One Person's Terminal Political Community

717 Words3 Pages
With a nation being a terminal political community and defined by Rupert Emerson as a "community that commands ultimate loyalty, overriding claims of smaller collectivities which are included within it, and excluding claims of collectivities that are external to it, or cut across it," I identify myself as a member of the terminal political community of Americans. On the other hand, I also belong to a collectivity that lacks the terminal quality, namely the Buddhism church. Although there are similarities of the structural and psychological basis of my membership in both the Americans and the Buddhism church, the claims that Americans make of me, such as obligations, greatly exceed that of the Buddhism church's claims. For my membership as an American, the structural basis or the system's boundaries where the membership comes from the vantage point of the system, the nation depicts an imagined community, imagined as both inherently limited and as sovereign. Although nations may have flexible boundaries, nations have boundaries nevertheless for they are particular communities. Nations can create experiences of community and commonality that people value greatly, since they aid people in making sense of who they are and build reciprocal bonds between strangers--fellow citizens who will never know each other. Therefore, the nation is "imagined" because the members of United States will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lies the image of their communion, and "limited" because encompassing perhaps a million living human beings, has finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. In addition, nation symbolizes "community," because, regardless of the ... ... middle of paper ... ...e less intense by members being in the same community. As for the claims, the church puts effort in having its community socialize their children, friends, and other family members, into its religion. Also, by relying on the power of symbols, the church effectively controls its worshipper. Via my identification of the terminal political community as an American and my membership in the collectivity of the Buddhism church that lacks the terminal quality, the structural and psychological basis of my membership in both community are similar. However, the claims that Americans make of me, like obligations, surpass that of the Buddhism church's claims. One will wonder why beliefs can be held by masses of people who do not experience them as beliefs, meaning that the beliefs serve as the "givens" of a political community, even if they are not understood as such.
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