The Indispensable Metaphor of War: On Populist Politics and the Contradictions of the State's Monopoly of Force


Steinert, Heinz. 2003. “The Indispensable Metaphor of War: On Populist Politics and the Contradictions of the State’s Monopoly of Force.” Theoretical Criminology 7 (3): 265–91.

Author: Heinz Steinert


The hegemonic use of the war metaphor, especially in the field of `crime and punishment', is explained by its usefulness for the `populist structure' of politics. Warfare, punishment and policing are three different forms of the state monopoly of force with different logics and restrictions. The universalization of the experience of war is examined historically. Military basic training is a training in helplessness and authoritarianism. The `process of civilization' has led to war as mass destruction of population and infrastructure in the 20th century. In the populist appeal, value orientations such as `(patriarchal) family/community' and `warrior/masculinity' are mobilized. Populist politics connects these social values to `warfare' as well as to `crime and punishment'.

Keywords: army basic training, military history, policing, populist politics, war metaphor

Topics: Armed Conflict, Citizenship, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Militarization

Year: 2003

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