Paperback, 192 pages
Marxian economic thought has a long and distinguished history in Japan dating back to World War I. During the 1920s the main focus was on two areas—the theory of capitalism expounded in the three volumes of Marx’s Capital, and the particular characteristics of Japanese capitalism as it developed after the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
Rival schools of thought emerged and staged brilliant debates at a time when interest in Marxism in the United States was still almost nonexistent. Since World War II the economics faculties of major Japanese universities have taught both Marxist and neoclassical approaches, and many of the most important writings of U.S. and European Marxists have been translated and are widely used in Japan. There has not, however, been a comparable familiarity with the rich Japanese Marxist tradition in the West.
Professor Itoh’s book makes an important beginning in rectifying this lopsided situation. It opens with a long and highly informative essay on the development of Marxian economics in Japan, and contains a number of the author’s important and original contributions to this stream of thought. Itoh discusses the major points of view on Marx’s theory of value, on theories of crisis, and on problems of Marx’s theory of market value.
The essays demonstrate a wide-ranging familiarity with all the major theoretical schools of Marxist thought. In dealing with theories of crisis, for example, Itoh succinctly summarizes and criticizes the points of view of Tugan-Baranovsky, Hilferding, Bauer, Kautsky, Bukharin, and Luxemburg, as well as Grossman, Sweezy, and the Japanese Marxist Kozo Uno, together with the relevant parts of Capital. The book includes a section on the 1930s Great Depression in the context of the theoretical discussion about crisis theory.