Negativity, History, and the Organic Composition of Capital –Toward a principle theory of transformation of subjectivity in Japan



Japan, the third-largest economy in the world, is facing the sense of stagnation; hopelessness amid capitalist prosperity and a flood of consumerist and pop cultures. Anne Allison recently called it “Precarious Japan” while Alexandre Kojève already identified it as a form of life after “the end of history” decades ago. This paper aimed to theoretically investigate the current Japanese social and mental situation, and to develop a social-theoretical framework to elucidate it based on an integrated contemporary interpretation of Hegelian’s concept on human-being - the negativity, and Marx’s concept on socio-economic stages - the rise of organic composition of capital (OCC). The author constructed the following hypothesis as a conclusion: Through the rise of the OCC, the social character of labor is formed and developed not only in terms of the mental aspects of labor, but also as a source of social and historic imagination, in accordance with the development of capitalism. However, in a region like Japan where geographical movement of labor force over its boarders does not occur, this faculty is fulfilled as a romantic imagination which goes introspectively: a further dive into the interiority, or retrospectively, toward a nostalgic beautification of the past. An expression of this is the rise of the sphere of subculture in Japanese society. This could be regarded as a precursory symptom for developed capitalist countries.


Marx; Hegel; Heidegger; Kojève; Moishe Postone; Organic composition of capital; Transformation of subjectivity; Contemporary Japanese society and culture

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