Otsuka argued that Robinson Crusoe_s approach to life was the outward flesh-and-blood manifestation of an ethos that was ingrained in every Englishman at that time. A man like Crusoe, who planned his life rationally and worked diligently, was thus the epitome of modern man and the appearance of such self-sufficient individuals was the basis of modern society.
The problem here is whether a man like Robinson Crusoe can be held up as a standard-bearer for capitalism. Crusoe builds enclosures on a desert island, views this land as his own, and manages his domain efficiently. After living there for 27 years, he refers to himself as the lord of the island. In this sense, he has acquired the rights of a capitalist as the owner of the means of production. In his twenty-fourth year as a castaway, Crusoe helps a native who arrived on the island, a young man from the Caribbean whom he calls Man Friday. Crusoe teaches Man Friday English and the Bible, but makes no attempt to learn a single word of Man Friday_s language and treats him as a slave. This attitude well reflects the character of the British in the days when they ruled one fourth of the land and population of the world. Traditionally, Japan has viewed this British attitude towards land as the standard and taken the establishment of private land ownership rights as the key to modernization. The greatest bone of contention in the debate on Japanese capitalism is the evaluation of the Land Tax Reform Law of 1873. Opinions are divided into the two opposing camps of the Rono group who claim that modern land ownership was established with the Land Tax Reform Law and the Koza group who argue that the Law was half modern and half feudal because it did not abolish payment in kind by tenant farmers. Otsuka took the latter view, but regardless of the position they took on the Land Tax Reform Law, this did not affect the firm belief of both groups that land ownership constitutes the basis of modern society.
But is the establishment of exclusive private ownership really the cornerstone of modern economic development? According to Alan MacFarlane in his study The Origins of English Individualism, land was not owned in common but exclusively owned by individuals long before the modern era in Britain. The British believed that land ownership was a guarantee of freedom and had a characteristic cultural tradition of exclusive private ownership. However, to posit this ancient custom of exclusive land ownership as the basis of modernization is to overestimate its importance. Contemporary Russia approved private ownership based on the advice of British and American experts, but with chaotic results, while China has succeeded in achieving economic development without abolishing the public ownership of land. It must therefore be concluded that private ownership is not a necessary condition for modernization.
Development Resulting from the Samurai_s _Freedom of Non-ownership_
The samurai were originally landed feudal lords who directly managed their domains, as indicated by the old appellation jizamurai (landed samurai). From the end of the Sengoku period (1467_1568) to the beginning of the Edo era, a separation occurred between the roles and lives of the peasant and warrior classes. During the Sengoku period, samurai became specialized as organized fighting groups and were increasingly compelled to take up residence in castle towns. This process was promoted further by the warlords Oda Nobunaga (1534_82) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537_98). In 1588, Hideyoshi carried out his famous _sword hunt,_ in which peasants were prohibited from carrying weapons or moving to another village. As a result, Japan_s social system in the Edo era was diametrically opposed to that of Britain: the peasants (workers) owned the means of production and the samurai (managers) were deprived of it. In Britain the division was between capitalists and workers, but in Japan it was between managers and workers.
As we have seen, Marx used the term _primitive accumulation_ to describe the process whereby peasants are deprived of their land and become propertyles