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2022年6月 5日 (日)

Masao Maruyama, "Modern Liberalism," 1948

First published in: Words of Thought, Shiso, September 1948, Iwanami Shoten
Source: Masao Maruyama, Between the War and the Postwar Period 1936-1957, 1976, Misuzu Shobo, pp. 363-6

初出:思想の言葉、『思想』昭和23年9月号、岩波書店
出典:丸山真男『戦中と戦後の間 1936―1957』1976年、みすず書房、pp.363-6

Masao Maruyama, "Modern Liberalism," 1948

 People usually divide the various "freedoms" historically advocated by liberalism into substantive and formal freedoms. Substantive freedom refers to freedom of life and limb, freedom of enterprise, freedom of residence, freedom of relocation, and so on, in terms of certain concrete details of life, while freedom of thought and speech and political freedom are called formal freedom. The former is, so to speak, the goal of liberalism, while the latter is the means required to realize such substantive freedoms. It may seem strange at first glance to divide liberalism into two categories, but what is important as a historical characteristic of liberalism is the optimism of this binary correspondence between substance and form, between ends and means. In other words, the belief that the full realization of formal freedom will naturally bring substantive freedom has long been the lifeblood of liberalism. The obstacle that oppresses people's lives and prevents them from liberating their personalities is the arbitrary exercise of political power, and therefore, it was thought that if it became possible to criticize political power and control it through suffrage by securing freedom of thought and speech, people's substantive freedom would automatically be realized. Therefore, the concern was naturally focused on the elimination of artificial oppressive mechanisms that prevented the expression of the people's will, and there was little doubt as to whether or not the expression of the will would result in the intended substantive freedom. It is not surprising that the formal aspect of the liberal struggle prevailed throughout. Thus, the global development of liberal democracy in the nineteenth century elevated the "will of the people," so formally grasped, to the sole legitimate basis for political rule. However, from the very moment that the victory of the "will of the people" was universally recognized, the self-evidentness of its content began to collapse. The fact that Engels, in his later years, pinned his hopes on the implementation of universal suffrage as the road to socialism shows that nineteenth-century socialism had not broken away from the optimism of the transformation of formal freedom into real freedom from the beginning to the end. The sharp division between form and content was exposed by Bolshevism, which overturned the purely formal understanding of the "will of the people" and advocated an "avant-garde" theory that emanated from the people and, conversely, actively shaped their will. Rousseau's problem of the "compulsion to freedom" came up again on the agenda in a completely different dimension. And so the tragedy of liberalism reached its zenith when German Fascism seized control of the brutal regime from the midst of a regime of political freedom and tolerance, precisely on the basis of its formal freedom.
 The liberal-democratic camp at the present stage has undergone such a historical ordeal that has transformed its appearance. It has decidedly abandoned its naive faith in the unity of content and form of modern liberty. The inevitable transformation of formal freedom into substantive freedom is no longer believed in here either. It does not liberate freedom of thought and speech and participation in the public sphere, but limits it to allegiance to a particular way of life. It constantly homogenizes the people by means of a huge propaganda network and educational organization, while unwaveringly restricting or depriving those who are heterogeneous of their political rights. The relativist principle of "being ready to hand over the leadership of the state to any political force that has gained an electoral majority" (Rathbruch) is no longer valid as such. In fact, in some cases it is even permissible to interfere in the elections of other peoples.
 Modern liberalism, thus abandoning its out-of-hand relativism and laissez-faire, actively defends the particular way of life that it believes forms the substance of freedom and eulogizes the "will of the people" to that end, and thus, for a time, it is in a state of political powerlessness. It is undeniable that liberalism is shedding the political impotence into which it fell and regaining the vigorous militancy of its birth. However, the fact that liberalism has placed formal freedom in a subordinate position to its substantive objectives is tantamount to its abandonment of its most distinctive feature, which it had previously possessed over other ideologies. This is because, while all political ideologies inherently have the tendency to absolutize themselves and become exclusive, liberalism, by its very nature, maintains its own positive content and, at the same time, has a spirit of tolerance that allows other ideologies the right to assert themselves equally, and this is the reason why liberalism has maintained a higher moral superiority. This is the reason why liberalism has maintained a higher level of moral superiority. If it rejects heterogeneity, ensures the homogenization of society, and allows freedom of criticism and political activity only within the limits of that homogenization, it is essentially indistinguishable from communism, which is called "totalitarianism," and must be judged by world history solely on the basis of its substantive value. What lies between them is not the conflict of freedom versus coercion, but only the conflict, if we can put it that way, between coercion toward one kind of "freedom" and coercion toward another kind of "freedom. To what extent can liberalism, in the face of this dilemma, maintain the primacy of formal freedom in its essence?

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