Existential Turn: Seeking National Recognition

  • Minhyuk HwangEmail author
Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)


This chapter investigates why Fukuzawa’s thought became increasingly conservative after the 1880s. Hwang specifically focuses on Fukuzawa’s preoccupation with “centrism” and “neutrality” as ideal standpoints. Ironically, this led him to support militarism in order to unify the “extreme progressives” and the “extreme conservatives” under the banner of the Japanese Emperor. According to this analysis, liberalism countered the growth of totalitarianism. But it was undermined by his focus on the neutrality of the state. Liberals simply underestimated the innate existential desire for recognition of one’s identity, which is so often found in reactionary movements.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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