Preface by the ACF

Preface by the ACF

The Anarchist Communist Federation have decided to reprint John Crump's pamphlet The Anarchist Movement in Japan (which is a summary of his book Hatta Shûzô and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan) for a variety of reasons.

One is as a tribute to the continuing struggle of the libertarian movement in Japan, bringing to the attention of English-speaking comrades what is unfortunately a little known part of the global struggle for a free and equal society. We hope this will be a starting point for greater understanding of a valuable tradition of anti-authoritarian communism and may lead to increased co-operation with Japanese anarchists today, on the road to a truly world-wide anarchist movement.

As well as being an inspirational example of struggle against a powerful authoritarian state, this history of Japanese anarchism is also of great value in providing an example of the development of anarchist theory. The clear and cogent arguments against the reformism of the trade unions and social democracy are still relevant today, as is the critique of Bolshevism, revealing its inherent hierarchical nature in contradiction to the oft repeated claims of Trotskyists that it only degenerated under Stalin. It also serves as a historical lesson in the futility of resorting to terrorism when faced with state repression, and in the danger of anti-organisational tendencies.

Even more important for anarchists today is the record of the debate between the anarcho-syndicalists and anarchist communists in the movement. While we in the ACF have criticisms about some of the positions taken by anarchist communists in Japan at different periods, such as formation of a party, working within the trade union structure, making a distinction between class struggle and insurrection, as well as their vision of how the future anarchist society will be organised, we think that the rejection of syndicalism as a strategy for social revolution is correct, particularly for the reason that it can only duplicate the economic structure of capitalism.

We do not aim to offer in this short preface an in-depth analysis of these or the many other important issues raised by the Japanese movement. The pamphlet speaks for itself, and as is often the case with timely anarchist literature, its success will be judged by its influence on the practical activity of working class militants today.

Anarchist Communist Federation, Summer 1996


Author's Dedication

This pamphlet is dedicated to Ôshima Eizaburô, whose undiminished passion for anarchist communism, despite his advanced years, is an inspiration to many younger comrades.

Not only that, but how many can enliven a flagging conversation with the casual remark: "When I set off a smoke bomb at the imperial palace..."? Ôshima-san can.

Author's Note

Japanese names are given in the customary East Asian form, i.e. family name (e.g. Kôtoku) followed by personal name (e.g. Shûsui). Long vowels in Japanese words are indicated by accents (e.g. ô).


Aug 4 2013 20:40

Note that the second edition of this pamphlet available on the AFwebsite also contains my short obituary of John Crump (there being no other on this site) and includes references to other books and pamphlets which John was either the author or contributing author of worth checking out.