlords (just like Ho Chi Minh!) and of course emancipation for many Japanese women, who could vote and had limited citizenship rights for the first time in Japanese history. And where would the German Left be without the US-installed system of proportional representation, one of the fairest and most equitable (read: not money-driven) in the world?

I'm not arguing that the Americans were nicer to their semipheries than the Russians were to theirs; one could draw up a laundry list of the positive things the Soviet system brought to Eastern Europe, from education and medical care to an ethnic truce to zero unemployment. I am arguing that the American Empire cannot be simply equated to its Fascist competitors, any more than Fascism can be written off as being identical to Communism (that favorite ideolect of the Hayekian Right, who then go even further and claim the US Government is Stalinism incarnate).

-- Dennis

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