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2022年2月15日 (火)

Collapse of Social Order and Salvation of the Individual

 In a new book by the late Masahide Bito, he writes,

※This article is an English translation of "社会秩序の崩壊と個人の救済/Collapse of Social Order and Salvation of the Individual: 本に溺れたい"20140818 (Supported by DeepL Pro).

1551531361 799pxhanging_from_the_miseries_and_misfo

The Japanese society of the 14th century, which gave birth to the conflict between the Northern and Southern dynasties, was at the beginning of a transitional and turbulent period in which the nation was transitioning from a system based on the ritsuryo system of government and its transformation into the manorial system of government since ancient times to the new unified state system of the early modern period, which was eventually completed in the 17th century. Soon, in the latter half of the 15th century, the country entered the Warring States Period, a period of nationwide upheaval triggered by the Onin War. Under such unstable political and social conditions, the authority of thought that had supported the established national order was lost, and people sought some kind of transcendental authority to replace it, using it as a source of mental support to survive the turbulent times.
Masahide Bito, Japan's Nationalism: The Formation of "Kokutai" Thought, May 2014, Iwanami Shoten, p.59
尾藤正英『日本の国家主義-「国体」思想の形成』2014年5月、岩波書店

 In the intellectual climate of post-war Japan, the bitter memories of the mid-war period, such as the stagnation of the mutual surveillance society and the officialization of the essentially public discourse space, led to a widespread aversion to "order" at the level of the state and local communities. As a result, the word "freedom" was flooded with an unconditional positive connotation.

 However, if we think carefully, the synonym for "order" is "disorder," and "disorder" has nothing to do with "freedom. Disorder" is connected to the phase of the many others that include the individual and the existence of effective national or regional governance, while "freedom" is connected to the existence of the opportunity to choose the physical, mental (or spiritual) actions of the individual.

 But, with the traditional sense of the word since the Middle Ages, "自由jiyu・狼藉rouzeki・乱妨ranbou,"(at one's own whim・illegal ac・violence) retained, the modern Japanese word "jiyu" (freedom) was established as a translation of liberty / freedom / liberté, and "jiyu" came to be used with the common understanding of "disorder," "unregulated," and "lawlessness.

 The European word "liberty" is one of the most important civil rights of modern society, which is at the top of the birth right of human beings, such as the motto of the wonderful French Revolution "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) and the German word "Freiheit" (Freedom). It was the most important birth right of modern society. Therefore, this beautiful "freedom" has been established as a superficial meaning in Japanese society since the 19th century, while maintaining its deep sense of the word [自由jiyu・狼藉rouzeki・乱妨ranbou ⇔ disorder]. (This part was added in 20180122)

 In this way, the anarchy of the collapse of national and community order becomes "desirable," as if it even suggests modern "freedom. For this reason, the "favorite" historical period of Japanese who have gone through compulsory education is the "Bakumatsu Restoration" and the "Warring States". This is because "freedom" abounds there.

 However, it is impossible for people to remain "free" in a state or society where public law and order has collapsed and there is no effective governing authority.

 For more information on the "Sengoku" period, which was a period of "civil war" that lasted over a century after the Onin War, please refer to the following illustration. It is a folding screen painting of the Osaka Summer Campaign (1615), and to my surprise, the light-hearted soldiers are absorbed in hunting slaves and "oi-hagi" (stripping) instead of fighting.

1551531361

※Borrowed from "A lawless zone of disorder, violence, and rampage - daitakuji" (other illustrations are also available here)

 Also, to see how the 17th century in Western Europe, which was supposed to be the era of the scientific revolution of Descartes and Newton, was the "century of carnage", please see the etching by Jacques Callot (1632), which is a living witness. The following is borrowed from "File:The Hanging by Jacques Callot.jpg - Wikimedia Commons".

799pxhanging_from_the_miseries_and_misfo

Jacques Caro - The Misery of War (Large): The Revenge of the Peasants - Collection - The National Museum of Western Art
Jacques Caro - The Misery of War (Small): The Revenge of the Peasants - Collection - The National Museum of Western Art
The Disasters of Religious Politics in Caro's Copperplate Prints - Waseda University Library

 People have lost the public power they can rely on and are forced to arm themselves to save themselves. However, as violence, bloodshed, starvation, and dead bodies become commonplace, people may lose their mental equilibrium. By arming oneself, one can save the body, but not the soul. Therefore, they seek authority and power on the other shore, beyond this shore (the human order). This is the background to the revolts of the Ikko and Hokke revolts that flourished during the Warring States period, and the reason why the 17th century in Western Europe was also the era of religious "reform" (the Thirty Years' War or witch hunts).

◆Related and our blog posts
1)徳川期における脱呪術化(Entzauberung = Demagicalization in Tokugawa Japan): 本に溺れたい
2)呪術拒否と無神論/ Rejection of MAGI (magic) and Atheism: 本に溺れたい

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« 「外道讃歌」2022年冬、一押しのアニソン | トップページ | 加藤楸邨の鉄道秀句/ Excellent Railway 'Haiku' by Kato Shuson »