Sunday, June 25, 2006

Turning our hate toward home

Roger Scruton was recently asked to address a meeting of Vlaams Belang, the Belgian political party which advocates independence for Flanders. He relates that after his upcoming appearance began to be publicized he began receiving warnings from his academic colleagues. They were urging him not to address an organization which he was assured was xenophobic and racist.

He decided to make the issue of how accusations of xenophobia and racism are used by the European elite to silence criticism one of the topics of his address. He points out that it is not enough for the Belgian political establishment and its allies to defeat Vlaams Belang at the ballot box, the party must be utterly destroyed.

His entire speech is posted on The Brussels Journal and is worth reading; however what I want to focus on here is his remarks on “oikophobia”, the name he applies to the attitude of mind which is the polar opposite – or perhaps mirror image would be more accurate – of xenophobia:

Members of our liberal élite may be immune to xenophobia, but there is an equal fault which they exhibit in abundance, which is the repudiation of, and aversion to, home. Each country exhibits this vice in its own domestic version. Nobody brought up in post-war England can fail to be aware of the educated derision that has been directed at our national loyalty by those whose freedom to criticize would have been extinguished years ago, had the English not been prepared to die for their country. The loyalty that people need in their daily lives, and which they affirm in their unconsidered and spontaneous social actions, is now habitually ridiculed or even demonized by the dominant media and the education system. National history is taught as a tale of shame and degradation. The art, literature and religion of our nation have been more or less excised from the curriculum, and folkways, local traditions and national ceremonies are routinely rubbished.

This repudiation of the national idea is the result of a peculiar frame of mind that has arisen throughout the Western world since the Second World War, and which is particularly prevalent among the intellectual and political elites. No adequate word exists for this attitude, though its symptoms are instantly recognized: namely, the disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us’, and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours’. I call the attitude oikophobia – the aversion to home – by way of emphasizing its deep relation to xenophobia, of which it is the mirror image. Oikophobia is a stage through which the adolescent mind normally passes. But it is a stage in which intellectuals tend to become arrested. As George Orwell pointed out, intellectuals on the Left are especially prone to it, and this has often made them willing agents of foreign powers. The Cambridge spies – educated people who penetrated our foreign service during the war and betrayed our Eastern European allies to Stalin – offer a telling illustration of what oikophobia has meant for my country and for the Western alliance. And it is interesting to note that a recent BBC ‘docudrama’ constructed around the Cambridge spies neither examined the realities of their treason nor addressed the suffering of the millions of their East European victims, but merely endorsed the oikophobia that had caused them to act as they did.

This deep aversion to “home” which characterizes the elites not only of Europe, but the United States as well, explains a great deal about the state of the political debate both here and in Europe. As Mr. Scruton observes:

The domination of our national Parliaments and the EU machinery by oikophobes is partly responsible for the acceptance of subsidised immigration, and for the attacks on customs and institutions associated with traditional and native forms of life. The oikophobe repudiates national loyalties and defines his goals and ideals against the nation, promoting transnational institutions over national overnments, accepting and endorsing laws that are imposed from on high by the EU or the UN, and defining his political vision in terms of cosmopolitan values that have been purified of all reference to the particular attachments of a real historical community. The oikophobe is, in his own eyes, a defender of enlightened universalism against local chauvinism. And it is the rise of oikophobia that has led to the growing crisis of legitimacy in the nation states of Europe. For we are seeing a massive expansion of the legislative burden on the people of Europe, and a relentless assault on the only loyalties that would enable them voluntarily to bear it. The explosive effect of this has already been felt in Holland and France, and of course it is now being felt in Belgium too.
The issue of WHY educated and otherwise intelligent people would feel this way is a topic of endless fascination to me. At this point I have no theory of why the citizens of Western democracies would turn their backs upon the ideals which have provided so much freedom and prosperity to so many people.

What I do know is that the elites must not only be opposed but defeated. It is not just possible but likely that Europe has gone too far to be saved. I am on record as believing that we are seeing the emergence of what I have termed as a Forth Reich in Europe. The only real question that I see is what shape it will take, Soviet style communism or Islamofascist theocracy.