August 30, 2009

Some Strange New Use of the Word "Conservative" of Which I Was Previously Unaware

Hatched by Dafydd

Exit polling indicates that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan suffered a catastrophic defeat and have been ousted from power, to be replaced by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

With this victory, the DPJ will control both the upper house (House of Councillors) and lower house (House of Representatives) of the Diet, the Japanese parliament; the very first time in the history of post-dictatorship Japan that the LDP has lost control of the entire government. And the Democrats will have a whopping great majority in the House of Reps.

The LDP has controlled the more powerful House of Representatives by and large since the end of the American military occupation of Japan following World War II. While in power, they enacted national health care, confiscatory taxation, enormous tariffs on foreign goods to prop up prices of domestic products, wage and price controls, a nationalist welfare state, a great liberalization of abortion laws, and the rampant secularization of Japan.

The police monitor every citizen of Japan. "Mr. Walkabout" -- the local beat cop -- knows everybody in his area and goes door to door checking on them throughout the year. There is no right to privacy, no freedom of speech (only government privilege of speech, which can be revoked), and many criminal cases are resolved by coerced confessions. Japan strictly bans all private ownership of handguns and most long guns; shooting clubs must store their weapons in lockers. Citizens who use deadly force against criminals, even to save their own lives, are often prosecuted.

The LDP facilitated and accomodated a form of socialism called "corporatism," which is sort of the opposite of fascism: Under fascism, the national government controls the corporations; but under corporatism, the large conglomerates in Japan (keiretsu) control the national government. Corporatism, like other forms of socialism, is designed to eliminate "wasteful" competition, suppress Capitalism, and inhibit the formation of a free market. To further this end, the LDP consolodated all power in the national government.

(Keiretsu are vast collections of vertically and horizontally integrated corporations that each own parts of each other, are controlled from the top down, and attempt to restrict corporate supply-chain transactions to other businesses within the same keiretsu.)

The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI -- formerly MITI, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry) is the interface between the keiretsu and the corporatist government.

Labor-union action is so institutionalized that unions actually schedule their "strikes" months in advance; some labor actions are simply annual: They hold a symbolic "take-over" strike on a particular day of the year.

The national government controls the schools, including most of the top universities. Socialist education -- including anti-nationalist, anti-Japan propaganda that dwarfs the anti-Americanism found in many American schools -- is ubiquitous throughout the entire education system, despite being controlled by the LDP since the year zed.

Immigration is strictly controlled by the government, in order to keep wages high by creating an artificial labor shortage.

The Liberal Democratic Party has enaged in a minor level of partial privatization of some formerly government owned industries, such as the vital train system; but the LDP has for the most part been dragged, kicking and screaming, along that path, forced by terrible economic inefficiencies in the nationalist system.

...And here is the first sentence of the My Way news article about the election:

Japan's ruling conservative party suffered a crushing defeat in elections Sunday as voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of a left-of-center opposition camp that has promised to rebuild the economy and breathe new life into the country after 54 years of virtual one-party rule, media projections said.

The term "conservative" in English generally means a patriotic, pro-Capitalist, pro-free market, individualist, traditionally religious, liberty-based (as opposed to egalitarian or fraternal) party or group that fosters the seven classical virtues -- prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity. Evidently, My Way is employing a homonym of "conservative" that carries the diametrically opposite meaning of the more familiar form.

So what is the new DPJ majority going to do to be more "left-of-center" than the erstwhile ruling LDP itself? Nationalize the multinational keiretsu, establish collective farms run by slave labor, mandate Che Guevera t-shirts as the new school uniform, and institute a "five-year plan" to plant wheat in Siberia, in keeping with the teachings of Trofim Lysenko? How much more leftist could Japan become without drifting into actual Marxism?

Oh, here we are; the Democratic Party's grand plan to "rebuild the economy":

The Democrats are proposing toll-free highways, free high schools, income support for farmers, monthly allowances for job seekers in training, a higher minimum wage and tax cuts. The estimated bill comes to 16.8 trillion yen ($179 billion) if fully implemented starting in fiscal year 2013.

What could go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 30, 2009, at the time of 7:04 AM

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The following hissed in response by: cdor

And here I am thinking this world is just going straight down the drain. Then I read your very enlightening post on the Japanese. Now I'm really depressed. These guys are supposed to have our backs in Asia...just great. Well at least they aren't being overcome by Muslims,yet.

The above hissed in response by: cdor [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2009 3:54 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

Conservative is a terrible term, that is abused routinely by the press.

I hate when they call clerics in muslim countries "conservatives". Fact is that most believe in strong central government, confiscatory taxes, and socialism. But they are "conservative".

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2009 10:45 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH


The term "conservative" in English generally means a patriotic, pro-Capitalist, pro-free market, individualist, traditionally religious, liberty-based (as opposed to egalitarian or fraternal) party or group that fosters the seven classical virtues -- prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity.

Since we are talking about a recent story written by the AP for American readers I will concede your definition and will admit that I too find the AP's use of the word "conservative" for the outgoing Japanese government as odd. But your definition of a "conservative" has a distinct American flavor and a fairly modern one at that. I am not sure that your average British conservative would recognize himself in that mirror, and your definition would have puzzled many Americans from a century ago.

Venturing farther afield, say into the Middle East or Africa, one finds the most astounding definitions of "conservative" and "liberal." Even the concepts of "right" and "left" become so confused that one worries that "up" and "down" might also be different. In much of the third world your free-trading, individualist philosophy would make you a member of the center-left as the terminology is used by locals.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2009 12:08 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

The zaibatsu are now heiratsu? I am a Nipponophile and a Sinophile, but the more those countries change the same they stay.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2009 7:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

And, no, Dafydd, Marx could not teach Tokugawa anything. Not Stalin, either.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2009 9:08 AM

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