Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
The Anarchism of Shifu : Its Logic and Sense of Value
Hiroshi Ishikawa
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1993 Volume 102 Issue 8 Pages 1441-1476,1606-


[Liu] Shifu 師復 (1884-1915) was one of the pioneer anarchists in modern Chinese history. He established the Huiming xueshe 晦鳴学舎 in Guangzhou in 1912 for the research and promotion of anarchism, and began to publish Huiming lu 晦鳴録 (later Minsheng 民声), its journal, in 1913. He was the first active Chinese anarchist inside China, while other Chinese anarchist movements were active outside China in Tokyo and Paris before the Revolution of 1911. Since Shifu was deeply influenced by Kropotkin, students have identified Shifu's anarchism with this Russian thinker. If one reads Shifu's works carefully, however, he will find significant differences between the two, which reveal characteristics not only of Shifu's anarchism in particular, but also of modern Chinese anarchism in general. In this paper the author analyzes Shifu's thought focussing on his logic and sense of value in comparison with modern European anarchists, including Kropotkin. In Chapter I he discusses Shifu's image of the ideal society. For European anarchists freedom was their ultimate common value, and therefore they had the common image of an ideal society where freedom was perfectly fulfilled, in spite of differences and contradictions in terms of how to realize it. On the other hand, for Shifu freedom was one of the esteemed values along with equality, social justice, moral perfection and peace. Shifu thought that these values were compatible with each other, and therefore in his ideal society all these values would have to be fulfilled simultaneously and perpetually. In Chapter II the author examines Shifu's logic in his denial of the government with special reference to Bakunin's logic. Bakunin denied government within a basic framework of individual freedom vis-a-vis government, and to him the establishment of government meant the suppression of individual freedom. The abolition of government was required, more than anything, in order to protect and realize individual freedom. In the case of Shifu, his basic framework was the imperfect society at present and the ideal society. To him the contemporary society was imperfect not only because it suppressed individual freedom, but also because it showed social injustice, inequality, crime, and moral corruption. Shifu thought all these evils were due to the existence of government. To him the abolition of government meant, more than anything, the realization of ideal society. Chapter III analyzes Shifu's notion of ziyou 自由, or freedom. His notion of ziyou was harmonious, because to him individual freedom meant not the freedom of isolated individuals, but the freedom of individuals in a community. He thought men were community-oriented by nature, thus communality had been built into his notion of ziyou from the beginning. In other words, although he frequently mentioned juedui ziyou 絶対自由 (absolute freedom) or wuzhixian zhi ziyou 無制限之自由 (unlimited freedom), his ziyou was relative and limited in reality, because it was justified as far as it was compatible with equality and social justice among community members. To European anarchists the realization of individual freedom was the ultimate object, and since it could not be realized in any governmental society, they planned ideal society which was non-governmental. To Shifu the realization of ideal community, which was harmonious and free from all the evils of contemporary governmental society, was the ultimate object. Individual freedom was only one of the values he thought should be pursued.

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© 1993 The Historical Society of Japan
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