First Asian „Nobel Prize“ winner for Philosophy: Kojin Karatani- The Structure of World History and Neoliberalism as a historical stage

First Asian „Nobel Prize“ winner for Philosophy: Kojin Karatani- The Structure of World History and Neoliberalism as a historical stage

The Japanese newspaper Asashi Shimbum is very proud that a Japanese, even better „the first Asian“ has won the so called Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Pirze which is also refered to as the “Nobel Prize for Philosophy”:

“Kojin Karatani the 1st Asian to win ‘Nobel Prize for philosophy’

Renowned philosopher Kojin Karatani, whose influential books include “The Structure of World History,” has been awarded this year’s Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Prize, regarded as the „Nobel Prize for philosophy.“ 

The Berggruen Institute, a think tank based in California, made the announcement on Dec. 8.

Karatani, 81, is the first Asian recipient of the prize, which was launched by Nicolas Berggruen, a philanthropist and chairman of the institute, in 2016.

“I’m pleased with the unexpected high evaluation (of my work),“ Karatani said. „I appreciate it.”

The institute awards the prize annually to “thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.”

It cited Karatani’s “radically original contributions to modern philosophy, the history of philosophy, and political thinking.” 

It also praised his work saying it is “particularly valuable in the current era of troubled global capitalism, crisis in democratic states, and resurgent but seldom self-critical nationalism.”

The prize award is $1 million (135.9 million yen). The awards ceremony will be held in Tokyo next spring.

Karatani started his career as a literary critic in late 1960s with an essay on Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), an acclaimed Japanese novelist.

He is credited with drastically changing literary criticism with his works including “Origins of Modern Japanese Literature,” published in 1980.

Later he shifted his focus to philosophical and ideological themes and published books such as “Transcritique: On Kant and Marx” and “Power and Modes of Exchange,” published in 2001 and 2022, respectively.

His works have been translated into multiple languages including English.

Karatani has served as a book reviewer for The Asahi Shimbun since 2005.

Past recipients of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Prize include Charles Taylor, a Canadian philosopher, who aims to achieve multicultural society where people from various cultures co-exist through his work. Taylor received the award in 2016.

Another prominent recipient was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an American lawyer who handled many cases on gender discrimination before serving as a prominent liberal justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg was given the prize in 2019 before her death in 2020 at age 87

It is also interesting that the German Wikipedia version of his biography doesn´t mention his youth as a member of a radical antiimperialist and anti- American Marxist hard core group and tries to portray him more before the background of his US and Yale career, the English Wikipedia version of his biography reads more detailed as follows:

Kōjin Karatani (柄谷 行人, Karatani Kōjin, born August 6, 1941, Amagasaki) is a Japanese philosopher and literary critic.[1]


Karatani entered the University of Tokyo in 1960, where he joined the radical Marxist Communist League, better known as „The Bund,“ and participated in the massive 1960 Anpo protests against the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, which he would later come to view as a formative political experience.[2]

Karatani graduated with a B.A. in economics in 1965, and added an M.A. in English literature in 1967. The Gunzō Literary Prize, which he received at the age of 27 for an essay on Natsume Sōseki, was his first critical acclaim as a literary critic. While teaching at Hosei University, Tokyo, he wrote extensively about modernity and postmodernity with a particular focus on language, number, and money, concepts that form the subtitle of one of his central books: Architecture as Metaphor.[citation needed]

In 1975, he was invited to Yale University to teach Japanese literature as a visiting professor, where he met Paul de Man and Fredric Jameson and began to work on formalism. He started from a study of Natsume Sōseki.[citation needed]

Karatani collaborated with novelist Kenji Nakagami, to whom he introduced the works of Faulkner. With Nakagami, he published Kobayashi Hideo o koete (Overcoming Kobayashi Hideo). The title is an ironic reference to “Kindai no chokoku” (Overcoming Modernity), a symposium held in the summer of 1942 at Kyoto Imperial University (now Kyoto University) at which Hideo Kobayashi (whom Karatani and Nakagami did not hold in great esteem) was a participant.[citation needed]

He was also a regular member of ANY, the international architects‘ conference that was held annually for the last decade of the 20th century and that also published an architectural/philosophical series with Rizzoli under the general heading of Anyone.[citation needed]

Since 1990, Karatani has been regularly teaching at Columbia University as a visiting professor.[citation needed]

Karatani founded the New Associationist Movement (NAM) in Japan in the summer of 2000.[3] NAM was conceived as a counter–capitalist/nation-state association, inspired by the experiment of LETS (Local Exchange Trading Systems, based on non-marketed currency). He was also the co-editor, with Akira Asada, of the Japanese quarterly journal Hihyōkūkan (Critical Space), until it ended in 2002.

In 2006, Karatani retired from the chair of the International Center for Human Sciences at Kinki University, Osaka, where he had been teaching.


Karatani has produced philosophical concepts, such as „the will to architecture„, which he calls the foundation of all Western thinking,[4] but the best-known of them is probably that of „Transcritique“, which he proposed in his book Transcritique, where he reads Kant through Marx and vice versa. Writing about Transcritique in the New Left Review of January–February 2004, Slavoj Žižek brought Karatani’s work to greater critical attention. Žižek borrowed the concept of „parallax view“ (which is also the title of his review) for the title of his own book.

Karatani has interrogated the possibility of a (de Manian) deconstruction and engaged in a dialogue with Jacques Derrida at the Second International Conference on Humanistic Discourse, organized by the Université de Montréal. Derrida commented on Karatani’s paper „Nationalism and Ecriture“ with an emphasis on the interpretation of his own concept of écriture.[5]


In English

  • Origins of Modern Japanese Literature, Duke University Press, 1993. Translated by Brett de Bary
  • Architecture as Metaphor; Language, Number, Money MIT Press, 1995. Translated by Sabu Kohso
  • Transcritique: On Kant and Marx, MIT Press, 2003. Translated by Sabu Kohso
  • History and Repetition, Columbia University Press, 2011. Translated by Seiji M. Lippit
  • The Structure of World History : From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange, Duke University Press, 2014. Translated by Michael K. Bourdaghs
  • Nation and Aesthetics: On Kant and Freud, Oxford University Press USA, 2017. Translated by Jonathan E. Abel, Hiroki Yoshikuni and Darwin H. Tsen
  • Isonomia and the Origins of Philosophy, Duke University Press, 2017. Translated by Joseph A. Murphy
  • Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility, Verso, 2020. Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Gavin Walker

In Japanese

  • 畏怖する人間 [Human in Awe], Tōjūsha, 1972
  • 意味という病 [Meaning as Illness], Kawadeshobō, 1975
  • マルクスその可能性の中心 [Marx: The Center of Possibilities], Kōdansha, 1978
  • 日本近代文学の起源 [Origins of Modern Japanese literature], Kōdansha, 1980
  • 隠喩としての建築 [Architecture as Metaphor], Kōdansha, 1983
  • 内省と遡行 [Introspection and Retrospection], Kōdansha,1984
  • 批評とポストモダン[Postmodernism and Criticism], Fukutake, 1985
  • 探究 1 [Philosophical Inquiry 1], Kōdansha, 1986
  • 言葉と悲劇[Language and Tragedy], Daisanbunmeisha, 1989
  • 探究 2 [Philosophical Inquiry 2], Kōdansha,1989
  • 終焉をめぐって[On the ‚End‘ ], Fukutake, 1990
  • 漱石論集成 [Collected Essays on Sōseki], Daisanbunmeisha, 1992
  • ヒューモアとしての唯物論 [Materialism as Humor], Chikumashobō, 1993
  • “戦前”の思考 [Thoughts before the war], Bungeishunjusha, 1994
  • 坂口安吾と中上健次[Sakaguchi Ango and Nakagami Kenji], Ohta Press, 1996
  • 倫理21[Ethics 21], Heibonsha, 2000
  • 可能なるコミュニズム[A Possible Communism], Ohta Press, 2000
  • トランスクリティーク:カントとマルクス[Transcritique: On Kant and Marx], Hihyōkūkansha, 2001
  • 日本精神分析[Psychoanalysis of Japan or Analysis of Japanese Spirit], Bungeishunjusha, 2002
  • ネーションと美学 [Nation and Aesthetics], Iwanami Shoten, 2004
  • 歴史と反復[History and Repetition], Iwanami Shoten, 2004
  • 近代文学の終わり[The End of Modern Literature], Inscript, 2005
  • 思想はいかに可能か[How the ideas can be created], Inscript, 2005
  • 世界共和国へ[Toward the World Republic], Iwanami Shoten, 2006
  • 日本精神分析[Psychoanalyzation on Japan and/or Japanese Spirit], Kōdansha, 2007
  • 柄谷行人 政治を語る[Talks on politics], Tosyo Shinbun, 2009
  • 世界史の構造[The Structure of World History], Iwanami Shoten, 2010
  • „世界史の構造“を読む[Reading „The Structure of World History“], Inscript, 2011
  • 政治と思想 1960-2011[Politics and Thought:1960-2011], Heibonsha, 2012
  • 脱原発とデモ[Denuclearization and Demonstration], Chikuma Shobo, 2012
  • 哲学の起源[The Origin of Philosophy], Iwanami Shoten, 2012
  • 柳田國男論[On Kunio Yanagita], Inscript, 2013
  • 遊動論:柳田国男と山人[On Nomadization : Kunio Yanagita and Yamabito people], Bungeishunjusha, 2014
  • 帝国の構造[The Structure of Empire], Seitosha, 2014
  • 定本 柄谷行人 文学論集[Symposium on Literature], Iwanami Shoten, 2016
  • 憲法の無意識[Unconsciousness of the Constitution of Japan], Iwanami Shoten, 2016
  • 力と交換様式[Power and Modes of Exchange], Iwanami Shoten, October 5th, 2022

He has his own website.

Among other things, he published a book on capitalism and imperialism:”Neoliberalism as a historical stage”..He sees unlike Marxism not the mode of production  as the substructure and base, ,but the mode of exchange. Furthermore, he believes that imperialism has emerged from capitalism, but is not necessarily a certain stage of capitalism, as the political and ideological superstructure is not so deterministically dependent on the substructure.

Neoliberalism as a historical stage

Kojin Karatani

Pages 191-207 | Received 31 Jul 2017, Accepted 10 Apr 2018, Published online: 13 Jul 2018


Orthodox Marxist historical materialisms have viewed the history of social formations one-sidedly from the mode of production as base, which over-determines the political, ideological superstructure. In contrast, this article proposes an augmentation of historical materialism which has as its determinative base the mode of exchange. Specifically, through a lens of exchange, a spatial and territorial element is brought to an analysis and historicizing of imperialism. This article argues that the world entered into an imperialist stage of capitalism in the 1990s. Imperialism is inseparable from the capitalist economy. But it does not necessarily follow that imperialism can be explained away as a historical stage of the capitalist economy. Imperialism is a matter of politics among nations. To see this, we need to look at world history from the double axis, i.e. the state and capital. Modern imperialism is not necessarily expansionist in terms of territory. Rather, it aims at expanding through trade. By way of spreading the market economy, imperialism tries to gain surplus value. Thus, ‘neoliberalism’ by definition is imperialism. Its nature is to aim for global expansion of the market.”

Since Katarani also works intensively on Marxism, capitalism and imperialism theory, including “Rethinking Marxism”, it is very likely that the Chinese Communist Party will comment on his works and perhaps also disseminate them. He also has Chinese translations of his texts:


原创 柄谷行人 开放时代杂志 2017-09-20 14:37 发表于广东


【关键词】经济基础 上层建筑 交换模式 物神 普遍宗教


  我之所以如此思考,是因为将生产模式视为经济基础的马克思主义的看法有缺陷,因此遭受到各种批判,最终连经济基础这一想法本身都被否定了。其中,马克斯•韦伯(Max Weber, 1864-1920)是最初的重要批判者。他原则上虽然承认历史唯物论,但却主张观念的上层建筑的相对自律性。例如,马克思主义将近代的宗教改革(Protestantische)视为资本主义经济发展的产物,相反,韦伯在《新教伦理与资本主义精神》中则强调其是作为推动产业资本主义的力量而活动的。也就是说,像宗教这种观念的上层建筑,不单单是被动地为经济基础所规定而已,毋宁说其拥有以能动的方式改变后者的力量。接着,我将举出另一位批判者弗洛伊德(Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939)的观点来进行说明。



  上述问题在马克思主义者之间成为问题,是在20世纪20年代他们的运动经历了重大挫折之后。最初碰到这一问题的是在意大利革命起义中失败,被法西斯政权逮捕入狱的葛兰西(Antonio Gramsci, 1891-1937)。他认为,意大利国家权力的强大,并非单纯依靠暴力的强制,而是依靠服从者的自发性同意而成立的,并将之称为“霸权”(hegemony)。这意味着,国家不单单是经济上的支配阶级的“暴力装置”,而且是拥有独自的“力量”的装置。也就是说,上层建筑虽说被经济基础所规定,但拥有相对的自律性。


  列宁与托洛茨基(Leon Trosky, 1879-1940)强行进行十月革命(军事政变)也是基于以上考虑。也就是说,他们认为如果无产阶级掌握国家权力并废弃资本主义的生产模式,国家就会逐渐消亡。资本主义的生产模式的确被国家权力所废弃了,但这反过来却使得国家权力强大化,结果进而加强了国家主义。这就是斯大林主义。但是,这不能说是斯大林个人的过错。因为这表明的是马克思主义中缺乏对国家的认识。而这一点,成为促使马克思主义者重视政治上层建筑的契机。



  20世纪60年代,阿尔都塞(Louis Pierre Althusser, 1918-1990)在法国所进行的论述,也与之平行。他(是拉康的进路)导入弗洛伊德的精神分析,试图解决历史唯物论至今的困难。弗洛伊德将多个原因综括而产生的结果称为“多元式的决定”。同样,阿尔都塞说明,基础(终级审判)中多样的生产模式“多元决定”(over-determine)观念的上层建筑。然而,此种“决定论”实质上否定了经济决定论,而试图证明上层建筑的相对自律性。另外,关于国家,他主张那不单是支配阶级的暴力装置,而且是使得人们自发遵从的意识形态装置。这也是从经济基础的生产模式中独立出来的东西。






  根据历史唯物论的看法,在资本主义社会的根底有资本家与劳动者的生产关系。然而,马克思在《资本论》中,并未从这里开始,而是从交换(货币与商品)开始。这是为什么?一般说来,在历史唯物论或基于此的马克思主义那里,生产被认为是主要的,交换被认为是次要的,但毋宁说这是奠基在马克思所欲批判的亚当•斯密(Adam Smith, 1723-1790)等古典经济学家之上的想法。斯密他们试图否定从交换中获得利润的商人资本,以及基于商人资本来思考的重商主义和重金主义的先行者之理论。也就是说,与商人资本不同,产业资本的利润是正当的。要言之,对于古典经济学者而言,交换只是次要的。




  近代的资本主义社会虽有各种交换模式残留,但其却成为商品交换模式占据支配地位的社会。这个社会的“生产力与生产关系”只不过是作为其结果而存在。由此,马克思在考察资本主义经济时,是从交换模式出发的。至于以前的社会,则交给了作为“引导线”的历史唯物论。但是事实上,关于前资本主义阶段,若从生产模式来思考是不可能会顺利的。如果马克思自己着手研究的话,对于前资本主义的社会构成体也会采取不同的看法吧。正如我后面要说的,这一点从他晚年关心的摩尔根(Lewis Henry Morgan, 1818-1881)的《古代社会》的论考中可以看出。

  一般来说,马克思主义者对于前资本主义的社会没有带来认识上的成果。因为他们已经导入了历史唯物论的公式。关于氏族社会的社会构成体,有着划时代的考察的是非马克思主义者的马尔塞•莫斯(Marcel Mauss, 1872-1950)。他没有从生产力或生产手段来思考,而是从交换开始思考。这不是商品交换,而是赠与-回赠这种互酬交换,我将之称为交换模式A,区别于商品交换(交换模式C)。这一交换由三条规则构成:必须赠与,必须接受赠与,对于赠与必须回赠。这规则并非人创造的,而是人必须遵从的“咒力”(Hao)所强制产生的。氏族社会那样的社会构成体是由这个交换原理构成的。例如,亲族形态也是由将儿女赠与其他共同体并接受其回赠这样一种互酬交换所形成的。在这个意味上,形成氏族的社会构成体是广义上的交换,这才是经济基础。

  然而,马克思主义人类学家萨林斯(Marshall David Sahlins, 1930-)在互酬交换的根底处发现了“家族的生产模式”,而古德利尔(Maurice Godelier, 1934-)则发现了“共同体所有”。无论如何,他们都试图维护历史唯物论的结构。但实际上,是互酬的交换模式带来了家族的生产模式和共同体所有,而非相反。因此,对于未开化社会,也必须从交换模式出发。而关于这一点,马克思的看法可以作为参考。









  为了思考这一点,不能单纯在时间轴上来看社会构成体的变化,也有必要从空间轴来看。至今所述的,是社会构成体单纯的模型。然而,任何社会都不是单独地存在的,而是在与其他社会相“交通”的同时而存在着。换句话说,社会存在于与其他社会的“交换”关系之中。我跟随费尔南•布罗代尔(Fernand Braudel, 1902-1985)的说法,将这种社会构成体的结合称为“世界系统”。这会因在那里何种交换模式占支配地位而有所不同(参照图4)。

  例如,氏族社会亦会形成“迷你世界系统”。这并不一定是迷你的,也有可能像北美易洛魁氏族的联邦体那样巨大。这一系统的特征是,氏族间的联系本身奠基于交换模式A。下一个世界系统,是“世界 = 帝国”,它基于交换模式B。接下来产生的是布罗代尔称之为“世界 = 经济”的世界系统,在这里,交换模式C占支配地位,但模式B和模式A也会改变形态继续存在。也就是说,模式B以主权国家的形式,模式A以民族(想象的共同体)的形式继续存在。因此近代的社会构成体采取了这三种交换模式的结合体,即“资本 = 民族 = 国家”的形式。用沃勒斯坦(Immanuel Wallerstein, 1930-)的话来说,可以称之为“近代世界系统”(参照图5)。









  在先进资本主义国家中,阶级斗争或社会主义革命运动在经过了一定的高涨之后通常会走向终结的命运。19世纪末,在恩格斯死后,他的弟子伯恩斯坦(Eduard Bernstein, 1850-1932)便直面了这一事态,并宣告了马恩革命理论的终结。另一方面,列宁认为,劳动者在自然成长的过程中会拥有资产阶级的意识,失去扬弃阶级的阶级意识,因此阶级意识必须从“外部”注入。卢卡奇(Szegedi Lukács György Bernát, 1885-1971)的《历史与阶级意识》(1923年)所做的工作就是用哲学的方式为其奠基。在他们那里,所谓“外部”,是指作为指导的知识人(党)所拥有的观念。然而,这与柏拉图的“哲学家 = 王”是一样的,最终只能是为某些政党的独裁体制奠基。

  另一方面,布洛赫(Ernst Bloch, 1885-1977)早就指摘了历史唯物论的界限,并在《革命神学家托马斯•闵采尔》(1921年)中,试图接合社会主义革命与宗教。虽然卢卡奇批判这脱离了马克思主义,但我想唤起大家注意的是,恩格斯早在1848年便直面了同样的问题,并提出了同样的观点。他在英国的“阶级斗争”终息的时间点上,重新开始追问阶级斗争或社会主义革命如何可能。这无法从“生产力与生产关系”的观点出发来思考,而提出这种观点的当事人早就注意到了这一点。

  具体来说,恩格斯转向了16世纪德国农民运动的研究(《德国农民战争》,1850年)。在那里,他试图在千年王国运动指导者托马斯•闵采尔(Thomas Münzer, 1489-1525)的思想中寻找“共产主义”。恩格斯一贯主张催促人进行社会主义或扬弃阶级的运动的“力量”来源于经济基础(生产力与生产关系的矛盾),但他在这里却认为这是从观念的和宗教的维度而来的。他直到晚年都一直在研究原始基督教史,但不得不说,他并没有更进一步追问并思考这个问题。

  我们可以说布洛赫承袭了这一点。他曾如此论述:“只有唯物论者才能成为好的基督教徒,但只有基督徒才能成为好的无神论者这一命题确实也是可能的。”另一方面,基督教神学家卡尔•巴特(Karl Barth, 1886-1968)在更早的时候曾经说过:“本来人就不能将这两者以‘耶稣基督和社会运动’这样的方式并列摆放。看起来就像这样:这两者总的来说是两个东西,在这之后——虽有程度上的差别——不得不刻意地将它们摆在一起。这两者只是一个,并且是同一件事。a、耶稣是社会运动;b、社会运动是在现代中的耶稣。”





  在近代的社会构成体中,模式C占支配地位。但是模式A和模式B并未消失,它们在模式C之下以变化的形式残留着。例如,模式B即使在采用了资产阶级法律的近代国家中,也作为“权力”残留着。另外,在部族和共同体因为模式C而被解体之后,模式A也作为“想象的共同体”(本尼迪克特•安德森[Benedict Richard O’Gorman Anderson, 1936-2015])被恢复。因此我们可以说近代的社会构成体采取的是“资本 = 民族 = 国家”的形式。

  在今天,模式A作为唤起恢复以往共同体的冲动的东西,即作为民族主义而活动。但是,它无法超越模式B和模式C。相反,它可以作为排外主义,为“资本 = 国家”服务。它曾带来了法西斯主义,在今后亦可能是如此。对此,模式D不是对过去共同体的回归。它是与模式A似是而非的东西。













Kojin Katarani|Introduction to the theory of exchange patterns

Open Times Magazine 2017-09-20 14:37 Published in Guangdong

Abstract】This paper is an explanation of the theme „from the mode of production to the mode of exchange“ presented in the author’s The Construction of World History (2010). In the Marxist formulaic theory, the history of the social constitution is illustrated based on the metaphor of architecture – the mode of production is the economic base, and the political and conceptual superstructure is defined by this economic base. By mode of production, we mean the productive forces that come from the relationship between man and nature, and the relations of production that come from the relationship between man and man. However, this cannot well account for the state, socialism, religion, and other conceptual superstructures. As a result, Marxism was either ignored or rejected as economic determinism, and eventually came to the „end of Marxism“. In the author’s view, the basis of the economy is not the mode of production, but the mode of exchange. By „exchange,“ the author includes the relationship between nature and man and the relationship between man and man, similar to the concept of „transportation“ used by Marx in his youth. There are various types of exchange, and the superstructure of the state, religion, and socialism are directly derived from these exchanges. It is only in this sense that „economic determinism“ is valid.

In The Construction of World History (2010), I advocate „from the mode of production to the mode of exchange“. I would like to make a brief statement on this point. In Marxist formulaic theory, based on the metaphor of architecture, the history of social constituents becomes something like this – the mode of production is the economic base, and the political and conceptual superstructure is defined by that economic base. By mode of production, I mean the productive forces that come from the relationship between man and nature, and the relations of production that come from the relationship between man and man. Although I do not disagree that the history of social constituents is determined by an economic base, I believe that this base is not the mode of production, but the mode of exchange. And the mode of exchange I refer to encompasses the relationship between nature and man, as well as the relationship between man and man.

I think this way because the Marxist view of the mode of production as the economic base is flawed, and therefore has suffered various criticisms that eventually discredited even the idea of an economic base itself. Among these, Max Weber (1864-1920) was the first major critic. While acknowledging historical materialism in principle, he argued for the relative autonomy of the superstructure of ideas. For example, in contrast to the Marxist view of the modern Reformation (Protestantische) as a product of capitalist economic development, Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism emphasizes its activity as a force driving industrial capitalism. In other words, a conceptual superstructure such as religion is not merely passively prescribed by the economic base, but rather has the power to change the latter in a dynamic way. I will then cite another critic, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), to illustrate this point.

The superiority of Marxism, as far as I can examine it, lies not in its method of understanding history and its predictions of the future based on it, but in its perceptive demonstration of the unavoidable influence of human economic relations on intellectual, ethical, and artistic ways of thinking. Thus, a chain of causal and dependency relations, hitherto completely misinterpreted, is revealed. For us, however, it is unacceptable to assert in the extreme that economic motives are the only determinants of human action in society. The mere sight of the certainty that diverse individuals, races, or peoples will act differently even under the same economic conditions makes it clear that the exclusive dictates of economic opportunity are not valid. What is actually incomprehensible is how psychological factors can be disregarded when the reactions of living human beings become an issue. This is because psychological factors are already involved in the creation of economic relations, and even though the domination of economic relations is omnipresent, the desire for self-preservation, aggression, and love will still trigger the emergence of one’s own root desires, and one will impulsively seek pleasure and avoid displeasure. Or, as in previous explorations I talked about the important requirement of the superego, which represents past traditions and rational formations, and resists for a while to the motives from the new economic state.

  Freud rejected the „exclusive domination of economic opportunities“ in Marxism and argued that „psychological factors“ should be taken into account. I cite this passage specifically because his critique is linked to the subsequent critique of historical materialism, the claim that the superstructure of ideas is independent of the economic base.

The above question became problematic among Marxists after their movement experienced a major setback in the 1920s. The first to encounter this problem was Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), who had been arrested and imprisoned by the fascist regime after his defeat in the Italian revolutionary uprising. He argued that the power of the Italian state was not established by the mere coercion of violence, but by the spontaneous consent of those who obeyed, and called it hegemony. This means that the state is not only a „violent device“ of the economic dominant class, but also a device with its own „power“. That is to say, the superstructure, although regulated by the economic base, has a relative autonomy.

Moreover, it was the Russian Marxists who triumphed in the revolutionary movement who raised major questions about the power of the state. Engels wrote after Marx’s death: „Marx and I have held since 1845 the view that one of the final results of the future proletarian revolution will be the gradual extinction of the political organization called ‚the state‘. The main purpose of this organization has always been to secure by armed force the economic oppression of the wealthy minority against the working majority. With the elimination of the wealthy minority, the need for armed repressive power, the power of the state, will also disappear. But at the same time we have always held the view that in order to achieve this end, and to achieve more important ends than the future social revolution, the working class must first of all take hold of the organized political power of the state and rely on this power to suppress the resistance of the capitalists and reorganize society.“

  Lenin and Trotsky (Leon Trosky, 1879-1940) forced the October Revolution (military coup) based on the same considerations. That is, they believed that if the proletariat took power over the state and abandoned the capitalist model of production, the state would gradually die out. The capitalist mode of production was indeed abandoned by the state power, but this in turn made the state power stronger, which in turn strengthened statism. This is Stalinism. But this cannot be said to be the fault of Stalin personally. For what it shows is the lack of understanding of the state in Marxism. And this became the opportunity that prompted Marxists to pay attention to the political superstructure.

Next, as Marxists who question the formula of historical materialism, we can cite the German Frankfurt School that lost to Nazism in the 1930s. This is an important lesson because Nazism, unlike mere counterrevolution, itself advocated revolution, that is, a position of „confrontation as revolution. The defeat of the Frankfurt School meant that the old Marxists had always belittled the triumph of „power“ in the „political and conceptual superstructure“ of the state, nation, and religion. The philosophers of the Frankfurt School, who took this point seriously, began to turn to a re-examination of the foundations of Marxist theory. In short, they recognized the relative autonomy of the political, conceptual superstructure and tried to find out what it was. At this point, they imported Freudian psychoanalysis, which had been rejected as bourgeois psychology

Incidentally, in Japan in the 1930s, the Marxist movement collapsed under „imperialist fascism“ and ended in a bloc turn. The political scientist Maruyama Makio (1914-1996) and the literary critic Yoshimoto Takamine (1924-2012) were among the thinkers who reviewed this experience and re-examined Marxism after the war. The former imported Weber and American sociology, among others, while the latter regarded the self-regulation of the superstructure of ideas as a „common fantasy theory. Despite the differences in approach, they both attempt to examine the relative autonomy of the superstructure, and in this respect, they are parallel to the Frankfurt School. However, this idea focused on the dimension of the political, conceptual superstructure and eventually came to the end of trivializing the economic base.

  The discourse conducted by Louis Pierre Althusser (1918-1990) in France in the 1960s is also parallel. He (being a Lacanian progression) imported Freudian psychoanalysis in an attempt to resolve the difficulties of historical materialism to date. Freud called the result of the synthesis of multiple causes a „pluralistic decision“. Similarly, Althusser illustrates the superstructure of the idea of „over-determine“, the diverse modes of production in the foundation (final judgment). However, this „determinism“ essentially rejects economic determinism and tries to prove the relative autonomy of the superstructure. Moreover, he argues that the state is not only a violent device for the dominant class, but also an ideological device for the spontaneous compliance of people. It is also something that is independent from the mode of production of the economic base.

This theory does not deny that the political, ideological superstructure is defined by the economic base. Rather, it is seen as an attempt to preserve the determining role of the economic base. However, the more one does this, the more one in fact belittles the economic base. Ultimately, this results in a complete disregard for Marxism itself.

II Among Marx’s achievements, I value only his major work, Capital. By comparison, historical materialism is a mere „guide line“. In fact, that is because Marx once wrote:

The general conclusion, which serves as a guiding line for my research, can be expressed briefly as follows: people, in the social production in which they live, are bound to have certain, necessary relations, independent of their will, i.e. relations of production corresponding to a certain stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, which becomes the basis of reality, on which the legal and political superstructure is built, and, in addition, a certain form of social consciousness corresponds to this basis of reality. The mode of production of material life governs the whole process of social, political and spiritual life. It is not people’s consciousness that defines their existence; on the contrary, it is their social existence that defines their consciousness. …… As the economic base changes, the vast superstructure as a whole also undergoes changes, slowly or rapidly. In examining these changes, one must always distinguish between the material changes in the conditions of production of the economy, which can be confirmed with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophical forms, in short, the forms of ideology, in which people are aware of this conflict and seek to overcome it. …… Broadly speaking, the evolution of the economic components of society can be seen in the stages of subaltern, ancient, feudal and modern bourgeois modes of production. The bourgeois relations of production are the last form of antagonism in the process of social production, and by antagonism here we mean not the antagonism of individuals, but the antagonism that grows out of the conditions of their social life. However, the productive forces that developed in the womb of bourgeois society created at the same time the material conditions for solving this antagonism. Thus, the prehistoric period of human society ended with this social form.”

The above view is what is generally known as historical materialism. It is important to note, however, that this is not the approach he takes to elucidate the capitalist economy, i.e., not the approach of Capital. What he says here is that the above „general conclusion“ can serve as a „guiding line“ when looking at the historical whole of the social constitution, but then he deals with it from another point of view in his Critique of Economics.

Why does Marx say this? For one thing, because historical materialism based on the mode of production was originally a view put forward by Engels. Engels regarded it as Marx’s epoch-making creation after his death, but in fact it was not. Engels had it in mind when Marx was still subordinate to the intellectual circle of the Young Hegelians in Germany. For during his stay in England he witnessed the development of the capitalist economy and its inherent class struggle (the labor movement), and thus reviewed the history of society. The formula of historical materialism is something that projects a view founded on capitalist society onto its predecessors. In this sense, even if it works as a „guiding line“ in catching pre-capitalist societies, it is of little use in mastering the capitalist economy. It is clear from this that Marx took an alternative view.

  According to historical materialism, at the root of capitalist society there is a capitalist-worker relation of production. However, Marx, in Capital, does not start here, but with exchange (money and commodities). Why is this? Generally speaking, in historical materialism or Marxism based on it, production is considered primary and exchange is considered secondary, but rather this is an idea based on classical economists such as Adam Smith (1723-1790), whom Marx wanted to criticize. They tried to deny the theory of merchant capital, which derives its profits from exchange, and the forerunners of mercantilism and mercantilism, which thought on the basis of merchant capital. That is, unlike merchant capital, industrial capital is justified in terms of profit. In other words, for the classical economists, exchange was only secondary.

  Yet Marx valued exchange. This was to raise the problem that classical economics denied. In this sense, it can be said that he reverted to mercantilism and mercantilism to think about capital. He argued that what is called capital is essentially merchant capital and loan capital. Mercantilism and mercantilism show that capital is not driven by the desire for material things, but by the desire for money, that is, the desire to accumulate the „power“ that makes possible the „acquisition of material things by exchange. The accumulation of this power can only be achieved through the exchange of the difference (surplus value).

The question is, where does this „power“ (exchange value) come from? Marx sees it as a spiritual force attached to the commodity, the god of things (fetish). This does not stop at the beginning of the paper with the understanding. The historical process he tries to capture in Capital is the development of this commodity god of things into a money god of things, a capital god of things, and a comprehensive reorganization of the social constitution. Although in his youth he criticized Hegel’s conceptualist view of history and emphasized the economic foundations of materialism, as the preface to Capital clearly records, Marx in turn praised Hegel and faithfully inherited Hegel’s description of the process of spirit from sensual form to self-realization in the Phenomenology or Logic of Spirit. Undoubtedly, „spirit“ is here inverted into „thing-god. However, what Capital makes clear is that the capitalist economy is not material, but a material-god, that is, a world governed by the power of ideas.

The qualities of capitalist society cannot be understood in terms of the mode of production. For its qualities lie in the mode of exchange. For example, the relationship between capitalists and laborers is grounded in the consent and contract between the capitalist, who holds the money, and the laborer, who holds the labor commodity. As such, it is heterogeneous from the relationship between feudal lords and serfs in medieval Europe, and it is also heterogeneous from the relationship between citizens and slaves in ancient Greco-Roman times. In other words, the difference between the capitalist relations of production and the previous relations of production lies in the difference of the mode of „exchange“. In historical materialism, changes in the social constitution are classified as stages in the development of production relations. In reality, however, the change in the mode of exchange exists in a more fundamental dimension.

  The modern capitalist society, despite the various modes of exchange that remain, has become a society in which the commodity mode of exchange is dominant. The „productive forces and relations of production“ of this society exist only as a result. Thus, when Marx examined the capitalist economy, he started from the exchange model. As for the previous society, it was left to historical materialism as a „guide line“. But the fact is that it is impossible to think about the pre-capitalist stage in terms of the mode of production without success. Marx would have taken a different view of the social constitution of pre-capitalism if he had undertaken his own research. As I will say later, this is evident from the examination of Lewis Henry Morgan’s (1818-1881) Ancient Society, which concerned him later in life.

Generally speaking, Marxists bring no epistemological results to pre-capitalist societies. For they have imported the formula of historical materialism. Marcel Mauss (1872-1950), a non-Marxist, had an epoch-making examination of the social constituents of clan societies. He did not think in terms of productive forces or means of production, but rather in terms of exchange. This is not a commodity exchange, but a reciprocal exchange of give-and-take, which I will call exchange model A, as distinguished from commodity exchange (exchange model C). This exchange consists of three rules: the gift must be given, the gift must be accepted, and the gift must be given back. This rule is not created by man, but forced by the „Hao“ (spell) that man must obey. The social structure like the clan society is constituted by this principle of exchange. For example, the kinship form is also formed by a reciprocal exchange of sons and daughters given to other communities and received in return. In this sense, the social constitution that forms the clan is exchange in the broad sense, which is the economic basis.

However, the Marxist anthropologist Marshall David Sahlins (1930-) discovered the „family model of production“ at the root of reciprocal exchange, while Maurice Godelier (1934-) discovered the „community ownership“. community ownership“. In any case, they both tried to preserve the structure of historical materialism. But in fact, it was the exchange pattern of mutual remuneration that brought about the family mode of production and communal ownership, not the other way around. Therefore, for uncivilized societies, it is also necessary to start from the exchange model. And on this point, Marx’s view can be taken as a reference.

  In his later years, when he praised Morgan’s Ancient Society and discussed clan societies, he did not mention the mode of production. More than the economic equality in clan society, Marx paid attention to the freedom and independence of each individual. „All members of the Iroquois clan are free in their personality, have a mutual obligation to protect their freedom, and are equal in their privileges and human rights. Neither chiefs nor chiefs and marshals asserted any right of superiority; they were a fraternal group united by ties of blood. Liberty, equality, and fraternity, though never written, are the fundamental principles of the clan.“

  So where does the principle of freedom, equality, and fraternity in clan society come from? This cannot be explained from the mode of production or common ownership. Although Marx does not discuss this, it seems to me that it comes from the principle of reciprocal exchange and is the economic basis that defines clan society. Further, Marx describes the future communism as a „return to the higher dimensions“ of the principle of clan society. This means that he did not see the future communism as a state of developed modes of production alone. Although Marx does not explicitly say so, it can be said that Marx implies that the future communism should be seen in terms of the exchange model. This point will be discussed later.

What about the state society that arose after clan society? It may seem to be based on violent plunder, but it is also based on „exchange“. Although we do not usually think of it as an exchange, it is an exchange that is protected by obedience. Although the state begins with violent subjugation and domination, it only continues to dominate when the obedient actively obey. This becomes possible when it is protected through obedience, i.e., when the dominant-dominated relationship becomes an exchange. This brings with it a „power“ different from that of violence. This „power“ does not only bind the dominated, but also the dominant. For if the dominated is not protected, then the dominant is disqualified from being in that position. This means that the relationship is dual (mutually remunerative) and is in a sense associated with the exchange model A.

I will call this mode of exchange B. As in the case of mode A, in mode B, there is also a non-physical „force“ at work. But this is what emerges from „exchange,“ not from something that emerges somewhere in the conceptual superstructure. Considering the mode of exchange as the economic basis of the social constitution, the state does not originate from a superstructure alien to the economic dimension, but is a form of exchange, that is, in a broad sense, directly rooted in the economic basis. Gramsci’s so-called „hegemony“, Althusser’s „ideological apparatus“, and Foucault’s so-called „knowledge-power“ are not superstructures independent of the economic base, but It is from the economic base that they come. Moreover, Freud’s „psychological factor“, which is distinct from the economic dimension, is in fact also derived from the exchange model, and is therefore in a broad sense something in the economic base.

  So, what does the exchange model C look like? As mentioned earlier, it appears to be a purely material exchange, but it is not. There is also a conceptual force in it. And it is from „exchange“ that this comes. Marx says: „The exchange of goods begins at the end of the community, at the point where a community comes into contact with another community or its members.“ In other words, exchange takes place with the unfamiliar or uncomfortable other. It requires the „power“ to coerce others, and this „power“ is different from that possessed by communities and nations. It is also something conceptual and religious. In fact, it is called „credit“. Marx called this power the god of things. „The mystery of the money god is merely the mystery of the commodity god turned into a visible, confusing mystery.“ In this way, Marx tries to show that the god of commodities, as the god of money, and further, as the god of capital, dominates all of society. To reiterate, what Capital illustrates is that the capitalist economy is not material, but a world dominated by the power of the thing-god, i.e., the idea (cf. Figs. 1, 2, and 3).

What the above shows is that each of the exchange modes A, B and C brings with it the conceptual „power“ of compelling people. It is from „exchange“ that these arise. However, according to the view of the mode of production as the economic base, this religious and political element is something that comes from the superstructure that transcends the economic base. In this way, this examination must be left to anthropology, political science, religion, etc. All that Marxists can do is to supplement the mode of production as the economic base, and to remain simply at the level of extrapolation. As a result, the economic base is de facto ignored. On the other hand, anthropology, political science, religion, etc., which were liberated from the economic base, were not liberated. They do not ask where the conceptual „power“ found in their respective fields comes from, nor do they have the need to ask, nor do they even know how to ask, and are placed in the tragic position of ignorance – or even in the position of not being aware of this tragic situation at all.

  What I am thinking about here is to examine the process of Mode A and Mode B each from their early stages to the present, as Marx did for Mode C in Capital. However, modes A, B, and C are not something that exists individually; the social constituents are formed by their combination. Therefore, they cannot be taken in isolation. Other modes of exchange must also be considered. For this, Marx bracketed elements such as the state and the community, i.e., modes A and B, when he examined the question of emergence from mode C in Capital. An actual capitalist economy cannot exist without the state and the community. However, he puts them in parentheses in order to capture the character of mode C.

  The history of social constitution, therefore, should be seen as a combination of plural modes of exchange. For each mode of exchange is also changing its form in the change of social constitution. The social constitution begins with the clan society in which mode A is dominant. At this stage, although Mode B and Mode C also sprouted, they were not very pronounced. In the state society, although mode B dominates, mode A does not disappear at this time. It continued to exist in an agricultural community subordinate to the state. This community, although subordinate to the superior power, is an autonomous, egalitarian group within it. Moreover, under the domination of mode B, the city flourished from intercommunity transactions and the exchange mode C expanded. Mode B, on the other hand, was expanding at the same time. This led to the creation of the „world empire“. This change took place at the stage when the world market was established and Mode C expanded by leaps and bounds. At this point, the building blocks of modern society began to emerge.

In order to consider this point, it is necessary to look at the changes in the social structure not only on the timeline, but also on the spatial axis. What has been described so far is a model of the social constitution in its pure form. However, any society does not exist alone, but exists in „traffic“ with other societies. In other words, society exists in „exchange“ relations with other societies. I follow Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) in referring to this combination of social components as a „world system. This varies depending on which mode of exchange is dominant there (cf. Figure 4).

For example, clan societies can also form „mini-world systems“. This is not necessarily a mini-world system, but can also be as large as the federal body of the Iroquois clans in North America. The next world system, „world = empire,“ is based on exchange model B. The next world system that emerges is what Brodeur calls „world = economy,“ where The next world system that emerges is what Brodeur calls „World = Economy“, where the exchange model C is dominant, but model B and model A also change form and continue to exist. That is, mode B continues to exist in the form of a sovereign state and mode A in the form of a nation (an imaginary community). Thus the modern social constitution takes the form of a combination of these three modes of exchange, i.e. „capital = nation = state“. In the words of Immanuel Wallerstein (1930-), this can be called the „modern world system“ (cf. Figure 5).

As mentioned above, the history of social constituents can be illustrated from the viewpoint of the combination of exchange patterns as the basis of the economy. My book „The Construction of World History“ is based on the structure of the above theory.


What I have said so far is that the view of exchange patterns as economic bases is necessary when thinking about capitalism and its predecessors, rather when thinking about post-capitalist societies, i.e., communism. The necessity of communism cannot arise if one thinks in terms of the mode of production. Marx had the following to say: „Communism is for us neither a state that should be achieved, nor an ideal towards which reality must be formed. What we call communism is that movement of reality which renounces the status quo.“ When so stated, he is indeed thinking of communism as something alien to the hopes and ideas that one holds. However, from the point of view of the mode of production, this inevitability, that is, the „force“ that compels man, cannot be found.

  According to historical materialism, the „contradiction between the development of the productive forces and the relations of production“ is the main reason for the development of history. Moreover, it is believed that this „contradiction“ is often expressed in the form of class struggle. And, ultimately, communism could only be achieved by „abandoning the class struggle of the classes themselves“. But what kind of class struggle existed before capitalist society? As already hinted, class struggle cannot be found from the point of view of the mode of production.

  For example, in feudal society, from the point of view of production relations, the lords and serfs should have engaged in a class struggle, but this was almost invisible. Even if there was a struggle, it was mainly due to the lords‘ misrule. That is, the mode of exchange B of the double service between them was not reached. Thus, even if there was a struggle, it was only possible within the limits of Mode B. In the Middle Ages, the class struggle that transcended Mode B was between the lords and the urban citizens. In other words, in the Middle Ages, the „class struggle“ was not a matter of mode of production. In other words, in the Middle Ages, the „class struggle“ was not about the mode of production, but about the struggle between the mode of exchange B and the mode of exchange C, which extended from the city. And the ultimate victory belonged to the latter.

But as long as this is the case, these are still „class struggles“, not „struggles to abandon class itself“. In fact, these struggles nurture the element of „renunciation of class itself. This is to treat these struggles as epochal „class struggles“. Of course, this element was not realized, but only contributed to the replacement of the dominant class. For example, the French revolution, which was soaring with the proclamation of „liberty, equality, and fraternity,“ ended with the realization of a capitalist society.

So where did the movement to „abandon the class itself“ come from? Generally speaking, it is thought to come from the religious, ideological dimension. That is, not from the economic base, but from the superstructure of ideas. But, in my opinion, it also comes from the economic base, i.e., the exchange model. Only, this is different from models A, B, and C, and it is a model that tries to abandon A, B, and C. And, it is different from a mere idea, but has a compulsive „force“. I will deal with this point later.

  What is clear now is that what was discovered as class struggle before the modern era did not actually come from the mode of production, but from the mode of exchange. Moreover, the same thing can be said about the class struggle in capitalist society. For example, as mentioned earlier, Engels noted the class struggle in England in the 1840s, from which he conceived of „historical materialism,“ but the class struggle in England first ceased in 1848 at the height of the revolutionary movement throughout Europe. Moreover, this was not because the Charter movement failed, but because it succeeded to some extent. After that, trade unions were legalized in England, and soon there appeared what were called labor aristocrats. Then after that came Fabian socialism (social democracy). In other words, the class struggle in England disappeared together with a certain victory of the labor class. Why was this?

At this point, the class struggle disappeared not because the capitalist relations of production disappeared. As a result of the struggle, wage bargaining on the basis of trade unions was legalized. From the point of view of the exchange model, the relationship between the capitalist and the laborer, which up to now was clearly similar to model B or A, became model C. From this point of view, the intense class struggle of the Charter Movement did not arise from the „relations of production“ or the „contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production“, but from the attempt of the new model of exchange to replace the hitherto dominant model of exchange. After that, the labor movement became part of the labor market, i.e., the capitalist market economy. As a result, the apparent class struggle continued, but the „class consciousness of the renounced class“ disappeared.

At the end of the 19th century, after the death of Engels, his disciple Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932) confronted this development and announced the end of Mann’s revolutionary theory. On the other hand, Lenin argued that the worker, in the course of his natural growth, would acquire bourgeois consciousness and lose the class consciousness of the renouncing class, and that class consciousness must therefore be injected from „outside“. The work of Szegedi Lukács György Bernát (1885-1971) in History and Class Consciousness (1923) was the philosophical foundation for this. In their case, by „external“, they meant the idea possessed by the intellectual (party) as a guide. However, this is the same as Plato’s „philosopher = king“, which can only end up laying the foundations for the dictatorship of certain political parties.

  On the other hand, Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) had long denounced the boundaries of historical materialism and tried to bridge the socialist revolution and religion in Thomas Mintzell, Revolutionary Theologian (1921). While Lukács criticizes this as a departure from Marxism, I would like to call attention to the fact that Engels confronted the same problem head-on and made the same point as early as 1848. He resumed the question of how class struggle or socialist revolution was possible at a point in time when the „class struggle“ in England had come to an end. This cannot be thought of from the point of view of „productive forces and relations of production,“ which has long been noted by those who put forward this view.

  Specifically, Engels turned to the study of peasant movements in 16th century Germany (The German Peasant Wars, 1850). There he tried to find „communism“ in the ideas of Thomas  Münzer  (1489-1525), the director of the millennium kingdom movement. Engels had always argued that the „force“ of the movement for socialism or the abandonment of classes originated from the economic base (the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production), but here he sees it as coming from the conceptual and religious dimension. He continued to study the history of primitive Christianity until his later years, but it must be said that he did not go further in asking and thinking about this question.

We might say that Bloch inherited this. He once argued thus, „Only a materialist can be a good Christian, but the proposition that only a Christian can be a good atheist is indeed also possible.“ On the other hand, the Christian theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) had said earlier, „One cannot originally place the two side by side in such a way as ‚Jesus Christ and social movements.‘ It looks like this: the two are in general two things, after which – though differing in degree – they have to be deliberately placed together. The two are just one and the same thing. a. Jesus is the social movement; b. The social movement is Jesus in the modern age.“

  Arguably, they run into the same problem as Engels and try to use the logic of antinomy to connect the disconnection of religion from social movements, i.e. the disconnection of the superstructure of ideas from the economic base. This problem can be solved, however, if the exchange model, rather than the production model, is taken as the economic basis. So far, I have discussed three modes of exchange, to which I will now add mode D.

  Strictly speaking, D is not a mode of exchange. It is something that serves as a drive to negate and abandon „exchange“ (model A, B, or C). It appears as a conceptual and religious force but is deeply related to the economic basis, i.e., exchange. It is for this reason that mode D is able to counter the forces that come from modes A, B, and C. It is not driven by human desire or will. It is not an imaginary thing formed by human desire or will, but, on the contrary, has the „power“ to compel people.

  Mode D is indeed religious. But in that case, all three modes A, B, and C are also religious. For example, although Weber refers to religion as „divine coercion,“ it is merely the mode of exchange A in which God is given and forced to give back, and the state can be said to be a religion based on the mode of exchange B. On the other hand, exchange mode C brings about the religion of the worship of a material god. This appears at first glance to be non-religious. For example, there is now a secularization in advanced capitalist countries that rejects religion. But this is not a religious critique; it simply shows the state of neo-liberalism, where mode C becomes the dominant god of things.

Model D originally emerged as a critique of the above-mentioned religions. Specifically, Model D emerged as a universal religion in various places at the stage when Models A, B, and C had reached a certain level of maturity as world empires. In other words, it was in the form of „religious criticism“ that universal religion emerged. Of course, although it became the religion of the community (A) and the religion of the empire (B) after that, the elements of model D were constantly restored through the movement of heretics. Like Thomas Mintzell’s movement, for example. Thus, Mode D is historically associated with changes in the social constitution. In this sense, although Mode D is not an element of the social constitution in which the modes of exchange are joined, it has survived in it.

  In the modern social constitution, mode C is dominant. But modes A and B have not disappeared, but they remain under mode C in the form of variations. Model B, for example, survives as „power“ even in modern states that have adopted bourgeois law. Moreover, after the disintegration of tribes and communities due to Mode C, Mode A was restored as an „imaginary community“ (Benedict Richard O’Gorman Anderson (1936-2015)). Thus we can say that the social constitution of the modern era took the form of „capital = nation = state“.

  Today, model A operates as something that evokes the impulse to restore the former community, that is, as nationalism. But it cannot go beyond models B and C. On the contrary, it can serve „capital = nation“ as xenophobia. It has brought about fascism, and it may do so in the future. In this regard, Model D is not a return to the community of the past. It is something that is not the same as model A.

  As long as models A, B, and C continue to exist, model D is an impulse to deny them. So, where does Mode D come from? Pattern D looks like something that comes from the sky. But it occurs in the dimension of the economy. Or, Mode D looks like it comes from the future, but it happens in the past.

Where does the „power“ of Model D come from? This question cannot be separated from asking where the „power“ of Model A comes from. That is, how does the exchange of mutual rewards begin? This cannot be expressed in an empirical way. Here I would like to refer to Marx’s statement in the preface to Capital: „In the analysis of economic forms, microscopes and chemical reagents cannot be used. It must be replaced by abstract forces.“ In other words, he uses „abstract forces“ to examine the origins of the commodity mode of exchange C. Thus, we can do the same for other modes of exchange.

  In uncivilized societies, there is no doubt that reciprocal exchange is the principle that forms the building blocks of society. However, it was not initially there. Not only modes B and C, but even mode A did not exist when man was still a hunter-gatherer nomadic stage. There, the production could be said to be equally distributed. It was not possible to accumulate because one was always on the move. There is no need for the wandering tribe to become larger or smaller in size due to hunting. There are no constraints on group members. When encountering other groups, there will be no war, although there should be a simple exchange. I refer to this state as proto-tourism U.

  This state changed because they started to settle everywhere due to the change of global climate. After that, disputes between people and the gap between rich and poor arose in the group. In addition, because of settlement, exchange with other groups became necessary and became difficult. It can be said that the exchange pattern A, the reciprocity of gift, started at this time. Of course, it is not something that people think up with their efforts, but something that comes beyond their consciousness.

  For this point, I will refer to Freud’s theory. Granted, this is different from what he wrote in Totem and Taboo. Freud here tries to explain the principle of the formation of „brotherly alliances“ in uncivilized societies in terms of brothers „killing the original father“. But the „original father“ was a hypothesis conceived by Darwin from the gorilla society, and it was just a projection of the patriarchal system established at the state stage in the distant past. Freud’s hypothesis has been completely discredited today. However, I think that Freud’s theory, based on its own lack of live use, can explain the origin of reciprocal exchange. What I want to talk about here is the import of the late Freudian theory of the „death wish“.

By the desire to die, I mean the desire of the organism (life) to return to inorganic matter. „Here there must be two kinds of desires. One is the desire to preserve the living entity and gradually unite it into large units; the other is the opposite, the desire to dissolve these units and strive to bring them back to their original inorganic state.“ I think that it is more relevant to the social constitution than to the individual. When human beings are mobile, they are in an „inorganic state“. After settlement, the „organic state“ arises, and it is here that inequalities and disputes begin to occur.

  At this point, what wants to restore the „inorganic state“ is the desire to die, which is first directed toward the outside as aggression. But, according to Freud, when this desire is directed inward, it becomes something that regulates its own aggressiveness as a superego. It can be said that the reciprocal exchange of the gift appears in this posture. One must gift, one must accept the gift, and one must give back. In this case, the spirit-like thing attached to the gifted object appears to be compelling people. However, the reason why the „power“ of mode A is repeatedly forced is that it can be said to be the return of the original mobility U that disappeared due to settlement. It operates as the force that prevents the idea of the creation of classes and states.

  After the clan society, human society was dominated by the conceptual „power“ brought by mode B and mode C. And mode A was under mode B. Moreover, mode A remains in the principle of community under mode B. However, as mentioned earlier, when modes A, B, and C reached a certain stage, i.e., the stage of world empire, mode D appeared as a universal religion. The universal religion is mode D, and mode D is the universal religion. In other words, a universal religion divorced from its economic base is impossible.

  Mode D is not the return of Mode A, but the return of the original wanderlust U. Thus, Mode D is not oriented to the past, but aspires to the future. Granted, this is something different from human aspirations and idle dreams, something that is repeatedly forced. What Mode D brings is the possibility of confronting the „forces“ of Modes A, B and C in various ways. We can also place literature and art in this context. Model D opens up the possibility of a utopia in literature and art that is not only defined by the productive forces and relations of production, but also transcends these elements. Although Bloch tries to lay the foundations of „existentialism“ for this and to develop a mystery, it is not a mystery if one thinks of it in terms of the exchange model according to materialism.

  As long as the forces of modes A, B, and C continue to exist, mode D will try to return to them in a compulsive way, and to abandon them. Thus, as long as „communism“ is mode D, it is historically inevitable. These are the main points of my discussion in „The Construction of World History“.

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