Daily Archives: 21/04/2011

( A history of the once-influential anarchist movement in the Japanese Islands in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Today Japan brings to mind to mind high tech corporations, stressed out primary school students and a gruelling work ethic that demands loyalty to the company. One hundred and thirty years ago it was a very different place, predominantly agricultural and ruled over by a fuedal elite. In 1868, these rulers decided to industrialise the country and create a highly centralised state. For this reason, the Japanese experience of capitalism is different from that in many European countries.

Here, aristocrats were replaced (either gradually or by revolution) by a rising class of businessmen. There, the aristocrats became the new businessmen. The culture of feudalism wasn’t rejected and replaced, rather it was remained and provided the background to the new society. This meant that Japan at the turn of the century was a country that was becoming more industrial and yet remained extremely conformist. It was in these difficult conditions that anarchism ideas first took hold in Japan.

The movement was to be dramatically influenced by the world wars in which Japan played a leading part. Three phases are evident: from 1906-1911, from 1911-1936, from 1944-present day.

Ideas have to come from somewhere. In Japan anarchist ideas were first popularised by Kotoku Shusui. Born in a provincial town in 1871, he moved to Tokyo in his teens. His political ideas developed on the pages of a number of papers he wrote and edited. Though these early newspapers weren’t anarchist, they were liberal enough to bring him to the notice of the authorities. He was imprisoned in 1904 for breaking one of the many draconian press laws. As it is for many, prison was to be his school.

There he read anarchist communist Peter Kropotkin‘s ‘Fields, Factories and Workshops’. In prison he also began to consider the role of the Emperor in Japanese society. Many socialists at the time, avoided criticising the Emperor, in contrast Kotoku began to see how the Emperor was at the centre of both capitalism and the power of the state in Japan.

Following his release from prison he emigrated to the USA. There he joined the newly formed Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW, also known as the Wobblies), a syndicalist trade union, strongly influenced by anarchist ideas. In the US he had access to more anarchist literature, reading Kropotkin’s ‘The Conquest of Bread‘.

On his returned to Japan in 1906 he spoke to a large public meeting on the ideas he had developed while in the US. A number of articles then followed. “I hope” he wrote “that from now on the socialist movement will abandon its commitment to a parliamentary party and will adapt its method and policy to the direct action of the workers united as one”.

In the following years the anarchist-communists concentrated on spreading information about anarchism, through the production of oral and written propaganda. Although the work they did was similar to work Irish anarchists do today, the conditions they had to operate in were very much more difficult. Faced with continuous police harassment, some anarchists considered turning to more violent methods. In 1910 four of these were arrested following the discovery of bomb making equipment.

This was the opportunity the authorities were waiting for to comprehensively clamp down on dissent. Hundreds were taken into custody. Finally 26 were brought to trial. Though they were charged with plotting to kill the emperor, in reality they were being tried for having anarchist beliefs. All but two were sentenced to death. 12 had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, and 12, including Kotoku, were executed. Following his death, many activists fled into exile. Those that stayed faced repeated imprisonment.

Yet despite these exceptionally harsh conditions, the movement did not die. The end of the First World War brought a period of spiralling inflation, which led to rice riots in many towns and cities. The new industrial workers began to organise and labour disputes increased. The Russian Revolution caused intense debate in Japan, as elsewhere; how can we create a better society? What should that society look like? This flourishing of opinion was temporarily dimmed, following the tragic murders of two anarchists, Osugi Sakae and his partner Ito Noe.

In 1923, a major earthquake hit Japan. More than 90,000 people died. The state took advantage of the turmoil and hysteria that followed. The two anarchists, along with Osugi’s six-year-old nephew were seized by a squad of military police and beaten to death. The brutality of the murder compelled some anarchists to seek revenge. Once again, anarchist attempts at retribution were met by state repression that struck indiscriminately.

However, all was not lost. Indeed anarchist organisations were growing as never before. In 1926 two nationwide federations of anarchists were formed. The following years were characterised by intense debate between anarchist- communists and anarchist syndicalists. At issue was the central question as of what was the best method with which to build towards a revolution. Hand in hand with their theoretical discussions, these anarchists were active in struggles over wages and working conditions.

War however once more loomed on the horizon. As the state began to move towards external confrontation with Manchuria, it also began to silence internal opposition. A new wave of repression ensued. Although the anarchist movement adopted many strategies to survive, the state was determined to succeed. With the beginning of the Second World War, all anarchist organisations were forced to shut down. The anarchists themselves had to maintain a low profile, hiding their political ideals from public view.

Post-war, Japan was under the effective rule of the United States. Their political policy for the country see-sawed between trying to artificially create a ‘right’ and a ‘left’ political party, to trying to remove all left wing influences from politics. Heavy investment and a rapidly growing economy were accompanied by a clamp down on trade union autonomy. Although the anarchists re-grouped and re-organised, they found it difficult to flourish in these conditions.

The movement today is much smaller than before, and from the UK it is difficult to find much English language information about them. There are a few websites around by anarcho-syndicalists and -communists, and some small collectives active in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo that we at know of. No doubt they face many of the same problems that we do; how to show people that they don’t have to just make do, how to convince people that an alternative is possible and that they have power to create it.

Perhaps the economic turmoil that Japan is now experiencing will lead people to criticise and reject the current system. If that happens, hopefully Japanese anarchists will be able provide a vision of society based on freedom and equality, begin to rebuild the movement, so once more anarchist ideas have mass influence.

Edited from an article from Workers Solidarity No 58 published in Oct 1999, by the Workers Solidarity Movement


( On Tuesday, April 19th- the prisoners of the Bombs Case, in their 58th day of hunger strike, decided to RADICALIZE THEIR HUNGER STRIKE in the following way:

-Refusal to drink liquids or isotonic sports drinks.
-Only drink water.

Their demands are:

-Freedom now.
-End to the Anti-Terrorist Law process.
-End to the remand.
-End to the Anti-Terrorist Law and to the system of anonymous witnesses for the prosecution.
-Anti-prison rights grievances.

The comrades demand the change of the Anti-Terrorist Law in the following way:

-End to the undercover witness.
-End to the unanimous vote -in the Appellate Court- for parole.
-End to the triplicate sentences capacity.

The 14-A prisoners demand the following mediation methods:

-Visit of the Santiago’s Archbishop, Ricardo Ezzati, in the Cárcel de Alta Seguridad (High Security Prison) and in the Centro Penitenciario Femenino (Female Penitentiary Center).
-Conformation of a working team to change the Anti-Terrorist Law with results, at the latest, on Wednesday April 27th.

If, on that date (April 27th), the Archbishop of Santiago doesn’t go to the prisons, the comrades will begin a DRY HUNGER STRIKE (don’t eat or drink ANYTHING).

Flyers: 1 & 2 (In English)




( Monsanto is poised to receive a 38% boon in profits this year, despite concerns about long-term problems associated with their approach to farming and business practices, as some organic farmers are poised to undercut the giant at the knees.
The company maintains it is helping both large and small farmers survive and make a profit. In fact they point to the enrichment of a number of farmers through the use of methods established by the food production giant.This is what a recent press release declares, in response to the particular success of alfalfa planning.

“We are seeing a lot of excitement and pent-up demand for Genuity Roundup Ready Alfalfa this year, following a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture ruling that authorized the resumption of sale and planting of the technology,” said Steve Havera, Monsanto Traits Marketing Manager in St. Louis.

“Growers recognize that this technology can allow them to increase yield potential of alfalfa that is higher in quality due to the unsurpassed weed control achievable for the life of their alfalfa stands,” he added.

Media attention to the new techniques and fast-moving technology is driven by the engines owned by Monsanto, with both a newspaper and a magazine devoted to spreading what they proclaim to be good news about their techniques and the future of farming. Recently they have focused on response to accusations they require farmers to pay for saved seeds and why they manufacture “terminator” seeds.

Monsanto declares, “Monsanto has never developed or commercialized a sterile seed product. Sharing many of the concerns of small landholder farmers, Monsanto made a commitment in 1999 not to commercialize sterile seed technology in food crops.”

At the same time, Monsanto keeps the door open to the future of seed production called GURT or Gene Use Restricted Technology with the follow up statement,

Monsanto sees both the positive and negative aspects of GURT and understands there are some uses which would not involve sterile seeds but which would be beneficial for small landholder farmers. For instance, it may be possible to create varieties where farmers can save and plant seeds, but the offspring seed does not carry the biotech trait.

If Monsanto should decide to move forward in the area of GURTs, we would do so in consultation with experts and stakeholders, including NGOs.”

In the meantime organic farmers are on the march to undo some of what they consider to be harmful practices related to the food supply. Today it was reported they filed a lawsuit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto. They did this, according to a recent news report, in order to stop Monsanto from lawsuits filed against small farmers and to undermine the patents Monsanto has on genetically modified seeds. They believe the denials Monsanto gives about these seeds are a ruse to get around the fact that they are making serious plans to press forward in their pursuit of advancing GURT.

In order to stop Monsanto, organic farmers in the United States are poised to undo the patents Monsanto has for genetically modification of seeds by proving in court that these seeds create environmental harm. According to legal experts, this would cut off Monsanto in a deliberate and serious way, undermining its strength at the core of their advancement.

European courts have already staggered Monsanto in some ways by focusing on their patent monopolies. In a Genomic Law Report the complexity of the ruling is discussed. In short the decision had less to do about pursuit of genetically engineered food than how patents are described and the elements about them defined in order for companies to be open about business practices. The European Court had examined Dutch law for the complex ruling.

Organic farmers in the United States, however, recognize the American court is looking for environmental evidence of harm and are looking to undo the progress of the food giant by demonstrating that the strategies can interrupt the ongoing food supply in disastrous ways through seeds that cannot reproduce.

David Hill , a blogger that has been examining the Monsanto cases in relationship to organic farmers, said this about the risks that may be found in Monsanto’s business practices and technology,

“Science has only scratched the surface on the complex role between genetics, diet, and environment, so how in the world can a company claim that introducing a foreign gene into a seed’s DNA is going to be safe for everything and everyone, both now and in the distant future?”


(wikipediaState capitalism has various different meanings, but is usually described as a society wherein the productive forces are controlled and directed by the state in a capitalist manner, even if such a society calls itself socialist.[1] Corporatized government agencies and states that own controlling shares of publicly listed firms, thus acting as a capitalist itself, are two examples of state capitalism. State capitalism has also come to refer to an economic system where the means of production are privately owned and the state exerts considerable control over the allocation of credit and investment. State capitalism is a term that is also used (sometimes interchangeably with state monopoly capitalism) to describe a system where the state is intervening in the markets to protect and advance the interests of Big Business. This practice is often claimed to be in sharp contrast with the ideals of both socialism and laissez-faire capitalism.[2]

Within Marxist literature, state capitalism is usually defined in this sense: as a social system combining capitalism — the wage system of producing and appropriating surplus value in a commodity economy — with ownership or control by a state. By that definition, a state capitalist country is one where the government controls the economy and essentially acts like a single giant corporation.[3] Friedrich Engels, in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, states that the final stage of capitalism would consist of ownership over production and communication by the bourgeois state.[4]

There are various theories and critiques of state capitalism, some of which have been around since the October Revolution or even before. The common themes among them are to identify that the workers do not meaningfully control the means of production and that commodity relations and production for profit still occur within state capitalism. Other socialists use the term state capitalism to refer to an economic system that is nominally capitalist, where business and private owners reap the profits from an economy largely subsidized, developed and where decisive research and development is undertaken by the state sector at public cost.[3]

This term is also used by some advocates of laissez-faire capitalism to mean a private capitalist economy under state control, often meaning a privately owned economy that is under economic planning. Some even use it to refer to capitalist economies where the state provides substantial public services and regulation over business activity. In the 1930s, Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini described Italian Fascism’s economic system of corporatism as “state socialism turned on its head.”[5] This term was often used to describe the controlled economies of the great powers in the First World War.[6] 

Origins and early uses of the term

The term itself was in use within the socialist movement from the late nineteenth century onwards. Wilhelm Liebknecht in 1896 said: “Nobody has combatted State Socialism more than we German Socialists; nobody has shown more distinctively than I, that State Socialism is really State capitalism!” [7]

It has been suggested that the concept of state capitalism can be traced back to Mikhail Bakunin‘s critique within the First International of the potential for state exploitation under Marxism, or to Jan Waclav Machajski‘s argument in The Intellectual Worker (1905) that socialism was a movement of the intelligentsia as a class, leading to a new type of society he called state capitalism.[8][9][10] For anarchists, state socialism is just state capitalism, hence oppressive and merely a shift from private capitalists to the state being the sole employer and capitalist. [11]

During World War I, taking as his cue Vladimir Lenin‘s idea that Tsarism was taking a “Prussian path” to capitalism, the Bolshevik Nikolai Bukharin identified a new stage in the development of capitalism, in which all sectors of national production and all important social institutions had come under state management; he termed this new stage ‘state capitalism.’ [12]

After the October Revolution, Lenin used the term in a positive way. In spring 1918, during a short period of economic liberalism prior to the introduction of war communism, and again during the New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1921, Lenin justified the introduction of state capitalism under the political control of the dictatorship of the proletariat to further central control and develop the productive forces:

Reality tells us that state capitalism would be a step forward. If in a small space of time we could achieve state capitalism, that would be a victory. (Lenin 1918)[13][14] 

Read more:

( Although opposition to the state and all forms of authority had a strong voice among the early feminists of the 19th century, the more recent feminist movement which began in the 1960’s was founded upon anarchist practice. This is where the term anarcha-feminism came from, referring to women anarchists who act within the larger feminist and anarchist movements to remind them of their principles.

Anarchism and feminism have always been closely linked. Many outstanding feminists have also been anarchists, including the pioneering Mary Wollstonecraft (author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman), the Communard Louise Michel, Voltairine de Cleyre and the tireless champion of women’s freedom, Emma Goldman (see her famous essays “The Traffic in Women”, “Woman Suffrage”, “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation”, “Marriage and Love” and “Victims of Morality”, for example). Freedom, the world’s oldest anarchist newspaper, was founded by Charlotte Wilson in 1886. In addition, all the major anarchist thinkers (bar Proudhon) were supporters of women’s equality. The “Free Women” movement in Spain during the Spanish revolution is a classic example of women anarchists organising themselves to defend their basic freedoms and create a society based on women’s freedom and equality (see Free Women of Spain by Martha Ackelsberg for more details on this important organisation).

Anarchism and feminism have shared much common history and a concern about individual freedom, equality and dignity for members of the female sex (although, as we will explain in more depth below, anarchists have always been very critical of mainstream/liberal feminism as not going far enough). Therefore, it is unsurprising that the new wave of feminism of the sixties expressed itself in an anarchistic manner and drew much inspiration from anarchist figures such as Emma Goldman. Cathy Levine points out that, during this time, “independent groups of women began functioning without the structure, leaders, and other factotums of the male left, creating, independently and simultaneously, organisations similar to those of anarchists of many decades and regions. No accident, either.” [quoted by Clifford Harper, Anarchy: A Graphic Guide, p. 182]
Read More

( The vast open landscape for users, developers, and industry that Google announced with the release of Android has been growing narrower and more opaque. When the service launched, Google made much of Android’s transparency and inclusiveness, which it said would enable innovation lacking in the mobile space. And Google has pointed fingers at Apple for its draconian, closed ways.

But who’s being draconian now? Earlier this month, Google removed Grooveshark’s popular app from the Android Market for violation of the Android terms of service, later informing Grooveshark that the removal was related to a “complaint from the RIAA” but nevertheless refusing to provide an actual legal or policy basis for the takedown.

In the limited marketplace for mobile apps, exclusion from one of the primary storefronts is a serious blow to a business that hopes to compete. And because Google won’t say why Grooveshark’s app allegedly violated its terms and conditions, Grooveshark has no opportunity to try to cure.

It’s hard to not speculate about what happened. We can only assume that a complaint from the RIAA would be based in copyright. That Google would perform a copyright takedown without requiring a valid notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is surprising to say the least — especially given that Google just last week filed its reply brief in the Viacom v. YouTube appeal vigorously defending its policy of responding only to valid DMCA notices where copyright complaints are concerned. (Separately, we question whether there’s a theory of copyright law under which Google would be liable in the first place, given that Google merely stores the code for another service provider’s app — code that we seriously doubt is itself infringing or otherwise illegal and which isn’t even executable on the Android Market platform.)

And if the RIAA’s complaint was not one under the DMCA, we – and others – are left to wonder: Did Google take down the Grooveshark app because it will compete with Google’s rumored soon-to-be-released cloud music service? Did Google’s takedown intentionally coincide with its appearance before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on IP in an effort to make itself more sympathetic to Congress? Is Google simply letting itself be controlled by the whims of the RIAA and the larger content industry as a whole?

We’d like to believe that none of these is the case, yet Google’s failure to provide a concrete explanation leaves us guessing. And Google’s larger failure to implement a policy that provides clear-cut rules and procedures for alerting app developers of their alleged violations of Google policy and giving them opportunities to cure runs counter to an environment of inclusiveness that Google has long touted. Despite recent events, we continue to hope that Google will stand up for these principles and maintain an Android Market that is open and transparent.