Against Oikophobia…

Not all leftists hate England but far too many of them do. Does that sound like an ad hominem assertion? Am I demonising my rhetorical opponents? No. Oikophobia, the aversion to one’s home, is blatant in the writings of far too many progressive commentators. Take Tom Whyman, writing for the New York Times.

Mr Whyman – a philosopher, best known for arguing in the Guardian that the men and women rallying to clean their London neighbourhoods in the aftermath of the riots that left a trail of burned-out buildings and looted shops in August 2011 were displaying quasi-fascist tendencies – writes of how much he dislikes his little hometown of Alresford. It is his “personal hell”. You might note that it is a prosperous and peaceful place, and that he may wish to experience war, hunger and tyranny before making such a judgement, but Whyman assures us that there are “demons crawling”. What kind of dreadful phenomena might lurk beneath the surface of this quiet Hampshire town? People don’t look very nice.

“You can see [the demons] in the looks that residents give you when they pass,” says Whyman, with a shudder, “Bullying you with eyes that you recognize from the primary school lunchroom”. What kind of awful insecurity is it that makes one feel a slightly unfriendly look is a hellish experience? What tortures did this poor chap go through in his school lunch hours? I hope I do not have to write more on how absurd this is, though I will add that when the conservative writer Jane Kelly wrote of her dislike for the demeanour of Muslims in her neighbourhood she was pilloried as a racist paranoiac. One may not shrink from people of other nationalities but prejudice against one’s countrymen is respectable.

Mr Whyman grumps about public transport, fuelling one’s desire to propose that he spend a year living in Venezuala, and then focuses his outrage on the “ideology of smallness” that leads Englishmen to “curl up in our own personal, financially secure hole and will everything amusing or interesting or exciting in the world away”. What is amusing, interesting and exciting? Why is England deficient in it? Mr Whyman makes no effort to define these things. They have something to do with immigrants but I am unsure what.

Mr Whyman ends his bitter, hyperbolic rant with a bitter, hyperbolic call for “demented, throbbing, fecund nature to overrun this whole country”. So bored is this utopian cynic with the quiet pleasures and home comforts of his countrymen that he invites chaos and destruction upon them. As much as I think that the parochial should be balanced with the cosmopolitan, and that Brexiting Britain will face real challenges to achieve this, I can only see this hatred of one’s home as a childish and ungrateful form of bigotry that one should not dignify as a principled stance. There might be some unpleasant expressions in Alresford now.

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About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
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3 Responses to Against Oikophobia…

  1. Bloody Oiks. Comin over ere.

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  2. Richard P says:

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want to put their name to the NYT article. The overwhelming impression Whyman makes is that he is utterly ineffectual. Even a day trip of a little over a hundred miles is beyond him. A visit to his blog tends to confirm that – a mixture of entitlement, resentment and self-pity: “In fact I’m from basically the worst part of England, the cultural wasteland around London where the middle classes eke out their miserable little existence of kitchen refits, new sofas, and tortuously boring dinner parties.” He’s far too good for them. And yet at the age of 27 he has failed to move away “although every effort I have ever exerted has been with the intention of escaping Alresford”. Poor chap; and how his parents must dread the summer holidays.

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    • bsixsmith says:

      Ah, yes, their miserable existence of kitchen refits, new sofas and boring dinner parties, so far removed from the radical excitement of writing snarky tweets and spiteful opinion pieces.

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