Against Japanism

Translating the Japanese Ideology: The Anti-Fascist Philosophy of Tosaka Jun w/ Robert Stolz - Part 2

April 11, 2021 Against Japanism
Against Japanism
Translating the Japanese Ideology: The Anti-Fascist Philosophy of Tosaka Jun w/ Robert Stolz - Part 2
Show Notes

In the second part of an interview with Robert Stolz, we continue our conversation about the affinity between fascism and liberalism, as well as the difference between idealist and materialist philosophies theorized by Tosaka Jun in his book The Japanese Ideology from 1935. 

According to Tosaka, idealist philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Fredrich Nietzsche, and Nishida Kitaro adapt a metaphysical worldview and see history as characterized by stasis and equilibrium where no change, difference, or rupture is conceivable. On the contrary, materialist philosophers such as Karl Marx, Fredrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Tosaka Jun see history dialectically as characterized by change and conflict. For dialectical materialists, this change is driven by class struggles and revolutions, where an outcome of the struggles between antagonistic classes such as the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the peasants and the landlords, and the colonizers and the colonized nations determines the course of history. This dialectical method of analyzing history is called historical materialism. 

In today's episode, Dr Stolz and I discuss Tosaka's philosophy of time and his particular theorization of dialectical materialism as the philosophy of “here and now” grounded on the principle of "everydayness" which privileges the present as the site of intervention and a potential moment of rupture, as opposed to the idealist philosophy of time grounded on the metaphysics of continuity in which the past determines the present, as well as Tosaka's separation of time into three categories: natural scientific time, psychological time, and historical time.

We also discuss how Tosaka theorizes common sense and custom. A we discussed in Part 1, Tosaka was deeply concerned about the ways in which middle class intellectuals were becoming more and more abstract in their thinking, and turning away from social realities into the world of literature, while Japanist and fascist ideas were gaining popularity among the masses. In response, Tosaka turned to journalism and cultural criticism to bridge the widening gap between academia and the masses, and to popularize Marxism to push back against the rising tide of fascism. 

In this segment of the interview, we return to the topic of the second episode of this podcast about The Ghost of Tsushima and Orientalism in video games with Kazuma Hashimoto and Andrew Kiya, and discuss how the idealized notion of Japaneseness created by Orientalism and Japanism, as the ideologies of Western and Japanese imperialism respectively, have become common sense, that is a deeply ideological notion that appears to be ideologically neutral and self-evidently true. We also discuss how Tosaka theorized the process in which philosophical worldviews such as idealism and materialism become manifested as customs.

Finally, we discuss the significance of Tosaka's tragic death in Nagano Prison in 1945, and his unrepentant commitment to materialism and Marxism that may have influenced it. 

Special thanks to Dr. Robert Stolz who took his time to participate in this interview, as well as to everyone who has listened to this podcast so far. 

Follow this podcast on Twitter & Instagram @againstjapanismpodcast

Send your feedback, criticism, & inquiries to

Intro Music  Cielo by Huma-Huma

Outro Music:  Parabola Divanorium by Paraj Bhatt  

Support the show