Sho Takahashi

Takahashi’s Monument to N. I. Bukharin

What if history had gone differently? What if Stalin and his faction had not captured the government machinery of the USSR and killed off his rivals, in particular Nikolai Bukharin (1888-1938) like an Ottoman despot?

Takahashi lets his imagination run and wonders whether the NEP (New Economic Policy) for which Bukharin worked in the 1920s, would have produced the rapid economic development of Russia, like that more recently in China and South Korea.

Bukharin was a cultured, civilised, internationalist who saw technology and production, industrial and agricultural, as based on science. He wanted to develop science intensively and wrote copiously on everything from poetry to heavy industry, the English revolution (he had been a student of mathematics and science in Edinburgh in 1913), Jack London’s novels…

However, Bukharin was executed by Stalin in 1938. Nevertheless, the vision that things could have taken another course, like Borges’ “Garden of Branching Paths”, is seductive. By chance or necessity would the war have been different? This was also the theme of Tolstoi’s “War and Peace”. How may an individual influence events?

As representing the traditional enemies, Russia and communism were forbidden interests in Japan, paradoxically until the American occupation of 1945-51. In the post-war period the Japanese Communist Party at one time reached 10% support.