• Umberto Melotti


It is an even greater mistake to take Japan as an example for that purpose. Not only did Marx never include it among the countries founded on the Asiatic mode of production but, on the contrary, he attested to its feudal nature, even asserting its notable similarity to medieval Europe : ‘Japan, with its purely feudal organisation of landed property and its developed petit culture, gives a much truer picture of the European Middle Ages than all our history books, dictated as these are, for the most part, by bourgeois prejudices.’1


History Book Feudal Society Specific Assertion Asiatic Mode Creative Elaboration 
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  1. 4.
    Richard Lowenthal, ‘Il governo nei paesi in via di sviluppo: le sue funzioni e le sua forma’, in the anthology Die Demokratie im Wandel der Gesellschaft, Verlag Otto H. Hess, Berlin, 1963; Italian trans. Jaca Book, Milan, 1967, pp. 234–5.Google Scholar
  2. Barrington Moore, Jr, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World, Beacon Press, Boston, 1967, pp. 228–313 passim.Google Scholar
  3. On Japan see also Ruth Benedict, Chrysanthemum and Sword, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1946Google Scholar
  4. Ralf Dahrendorf, Gesellschaft und Demokratie in Deutschland, Piper Verlag, Munich, 1965Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Shlomo Avineri, ‘Marx and Modernization’, in Review of Politics (University of Notre Dame, Indiana), vol. XXXI, no. 2 (Apr. 1969) p. 186.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    The French historian Bloch, in his powerful work on feudalism, also mentions only the European and Japanese types of feudalism. Strict as ever in his definitions of feudal society, he asserts that: ‘Feudalism was not “an event that happened once in the world” [as Montesquieu said]. Like Europe — though with invariable and deep-seated differences — Japan went through this phase. Have other societies also passed through it? It is for future works to provide the answers.’ (Marc Bloch, La Société féodale, Editions Albin Michel, Paris, 1939Google Scholar
  7. Similarly, Boutruche confines the term ‘feudalism’ to the Western Middle Ages, with the sole exception of Japan. (Robert Boutruche, Seigneurie et féodalité, Aubier, Paris, 1959Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

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  • Umberto Melotti

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