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Democracy had let history repeat itself

post: 2013/02/21

During our short stay in Tokyo, we visited the Japanese parliament, the Yasukuni Shrine and the Imperial Palace. And by coincidence, we could also see the Japanese election. Below, I have listed the slogans of each party and the number of seats in parliament, they achieved.
What they all have in common is that they all emphasize that only they can solve all the complicated problems of Japan.

(294) Liberal Democratic Party of Japan:Take back Japan!
(57) Democratic Party of Japan: Making Decisions to Get Things Moving
(54) Japan Restoration Party: Restoration Now!
(31) New Komeito: Rebuild Japan
(18) Your Party: Fighting for Reform
(9) Tomorrow Party of Japan: For a Tomorrow with Hope for Everyone
(8) Japanese Communist Party: Making Proposals, Taking Action
(2) Social Democratic Party: Rebuild Life
(1) People’s New Party: Japan – Restart!
(1) New Party DAICHI. The Oath of New Party DAICHI (number one)
(0) New Renaissance Party: For a Japan to be Proud of in the Whole World!
(0) New Japan Party: For Amagasaki. For Japan.

Believing in democracy and counting on the institutions of the democratic system is considered one of the most common values today. It is also a symbol of progress. Thus, if a country does not apply the democratic system, this country is viewed as being behind the times and not modern. But can we really say that the “democratic” is actually so “avant-garde”?

The second argument from this short stay is “should a contemporary art practitioner long for being a architect of the age of imperialism? Take Matsunosuke Moriyama (1869-1949) and Georges-Eugene Haussmann (1809-1891) for example. Moriyama was involved with Taiwan’s architecture and city planning; Haussmann changed the shape of Paris. Through the strength of politics and imperialism, both of them implemented their creative ideals. With no doubt they contributed to big changes in the societies of their time. Creating something in this way from the very beginning, and achieving concrete results, could affect people and even very touching.

However, the value of contemporary art lies not in providing methods for solving problems. If that would be the business of contemporary art, it would like many political parties declare its manifesto in public spaces and simply believe that art can solve the problems of the country. Also, contemporary art functions without relying on power. The architecture of the age of imperialism does not criticise imperialism in the least, and the pyramidal shape at the forefront of the Japanese parliament building forms a motif of praise of power. But the value of contemporary art should lie in its critical nature.

Contemporary art is not deal with imperialism, but with the principles of democracy that came after the collapse of imperialism. After the end of World War II, the concept of democracy penetrated Asian countries, but actually it just built up a system of capitalism under the name of “freedom”. And the true meaning of the “democratic” does not lie in the destruction of empires and the emphasis of values of the individual; it lies in emphasizing the consciousness of the mass. Since voting is the only practice we can perform, it leads to violence and both sides competing for profits. In the midst of this system, the exception of contemporary art becomes extremely important because it does not count the criticism of individuals in numbers, but remains as testimony for historical reference.

The conclusion is although there are many historical examples, what we can say from the result of the Japanese election is that history repeats itself due to democracy.