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On the State Lectures at the College de France

Book Reviews
infused with the new insights drawn from critical theory. The final part argues that anti-capitalism should centre on criticising not specific
types of actor – capitalists, bankers, landlords
– but the social relations that are expressed in
these categories. This argument is illustrated by
an unexpected but revealing analysis of antiSemitism and its relation to anti-capitalism.
The book concludes that, rather than seeking
scapegoats or imaginary futures, we should
embrace uncertainty and strive to change our
lived experience.
Hugo Radice
(University of Leeds)
On the State: Lectures at the Collège de
France 1989–1992 by Pierre Bourdieu.
Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014. 449pp., £30.00 (h/b),
ISBN 9780745663296
On the State is a collection of Pierre
Bourdieu’s lectures given at the Collège de
France between 1989 and 1992. It is a lattice
composed of his texts, commentaries, dialogues and digressions representing a very
broad coverage of the state. To review the
book is not easy, not simply because it is a
collection of lecture notes, but also because
of the wide variety of topics on theorising the
state and also because of the methodological
discussions covered in all the lectures. While
criticising the conventional approaches to the
state, including Weberian, institutional and
particularly Marxist approaches, Bourdieu
mainly addresses the ways of analysing the
state and suggests an ethno-methodological
approach as a way to analyse this ‘unthinkable object’. That is, you have to ask anthropological, ethno-methodological questions
together with global questions to have adequate questions on the state (p. 171).
The state is primarily a legitimator.
Bourdieu modifies the classical definition of
the Weberian state ‘as the monopoly of legitimate physical and symbolic violence’ (p. 4).
‘Symbolic’ is one of the key words in the
book; it is particularly key to entering
Bourdieu’s sophisticated mind. With specific
reference to Durkheim, Bourdieu insists on the
cultural political aspect of the rise of capitalism
(p. 153) and gives priority to symbolic capital
in the formation of the state. Symbolic capital
is formulated against the reductionist and
economistic understanding of Marxism.
Although the lectures mention the interdependence between the accumulation of capital
and the accumulation of symbolic capital (p.
203), their main objective is to highlight the
role of ‘symbolic’ in the unique foundation of
the state. With this aim, Bourdieu talks about
dynasties, absolute states, feudalism and the
modern state under the guidance of genetic
structuralism. He gives particular weight to
empirical macro-sociology.
One of the most significant contributions
of the lectures is the emphasis on seeing the
state as a mechanism, as a field in itself and
also as a junction of sub-fields. The power of
the state cannot be sought in the functions it
fulfils but in the way it universalises itself and
becomes obsequium, (p. 35) a term from
This enormous collection of lecture notes
could make you feel lost in different countries and different historical periods, but it is
successful in sounding very coherent with a
very fluent narrative, and it is not distracting
for the reader. These lectures certainly present an illuminating and broad content that
any social scientist – not necessarily political scientists – should benefit from when
reading this book.
Ezgi Pinar
(Istanbul University)
Just War Theory by Thom Brooks (ed.).
Leiden: Brill, 2013. 222pp. £85.00 (h/b), ISBN
Just War Theory is a collection of 10 articles
from the recently formed Journal of Moral
Philosophy, selected and introduced by the
journal’s founder and editor, Thom Brooks.
(Of the 10 essays, 3 are by the same author:
Gerhard Overland of Oslo University.)
According to the editor, the essays were
selected not on the basis of a unifying theme
or ‘single narrative’, but rather to ‘help provide clarifying illumination on central
debates and ideas in the field’ (p. 6). The