As mentioned in Part 2 of the Dr. Steinhoff interview, the ideological differences between the dozens of New Left sects are quite “arcane” to say the least. And yet, there must have been some manner of articulated position to separate one group from another. In order to give some sense of the differences, I have translated this satirical text from Asahi Journal, published on December 29, 1968, about the each group’s hypothetical reaction if the revolution started one morning.
(Text found in the Mainichi publication『連合赤軍・”狼”たちの時代―1969-1975』.)
if the Revolution Suddenly Erupted One Morning
Graffiti in the bathroom of the Law Department at Tokyo University
Minsei (民青): Horrified, they’d rush to call Yoyogi (Japanese Communist Party headquarters), but since they have no idea what is going on, they’d push together all their furniture into a barricade, lock the door, and hide in the closet.
Bund (ブント): They wouldn’t believe the news, exclaiming, “We haven’t finished off the riot police, so there’s no way the revolution has begun!”
Kakumaru (革マル): They’d play it all cool, looking up at the sky and muttering, “Any revolution that we didn’t start could not possibly be real, so we aren’t going to liberate no one from alienation.”
Chūkaku (中核): They’d demand, “Let us join in,” and when denied, would cry, “They are Stalinist agents!” to deaf ears.
(United Socialist) Front (フロント): They’d be busy calling to arrange for teachers to hold a teach-in about the revolution.
Kaihō (解放): They’d keep repeating their one idiot slogan “We’re against the rationalization of revolutionary power!” until everyone finally realized how dumb they are.
ML (マルクス・レーニン主義派): Flustered, they’d call Beijing. But not being able to connect, they’d be completely perplexed: “How could a revolution start without a people’s war?” Then they’d retreat back to the farms with dour faces.
Proletariat Army (プロ軍): They’d say, “What? This is shitty!” and start pouring sulfuric acid into bottles to get ready for the counterrevolution.
Tokyo University Law Department Students (東大法学部学生): A call to the National Personnel Authority (人事院) would not convince them, so they’d go there to directly confirm it themselves. But they’d be terrorized to learn that the Civil Service Exam (国家公務員試験) had been abolished. After pulling themselves together, they’d throw out their statute books (六法全書) and start leafing through works by Stalin, Guevara, and Lenin. But not being able to understand the sentiments, they start preparations to make a placard that reads “Anti-Violence, Anti-Blockade.”
1. Minsei (民青) is the nickname for the Democratic Youth League of Japan (日本民主青年同盟) — a junior organization of the Japanese Communist Party. They were non-New Left student activists.
2. Kakumaru and Chūkaku are two factions of the Revolutionary Communist League that have been at war with each other for decades.
3. Front were the “Socialist League” and believed in “structural reform.”
4. Kaihō — meaning “liberation” — were an extremist offshoot of the Japan Socialist Party-affiliated Japan Socialist Youth League (日本社会主義青年同盟) nicknamed Shaseidō (社青同).
5. ML were an offshoot of Bund who took up Maoist ideology.
6. Pro-gun were Fourth Internationalist Trotskyites.
7. The Japanese bureaucracy has traditionally come from the Law Department of Tokyo University.