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Turbulent years before and after the Meiji Restoration in 1868 have been one of the most extensively written pages of Japanese history. Much work has been carried out on the revolutionary samurai and the aspiring merchants who implemented the upheaval. Curiously, however, revolts and rebellions which erupted at more popular levels, such as peasant uprisings and urban mass disturbances during this period, have drawn little scholarly attention. According to the literature survey of Irwin Scheiner, no work on Japanese peasant uprisings has been published English since Hugh Borton's study in 1938.
Revolutionary mass upheaval generally weakens the people's respect for authority, law, and discipline; and it brings in its wake social, economic, and political disorders, facilitating the establishment of an authoritarian regime. The French Revolution was based on the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity; but the destruction of the old social and political fabric, and the failure to institutionalize the new ideas, led Frenchmen to search for “the man of genius destined at once to carry on and to abolish the revolution.” The Russian Revolution of 1917 was also followed by several years of civil war, which led to the establishment of the ruthless totalitarian regime of Stalin, itself reminiscent of the Thermidorian Reaction. In Algeria, Cuba, China, and North Vietnam, successful mass armed revolutions have been consolidated only because of their one-party dictatorships.
It seems almost axiomatic to state that the 1970 elections in Pakistan produced a revolution through the ballot box. In the Punjab and East Pakistan, large victories—in terms of seats won—were given respectively to two political parties (the People's Party and the Awami League) which based their platforms on essentially secular issues and which were able to rout those groupings rooted largely in religiopolitical programs. In the other provinces of West Pakistan the picture was less clear. While in the Punjab traditional land-based elites were defeated, the People's Party win in the Sind appeared to be an amalgam of secular, economic issues with traditional strengths of the landed wadera class. In Baluchistan and the Frontier, both the results and the means by which they were attained were mixed.
When teaching Tokugawa intellectual history, I consistently encounter a question that is at once deceptively simple yet so difficult to respond to in a convincing and substantial way. Why do Japanese historians argue that Confucianism had an important impact on Tokugawa society, when geographical, political, and ethical realities in Japan were so vastly different from those in China? There is, of course, good reason to be perplexed, I reply, and offer a generalization or two. Tokugawa society clearly was not “Sinified” as is sometimes implied; but, on the other hand, the imprint of Confucianism on Tokugawa thought and culture was undeniably deep. Although the picture is sometimes overdrawn, Japanese historians constantly refer to Confucianism as the “rationalizing” force that transformed Japan from a religious and ascetic culture to a bureaucratic and secular one. The same historians continue to debate the intellectual merit of Tokugawa Confucianism in Japan's modern culture, for while the precise ramifications are still controversial, there is little doubt as to the depth of the Tokugawa intellectual engagement with Confucian thought and of the profound legacy of that engagement for the modern history of Japan. Unfortunately, these generalizations, although helpful, do not add up to convincing historical instruction, a realization that has invariably left me searching for more cogent lines of interpretation and more detailed characterizations of Tokugawa thought.
On February 19, 1934, Chiang Kai-shek inaugurated the New Life Movement in Nanchang, Kiangsi, with the express goal of “revolutionizing” Chinese life. The Kuomintang leadership, holding the material and spiritual “degeneration” of the people responsible for China's continued crisis, decided at this time to launch a movement for hygienic and behavioral reform to revitalize the country. The movement was to signal the start of a new phase of Chinese history, one that was to be both conserving and revolutionary in spirit. It would achieve the most fundamental goals of the Chinese revolution without sacrificing native traditions. Nevertheless, the stress on the revival of native morality was the most striking aspect of the movement with its historical context, and endowed it with an aura of conservatism that overshadowed its revolutionary claims and has dominated its image since then. This image is somewhat misleading in its implication that the New Life Movement was the expression of a traditionalist upsurge in the Kuomintang during the Nanking Decade (1928–1937). The present study attempts a close analysis of New Life ideology—used here in the sense of a world view that underlay conceptions of politics and society—to demonstrate that the conservatism and the revolutionary claims of the New Life Movement must be taken equally seriously. The movement was conservative, but conservative in a very specific sense: far from being a reaffirmation of traditional Chinese political conceptions, it was fashioned by and in response to the twentieth-century Chinese revolution. Its underlying spirit had greater affinity with modern counterrevolutionary movements than with political attitudes inherited from China's past. It was, in short, not a traditional but a modern response to a modern problem.
On the muggy afternoon of July 5, 1962, an unusual symposium of some 270 scholars and students of Chinese studies from all over the country gathered in Tokyo. They were drawn by the urgent need to discuss the problems raised by the Toyo Bunko's (Oriental Library) receipt of grants from the Ford and Asia Foundations for organizing the Center for Modern Chinese Studies. The vital issue was whether it was permissible to let the Toyo Bunko accept the huge amount of American funds to organize modern Chinese studies in Japan.
Scholarly writings on the Chinese minority in Thailand have stressed the unique cultural values that traditionally have distinguished Thai from Thai-Chinese communities. Skinner and Coughlin, among others, have argued that the Chinese have traditionally been more diligent, ambitious, and materialistic than Thais, and that—while loyal and disciplined within the bounds of kinship and other narrow primordial affiliations—they act amorally in economic and other dealings with persons outside these affiliative structures. Thais, by contrast, are reputed to be more passive and fatalistic, less materialistic, and less likely to manifest social discipline or sustained commitment to others, even within the family. These value differences are held to be responsible, along with other factors pertaining to patterns of ethnic social organization and differential historical economic and political opportunities, for the relative success of ethnic Chinese in the non-agricultural sectors of the Thai economy.