Famine raged; the poor starved. Inept and corrupt, the government looked on, unmoved.

That describes many places and times. It describes Osaka in 1837. In Europe, socialist consciousness was dawning. In Japan, shut tight for two centuries against the outside world, revolt against the established order was more likely to be Confucian.

This is strange. Confucianism was the established order. Rival doctrines were banned. The "mandate of heaven" justified — or was held to — the ruler's rule. The subject could but submit. This was as natural — or held to be — as a son's submission to his father.