Japan's Capitalism: Creative Defeat and Beyond.
Where many other writers would exaggerate their own originalities, Tsuru prides himself on his intellectual debts. His principal creditors are clearly Marx, Keynes, and Schumpeter; somewhat less significant are Boulding, Leontief, Kaldor, Sweezy, and Tinbergen. (This octet does not harmonize easily!) Had Tsuru been an Italian rather than a Japanese, had he been a product of the English Cambridge in the 1960s rather than the American one a generation earlier, he might conceivably have become a reasonably orthodox neo-Keynesian. He appears instead as a transplanted New Dealer and "indicative planner" who has set up his input-output tables in the "wrong" country. (But America would have been even worse! Witch-hunted for alleged pro-Communism, Tsuru found U.S. visas difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain in the McCarthy period of the 1950s.)
This reviewer found Tsuru's first four chapters the most interesting, particularly Chapter 4 on "The Role of the Government in the High Growth Period." He disdains participation in the somewhat sterile debate between partisans of MITI and of the market--which was the dog in the overall growth process, and which the tail the dog was wagging? Instead, Tsuru concentrates on historical details, citing case after case in which this or that public agency took specific steps in aid of this or that industry's rise from provincial backwardness to international prominence. He also traces the evolution of "administrative guidance" from mugifumi to yamagoya: "The first stage is the practice of strengthening young wheat plants by treading upon overgrown roots. The second stage is the providing of shelters which have the effect of inducing climbers to become more adventurous," or more pedantically, the "socialization of risk and uncertainty."
Tsuru gives us neither a propaganda broadsheet nor a tract for the times, but his personal views and preferences are seldom in doubt. His particular devils include Premier Shigeru Yoshida in Japanese politics and Milton Friedman in economic analysis. He thinks the "unification" of the yen dollar exchange rate at 360-1 came much too soon on the basis of inadequate information, and that only the Korean War kept the Occupation's disinflationary "Dodge Line" from strangling Japanese recovery in 1949-50. He believes that market competition is often "excessive," and that is sometimes better for wise men (or even for bureaucrats) to prescribe what is to be done than to permit the man in the street to make his own mistakes and waste scarce social capital. To an old reactionary like myself, Tsuru's vision of convergence as preferable to Japan's version of capitalism appears to be rather more than 50 percent socialist planning. But many an orthodox Stalinist, Maoist, or Fascist would doubtless reach an opposite conclusion and write Tsuru off as just another liberal reformer.
Tsuru keeps his formal economic analysis to a minimum. None of it is "standard Marxism" and much of it is hidden away in footnotes and appendices. His book is usable for undergraduate-textbook purposes, if instructors are willing to fill in analytical gaps, or if they are convinced--as Tsuru himself may now be--that economic analysis above the "Principles" level is largely a waste of time for any but its own aficionados.
Martin Bronfenbrenner Duke University
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Southern Economic Journal|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1994|
|Previous Article:||Cognition, Value, and Price: A General Theory of Value.|
|Next Article:||Financial Conditions and Macroeconomic Performance: Essays in Honor of Hyman P. Minsky.|
|The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.|
|The Seven Cultures of Capitalism.|