The focus of his essay is to develop the concept of “kinship
as a key dimension in modern state relations….”
More interesting to me is the underlying idea of imagined kinship as opposed to actual
kinship. (In all cases, emphasis added.)
Kinship drives culture, and
cultural rules shape society.
This is quite easy for most to understand and accept, I hope.
The nation most dependent on invented kinship as the basis of its
politics is the United States…
Who does the inventing?
Isn’t that the question? And the answer
Imagined kinship is the foundation
of national community…. Imagined community also makes the state the trusted manager of this process…
There you have it.
Nations remain together, and belong
together, because people believe, at some level, that they are a clan, a tribe,
This belief is certainly being challenged today both in the
United States and between the states of Europe.
But if the nation, however amazing
and wondrous, is simply a collective human artifact, then the nation-state is a
construct within a construct. The state, arguably, is even more dependent on
conscious collective loyalty than is the nation, its mother.
Hence, explaining the need for the state to perpetuate myths
This judgment has been proven
throughout modernity—the epoch of the nation-state. Nations since 1789 have
overturned state regimes and their establishments by the hundreds. Hence, it is understandable, even necessary,
that the state accomplish three things to ensure its perpetuity.
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
First, it must cement the
conviction that the nation and its state form
a unitary body, which the state rules as the head (the caput), and the
nation lives as the body: a true
"body politic" that is necessary only to support the ruling life and
thought of the head.
Second, the state must arrange the
civic—even the daily personal life—of the nation so that it is always ritually and symbolically reminded in public display that
the body serves the state's sacred vision (again, the US Pledge of Allegiance
is a prime example).
Finally, the state must seize
constitutional power to claim the lives of its citizens in times of crisis, so
that such authority over the body, however the idea is sold politically, is
understood by all citizens to rest with the state.
There should be no doubt that the life of the state depends
on the death of kinship and traditional culture; this is why the state works so
hard to destroy it.
There will be something
that holds society together beyond respect for property. Libertarians who avoid this avoid fundamental
human nature; we have no choice on this matter.
The only question that remains: what shall be that something?
I suggest kinship and culture. Legislation from afar and by strangers (if
not enemies) has proven neither stable nor favorable toward peace.