This paper discusses cooperatist communitarian thought and practice in 1920s/1930s imperial Japan. It analyzes how Japanese anarchists mediated intellectual knowledge and revolutionary experiences from abroad—Europe, South and Southeast Asia—and transferred it to the East Asian context. It will demonstrate anarchists’ engagement in revolutionary theory and practice challenging the imperial state, but also the strong effects of a Western epistemological matrix in which European thought claims universality as the only point of reference to give authority to any kind of progressive, rational thinking. Such epistemic hierarchization was embedded into and correlated with racial hierarchies between the West and the non-Western world. Yet such hierarchies also existed within Asia and Japanese anarchists were confronted with the situation of colonialism, oppression and exploitation in the Japanese empire. The tension between West and non-West that emerged in Japanese anarchists’ critical reading of Western theory, as well as Japanese anarchists strategies and their discussion of non-Western anarchist and other radical cooperatist communitarian concepts are at the center of this paper.
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