Huntington compares civilizations to families in order to better explain their structure, calling countries in a given civilization "cultural kin." This means that they share the same culture, and can relate to one another on this basis in the same way that relatives do. Expanding the comparison via metaphor, Huntington writes, "A civilization is an extended family and, like older members of a family, core states provide their relatives with both support and discipline. In the absence of that kinship, the ability of a more powerful state to resolve conflicts in and impose order on its region is limited." He uses the example of a family in order to give more context for how core states interact with the other states in a civilization. This interaction is complicated by the duality of both disciplining and supporting these other states. The two can be hard to understand as operating at the same time. However, Huntington's comparison to an "older relative" helps readers to grasp that this kind of structure can lend itself to being both strict and loving at the same time, in order to protect the best interests of those who are close to us.
The Clash of Civilizations Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Clash of Civilizations is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.