After World War II, Japanese intellectuals believed that world history was moving inexorably toward bourgeois democracy and then socialism. But who would be the agents - the active "subjects" - of that revolution in Japan? Intensely debated at the time, this question of active subjectivity influenced popular ideas about nationalism and social change that still affect Japanese political culture today. Here, J. Victor Koschmann analyzes the debate over subjectivity. He traces the arguments of intellectuals from various disciplines and political viewpoints, and asserts that despite their stress on individual autonomy, they all came to define subjectivity in terms of deterministic historical structures, thus ultimately deferring the possibility of radical change in Japan.