Ellen Meiksins Wood versus Karl Marx

Dennis R Redmond dredmond at SPAMoregon.uoregon.edu
Wed Nov 1 18:12:57 MST 2000

On Wed, 1 Nov 2000, Louis Proyect wrote:

> geography. There was ZERO difference between China, Japan and India from a
> class relations standpoint but Japan managed to fend off attacks from
> outside colonial powers because of her island status and rather formidable
> feudal military prowess.

I don't buy this. Japan did have a significantly different social
structure than China or India: massive urbanization (Tokyo was already one
of the biggest cities in the world by 1800), sophisticated structures of
mercantile accumulation, major mining and smelting operations (the
forerunners of the Mitsui and Sumitomo zaibatsu), and a cash-conscious
gentry, all long before the arrival of Admiral Perry. There's a reason
that Japan managed to keep the West out for so long, while China failed:
the forces of production of Japan *were* more advanced than those of the
rest of Asia, and the relations of production were flexible enough to
allow for the Tokugawa industrialization drive, something with no
equivalent in 19th century China or India. The differences weren't huge,
of course, but they were enough to give Japan the edge it needed to start
colonizing its neighbors, sort of the way Britain had just the slight edge
it needed to take the lead over continental Europe.

-- Dennis

More information about the Marxism mailing list