The uneven and combined development of the Meiji Restoration: A passive revolutionary road to capitalist modernity

Jamie C. Allinson, Alexander Anievas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we examine the utility of Antonio Gramsci's concept of passive revolution and its relation to Leon Trotsky's theory of uneven and combined development in analysing the transformational effects of world economy and international relations on ‘late-developing’ societies' transition to capitalism. Although Gramsci never explicitly linked passive revolution to uneven and combined development, we argue that Trotsky's theory helps make explicit assumptions present in the Prison Notebooks, but never fully thematised. In turn, we demonstrate that incorporating passive revolution into Trotsky's theory further illuminates the ontology of class agencies that is often lacking in structuralist approaches to bourgeois revolutions. In illustrating these arguments, we examine the case of Japan's modern state-formation process, demonstrating how the Meiji Restoration of 1868 can be conceptualised as a passive revolution emerging within the context of the uneven and combined process of social development activated and generalised through the rise of the capitalist world economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-490
Number of pages22
JournalCapital & Class
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010

Keywords

  • Japanese development
  • Meiji Restoration
  • passive revolution
  • uneven and combined development

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