Despite occasional outbursts of anguish in such forms

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Unformatted text preview: ies in elections as possible; but there was in fact very little philosophical difference between them, and few if any party leaders were ever really motivated to “take the issues to the people.” They were the members of a new kind of ruling elite who stood at the top of a still highly structured and even traditionalistic society, and in many ways they appeared as remote and unapproachable to the common man as rulers always had in Japan. Although the sot and other left-wing movements had very little practical success in the period before World War II, they constitute an important subject of study not only for an understanding of the origins of the left wing in Japan today but also because they have, quite understandably, always exerted a powerful influence on Japanese writers, artists, and intellectuals in general. One reason for the left wing’s poor showing in the prewar period was the frequent governmental suppression to which it was subjected. For example, the first Sot Party, founded in 1901, was banned on the very day that it declared its existence. Such treatment by the authorities soon led some sot leaders to despair of ever achieving their goals by parliamentary means and to embrace more radical ideologies, such as syndicalism and anarchism. Interestingly, the split that occurred about the time of the Russo-Japanese War between those social- 274 The Fruits of Modernity ists who wished to continue their efforts to reform society from within and those who increasingly rejected legal, parliamentary tactics coincided roughly with the division between the Christians and non-Christians among them. By and large, the Christian sots of this period, most of whom were fortified by the strong sense of moral purpose imparted by Protestant missionaries and teachers of the late nineteenth century, were unwilling to adopt revolutionary measures, but remained convinced that their programs could and should be implemented through the constituted governmental structure of Japan. P...
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