• Michael Vlahos

“America: Imagined Community, Imagined Kinship”

Kinship drives culture, and imagined kinship is the foundation of national community.

Why imagined? “It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.”

Let that sink in. Then look at this nation, right now.

In the beginning, our Constitution created something no more “real” in itself than the boundary membrane holding our collective belief — which is belief in its own reality.

Yet for Americans, that belief is 100% imagined. We have made such imagining real, but this reality can be sustained only by our belief in one another.

Nations remain together, and belong together, because people believe, at some level, that they are a clan, a tribe, a family.


Without that belief there can be no nation. In America, that belief has died. It has been succeeded by shards of new belief, scattered among smaller groups and factions.

New clans, tribes, and families have replaced the American nation.

Hence, civil war is now no more than a ritual of succession — where former kinship is buried, and new blood ties baptized.


My 2015 essay — “America: Imagined Community, Imagined Kinship” — is here. If you want to further explore the unique ways this former nation created itself, and reached out to others in framing its world destiny,

Check it out. This is a good day for such reflection.

[The link will take you to CTX Journal (Vol. 5 No. 3, August 2015), p. 36. To read my essay, just scroll down to p.37]