Summarizing The Desire for Mutual Recognition

Chapter 4: The Imaginary Community: The Family, The Nation, and “Race”

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This chapter describes the role that imaginary forms of community play in securing the alienated self against its own desire for authentic mutual recognition with the other, with others. Through a discussion of nationalism in particular, the chapter describes the way that the isolated person comes through his or her conditioning to imagine him or herself as "with" others in an idealized, "hallucinated" community. Because the self is always vulnerable to the pull of desire that threatens him or her with humiliation, we require shared "belief" in an idealized we that constructs a demonized 'enemy' to repeatedly, obsessively secure itself. The chapter also addresses the origins of naziism and white racism as manifestations of this process. Yet allowance is also made for authentic manifestations of national community that carry, at certain rising historical moments, the true desire for mutuality of presence to and with others that always co-constitutes our social life.

Peter Gabel