Desire Versus Ego

On How Kaneko Fumiko Transcended Stirnean Egoism

Authors

  • Sašo DOLINŠEK Osaka University, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Japan

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2022.10.3.241-272

Keywords:

Kaneko Fumiko, egoism, Max Stirner, psychoanalysis, desire, ego

Abstract

Kaneko Fumiko (1903–1926) was an anarchist rebel during the Taishō era of modern Japan. She was arrested in 1923 and charged with high treason for participating in a plot to attack the imperial family. She also had connections with members of the Korean national liberation movement, most notably her partner Park Yeol. Her experience of abuse, abandonment, and exploitation growing up led her to form a highly critical and dismissive attitude towards established norms and institutions, which she saw as hypocritical, self-serving and oppressive. She describes her position as anarchist, nihilist and egoist and cites Max Stirner, the founder of egoism, as her most significant influence. Egoism is a radical individualism that denies any authority and espouses that the individual pursues her self-interest unhindered.

Kaneko strived to always live by her egoist principles by following her wishes. However, in one of the letters she gave to the court during her imprisonment, she doubts a past decision. Namely, she felt that Park was at one point making decisions unilaterally and not respecting her will. Hence, she wrote that, according to her egoism, she should have left Park. Nonetheless, in the same letter, she reaffirms her love for Park and defiantly accepts all the consequences of their relationship, including the death sentence. Using psychoanalytic theory from the Lacanian tradition, I argue that Kaneko’s confirmation of her love for Park indicates fidelity to her desire. This fidelity opens up a dimension where she can be more faithful to herself than through Stirnean egoism.

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Published

02.09.2022

How to Cite

Dolinšek, S. (2022). Desire Versus Ego: On How Kaneko Fumiko Transcended Stirnean Egoism. Asian Studies, 10(3), 241–272. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2022.10.3.241-272