No doubt, the book is important. Yet what I would emphasize is that although it bears political implications, recommending the ‘return to progressive taxation’, capitalism, an economic system based on private property, is considered autonomously from politics–political history and theory. This is even more striking as the author claims it is a social theory.
In this context, the “high levels of taxation” is indeed ‘exceptional’ for capitalism itself by definition, but the same did present a part of the rules of game operating capitalism during the progressive taxation period as an economic policy of the welfare state–the nation state. Consequently, as such it is not ‘exceptional’ to the latter at all, it is just its economic policy. Indeed, seek behind capitalism’s recent comeback as an independent player with its destabilizing consequences the failure of social democracy as a political ideology and theory as well as generally, that of the nation-state, modernity’s project based among others on the politics-economics separation. in short, economics– namely, capitalism–has undermined politics, kept under the auspices of the most ambiguous term of ‘globalization’. Not surprisingly, according to capitalism’s utilitarian nature, it mainly appreciates ‘me’ but less ‘us’, so being freed from state’s restraints it comes into contradiction with society and state representing ‘us’. In fact, we have got capitalism ‘as it is’–the wild capitalism–when the state relations themselves have been revisited in the idiom of the economic way of thinking. That it ‘is bound to create tremendous inequality of wealth’ it lies in its own economic nature, but whether it would be so actually it would depend on state economic policy. So do not blame capitalism as such; it is not bad or good in itself. Blame politics and more narrowly, political theory or even the humanities in general for lack in the competence in theorizing the separation or rather, the politics-economics relation. Additionally, a clear answer to what is a common good and how it relates to a person’s individual interests and needs is needed. In that case, the triad of structure, culture and agency should be included in such a theoretical frame. The reviewer’s notice that the book tends to ignore agency and agency-structure relation seems to be to the point here.
Another important methodological topic is the notion that literature is a mirror of society.
I theorize about the topics in a paper available at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10746-013-9274-0
“Inherently, there is nothing wrong with old ideas; rather, what is problematic is to misunderstand why such ideas wither, and to fail to apply them afresh to modern problems.”
The good ideas of solidarity, mutual help, moderation, and so on do not wither away at all, but their consideration on the Left does wither as they consider the ideas separately from the general context where they obtain their clear meaning in the first instance–that of a nation. The community, solidarity, social cohesion, and welfare state bemoaned by the Left make sense ideologically, economically, and politically in this narrative of a nation. Like it or not, until this is comprehended their thought will remain “largely unoriginal”.
Nations or particular cultures have striven to realize their essence rather than just their presence. But to realize their particular nature they must remain alive as well. It is this essence -presence gap where global governance could establish itself; yet nation-state would focus on restoring its authority when possible. In other words, if imagine that global government exists, that would be again, a unipolar world actually, camouflaged by respective rhetoric.
If proceed with the presented logic of Bourdieu’s picture of human society, one could notice that the human societal being is reduced to power, power relations and resources, and the evolved political. In other words, power is exclusive existential representative of the sociocultural. Yet such a framework imposes difficulties on other lines of its own thought. For example, if the very nature of society consists of power, intellectuals engaged with power excess and conflicts could only lament: How much great would be their intellectual capacities they could only acknowledge the status quo that the nature of society is coercive throughout–built on power relations exclusively. In this framework, the intention of transforming society to the better is a declaration of kind wishes because it isn’t supported by it theoretically due to that image of society it has already conceptualized. There, what transcends power relations as the core of societal being is simply taken for granted and unsupported theoretically. Put otherwise, it is artificially added to research narrative and hangs in the air. For example, there is no place for such category as legitimate force for the same reason, and its articulations of culture are not persuasive. In general, the picture of sociocultural relations is likely to resemble those of atoms subjected to coercive power relations which is indeed a poor narrative for understanding human society. Humans not only participate in power relations but also can enjoy harmony and peace, and both should find their proper arguments in a framework theorizing the sociocultural. Power is important but it is not the only or main representative of human being but it has a certain meaning or function. However, until one learns the context attributing the meaning to power, one cannot learn what power exactly is; thus intellectuals engaged with power conflicts could hardly succeed. The reflection on the context one could find at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10746-013-9274-0 and/or at http://philpapers.org/rec/KANTCM.Book Review: Symbolic Power, Politics and Intellectuals: The Political Sociology of Pierre BourdieuBook Review: Symbolic Power, Politics and Intellectuals: The Political Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu