“The group looked at from the outside comes into view as a social object, lending by its appearance and by the apparent processes that go on inside it, credence to the organismic illusion.
This is a mirage; as one approaches closer there is no organism anywhere.
A group, whose unification is achieved through the reciprocal interiorisation by each of each other, in which neither a ‘common object’, nor organisational or institutional structures, etc. have a primary function as a kind of group ‘cement’, I shall call a nexus.
The unity of the nexus is in the interior of each synthesis. Each such act of synthesis is bound by reciprocal interiority with every other synthesis of the same nexus, in so far as it is also the interiority of every other synthesis. The unity of the nexus is the unification made by each person of the plurality of syntheses.
This social structure of the completely achieved nexus is its unity as ubiquity. It is a ubiquity of heres, whereas the series of others is always
elsewhere, always there. The series is a circular flight. It is elusive. It is never here and now; never in my thinking, always in what I think the others think. The nexus exists only in so far as each person incarnates the nexus. The nexus is everywhere, in each person, and is nowhere else than in each. The nexus is at the opposite pole from the series, in that each person acknowledges affiliation to it, regards the other as co-essential to him, and assumes that the other regards him as co-essential to the other.
‘We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.’ (Chesterton)
In this group of reciprocal loyalty, of brotherhood unto death, each freedom is reciprocally pledged, one to the other.
In the nexal family the unity of the group is achieved through the interiorisation by each of the group, and the danger to each person (since the person is essential to the nexus, and the nexus is essential to the person) is the dissolution or dispersion of ‘the family’. This can come about only by one person after another dissolving it in themselves. A united ‘family’ exists only as long as each person acts in terms of its existence. Each person may then act on the other person to coerce him (by sympathy, blackmail, indebtedness, guilt, gratitude, or naked violence) into maintaining his interiorisation of the group unchanged.
The nexal family is then the ‘entity’ that has to be preserved in each person, and served by each person, whom one lives and dies for: and which in turn offers life for loyalty, and death for desertion. Any deflection from the nexus (betrayal, treason, heresy, etc.) is deservedly, by nexus ethics, punishable: and the worst punishment devisable by the ‘group men’ is exile or ex-communication.
The condition of permanence of such a nexus, whose sole existence is each person’s interiorisation of it, is the successful re-invention of whatever gives such interiorisation its raison d’être. If there is no external danger, then danger and terror have to be invented and maintained. Each person has to act on the others to maintain the nexus in them.”
R. D. Laing, Series And Nexus In The Family, New Left Review I/15, May-June 1962