During my search for a short article on Anpo (the anti U.S.-Japan Security Treaty movement in 1960), Konrad mentioned that he would be interested in hearing about leftist intellectuals who recanted their radical politics after the defeat of the movement.
I was looking at a chapter in Yoshikuni Igarashi’s Bodies of Memory titled “From the Anti-Security Treaty Movement to the Tokyo Olympics: Transforming the Body, the Metropolis, and Memory,” as a possible article to use in class.
This article mentions Shimizu Ikutaro, whom Igarashi describes as “an intellectual who was deeply committed to the anti-treaty movement.” He was a loud voice in the movement for sure, and Igarashi explores the issues of memory and the body in Shimizu’s discussion of Zengakuren (the radical wing of the student movement) and the physical nature of their tactics during Anpo.
Shimizu is, I believe, known as an anpo intellectual who recanted. Here, on a website run by Professor Okubo Takaji of Waseda University, are some essays about Shimizu, in Japanese.
And here is what Harry Harootunian, in “Beyond Containment: The Postwar Genealogy of Fascism and TOSAKA Jun’s Prewar Critique of Liberalism” (printed online here), has to say about Shimizu and why he repudiated the left after Anpo:
SHIMIZU condemned [prewar leftist] intellectuals who later recalled their experience of conversion as testimonials of bad faith, since neither were their commitments as strong as they wished later witnesses to believe nor were the speculative modes of the Japanese people illuminated by conversion so intensely antimodern. Here, SHIMIZU was apparently speaking the from personal experience of his own conversion. His late writings, “Doubting the Postwar” and “Auguste COMTE” (published in the 1970s) rejected the category of the “postwar,” which he equated with all of those efforts to repeat the Enlightenment that common sense had already “denied.” What SHIMIZU meant by common sense might have conceivably revealed only an instance of his own bad faith and how he had successfully changed with the seasons. Yet, he explained that intellectuals in Japan were exceedingly short on common sense, that is, a knowledge common to a wide number of people [...]
Here Harootunian draws our attention to the way Shimizu sees Enlightenment thought as fomenting a kind of political activism that is antithetical to the people. But focusing on the undifferentiated — what Harootunian calls a “classless” — image of “the people” led to Shimizu’s denunciation of Marxism and the Japanese left:
Intellectuals are blinded from the common sense of the masses and are not able to approach them. But he, SHIMIZU declared, had escaped this blindness, this Enlightenment contagion that had plunged Japan into darkness, because he had been able to manage an identity with the masses. When the conception of common sense was linked to his idea of presentism (the curse of shared values, political and public cultures, all those interpretative strategies confidently based upon a putative average), he had merely found a way to justify the way things are by appealing to a fixed fund of experience/knowledge which seemingly had remained the same since the beginning of the race.
Here Harootunian depicts Shimizu as an intellectual lured by “presentism,” a kind of culturalist chauvinism that develops when a refusal of Western thinking (in this case Enlightenment) is projected to imagine “the people” as a “race” untouched by the evil ways of industrial capitalism. At least that is what Harootunian here is arguing.
I have never read Shimizu so I don’t know what to make of this passage, but I’m not 100% convinced of the argument that presentist thought is more likely to lead to an essentialist and transhistorical position. But in contrast to Tosaka Jun, I guess it sort of makes sense why Shimizu recanted.
Are there others who recanted after Anpo? Now I’m curious too.