Q&A: Japan

John Glanton has been wondering what’s up with Japan, and posed a question in this regard to several Neoreactionaries on ask.fm. I first had a quick answer, then a long answer, and before I knew it I was over the character limit. Then I remembered that I have a blog. The piece below represents my long answer to a short question on the matter.

Legitimate question and something I’ve been wondering, even though it’s understandable if you don’t have an opinion on it one way or another: what the hell is wrong with Japan?  John Glanton
Easy answer is low birth rates, diminishing male role, aging population, and weird porn. But how did those things come about?Here’s a personal theory: Part of this is probably rooted in the class system that dominated Japan for recent centuries. That sort of thing tends to isolate certain traits among castes (to the degree that such traits are influenced by genetics). Stick all the macho, aggressive, high-testosterone warriors in one caste, let that percolate for several hundred years, and you’ve got an entity that’s genetically different from the others in the country.What effect does this have on the other castes? Well, when a samurai can legally execute any peasant just for showing him “disrespect”, that’s a form of selection pressure that allows for impulsivity and aggression in one group and selects for deference and submission in the other.(If you have any interest in this time period and you enjoy historical fiction, I recommend the book “Shogun” by James Clavell)This doesn’t become an issue with the abolishment of the samurai caste in 1873 though, as many former samurai integrated into new roles in society (merchants, writers, officers in the new, western-style army…etc). The problem, I think, began to manifest itself when Japan became plunged into World War Two.

Then World War II comes along. I did some digging and I found these approximate numbers for the respective populations of the US versus Japan at the time: 133 million versus 73 million. That’s a big difference. Only way the little guy wins in that situation is to fight at least twice as hard.Fight the Japanese did, with tenacity and devotion. One problem. An old samurai ideal of “gyokusai” still held sway within the armed forces. What does gyokusai mean? Glorious death.As George S. Patton said, you don’t want to die for your country, you want to make the other guy die for his. Yet when you romanticize the idea of dying a glorious death, you tend to be the bastard that dies for your country. You do stupid things like bayonet charges and fly kamikaze missions. You tend not to surrender against 1000-to-1 odds and get slaughtered to the last man.And who is more likely to do such things? My money would be on the descendents of the samurai. I bet if one could find the right data, it would suggest that the sons and grandsons of samurai died in far higher numbers than the descendents of peasants or shopkeepers or otherwise. I would bet that the war had a selective effect that cut down the most aggressive and martial of the Japanese.Even this, though wouldn’t be sufficient to turn Japan into the broken society we see now. Other factors have to be at play here. Throw in two atomic bombs, and you have a nation that knows better than any other the horrors of modern warfare, making them more likely to value peace and harmony. Consider also the effects of the modern system that the US set up after the was, which focuses on working long hours and devoting yourself to your career (as well as basically being a colony of the United States).I think some of the blame lies here. The loss of the samurai warrior aristocracy weakened the nation, but did not send it on the path to hell. That descent began when the US rebuilt it after World War Two and instilled in it all the values and institutions of a western democracy.The devotion to working hard and getting ahead pushed the birth rates down, as people began waiting longer and longer to have children and some just never stopped waiting. This is also what has led to an aging population, in which 1 in 5 people are 65 or older. An aging nation is a stagnating and dying nation. It’s not hard to assume that a nation barreling headlong on its way to collective death might do some funny things.The lack of unique male roles might come in part from non-stop selection pressure for deference and submission (as well as, of course, the worker drone culture and the crushing of your ideas of masculinity by an invading foreign nation), which also means that one is less willing to rock the boat and engage in creative destruction like entrepreneurship or societal innovation. The male essence is fire and earth, but the fire of Japanese masculinity is dim indeed, leaving only the earth, which is solid and reliable, but will always be trod upon.

Throw in the psychological effects of the “Lost Decade” upon the Japanese psyche (long-term economic stagnation does terrible things to the mind), and it’s not hard to see that this is a country that has unconsciously accepted that it is going to die. In the end I’d say the root of the problem is that Japan has lost the will to live.

So what should Japan do about this? It’s an extreme predicament, and I don’t have any solutions that aren’t extreme themselves:

Reinstate conscription and reinvent the Samurai class.
Every male, once he hits the age of 18, has to serve two years in the military. The best and most dedicated soldiers are given the opportunity to pursue more advanced (and more brutal) training. Think something along the lines of BUD/S School or UK Special Forces Selection. Those that make it through are to be used to found a new warrior caste, a neo-samurai as it were. Repeat until you have a self-sustaining caste that can inspire Japan with martial zeal and instill in it the fire it has lost.

In other words, soft, positive eugenics to try to re-instill masculinity and and martial spirit back into the Japanese.

Encourage a culture of adventurousness, innovation, and baby-making
You can’t just change culture at whim (cue the howling of a million screaming progressives). Culture is a reflection of underlying societal dynamics and beliefs. You can, however, change a country’s beliefs, through philosophy and the arts. A Japan that believes that its country’s future is tied to birth rates and innovation, and that believes that it is the job of every citizen to contribute more to society than he or she will ever get out of it, is a Japan that has a fighting chance. Even this, though, is going to require dramatic changes in societal context, and I confess I can’t fathom what those changes might have to be.

Step out of the shadow of the US
In 1941, Japan awoke a sleeping giant and doomed itself to destruction. Now, if it fails to step out of the giant’s shadow, it will be crushed when it falls. The US isn’t going to be able to the referee in the region much longer. I give it 20 – 30 years at most before it will be unable to play the role of the world’s policeman. Japan is going to have to start flexing its muscles on its own. If it realizes this as a society, it will find the will to do what is necessary to pull itself back from the brink.

Kill all retirees and hikikomori and redistribute their assets
Okay, this is the one I think might be a bit controversial. Large-scale executions of innocent people sets a terrible, terrible precedent and cannot be defended on moral grounds in any way. None.

Yet, Japan has far too many elderly and far too many non-productive young people to be able to sustain the status quo especially with a shrinking population. I am skeptical of arguments that put the interests of the state above all, for it leads almost inevitably to atrocities (and make no mistake, this would be an atrocity of the highest order), but it would free up a significant degree of capital, remove hikikomori parasites from the teat of society, and remove a tightening financial noose from around the neck of the Japanese government. Every society has its problems, but I can’t support one of the largest mass killings in history as a solution to the woes facing the Japanese. Tumorous societies need to cut out the cancer, but which point is too far? I think it’s safe to say that this option goes to far, but what if too far is just as far as one needs to go?
That’s a question I don’t know how to answer, and I’ll be very surprised if I don’t have trouble getting to sleep tonight trying to grapple with it.
Go follow John on Twitter and read his pieces at Social Matter if you don’t already.
Update: Vulture of Critique elaborates on why some options are just horrible ideas.
Further Update: I shouldn’t have procrastinated on reading the latest “Dark Matter“. Related thoughts.

6 thoughts on “Q&A: Japan

  1. Witch Hammer 06/28/2014 / 6:37 PM

    “I would bet that the war had a selective effect that cut down the most aggressive and martial of the Japanese.”

    I postulate that the World Wars had the same effect on the West as well.

    Regarding the elderly and hikikomoris: I’m not sure simply killing them off would be an acceptable solution, but they could probably be put to work. Mandatory civil service of some sort?

    • Legionnaire 06/28/2014 / 10:42 PM

      Any real solution would have to attack the root cause of this dynamic, but any way to squeeze some productivity out of them wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  2. disenchantedscholar 07/04/2014 / 2:33 AM

    Reblogged this on Philosophies of a Disenchanted Scholar and commented:
    Stamp down PC lies.
    Biggest and easiest way to deliver a short sharp shock? Stop supporting single people who are choosing to be unproductive. Make it clear there are expectations and responsibilities, and those alone shall be rewarded.
    Progressivism is a First World disease, a cancer which spreads to the most productive and reduces the host to a shell.

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