The Debates over the Asiatic Mode of Production in Soviet Russia, China, and Japan Author(s): Joshua A.

Fogel Source: The American Historical Review, Vol. 93, No. 1 (Feb., 1988), pp. 56-79 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the American Historical Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1865689 . Accessed: 10/08/2011 17:27
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The Debates over the Asiatic Mode of Production in Soviet Russia, China, and Japan
JOSHUA A. FOGEL

DEAL HAS BEEN WRITTEN about the"Asiaticmode of production," mostof ittheworkof Marxists around theworld,as theytriedto establishwhatKarl Marx and Friedrich Engels meant by the expression and what it signifiedfor the contemporary "Orient."Over the pastdecade, severalscholarsless involvedin the Marxist discussions have addressed the debates that emerged over the Asiatic of Russia,China, andJapan mode of productionas topicsin theintellectual history of the 1920s and 1930s.1 More recently, a flurry of some thirty or more articles appeared in the People's Republicof China on theissue,but the topicdisappeared fromscholarly journals as quicklyand mysteriously as it had arisen, only to be revived again in 1985 and 1986. None of the writings on the Asiatic mode of productionhas yetattemptedan examinationof the issues raised in all the major countries in which there was debate-primarily, the Soviet Union, China, and betweenthemfromthelate 1920s Japan-and of theimportant interrelationships throughthe late 1930s. Withoutappreciatingthe transnational contextin which the debate took place at thattime,we cannot fullyunderstand it. The idea of a dynamic,progressing, in the West as opposed participatory polity to a static, unchanging,despotic polityin the East goes back to the self-perception of the Greeks vis-'a-vis the Persians. When Aristotle's Politics was translatedinto Latin in the thirteenth itsnotionof Orientaldespotismwas reintroduced century, into European intellectual currency. Probablyin the fourteenth a lack of century, the rightto privatepropertywas added to thisconcept. It was Montesquieu who reunited "despotism"withthe Orient in his attackson French absolutism.China was then pictured as a stable,perfectly rational,enlighteneddespotic state.2 This portrayal of China did notchange as European conceptionsof thestatedid. As progressor democracybecame elementalto the "modern" nation-state, China Asian stagnation, (and Asia generally)was foundwoefully backwardness, wanting.
l Marian Sawer,Marxism and the Question oftheAsiatic ModeofProduction (The Hague, 1977); Stephen Dunn, The Fall and Rise of theAsiatic Mode ofProduction (London, 1982); Arif Dirlik,Revolution and History: TheOrigins ofMarxist Historiography in China1919-193 7 (Berkeley,Calif., 1978); and Germaine A. Hoston, Marxismand theCrisisof Development in PrewarJapan (Princeton,N.J., 1986), especially chapter 6. 2 Basil Guy, The French vol. 21 of Studieson Voltaire Imageof China before and after and the Voltaire, Eighteenth Century (Geneva, 1963); E. Rose, "China as a Symbolof Reaction in Germany,1830-1880," Comparative Literature, 3 (1951): 57-76; and Lawrence Krader, TheAsiatic Mode ofProduction: Sources, and Critique in theWritings Development ofKarl Marx (Assen, 1975), 62-67.

A GREAT

56

in the"East" ruled byan all-powerful despot who held finalcontrolover all matters secular and religious: Oriental despotism. 5In a similar vein.Thus. and communal Because the state monoplandownership: a complete lack of social dynamism. .whilein the West.Politics and Sinology: Mass. the social order based on the Asiatic mode of productionlacked so much as the suggestionof dynamism. 64-66. rpt.5 Private Engels.Marx argued.developing.4 in theOrient.. "in China and India. China and India lay "outside the world's history". the Chinese were one of the "races of eternalstandstill".can be identified. He also emphasized theisolated. 1975). however. 6Sawer. and free. 43-52. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.. trans. and finally class struggle. And the village was the primaryunit of society.Conn. Despite Marx's precociousvisionof theTaiping Rebellion. 3-5.progressive. in Anti-Diihring. 1984). through his works Anti-Diihring and The Originof theFamily. 158. and the Property. "Asiatic") had become terms of derogation. in thewords theessence of all history class consciousness.thus.The DebatesovertheAsiatic Mode ofProduction 57 and despotism were seen as the diametrical opposites of Europe's own selfcongratulatory image as modern.sayinglittleor nothingabout large irrigation in no one definition of an Asiatic As the debates unfolded thetwentieth century. 2 June 1853. State. and.He characterized"Asiatic"or "Oriental" societyby in land." the presenceof large-scaleirrigation the "absence works. Westport. Certain qualities on which most debaters tacitly The Asiaticmode was characteristic of a society agreed. As citedinJoshua A. there is no true historical MillandJohnStuartMill progressbutonlya static unchangingcivilization. 75. F. TheCase ofNaitoKonan(1866-1934) (Cambridge.inasmuch as the despot owned all the land. Private property was not recognized. . Selected Correspondence 1846-1895. (1942. itwas an economicclass. theoretical system. publishedafterMarx's death. edn. forLeopold von Ranke. of the Communist Manifesto.6 of Oriental society. Fogel. . "Asia" (and its adjectival form. 1961).For Georg W. In none of these cases did this blanket portrayalof Asia or China emerge from research or even personal travel and observation. ' Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels.he shared the image of China as sociallystagnant."3James regarded theOrientas fixedto itsunchangingvillageand unable tojoin thecourse of historywithouta jolt from outside. for Johann Herder. ofprivate property an omnipotent state ruling in a uniformlydespotic manner.everylocal community the center that provided these hydraulic works.segmentedvillagenature works. 69-71. Orientalsociety olized all economicinitiative remained stagnant.. Hegel.This societywas agrarian and highly dependent on massive irrigationprojects that any given localitywas unable to was dependent foritslifebloodon provide foritself.unable to rechannel surplus profitor to produce class differentiation. by way of example. Dona Torr.George Lichteimnoted that"theOrienthad notevolvedanything corresponding to private propertyin land: unquestionablyone of the preconditionsof feudalism". Engels seemed to be sayingthat the rulingclass in the Orientwas a political-administrative elite. mode of production emerged. Marxism:An Historical and Critical Study (New York..attemptedto integrateMarx's ideas on Oriental despotism and Asiatic society into the two men's larger For example. Marxism and theQuestion.

as demanded bytheComintern. participants was theorderof theday. however. at face value. by Marx among many others) as an extremelybackward. revolution" thena "bourgeois-democratic or semi-feudal. and modernbourgeoismodes ofproductionmaybe designatedas epochs marking progress in the economic development of society.waterworks China looked remarkably to an untrainedeye. once did. and other enormous areas of the world (probably the majorityof the earth's had expericonceptions.But sucha blanketexplanationtendstoobfuscate notions As scholarshipon China and Japan improvedover the years. was appropriate. to be sure. revolution.58 JoshuaA. they we must debates in Russia. Admitting the country'sincapacityto develop a of Weber's emphasis on China's literati. MARX'S BRIEF MENTION OF THE ASIATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION .China could be described as "Asiatic. and an alliancewiththe"bourgeois"Kuomintang."Until the 1940s.simplistic the kind of attention such as the Asiaticmode of productionno longerattracted in lookingback over theMarxist Nonetheless.and.the Asiaticmode of productionwould seem to be of littleimportanceto Russia (held them. If. alike. The two course forthe Chinese revolution Cominternover the correct events were no coincidence.political. society. of course.such motivations motivations scholars.China certainly population) into theirworld-historical important. It was Soviet scholars who opened the debate.It enabled themto bringChina.ancient.feudal Critique) (hereafter. socialistrevolution. Varga.There was. underdeveloped bourgeoisie on which the revolutionary had to lead the leadership could not safelyrely.the Asiatic. and Japan overtheAsiaticmode of production. even among Marxists. satisfy can debates of these impression any more than the surface itself as one of foursocietal to theCritiqueof PoliticalEconomy formationsin his preface to A Contribution is well known:"In broad outline. were extremely enced manycenturiesof despotism. India. Fogel much synthesizers The Asiaticmode of productionseemed to explainto Marxist thatfailed to fitMarxisttheoryproperly."that meant China had a weak. ancientChina and contemporary muchmorethanitclarifies.China. as franklyadmitted at the time by as feudal could be characterized If Chinese society in thecontroversy. opened the debate in 1925 with an essay the influenceof Max Weber (because denyingthatChina was feudal. at precisely the midto pursue. a Hungarian who had come to Russia afterthe failureof the 1919 Revolution in his native land. EvgeniiS. the prevalentview of prerevolutionary indeed reactionary. on the surface. and other of thediscourse theimportance do notvitiate as well.Yet thissame societyhad produced the first concerned withthe Asiaticmode of productionerupted in A debate centrally the same timeas the battlesin the 1920s in the SovietUnion. even if. that one sentence and scattered references in Capital and elsewhere constituted the the Marxistcamp forthe existenceof an Asiaticmode argumentwithin strongest of production.the peasants and the proletariat and it could be socialistin aim. and theirideas seriouslybut not exclusively take the contributors Understanding requires appreciation not only of the literal content of the discourse in these three countries but the intellectual.

Mad'iar" by Hoston.the Asiaticmode of productionhad existed.8 The most prolific Soviet advocate of an Asiaticmode was another Hungarian refugee.others.bestknownbyhis Russified name of Liudvig I. On Wittfogel's and activities in thelate 1920s and early 1930s. Mad'iar. Sovetskie istoriki o problemakh Kitaia (Moscow. His influence among the variousadvocates of the thatwould Asiaticmode of productionlay in thisemphasison geographicfactors lead to distinct Eastern and Westernroutesof social evolution. "Plekhanov'sRussia: The Impact of the West upon an 'Oriental'Society. . Like Marx." GreatSoviet Encyclopedia (Moscow. H. Mad'iar asserted thatthe Asiaticmode of productionhad characterized Chinese societyand its economy until the beginning of the twentieth century.Ulmen. he hoped thatpeasants acting withinthe primitive communal form known as the mirwould propel Russian societypast the capitalist stage. On Plekhanov'sideas in thisconnection. L.7 young Karl A. introduction by Mad'iar. Kokinand G. 15: 321. and others. 1970). Plekhanov." strategy as supporters of a distinctive "Asiatic"mode of productionwere dubbed by theiropponents.includinga similarpointsof view in print. a volumethatbecame one ofthecentraldocumentsin thedebate over the next fewyears. There is no reason whatsoever to Germanicizehis first name. writings 7 V.TheScience Toward an Understandingof ofSociety: and Work theLife of KarlAugust Wittfogel (The Hague. a mentorof VladimirLenin's). Baron.Marxism and the Crisis ofDevelopment. Mad'iar's name has been variouslymistranscribed by virtually everyonewho has mentionedhis work: "Ludwig Madyar" by Wittfogel. 8 Hoston. See also Sawer. see S. Ocherki po ekonomikeKitaia (Moscow. and the nature of Chinese social organization). a consequence of controlover massivepublicworkssystems-in otherwords.He and the other "Aziatchiki.TheDebatesoverthe Asiatic Mode ofProduction 59 dynamic bourgeoisie. "Tszin'-Tian": Agrarnyi stroi drevnogo The Agrarian structure of ancientChina) by M. 1974). 1891-1940). the year in whichhe was purged. In 1930.and a lengthy introduction Kitaia (Ching-t'ien: to another volume. Papaian. Ocherki publisheda second book supportinghis ideas on Asiaticsociety po ekonomike Kitaia (Essays on the Chinese economy). Ekonomika khoziaistva sel'skogo economy[1928]). D. 1978). Dirlik. and "Lajos Magyar (Liudvig Ignat'evichMad'iar. Nikiforov. expressed essentially Another source oftencited by Varga and by other supportersof the Asiatic mode was theworkof Russiansocialist GeorgiiPlekhanov(thoughnota Bolshevik. 81-82. 1930). 9 Liudvig Mad'iar. Liudvig I. M. whennotionsof private property came toChina from theWest.9 In essence. 202-08. Kokin and G. Wittfogel. see G.who was also popular among Chinese and Japanese advocates of the Asiaticmode of production.had studied Russian communal propertyand geographyas factorsthatled Russia along a different historical path fromWesternEurope. 1-75. 19 (June 1958): 388-404. Ulmen. Varga of the clan" thatthe "tyranny claimed thatChina's rulingclass was a scholar-elite. He servedin the Soviet diplomaticcorps in China in the mid-1920sand therecollectedmaterials v Kitae (China's rural for his firstmajor work. "Tszin'-Tian":AgrarnyistroidrevnogoKitaia (Leningrad."Ludwig S.The following year.Remnants of theAsiaticmode of productionin China werestill important in determining the of the Chinese revolution. Papaian. D. 1930). N. and thatpower in China was in villagespreventedthe riseof domesticcapitalism. 1928). 135-38." Journal ofthe History ofIdeas. he in China.Mad'iar thenwentto workforthe OrientalSecretariat of the Cominternfrom1929 to 1934. especially 128-41.Ekonomika sel'skogo khoziaistva v Kitae(Moscow and Leningrad. that Marx had intended to describe not a single historicalpath for all agreed Marrxism and the Question.

1929). Varga. or "well-field" made use of the standard Chinese sources on ancientsociety(such as the Chou-li thatthe Asiaticmode of production to demonstrate or Ritesof Chou) in an effort had characterized the Chou era (twelfththrough third centuries B. However.accordingto the minutes 57). D. that the Asiatic mode continued into modern times.60 JoshuaA. and thatland was neitherbought nor sold. the authors never argued. . One anti-Aziatchik Diskussiia) in land did not existand was Papaian for"claiming . and tradecapital).). In theirbook (translatedinto Chinese in as a local commune structure the "well-field" 1933). 366-67. Fogel societiesthroughoutthe world but two. K voprosuo sushchnosti i torgovogokapitala(Moscow. Berina[On the Asiaticmode diskussii po dokladu otchet Stenograficheskii sposobe proizvodstva: Ob aziatskom of production: Stenographicaccount of the discussionsurroundingthe reportof T. thatin the Han era in China privateproperty all governmentland. 1965). istoriki. viewssupportive anti-Aziatchik of an Asiatic mode of productionhad yetto be silenced. The views against."I Many others claimed that the Asiatic mode of no productionwas merelyan Asiaticvariantof feudalismor slaverybut certainly mode of production unto itself. 57.Because thestateowned all theland. officers used bytheadministrative elementof the Asiatic were united (anotherimportant rentand tax in thissystem mode of production)." 138.MaybePapaian did. in Varga. Dubrovskii.who attacked it in 1929 in his feodalizma. ofSociety. 217. thatseveralconferences-in Tbilisiand Baku The debate reached such intensity in 1930 and in Leningrad in 1931--wereconvened to resolvethe issue. revolvedaround the viewsof T.'0 assaulted and explained The Asiaticmode of productionthesiswas alternately away by its opponents. such as Sergei Dubrovskii. "' Kokin and Papaian. "Tszin'-Tian"."whichresemblesa tic-tac-toe and thecentralninth thecenterforthemselves. He positedten modes of productionthroughworldhistory.C.ssiia (hereafter. Asiatic was not one of them. "aziatskogo" sposoba proizvodstva. "aziatskogo" sposoba work. K voprosuo sushchnosti i torgovo nichestva go kapitala(On the question of the essence of the "Asiatic"mode intoChinese of production. krepostproizvodstva. The Baku papers were never published. Kokin and Papaian portrayed of thestate.Kokin shouted from hisseat: "I didn'tclaimthat. 17-19. universal.'2 Despite the tenorof these meetingsand of the press in 1930. was allegedly an for dividingland along the lines of the Chinese characterfor ancient institution were said to have worked board. prevailed.pre-capitalist In theirworkon thechiug-t'ien Kokin and Papaian actually system. Thus for Mad'iar the Asiaticelement in the Asiatic mode of production was not a geographicallyspecificconcept but a stage throughwhich all peoples necessarilywould pass.whose existence has never been proven.as representedby Dubrovskiiand MikhailGodes. as their opponents claimed theydid. but the and Japanese.feudalism. Eightfamilies "well. Papaian said: "I never claimed it. and see E. " Sergei M. Berin]." Hearing this." When thelaughtersubsided. Ocherki kapitalizma politekonomii po problemam proizvodstva.and Disku. Berin in favorof an Asiaticmode. . The "well-field"system. 1931)." (Diskussiia. The Tbilisi reportwas entitled 2 Nikiforov.soon translated serfdom. "Ob aziatskom sposobe krepostnichestva (Moscow. and Ulmen. theeightplotsof land surrounding plot theyworkedjointly for the state. sposobeproizvodstva ob aziatskom attackedthejoint workof Kokin and (Moscow and Leningrad. and littlehas ever been reported on the Tbilisi butitis extremely rare)except thatthedebate meeting(a conferencevolumeexists. feodalizma. Science Sovetskie T.

Kokin.KindaiNihontoTy6 shigaku (Tokyo. and it did not deprive them of theirgood Communist standing. Oriental A Study in TotalPower(New Haven. "Ah Q cheng chuan"tsaikuo-wai (Peking.Neither Varga nor Mad'iar were invited to represent Aziatchik views. Godes. 1935). See also Ozaki Sh6taro. 191-92. Alimov and M. ed. 14 Kokin. not itseconomic class. and Jan Pecirka. This statement was clearly untrue for both China and Japan. 1976).The DebatesovertheAsiatic Mode ofProduction 61 The Leningrad Conferenceof February. 155-62.34. Politically. 14. 404.This argumentis based moreon abstract logicthanon sources. Wittfogel heresywas a minor one. 52. Goi Naohiro. Lu Hsiin's "The True Storyof Ah Q.One could equally hypothesizean approach. Kokin.the Asiaticmode of productionwas dangerous to the Comintern's effortsto spur revolutionarymovements among the world's colonial peoples. because a geographicallydistinctmode of production could Godes attackedtheAziatchiki arguablyrenderCominternleadershipunnecessary. stageof history and Orientalsociety. passim. S.that posited the unique characterof the Asiaticmode of productionforChina and the 1 3Diskussija. Ajia tekiseisan yoshiki kenkyu (Tokyo. the words opponents of the Asiaticmode denounced itssupportersfordistorting of Marx and Engels and exaggerating what was simply an Asian variant of feudalismor slavery. Godes. eds. THE CURRENT NOTION THAT THE ASIATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION attractedlittle to substantiate. "Die Sowjetischen Diskussionen uber die AsiatischenProduktionsweise und uber die Sklavenhalterformation. because of its interestin China would be difficult the Asiaticmode of and itsinherentqualityof stagnation."'5He also claimed thatthe Asiaticmode of productionwas not widely debated in CommunistpartiesoutsidetheSovietUnion. 13 (February 1954): 143-54. 1970).66. rejected the Aziatchik notionof a bureaucraticrulingelitedefinedby itsfunction. D. (Leningrad.3 (1964): 147-69. geographicalspecificity production had condescending (perhaps even racist) overtones for Chinese radicals. similar to that of the Soviet Aziatchiki." Far EasternQuarterly. 194-95. (Moscow and Leningrad. It was of also recently discoveredby a Chinese scholarthatKokin was one of the earliestRussian translators in 1929 but did so anonymously. Engels.1931 was much more famous. theyopenlyclaimed. and Dirlikagrees withSchwartzon thispoint.in Revolution and History. its previous supportersdid not. "Revoliutsiia 1911 goda v Kitae."in Ocherki po istorii vostoka vostoke. 65-82. and M.'3 While theexpression"Asiaticmode of production"began to disappear fromthe Soviet press thatyear. but Kokin and Papaian both attended and were thoroughly lambastedby theiropponents. forfailing to explain thetransition fromtheAsiaticmode of productionto thenext within thecategoriesofclass struggle In short." in Probuzhdeniie na M. 5 Karl August Wittfogel. and Lenin and brandished them in warlike fashion."inAjia teki seisanyoshiki ron(Tokyo." Eirene. 1957). Schwartz.."Ajia tekiseisan y6shiki ronso. 1981). forexample.Evgenii lolk and Godes in particular. 1934). contributed twolong essayson recenteventsin China forvolumes edited by Azii: 1905 goda i revoliutsii Godes: M. laterwroteof the Soviet Aziatchikithat"their although most perished. A. Kobayashi Ryosei. 131-227." He published the translation See Ko Pao-ch'iian."A Marxist Controversy in China.'6Supposedly. Despotism: lb Benjamin I. Conn. The most outspoken criticsof the Asiatic mode of production. v epokhe imperializma. A fewAziatchiki even survivedStalin'spurges."Kitai. 259-363. Both sides came heavily armed with quotations from Marx. 1949). . The Aziatchikipublished on the subject over the next fewyearsin respectablepublicationsbut not directly 14 oftheAsiaticmode of production.

debate over the Asiaticmode of productionin China with opened the theoretical u (A studyof ancientChinese society). ching-chi.edn.led by workersand peasants. ching-chi Chung-kuo I x Kuo Mo-jo. 176-77. Mad'iar's first different publishers. 1929).Also. there were the followingtranslations book: Chung-kuo nung-ts'ul of Mad'iar's first nung-yeh chili t'e-hsing. 1933).trans. access to all of therelevantSovietmaterials Engels.. arguing in an essay of 1936 thatthe Asiaticmode was in facta distinct class societypredatingslavery. to identify argued thattheAsiaticmode bestdescribedthelate Shang era (throughthetwelfth " For example. Kuo Mo-jo was wrong in 1930. trans. completetranslation ta-kang. and the debates continued debates on the history as long in China as anywhereelse in the world. soon aftertheirinitialpublication.Unlike theirSoviet countersocietyin a way that pointed directly parts.. and theirhistorical first and historians discussionswere politicalactivists concernwithrecountingthedevelopmentof Chinese a primary analysesreflected to revolution.62 JoshuaA. and others. but to find it in history.(1930. Fogel necessity of a socialistrevolution.theChinese debate on thehistory strategy.'7 of society was closely As was thecase in Russia. 1959). first she-hui yen-chi ku-tai his book Chung-kuo In it.Most of the participantsin the Chinese entwined with revolutionary second.A Marxisttherefore Thus. Confronted Asiaticmode of productionwiththeprimitive-communal by severe criticism. Ch'en Tai-ch'ing and P'eng Kuei-ch'iu. (rpt. rpt. because China's revolution. Hsu Kung-ta.Li claimed. C/huntg-kuo (Shanghai. social order. 1934). and Papaian. f-ang-shih. edn. and trans. (Shanghai."' . he associated the published in 1930 and reissued many times thereafter. the Chinese debaters soon proposed elaborate schemes and occasionallywiththe use of recent archaeoperiodizationsfor Chinese history. logical materials(oracle bones and inscriptions The highlyerratic Kuo Mo-jo. book was actuallytranslatedseveral timesby Kokin. on bronze artifacts). a partial translation.Chung-kuo ching-chz of chapter 12 (Moscow. however. 1930). Kuo's essay in 1936 was ku-tai she-hui yen-chiu "Chung-kuo fa-chanchieh-tuanchih tsaijen-shih: Chu yu lun-chiuso-wei 'Ya-hsi-yate sheng-ch'an in Mo-o wen-chi. who had translated Marx's Critiquein 1925.In fact. a scholar of considerable eruditionin ancient history. 11: 21-27. Li Li's opinion. complete translation. (Shanghai.stenographiccopy of translation Li Min-ch7ang. Peking.Kuo changed his views (something for which he became famous). Li repeatedlystressedthe simplefactthatMarx had listedthe Asiaticmode as one had no choice. in of the normalstagesof social development. closelycorrespondingto Mad'iar's on thenatureof theAsiaticmode of production.18 held views most Li Chi. An examinationofjournals and books of the late 1920s and 1930s reveals that many worksof the Aziatchikiand theiropponents were translatedinto Chinese Mad'iar. 1930). ntung-ts'un Chung-kuo withadditionalmaterial. chiing-chi yeit-chiu. Wittfogel. the Asiatic mode of production with a pre-class society.trans.Given the contours of the Soviet debate.of Mad'iar's second book of 1930: Shanghai. the Chinese had and muchof theearlierworksof Marx.Tsung Hua.includingthose of Varga..17 vols. to guide a bourgeois-democratic bourgeoisiewas too ineffective the Asiatic mode of productionwas as widelydiscussed as any other issue in the of societythen ragingin China.

China's mode of production began to change. See. 2 (August 1932): 1-4. 2 (August 1932): 4. Wang's most a variant ofanother(feudalism). 12-13.rejectedthe idea thatChina had experienceda qualitatively distinct history requiringa special mode of productionto describe.was nota completestage China. 60. 2 (March 1932): 18-19."Tu-shutsa-chih. 2 (August 1932): 2-6.priorto the imperialist penetration. Hu Ch'iu-yuian.butimportant remnants of theAsiatic mode remained.Li failed to clarify the links between the Asiatic mode of productionand eitherslavery or feudalism. and despotismwas theAsiaticmode of productionwas anything. Others made it clear when referring to Das Kapital thattheywere using the Japanese edition (translatedby Takabatake Motoyuki). Ultimately. and Li Chi. except forthe intrusion of Westernimperialism intoAsia.22 occasionallywas Marx referring 19 This was beforeKuo Ta-li's completetranslation of Marx's textwas available.reservingspecial venom for Li. 2 (March 1932): 46. 52."Tu-shutsa-chih. "Chuan-chih-chu-i lun. 22.He thusclaimed thatin facta combination and the despotism. passim."Tu-shutsa-chih.(See Ozaki. Ch'en Pang-kuo.He repeatedly denounced the notion of the Asiatic mode of production. Ch'en Pang-kuo. 47-51. 48-49. Wang agreed withDubrovskiiand condemned as anti-Marxist excessive stress on irrigation as a factor in social history. See Wang Li-hsi. and only to feudal East Asia.hejust mechanically positeditsome timebeforefeudalism and in place of slavery. Li also leveled criticism existence of the Asiatic mode of productionin China's past meant China had bypassed feudalism. though. but the firstin China) was that India interesting formed the basis of Marx's understandingof Asian social forms."Chung-kuoshe-huihsing-t'ai fa-chan shih chung chih mi te shih-tai. ? Li Chi. 20-21.Wang Li-hsi. Li oftentranslated directly fromGerman.Mode ofProduction Asiatic TheDebatesoverthe 63 century B." tsa-chih.) In fairness. 8-9. As oneJapanese Tu-shu yiip'i-p'ing.20 The historianHu Ch'iu-yuanargued in severalessayspublishedin 1932 thatif itwas despotism." Tu-shutsa-chih. 2 (August 1932): 9. 22-23. 6. China was dominatedbytheAsiaticmode of production. Hu Ch'iu-yiian. or fromtheAsiaticmode of production to thenextmode of production.and especiallyLewis Henry Morgan'sAncient at Mad'iar for implying that the for Marx and Engels). ." Tu-shu tsa-chih. 28. (March 1932): 9-11. in China had produced "Asiatic" communeand feudalserfdom Mad'iar) had failedto see thisbecause theyconcentrated Aziatchiki(particularly class. Hu was much impressedby the treatment theirgaze on the scholar-official of the sovereignin East Asia givenin authority of the issue of the overwhelming HattoriShiso. Relying on a handful of citationsfrom Capital.21 1928 by theJapanese Communisthistorian. noted at the time." Tu-shutsa-chih.C. another contributor to the debates. Hu cited the work of lolk to substantiate his notion of "Oriental despotism. whichwas said to have destroyedthe self-sufficient economy. critic.no one before World War II devised a satisfying theoreticalframeworkfor the development from pre-classto classsociety. was that. 21. was Li Chi's most relentless. and dogged critic.). "Chung-kuoshe-huishih-lunshih. in historical developmentbutmerely insight(not an original one. after theintrusion.The implication. of the village grounded in feudalism. "Kuan-yui Chung-kuo she-huishihlun-chante kung-hsien 3 (April 1933): 1-86. "Ajia tekiseisan yoshiki ronso. "Tui-yiiChung-kuo she-huishih lun-chante kung-hsien 2 yii p'i-p'ing. Wang criticized Hsing-t'ang. "Luieh-fu Sun Cho-chang chun ping lueh-lun Chung-kuo she-hui chih hsingchih. Asiatic mode in possible reason he could imagine for positinga self-sufficient he claimed. 114. for example. The Asiaticmode of productionitself. 21 Hu Ch'iu-yuian. Anotherauthor.'9 the work of History (a major source Plekhanov. who arrived at altogether different debate in the Two other participants conclusionsabout the Asiaticmode of productionwere Wang I-ch'ang and Liu theonly Mad'iar forhisignoranceof Chinese history."Ya-hsi-yasheng-ch'an fang-shih yiu chuan-chih-chu-i. as Wang read Mad'iar." 105-06. sarcastic." 22 Wang 1-ch'ang.Ozaki Shotaro." Tu-shutsa-chih. 2 (December 1932): 3-4."'Kuan-yuishe-huifa-chanfen-ch'i'ping p'ing Li Chi.

Reikhardt and. 24."Chung-kuo she-hui fa-chan hsing-shih 1935): 7.64 JoshuaA. if loyaltyto the movement Chinese history. for politicalreasons). the villagecommune (the centralelement of the Asiatic mode of production) had retarded China's development and prevented a substantialindigenous growthof commerce."Shih-huo.1 (April 1935): 5. on thisissue disappeared fromprintedSovietworksafter1931. V. knew nothing and Godes in Leningrad.Reikhardt discussed at length the Soviet debate of of viewsforand againstthe Asiaticmode.In a volume publishedin 1934 on pre-capitalist on the history economic formations. "T'ang-tai chih kao-li-taishih-yeh. influenced of Mad'iar."Hsin sheng-ming.the organizationof thisvillagecommune (nung-ts'un Although was the source of China's social retardation. Fogel neitherof Mad'iar's nor of Liu Hsing-t'angmade itclear thathe was a follower Li Chi's notionof the Asiaticmode of production.23 kung-t'ung-t'i) nung-ts'un (perhaps withMad'iar and theSovietAziatchiki filiation Liu claimedno intellectual did adopt some of theirmain ideas.This influence particularly. While 1929-1931 as the confrontation position that the to claimed agree with the anti-Aziatchik Reikhardtdutifully mode of production. In its original and or kung-she remnantforms. No Sovietwriter as Mad'iar. Liu conceded thatMad'iar had offeredmuch of value to scholarship on Chinese society.2 (1935): 206-07. and Liu fa-chante pen-chih. Liu Wen-hua p'i-p'an. . A close examination of was translatedas often and as extensively on theAsiaticmode makesclear thattheviewsof men like Godes Chinese writings invokedin China butnevercitedas expert.Their positions and Iolk weredutifully simplyrepresentedthe correctCominternline. interested of But. Hsing-t'ang. to pay lip serviceto the victors required Chinese Marxisthistorians an all-powerfulparty in China could not as yet prevent them from often unable to accept) the ideas of Mad'iar entertaining (even if theywere ultimately whose viewson the Asiaticmode of productionhad simply and otherAziatchiki.yethe had to agree withboth that the lack of private propertyand the importanceof irrigationhad greatly critique repeatingDubrovskii's Althoughessentially East Asian society. 15. Kovalev.he Asiatic mode of productionnever existed as a distinct ithad meantto Marx what out to devotedconsiderablespace spelling nevertheless and Engels. 26-27. he ultimately One of the fascinatingelements of the debates over the Asiatic mode of of importanceto certainlinesof thought productionin China was the attribution importedfromthe SovietUnion." "Chung-kuoching-chi Hsing-t'ang. 10. 2 (October chih t'an-hsien. Having done this. For example.he argued. Soviet work thatReikhardtand Kovalev are scarcelymentionedin the definitive of SovietSinology. 16. of theAsiaticmode of production Japanese) discussions considering is especially interesting. subsequentChinese (and The two Sovietscholarswhose viewsmostinfluenced wereV.In fact.Reikhardtconcluded that the Asiatic mode of of feudalismbut had to be an Asiatic a variety productioncould not constitute 23 Liu Hsing-t'ang. Sergei I.we knowthatthe positionsof lolk and Godes at the LeningradConferenceagainsttheAsiaticmode were studiedby but it was clear to all concerned thatlolk Chinese almostimmediately.

14. He argued that. 54-58. though. analyzed. 1934). 198().one can see thatKovalev in 1931 had it from in fact been a defender of the Asiatic mode..in harmonywithKovalev's laterposition. rpt.. 1. Kovalev's influencewas entirely theoretical. In one of these books. Fall and Rise. Lu changed his views and began to approach Marx's designationof "Asiatic"in the empiricalmaterialsavailable on Shang and Chou slavery. and had influenced Mad'iar. I. thatthe Asiaticmode of productionwas essentially a variantof ancientEast Asian slavery. Ocherki po ekonomike dokapitalisticheskikhformatsii (Moscow and Leningrad. 28 Lii Chen-yiu.althoughtheAsiaticmode of productionmayhave 21 V. See also Nikiforov. 14-15. 29'The volume withthe positiveassessmentof Plekhanovhas been reprinted severaltimesin China.25 By 1934. Wittfogel. 250-52. 2d edn.The DebatesovertheAsiatic Mode ofProduction 65 variantof slavery. Ajia teki yoshiki 97-108. 27 Ozaki. Reikhardt. S. From his commentsat the Leningrad Conference. . edn.Istoriia drevnogo mira." 108-11. V. he noted that Plekhanov was "wrong. He strictly differentiated slaveryand feudalismand argued thatitwas a class societywitha rulingelite that exploited agrarian laborers. While he criticized"Comrade Mad'iar" and the whole "Asiatic"notionas unsound. 78-80. Shihch'ien-ch'i she-hui Chung-kuo yen-chiu (Peiping. 1955). and MoritaniKatsunmi. and Lui Chen-yii. seisan ron(Tokyo. 12. 1955).edn. Although he had earlier been more influenced by the anti-Aziatchik position.26 Lu Chen-yubegan to come to termswiththeconcept A brilliant younghistorian of the Asiatic mode of productionafterreading Kovalev (probablyin Japanese translation)in 1934.27 Lu publishedtwobooks on ancientChina in 1934. 1942). (Moscow. "Ajia teki seisan yoshikironso.he raised the various views then currenton the nature of the Asiatic mode. but itwas lifted in itsentirety f'rom the second edition: S.29 In 1937.52-53. and noted Plekhanov's well-knowncaveat that Marx had he probablywould have changed his ideas on the Asiaticmode and antiquity read Morgan earlier.and influential was theworkof Kovalev." revisionist. Kovalev. Sovetskie istoriki. Lu claimed that Plekhanov was "absolutelycorrect"and in line withthe critical"spiritof Marxism. in 1980: Lui Chen-yu.and others.24 Even more widelyread.28Both essays proceeded to exactly the same summaryof Mad'iar's viewson China and the Asiaticmode of productionand his exaggerated emphasis on water as an explanatoryfactorin history. stage of He now argued thatthe Asiaticmode of productionwas not a distinctive social developmentbut an Oriental variety of the slaveholdingsocial order in the West. He was. in Diskussfia. however. Shanghai.well known and influential in the Soviet Union. he saw fit to do so onlyafterdescribing Mad'iar's views in greatdetail. rev. and Nikiforov. bothbeginningwithan essay addressingthe issue of periodizationand the Asiaticmode. 26 This viewwas apparently incorporatedintothefirst editionof his textbook(1934). In both. See Dunn.He concluded in the mid-1930s.Sovetskie istoriki. quoted Marx's preface to the Critique. Kovalev.Shihch'ien-ch'i mostrecently Chung-kno she-hui yen-chiu (1961. Ho Kan-chihsummarizedthe entireChinese debate on the history of society to that point. Peking. Hou Wai-lu briefly discussed Reikhardt'sviews in Chung-kuo ku-tai she-hui shihlun (Peking. 1941). >.Kovalev had changed his views. Chung-kuo yiian-shih she-hui shih(1934.He was not an East Asian specialistand offered nothingof'directimportto the discussionsconcerningChina or Japan."In the other book. 250-54. 1934).

an Asiaticvariantof slavery.since Marx and Engels wroteof the Asiatic mode. Marxism-Leninism. 2.Ho then introducedthe debates nearlya decade old at thispoint. .30 of the Japan than to the Chinese side.Hsieh Ai-ch'un and Yang Mu-p'ing. forMarxist-Leninist (even thoughitclearlywas not there). Orientalfeudalism namely.Ku-taishe-hui she-hui Chung-kuo in LuiChen-yti. Lu had another difficult announced that all world historypassed through a formulaicsequence of five historical modes of production. 1954 and 1961.No contradiction he warilynoted.Chung-kuo (Shanghai. that it was a mode of production linkingprimitive pre-slaveholdingsocietyor a transitional society and slavery. 1950. 2-3.forin his opinion only Kovalev's solutionopened the way to resolve the issue once and for all.thatitformeda distinctly which otherwise followed the universal laws of development. originally shih chu-wen-t'i. Ho's evenhanded and extended treatment especiallyconsideringthat debate over the Asiaticmode of productionis striking. his work of the early 1940s the fullestChinese statement on the Asiaticmode thathad by then been advanced He located fiveperspectives in the internationaldebate: that it was a special Oriental path of historical development. In fact. (Shanghai. 10-16. and Chinese societyand history wareruptedwithJapan." published in 1942). Stalin had . This volume of essayshas 4th edn. 29-58. lun-chan shihwen-t'i she-hui 3' 32 shih.His extraordinarily Japanese materialsand in the Marxistclassicsmade broad reading in the relevant on the subject to date. Lu found faultwithall five. Fogel long ceased to exist. a large number of Japanese writingson Marxism. who had by then "corrected"his views. This trend history. (Kweilin. it could not lie outside Stalin's five here. Lu Chen-yii.One volume continuedeven after1937. 4.Lu simplyargued that. In a brilliantact of scholarlylegerdemain.he devoted considerablymore space to developmentsin of production."Kuan-yiiChung-kuoshe-huishihte chu-wen-t'i. 1942).and the Asiaticmode of productionhad not made the list. 30 Ho Kan-chih. been reprinted(at least) twice: Shanghai. Hayakawa Jiro. that it was not slaverybut a mode of production parallel to it. of Hayakawa Jiros Kodai shakaishi(A history was a translation published in Kweilin in 1942.when itwas no longerwidelydiscussedelsewhere.66 JoshuaA. whenfull-fledged fromthe People's Republic thatsurvivedthe war and has been cited in writings of ancientsociety).32 hurdle to leap. he claimed to oppose the idea in principle. theorists were to blame for the confusion.31 Hayakawa did not see the Asiatic mode of epoch in social developmentbut ratheras a transitional productionas a distinct commune and the emergence of phase between the dissolutionof the primitive slaveholdingin antiquity.He noted thatthe Chinese had been disturbedby Mad'iar's idea thatthe Asiaticmode continuedto influenceChinese social organizationuntilthe intrusion of the West in the nineteenthcentury.on the Asiaticmode among Japanese historians. were translatedinto Chinese. Lu Chen-yti continued to writeon the Asiaticmode of productionthroughthe early 1940s.itsremnantscontinuedto retardthe normal developmentof Chinese society.trans. Throughout the 1930s.By the early 1940s. 1937).but he generously forgave Mad'iar. and that the view of Godes and others had "liquidated" Mad'iar's "watertheory"and denied the Asiaticmode of productionaltogether.

36 in China on the Asiaticmode of productionbetween was written Althoughlittle revivalof theissue in theearly 1960s. he did not openly advocate the Asiaticmode.34In a new ancientChinese slavery. while discussed at lengthby many and sundry. noteven duringthe to thegeneral impression. providedthe keyto a solutionof thisconundrum. by borrowing argumentsfrom the arsenal of the Asiatic mode of production.Akizawa published widelyin left-wing By the end of the 1930s. Lu's labeling Akizawa a mouthpiece for "Japanese te fa-hsi-ssu-ti hitthe mark.35In 1955. Chung-kuo ku-tai she-hui shih(Shanghai. 36 Hou Wai-lu. THE ASIATIC MODE OF PRODUCTION scholarlypress throughthe late 1930s. Kovalev went on to suggest. Where Stalin had written one should read "Asiaticmode of productionas a variantof slavery"in the case of China.33 In 1943. Chinese. Kovalev'slaterinterpretation Kovalev claimed that the Asiatic mode of production existed as a "variant of Lu argued that "slavery. 1948)." in Chung-kuo Chung-kuo li-shih-kuan shihlun (Chungking and Chengtu. book in 1948. the eminenthistorianHou Wai-lu included a long discussion of the Asiaticmode of productionin a workon ancient Chinese society. It surfacedagain in the early 1960s and again in the early 1980s. Hou republished this because of renewed debates book under a new titleand witha new introduction in China on the nature of ancient Chinese society. however.could remedy it. 1943). Li's own work on the Shang period seemed to demonstrate a so Kovalev's ideas workedthis withcertain"Asiatic"elements.Yet the repeated efforts productiondistinct withthisidea of a mode of productionnamed withgeographic to termscritically in the context of otherwiseuniverallyascending stages of historical specificity developmentcontinued throughthe 1940s and into the 1950s. ku-tai she-hui . no Chinese historianafter the mid-1930s supported the concept of a mode of to come to Asian or Chinese society.itshould be clear 1955 and the international itneverdisappeared. and gained a considerable following IN JAPAN. By the same token. Chung-kuo 35 Hou Wai-lu."Jih-pen fascism"may have been excessive.Again. He also expressed the highest regard for the work of in Chung-kuo she-hui Reikhardtand HayakawaJir5."' tesheng-ch'anfang-fa ' Lu Chen-yii. war years. but. slaveholdingsociety far. that in medieval East Asia certain elements of the Asiatic mode of production remained and forged a distinctive variantof feudalism. Like was debated-every year in the leftist the Japanese participantsin the debate their Chinese and Soviet counterparts. 61-104."Ya-hsi-ya shihchu-wen-t'i.and here Lu had to part company withhim. 13-32. Lu reservedspecial journals vituperationfor theJapanese scholar Akizawa Shfiji.bothof whom were heavilyinfluencedby Kovalev.Mode ofProduction The DebatesovertheAsiatic 67 offered undoubtedly correct theory. yu so-weiChung-kuo she-hui te 't'ing-chih-hsing. 1955). 30-44." slavery"in ancientEast Asia.but his criticism 131-49.whichwas the only hiatus in theJapanese debate. Chung-kuo slih lun (Peking.in his estimation. hisviews on the Asiaticmode of productionand the natureof Orientalsociety.Only Japanese imperialism. by pointingto the Asiaticqualities of he was adopting a positionakin to Kovalev's. ku-tien she-hui 3 Hou Wai-lu. contrary that. but. had clearlyevolved into pure and simple window dressing for the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.such as stagnation. p'i-p'an. she-hui shihchu-wen-t'i.but it could never replace the historical evidence.it has never gained a sustained following. the Japanese rationale for invasion and occupation of the Asian mainland. and Japanese debates. Lu Chen-yu. Hou devoted considerable space to an analysisof the issue in the earlier Soviet. 1.

39 Mad'iar's first v Kitae.39 by Hayakawa Jiro of the Leningrad to the Chinese revolution. It looked much likean AsiaticremnantinJapan.appeared in a Japanese translationin khoziaistva sel'skogo book. Mad'iar's second book was translatedseriallyin the early 1930s. shared among themselvesthe tasks of The Japanese participantseffectively translatingthe pertinentmaterials from Russian. 1938). developmentbut a repressivelegacy fromthe past. kodai Kuo Mo-jo. 1933).40 17 On the assimilation in Japan and all the Japanese factors of Marxism (and Marxism-Leninism) 35-54.. Fujieda Takeo. ni tsuite seisanyoshiki A ia teki 40 Goi. Marxism 38 Hoston.37 thorough trainingin Marxism-Leninism The immediateissue of the Asiaticmode of productionforJapanese Marxists was tied into the largerdebate on the natureof the societythatemerged inJapan afterthe Meiji Restorationof 1868. therein.at a timewhen such an institution did not exist in China (1920s and 1930s). trans. and T'ao Hsi-sheng.the was the enormous role played in Japan's modernizationefforts The emperor system representednot a progressivehistorical imperialinstitution. fromthe Chinese debates.the debate on the Asiatic mode in Japan was since it was not of immediate carriedon by Koza factionMarxists. Marxism 145.as they were with the futureof a Japanese revolution. See. and his revised 2d Russian edition (minus his introductory in fullin production)in 1934. In fact. Inoue Terumnaru. the Asiatic mode of production became a metaphor for the resistanceof Japanese societyto development. thus on the scholarly of effort. Ekonomika chapter on the Asiatic mode of 1931. 1929). a force of ever more oppression and militarism 1926). and a fulltranslation anti-Aziatchiki appeared throughthe first Conference papers appeared in 1933.while the argued that the restorationwas a bourgeois-democratic of essays theypublished in orthodox Koza faction(named fora famouscollection 1932) saw it as absolutistin character.somethingto be overturned. particularly rapidlyappeared in Japanese as well. Their workhad a salutaryeffect eliminating repetition of the Aziatchikiand in Japan. All the major writings level of the controversy halfof the 1930s. Chugoku 1936. a Japanese criticrisked 1ese ifhe identified the Asiaticmode of production(as theobject forrevolution) majeste with the emperor and Japan's top-heavystate systemin the post-restoration in the Showa era (from period. Fogel were concerned with the fate of the Chinese revolution.see Hoston. KindaiNihon. forexamnple.the firstto topple the emperor systemand the second the capitalists. the Japanese debaters had a more than theirChinese counterparts.Shinakeizai (Tokyo.Shinia (Tokyo. However. and Chinese. and theCrisisof'Development. almostentirely importanceto the R6n6 faction.as neitherthe bourgeoisie nor the feudal allowing an all-powerfulstate to fillthis landlord class had led the restoration. shakaikenkyu. HayakawaJiro. ron(1934).(Tokyo.68 JoshuaA. German. Their books were noshiteki bunseki Shinashakai trans.38 on theAsiaticmode of production The centralissue forJapanesecommentators by the state.. 2d book: Tanaka Tadao and Ando Hideo.major writings Because of the politicalcommitment books by Kuo Mo-jo and T'ao Hsi-sheng. While the Rono faction determinationthat Japan the Comintern faction accepted in Japan.In addition. finally keizai kenkyu (1931). 2d Russian edition:Shinangyo6 noson keizai trans.As a result. gairon(1936).179-83. and theCrisis oa'Development. . the Koza needed a two-stagerevolution. was readyfora proletarianrevolution leadershipvacuum. The Rono faction(named for theirjournal) revolution.

ofinterpretations. "Shina kakumei to nogyo mondai.177. See also Goi. and Shida Fudomaro. 44 Hirata Yoshie. the book Hu Ch'iu-yuan in China. Through on theAsiatic numerous articles touched mode ofproduction. Although conclusions Fukudalaidoutalltheavailable citations from thebest he could Marx.Terajima Kazuo. shi kenkyfi. HattorirelatedMarx's notionof the Asiaticmode of admiration to the combination of handicraft and small farmer production production in theeconomy of theEdo period(1601-1868). "Yuibutsushikankeizaishishuttatsuten no saigimmi.41 The earliest attempt to explainthe meaning of the term"Asiatic mode of production" appeared in a long essayby Fukuda Tokuzo in 1927. failedin Japan." 1 (December 1933): 120-23. 1973)."Kaizo (June 1927): 46. a variety The first article offering devoted solely to the issueof the Asiatic mode itself appearedin May. 153): "Marxist scholarsand revolutionary activists [inJapan] firmly believedthatthe integrity of Marx's social theory required a correctidentification of the mode of productionthatdominatedcontemporary Japan and China. "Marukusu Engerusu ni okeru 'Ajia tekiseisan hoho' no igi. 2 (May 1930): 47-59. In other words. 43 Hattori Shiso.1930. mode of production" denotedthe primitive suggest were that"Asiatic village with and that thetopic commune.43 The first agriculture Japanese theoretical treatment of theAsiatic modeof production and itsplacein Chinese inan article history appearedthefollowing year whoadamantly byHirata Yoshie. 41 In this."Nihon ni okerutochishoyui kankeini tsuite. Meyi ishin shi." Rekishigaku 1 (January1934): 223-27. 78." Shiso. that Marxseemedtoequate"Asiatic" "Indian. andbothJapanese and Chinese a socialrevolution. ChinawasAsiatic on thesurface butfundamentally feudalat heart. "To Kisho to Chugoku seiji shisoshi." Puroretaria kagaku." Shiso.becauseJapanese(and Chinese)Marxist felt that withnative scholars strongly theyhad to fitMarx'sgenericpattern were committed tohaving historical development. forexample: Suzuki Shun. in theJapanese overthe Asiatic mode in theSovietUnionhad no such effect oftheAsiatic modeofproduction toenddiscussion Stalinist efforts scholarly press. The theoretical front left many unanswered also reviewedin Japanesejournals.42 shi production Shiso's inJapanese history appearedinHattori Meji ishin (A history of the Meiji Restoration. (Tokyo. Several months later. he maintained that this decision concerned only therealm ofpractice. KindaiNihon. and (September 1927): 62. "Saikin no Shina shakai keizai Rekishigaku kenkyui.54. among manysuch essays. Noro was arrested by the police on 28 November 1933 and murdered by themin 1934. 1: 55-56. acceptedthe recentresolution of the Sixth Party oftheChinese Congress Communist Party that Chinawasnotcharacterized bythe Asiatic modeofproduction butwassemi-feudal. 88 (September1929): 54." effort toplacetheAsiatic modeof neededmuchfurther The first serious study.as they had in China.TheDebatesoverthe Asiatic Mode ofProduction 69 to the debate oftencombinedlives as active The Japanese contributors Communists with and theabrupt conclusion ofthedebate dedicated scholarship.86 (July1929): 72-75. kenkyfi. later cited with [1928])." 42 Fukuda Tokuzo. 4 Terajima Kazuo. .44 theyears1929-1931.45 Although the author.in Hattori Shisozenshui.I agree withHoston's recentpoint (Marxism and theCrisis ofDevelopment. and Noro Eitaro. claimed that Marxand Engels had notcharacterized Chinese society byfeudalism butbytheAsiatic modeandthatthisAsiatic modewasessentially a feudalform ofexploitation. 24 vols. theparty leaderNoroEitarosimilarly theAsiatic explained modeof production as a form of statefeudalism.

which seemed to contradict otherMarxist thantheSovietefforts notions.aftergainingaccess to Mad'iar's first book in translation. Akamatsu Keisuke was one of those ready to give up on the Asiatic m(odeof productionaltogether. of the anti-Aziatchiki have abortedJapanese discussionof the Asiaticmode. 240. 207. passim. the Asiaticmode of productionwas not unique to Asian but partof the universalhistorical society A second school of thought progression. were the social and economic systems attached.46 concurred that the Asiatic mode of production leaned either toward the slaveholdingor theserfmode. "46 17 .Itoi concluded that in Japan the Asiatic mode of productionemerged in the primitive communal stage of history and lingered in Late thatyear Hani Goro essentially remnantformthroughslavery to feudalism.others saw it as a transitional era fromthe primitive commune to slavery.byquotingMarx's prefaceto the Critique and asking what this sequence of modes of production meant for the study of Japanese What was unclear for the Asiatic(while spelled out for the other modes history.Terajima's viewcloselyresembledMad'iar's.Finally. Z6hei.196. Nihonkokka Hani Gori.Nihonkokka no seiritsu katei(The formative processof theJapanese state).His conclusions remained the same: the Asiatic mode of productionwas basicallyslaveryor serfdom.the Asiaticmode of productionwas geographically specific. 1FlainiGorCi.Kindai Nihon.This lastpointwas new and became more important as the debate proceeded. 43 (June 1932): 26-58.and represented the earliest stage of class conflictin worldhistorical development. (March 1932): 1-40. each of these related points of view. 1931). 22."Teikoku shimbun (21 December daigaku 1931). therewere scholarswho saw the Asiaticmode less as a distinct era bounded bytwo ItOi no seiritsu katei(Tokyo. The Asiaticmode of productionin China.47He continuedto struggle withthisstrangeconcept in a long articlethroughthe following year. of production). and 43 (August 1932): 48-58. Hani argued." 43 (March 1932): 5. the papers from the Leningrad Conference began to appear in The politicalvictory in Russia might Japanese translation. Fogel and debatable problems. From this interestingobservation. 199. In the firstwere advocates of the Asiatic mode as synonymouswith pre-classsociety. as cited in (Goi. but the temptation to work through all the intellectualproblems posed by this mysteriousconcept." 88. Ito Zohei began his work.49 The debate mushroomed in 1933 and 1934.provedstronger to strangle debate. was not fundamentally distinct fromfeudalism. 43 zasshi.and the next few issues of the journal in which his essay appeared. In 1931. Puroretariakhaaku (Proletarianscience)."Shigaku 43 (February 1932): 1-42.70 JoshuaA. and fewJapanese scholars were prepared to abandon the Asiatic mode of productionaltogether. *' Ozaki.48 In 1932.both derived from Soviet views. "'Ajia tekiseisan yoshiki' no mondai ni yosete.he argued. "T')y6 ni okeru shihonshugirno keisei.and stillothers regarded it as the first In class society. ran several articleson the Asiaticmode of productionand numerous pieces concerningChina. and three schools of thought emerged.In these two positions. 197. especiallyparttwosubtitled "Ajia teki seisan y6shikito Shina shakai. 28.was linked initially to the decline of primitivesociety. 16. included scholars who continued to maintainthatthe Asiaticmode was an Asian variantof eitherslaveryor feudalism. "Ajia tekiseisan yoshikirons6.

Now he argued thattheAsiaticmode of productionconstituted By 1935. to a complex system of tribute-bearing establishedwhenone community The reason thatHayakawa's conquers another.One author simplyasked what had happened to slaveryin Japanese history. He also linked one of Marx's originalfour. Hattoriand Hani agreed withlolk's positionthat regarded the Asiaticmode of productionas an Asiaticvarianteitherof feudalism or slavery. "Ajia tekiseisan yoshikironso. Ajia teki. but Aikawa stillheld to the notion thatthe Asiatic mode of productionwas the first kanilenkeitai he added thatitwas based on a patriarchal slaveholdingsociety. sei'an yoshiki seisanyoshiki ron. Shiozawa." Rekishi kagaku. he was prepared simultaneously Taika Reformsof 645 resembledtheAsiaticmode of production."Shish. 47. 3 (December "Toy6 kodai shi ni okeru seisan yoshikino mondai. Hayakawa began to publish workon the Asiaticmode of production in a new vein. class fornmation. 79-80. thefirst. and Aikawa Haruki. and Shiozawa Kinmio.thatMad'iar and Varga had held incorrectpositions.and thusa class society.Mode ofProduction The DebatesovertheAsiatic 71 others in the historical continuum than as a quality that distinguished the commuOriental societyfromprimitive long-term developmentof pre-capitalist nism throughfeudalism: namely. operativeat thatstageof social developmentwhen Asiaticmode as mostpotentially of societyand put an unequal system one societyhas conquered a more primitive enforced vassalage into effect. He recalled a comment participants:"It is my feelingthat for made in 1935 by one of the lesser-known 5" Hayakawa jir6. was an earlyand consistent contributor Hayakawa Jir-o afterthe to suggestthatJapanesesociety In 1933. history's first Hayakawa's."51' He came under ferociouscriticism thatyear. Some attackedhis idea thatplaced the Asiaticmode aftertheTaika Reforms. Aikawa Haruki. to 'Ajia tekiseisan yoshiki. Ajia teki I . This was Hayakawa's view in that year.seisanyoshiki ron(Tokyo." 91.2 (Fall 1933): 69. took a position in 1933 akin to Godes's view that the Asiatic mode of production was an Asian form of feudalism.52 Asiatic mode of production resembled slaveholdingis neithercoincidental nor Rather.Hattorichiefly as texts poured intoJapan from Russia and elsewhere. to theJapanese debate."Rekishi kagaku.he saw the because he vieweditas an Asian variantof slaveholdingsociety. citing Capital. 52 Hayakawa Jiro.Aikawa Haruki. he had come in contact with Kovalev's later views. now denyingthatit had anything to do withfeudalism. 98-99. Ozaki. 77-86."' Rekishi 5 Rekishi no Nihon rekishi e no 'tekiy6ron ni kanrenshite.51 In 1934. This action would destroythe pristinecommune and begin a path toward slavery-and the Asiatic mode fell along this path in Hayakawa's formulation. He now thatemerged in regarded the Asiaticmode of productionas one social formation society. mode of productionthedignity in fact. rememberedtheconfusionand plethoraof viewsspawned though.28-29. 23-27."Ajia teki e no keiko: Ajia teki to (GCdesuteki kenkai.He meant to offerthe Asiatic the process of the dissolutionof primitive of itsown place as a bona-fidemode of production.and that "of course. In theirearly contributions. Hayakawa's 1934): 72-74. Late in 1933 and early the followingyear. "Nihon rekishi kagaku. "'Ajia teki seisan y6shiki'to Nihon h6kensei ni kansuru ronso (1).it was this incarnation of his work that was published in Chinese translation. his views began to change in a directioncuriouslysimilarto class society." Aikawa Haruki.'Ajia tekiseisan y6shiki kagaku.When he looked back at the debate in the immediate postwaryears.stagnationand despotism.such as when it was supposed to have transpiredin Japan's past.139 (December 1933): 68-69. the Asiatic mode of productionis a kindof feudalism. early critic. 1970). but Aikawa disagreed on important details. 2 (March 1933): 19-21.2 (May 1933): 41. vassalage (konosei) it.which unquestionablyinfluencedhim.

he commune.published atTokyoImperial University oflectures series given that China). (two occasion. andbureaucracy structure state despotic an Oriental he in thesethings.72 A." up on another towrite notes I'm making "ibut is surely control water in China.31.82. availabledoctrinal. 89-90. India." interested notvery "You'reprobably appropriate. toexplain it.inHattori niokeru yoshiki "Nihon Ajiateki Hattori Shis6. for social wasresponsible stagnation commune" the"village were forso long.thefact Shinaron(On contemporary thatyearas Gendai thereally wasobvious. seisan ron.54 at the finalstage of the primitive slavery is of thequotation The author in original.55 and mostclearly reachedearliest forhisroleintheSorgespyring. on thewayto slavery toclasssociety from pre-class transition larger to Asia but specific As such. Trying Egypt. Moritani 2-3. 19.21: 14-17.edn. of ourconcrete knowledge that and in addition ofMarxism documents and methodology concurred.Working Marx's from one sentence in boldface-that and usually dozensof times literally a constituted claimedthatthe Asiaticmode of production Critique-Moritani itas If Marxhad notmeant pathway..Calif. before modeof production Marxand Engelsin an essaythatplacedtheAsiatic as a together them putting finally on thesubject.he wouldnothave argued. 33-34. See also Chalmers Gendai 56 Ozaki Hotsumi.he demonstrated Katsumi. 52.Tokyo. Rekishi shino shomondai. Ajiateki Shinaron(1939. far exaggerate somescholars I think importance.. admitted to returned letter His next dayslater). executed a famous journalist OzakiHotsumi. In ofTreason:OzakiHotsumi Johnson.For Ozaki. mode The Asiatic commune. 70.His answers washowithad beenpreserved question important to the great in addition of wet-field agriculture the importance less satisfying: to ofthecapitalist powers) theintrusion ofChina'ssocialstructure (before ability levels. 54 55 Shis5 no shtiketsu" seisan ronso (1948). primitive from the lower-level. Fogel Joshua modeof [oftheAsiatic and explanation understanding a proper us toaimtoward [appropriate] the weclearly that elucidate precondition itisanindispensable production].quotation Tatsumi Tsuneyo. 72-73.1964). 1964). emphasis zenshi. Dissatisfied ofChinese nature ofthe theme society. shakai "Shinakeizai Katsumi. 85. treatment hisearlier with The designation feudal an emerging with society."53 history use of the in thisdebatemade more prolific No Japanesescholarinvolved than did Moritani material as opposed to the empirical. ydshiki Moritani. morearticles several published he quotedin wholeor in part with one basicsourcethat bookin 1937. Moritani itso clearly stated a termindicating a technical (n5gy6 commune" withthe "agricultural ky5ddtai)." kagaku. in a mode of production of the Asiatic Moritani's explanation followed closely later inearly 1939." felt that China thoroughly henow ofthetopic. tothe Ozakireturned prison.56 lowersocialand cultural and their assimilate conquerors 53 Over the next fewyears. from tohiswift a letter combined but wasnot "feudal. Hattori wholeheartedly In this. was therefore "semi-feudal" treason. . on 22.. ofimmense andtemporal as numerous as well spatial limitations hasserious 'water' andallwith as a group etc. 63-64 68. befilled outconsiderably.An Instance 3 (April1934):5-6. of thewritings in handling great versatility In 1934. rpt.it could nothavebeen meantto be geographically had been whoseprimary qualities of worldhistory" ratherto be a "category in Asia-hence itsname.21-22. and theSorgeSpyRing (Stanford.. 197. that emerged society in the formation socialand economic a generic thenconstituted of production and beyond. execution high for andeventual as heawaited interrogations this inconcluding letter."While and society (feudal) despotism) (Oriental ofstate thesubject Babylonia.echoing stage.Moritani a genuinehistorical modeof production theAsiatic identified to be one. societal epochin theuniversal full-fledged Li Chi.

18. 19-20.nor did it necessarilyapply only to Oriental society. within the undifferentiated an explanation forthe originof class differentiation was the history of class struggle. Hara Hidezaburo. observableelsewherein worldhistory. "J6daini okeru shakaikeizaitekikosei. thevillageappeared to be in transition fromcommonownership to the sprouts of privateownership. 324-25. Shina shakaikosei(Tokyo. 1983). Hayakawa Jiro.Ajia teki seisanyoshiki ron. to develop unfettered.21-22. . and Shiozawa. Asiaticmode of productionwas an "Asiatic"slavery. and others)who had suggestedthatthe Asiatic mode constituted an Asiaticvariantof feudalism.58 In Akizawa's view. he pointedto slavery ideas "myth. and theincubus communism however. adding. thelaststageof primitive In order to posit for the formation of a societythatrecognizedprivateproperty. as if to underscore theconfusion:"The basiccharacteristic of'ancient'Asiaticsociety is theunique and incompletedevelopmentof slavery. vi.Dorfgemeinschaft). It did prefigurethe first social formationin the historicalprogression-slavery-and Akizawa was relentless in his criticism of anyone who had placed itelsewhere. and Akizawa Shu-ji. 5-8."inNihon genshi kyosanseishakai tokokka nokeisei. not allowing the process of individuationand atomization. 1973).the "villagecommune"stayedin place foran inordinately long stretchof time.the Asiatic mode of commune.WatanabeYoshimichi. "Nihon kodai shakai no sekai shi tekikeiretsu:Ajia tekiseisan y6shiki ronso. preceded antiquity and was based on communalrelations.forit marked the true beginningof world history linkingpre-classand class society."an argumentforeshadowing criticisms yearslater of Wittfogel's Oriental Ozaki Despotism. 314-15. as he translated it. the assumptionthatthe Asiaticmode of productionwas a class societypreceding as the first class society. Akizawa asserted. (Tokyo. forhow could thedecline of the primitive commune lead to the formation of feudalism?What had happened to in a flashof extremeconfusion. of viewswas traveledbyAkizawaShiuji. In fact. Hotsumi. 4: 43-44.and Akizawa Shu-ji. Watanabe had to generate such a transformation froma pre-classto class society.he was attractedto Hayakawa's depiction of the Asiatic mode as a Fromlate 1935. Watanabe Yoshimichi.No-netheless. (Tokyo.Because membersof postdatedthe primitive the "villagecommune" had alreadybegun to engage in individual(as opposed to group) activities."inNihonkodai shinokiso mondai.the Asiaticmode of productiondid not qualifyas a distinct stage of history. chosakushfu.57If all history productionhad a singularrole to play in societaldevelopment.TheDebatesoverthe Asiatic Mode ofProduction 73 Watanabe Yoshimichiarrived at similarconclusionsin his book. 5 Not unlikeexplainingtheautogenesis of lifeon earth. communal aspects significant remained and continued to influencesocial structurefor some time. he abandoned thisapproach and rejected tribute-bearing system. acknowledging thatthissocial formation commune.The Asiaticmode of productionwas also.He thusvilified all those (Godes.Aijo wafuruhoshi no gotoku. 58 AkizawaShu-ji. constricted bytheobstinate persistence of the problems. 1936). labeled Mad'iar's antiquity. ed. Nihonkodai shakai He argued thatAsiaticsociety (AncientJapanese society). 89-93.Akizawa concluded thatthe slavery?Ultimately.It6 Kimio. in OzakiHotsumi 5 vols. The primary result was the kind of "Asiaticstagnation" commonlyseen in China. eds. Anotherwindingpaththrougha variety Initially. Instead. 1939). a transitional era. (Tokyo. lolk." and now identified theAsiaticmode of productionwiththe "village commune" (noson kyodotai or.

The attacksof lolk and Godes response to themat the timewas blatantly at the Leningrad Conference clearlynever aimed at provingpoint by point that 59 ' Akizawa. (Oxford.But because the Soviet debate was so consciouslyconditionedby the requirementsof the Chinese revolutionand the Comintern'srole therein. second.168-69.and. for a close look at his writingsrevealed withtheretarding characteristics conflicting signals:theentireOrientwas afflicted of the Asiaticmode of production. Shina shakaikosei. The Aziatchikiwere the who could read and speak theChinese language. They wereconcerned withworking in China. Marxism ordinarilyemphasized the necessityof of society. Leszek Kolakowskihas pointedout thatthe Asiaticmode of productionseemed whichwas in partthe reason for to contradict threebasic tenetsof Marxisttheory.6" of Soviet scholarsappears both simplerand more On the surface.While Mad'iar and the otherAziatchiki attemptedto apply Marx's ideas on "Asiaticsociety"to China and elsewhere.seeing it solelyas a Western phenomenon.the political. 1: 350. while the Asiatic mode was tied up withsocial progressin the history of social developstagnation.werejust too importantto terminatediscussion. either in full-fledgedform or as a lingering remnant in subsequent historicalstages.but it is doubtfulthat Akizawa ever saw Lu's attacks.Main Currents . Marx was no help. was only takingroot in East Asia when the debates on Marxisthistoriography the Asiatic mode of productionbegan.the enigma of the Asiatic mode of production emerged. fromSoviet discussionsof East Asian history the debates in China and Japan werejust gainingsteam at thatpoint. The issues surroundingthe Asiatic mode of production and its apparent importanceas a retarding element. 1978).standard Marxism spoke of the primacyof Stalin's efforts productive forces.it was seriously highlypoliticizedfromthe start."59Akizawa was fiercely in China wasJapan's notionin the late 1930s thattheonlyresolutionto stagnation invasion. Leszek Kolakowski. 183. As soon as native Chinese and Japanese historiansconfrontedMarxism.who had lived trainedSinologists. third. whereas the Asiatic mode of production seemed to stress geographic factors. Fogel attacked for his views. especially his village commune. quotation on 183.74 JoshuaA. First. to China. and who were sympathetic out the detailsof the Asiaticmode of productionand how it fitEast Asian history and society. to eliminateit. OF ANY NATIONALITY attractedto this strange WHY WERE SERIOUS HISTORIANS and what explains its concept named with apparent geographic specificity.the interest bewilderingthan that of scholars in China or Japan. ofMarxism. And.Marxism underscored the universality ment.while the Asiaticmode by contrastmodifiedthatclaim. to eliminatethe Asiatic mode of production While efforts continuingattraction? were successfulby the early 1930s. Japan had experienced a normal feudal stage of development (as he wrote in Capital). No one reserved more vitriolfor him than did Lu Chen-yu. 171-76.yetthe Taiping Rebellion mightspur a social and revolutionin China and the West (as he wrote for the New York Tribune). 3 vols.

of the attackon the Aziatchikiin the What remainsbewilderingis the intensity Soviet Union. were not establishedhistorians theyand many others became historiansas the years progressed. China's experience with capitalismwas extremely young. oftenby labeling the Aziatchikias Trotskyists. bourgeois-democratic revolution. earlyparticipants at the time.Marxism-Leninism followednaturally.the Asiatic mode of productionwas gone. also without context. withoutdocumentation."mostof whomknewlittle a confusionof refutations of China. could in of Marxism that the scientific prove scientifically. others said. eye and thattheory posited if properlyinterpreted. but it does not explain the varietyof anti-Aziatchik perspectivesthat appeared in printin the Soviet Union through the early 1930s.When Stalinin the was theorthodoxStalinist description? of the fivestagesof universalhistorical late 1930s released his definitive statement development. a revolutionin the immediatefuture. were strivingto ally with the side they expected would prevail.The DebatesovertheAsiatic Mode ofProduction 75 Mad'iar or Varga misunderstoodChinese historyor Chinese society. and so he and his proxiesinsistedthatitwas not ready forthe socialist phase but had to pursue the more moderate. and the Chinese "bourgeoisie"was too weak to lead a revolution. onlyilluminates a partof the larger picture. not to reappear in the in the early 1960s. reasons.The Trotskyists at preciselythe same time were arguing that to proceed witha Chinese capitalismwas sufficiently developed foritsproletariat socialist revolution.Which one thatit replaced slaveryin the Asian historical substantiation.still otherssaid. The simple answer is that Stalin sought controlover the Chinese movement. In their Marx and Engels-a far worse errorthe Aziatchikimisinterpreted estimation. We simply do not know.misinformation. This explanation. thatMarx meantitas an "Asian variantof feudalism".and history. and general ignoranceof late eighteenthand . and thereby endangered the futureof theChinese revolution and presumablythe Comintern'srole in it. debate on the Asiaticmode emerged. How is it that Marxismattractedtheirattentionin such a rapid and thoroughgoingmanner? It of Marxism-Leninism first could be argued thatthe politicalactivism caught their In otherwords.but that they were unable in the early 1930s to fixon the "correct"anti-Aziatchik position. Although the The Chinese case is equally baffling. Some said the Asiatic mode of production never existed. A tentative Soviet Union untilde-Stalinization explanation of of the sentiment the intensity againstthe Asiaticmode of productionmixed with would be thatthose"debaters. to demonstrateconcerted and vigorous support for Stalin's position. pretensions conjunction withan emphasis on revolutionary practiceprovided the keyto its appeal to the Chinese. The of theAsiaticmode revolution because theinfluence Aziatchiki called fora socialist of production had retarded China's development.accurate as faras it goes. Thus.designated as the partyof the bourgeoisie. and align withthe Kuomintang. The work of Marx and Engels on the "Orient" shared all the culturebound prejudices. This explanation goes some way in elucidatingwhat happened to the Soviet debate. Stalin and his supporters did away with both of these bothersomegroups. albeit fordifferent in the debates on the history fromwhichthe of Chinese society.

appeal of Marxisthistorical in the 1920s and 1930s was theirneed but whatwas clearlytrueofChinese Marxists some approach to the understandingof for some absolute ontological security.61 The of theoretical truth?Did question is why.politics. Historianswere thus intriguedby historical as a political but theywereengrossedbyMarxism-Leninism as theory. politicstook command. No one doubted the essential validityof Marxist theory. Thus China retained its integrity because along regular stages of development. of negligibleimportin the Soviet debates on China (and East Asia. Arif Dirlik has argued that we have to understand the genuine appeal of historical materialismfor Chinese historiansin the 1920s and 1930s. and gave order to a chaotic world. Reikhardt Chinese and the Japanese the best of both worlds. surprisingly Eurocentrism.became centralin the Chinese and Japanese debates on the Asiatic mode of production.beyond the and history society. ticket Asiaticmode of production. Class struggle. more tellingat the root of the There is somethingdeeper and psychologically theoryto the Chinese. instrument.Others followedthe Russian example and describeditas an Asian variantof few.Revolution . use theirpoliticalplans. this is why Reikhardtand Kovalev. provided a plan of action. Perhaps it is true of everyone. even then. Chinese radical thinkers qualities of course withdistinctive to have China accepted as a "normal"country.itmight long and hard withthe wrestled Thus Chinese historians to thatdestination. Dirlik.76 JoshuaA.denied its validityon the basis of its feudalism in China. Chinese historians did not necessarily.albeitwitha certaindistinctiveness and Kovalev offeredthe of thevariantqualityof itsslaveholdingperiod. These two Soviet writersenabled the Chinese includingthe theory.consciously or unconsciously. whileexplainingaway the not-so-attractive of production by seeing it as just another name for a "normal" stage (slavery) as a historicalsocietyprogressing elsewhere.since historicalmaterialismsimultawere initially neously made the parametersof understandingclear. passim. materialism To paraphrase Mao Tse-tung.Did Marxismrepresenta crystallization of thisperiod Chinese historians viewof the future? optimistic itoffer a uniformly captivatedby Marxisttheory.insofar as it was understood. and History. They had no choice merelyto buttress historical materialism but to use the Marxist classics as the occasion required.if the racistovertones Historicalmaterialism theman express offer of theAsiaticmode of productioncould be ignored. En part. Fogel and Europe. to keep intactall theelementsof Marxisthistorical historians side of the Asiaticmode Asiaticmode. generally). One can easily imagine that the notion of an Asiatic mode of encounter in theirfirst Chinese historians productionwould nauseate nationalistic for several decades had by then been struggling withit. but fundamentallyparticipatingin the same linear path to a glorious future. Few.Some found a place forit in the "normal" historical flow. They oftenwrotein termsof ethnicstereotypes nineteenth-century India to characterizenineteenthto seventeenth-century used data fromtravelers centuryChina.In fact.social "I 21-36. contemporary mundane realities of the contemporaryworld. offeredthem thispathway. thatwas beyond question.

strictly tackletheAsiaticmode of productionthan sooner did Japanese Marxisthistorians ofviews.If theidea of theAsiaticmode to the Chinese.even if few Chinese criticsactuallyclaimed that as "Asiatic. understandingof the issues involvedin Chinese society fertile and conducted researchthere. a much truer pictureof the European middle ages than all our history for the most part. 62 "Japan. Marx had noted that.not "Asiatic.and even ifhis ideas found little ground.primarily to make sense of change and the lack of it in the Koza faction.In fact.Capital. as some have argued. China's apparent inability was consistently blamed on the nationalunity throughpoliticalor socialintegration self-sufficient.were struggling and the place of the Asiaticmode of the meaning of historical stagnation.the focus of his analysisand thatof many Chinese scholars were similar. and hence Japan was."62 thatof the West.trans.was a major extreme. 1947). it should then of productionwas offensive have been to theJapanese as well. the imperial systemhad been overthrownin the name of republiin 191 1. but a sustained canism (or bourgeois democracyin Marxistterminology) had failed.as budding Chinese Marxisthistorians triviality. One can see clearlythatthese young Marxistscholars. richdebate thatproduced a wide variety theylaunched intoan immensely Searches foritsexistencein Japan's past began at once. while Hayakawa Jir6 found it in the mid-seventhcentury. Politicaldevolution.Many thoughtthe revolutionwas does notreveala dominant soon to come.Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling. Karl Marx. much as they had to Buddhism and NeoConfucianism in earlier times and to industrial capitalism in our own. a huge intellectual to expand theircapacities as scholars. history.because of the certainly Japan's social developmentwould probablyfollow nature ofJapanese feudalism.Here. the issue of a distinctAsiatic mode of production was insignificant of society. or had done so centuriesbefore. by bourgeois prejudices.Mode ofProduction The DebatesovertheAsiatic 77 evolutionthroughstagesof development."Mad'iar's workwas popular China might ever have been characterized butbecause he had a deeper in China. 1: 741n. For theJapanese.and all the basic trappingsof historical were never debated.3 vols. not so much because he attracted followers. TheJapanese case presentsitsown setofenigmas. theywere simplyaccepted on faith.the debate on the history began exercise.By comparmaterialism in the ison.a thousand years earlier. But no speaking. dictatedas these are. the principalissue was the originof an overwhelminglypowerfulJapanese state (the emperor system)since the time of the Meiji of "Asiatic" Restoration..one of the hallmarksof the Asiaticmode of production. gives of landed property withitspurelyfeudal organisation books. undynamicnature of the Chinese village.economic deprivation. In China. The Japanese took to Marxism. . HattoriShis6 placed it in the Edo period. with extraordinarygusto and intellectualinterest.and modernizationeffort to forge social instability were rampantand plain to see. (New York. It is veryconvenientto be 'liberal' at the expense of the middle ages". and itsdeveloped petite culture. by comparison. in history. manyJapanese criticsfound the lingeringeffects even ifJapan had never experienced a pure Asiaticmode of production society. buttheirapproach to thestudyof history of politicalbent. He had lived and history.

Fogel Joshua the revolutions would retire ONE WOULDTHINKTHATTHE CHINESEANDVIETNAMESE concept of the Asiatic mode of productionfromthe Marxistschema for all time. Fogel tranis. Who could still critics and indeed certainneo-Marxist possiblyentertainthe absurd notionof Asia as stagnant?Withall the researchof did in the late 1950s. Sur le mode Studles.many othersunasked.i5The attackershave leftmanyquestions unanswered. "Le Mode de production asiatique: Quelques perspectivesde recherche. influencedbythe developmentof sociology as well as by and the Weberian-Marxisttheory of local community(kyid5tai) postwar European work on the Asiatic mode of production. scholarly where Marxist places."Journal ofAsian asiatique (Budapest..78 A. Marxism.64At Kyoto University. such as that of witnesseda concerted Hungarian scholar Ferenc Tokei. 138 (Marcb-April 1968): 47-55.the Asiaticmode of productionmay reappear. Recently. in the West have so argued. as Wittfogel despotismthroughoutthe Orient? thatwatercontrolwas the rootof a monolithic Where was the "rural commune" to be found? CommittedMarxisthistoriansin the West. 66 See T'ien Jen-lung. forexample." "Chien-kuo i-laiYa-hsi-yasheng-ch'anfang-shih Churig-kuo shihyen-chiu.such as Chou Yang's suggestionthat there may in factbe alienationunder socialismand Hu Yao-pang's subsequently retractedstatementthat Marxism may have limited applicabilityfor China. however. 129 (September-October 1966): 33-46. "Joshua A. the of of basic elements fliesin the face most the Most recently. and stillotherspoorlyaddressed. In Japan.foraltogether somethingas strange as the Asiatic mode of production becomes the object of fiJean hesneaux. but at least basic issues are now on the table for discussion. 1985). as it has over When curiousresults. there has been considerablediscussionof the Asiaticmode of production since the conclusionof World War II.who could stillargue. and the Society S e.66 inverted reasonsand with thepast fewyears. 1966). At the same time.It also required find sanctions for everything as fundamnentalists weightof postwarscholarship considerablesleightof hand. " (CarolGluck. "Marx's Conception of the Non-CapitalistRoute (1870s-1882).63 questions that mighttopple the entireedificeby looking forways to incorporate schema. and many who are in the process previouslyapplied developmentalschemes to Chinese history of retracting them. Local "Community. (Berkeley. much the changes of the postwarworld into Marx's nineteenth-century in scripture. 122 (July-August1965): 40-59. Japan has also recently rebtuttal of the postwardominance of Marxismin theJapanese academy.such as Jean Chesneaux. deproduction 38 (November 1978): 25-5(0. "OQ en est la discussion sur 'le mode de production 114 (JanLuary-February PIensee. especially 158-59. wen-t'it'ao-luntsung-shu. felta need to bridge thisgap betweenthe two This goal required ignoring Marxes. the theory of historicalstages has been econonmics seriouslyattackedas of littleuse for an understandingof China."The People in History:RecentTrends in JapaneseHistoriography. The Chinese are beginning to examine socialism itself. the universalistand the Orientalist.an extremelysophisticated societieswas published in China: Lin of Marx's ideas on the developmentof non-Western treatment on Studies of Writings Chun. formsin different takingdifferent was firsttaught in Japan." Selected 5 (1985): 1-23. 3 (1981): 147-59. asiatique'?" La Pensee.. the past two generations. ."La 1964): 33-55.MedievalChinese Calif. especially50-59.more essentialquestionsare being asked. forthe overwhelming of Asiatic mode. Tanigawa Michio. Ferenc T okei.

a Chinese historianmay be testinghow far he or she can stretch theboundariesof accepted Marxist These purposesappear to have theory. The Asiatic mode can be an oftheAsiaticmode important vehicleforAesopian criticism.we are well advised to look for another message. for example.Asiatic Mode ofProduction TheDebatesoverthe 79 debate in modern China.public discussion(as it was forthe emperorsystem in pre-war Japan). a societyin whichthe press is so closelycontrolled. to buttress the notionof China havinga distinctive Or. Mao Tse-tung). or does not existat all. used as a metaphorfor somethingmore important and beyond the ken of direct. it mightbe used implicitly path to socialism. . Through a discussion of the of production. one can advance a thinlyveiled criticism its ruler tremendousdespoticpower of the stateor (forexample.Or. is breakingdown. It is preciselybecause of the Asiatic mode's unsolved nature withinhistorical materialism thatit can be raised and lowered fordebate. been behind thedebate in 1980-1981 on theAsiaticmode of productionin China. It seems to appear on the Marxist scholarly agenda duringperiods when a Marxistorthodoxy isjust takingform.

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