I’m not usually that big on the phobias. I’m all for respecting and loving gay people, but I doubt there’s really a disorder that’s properly labelled “homophobia.” And I was skeptical when our provost here at Berry College cautioned us to be sensitive to students who suffer from “mathophobia.” The new book STRAUSSOPHOBIA surely has a cool title, but I’m not sure that the title suggests what the book describes. (It’s true that, although I’m not a card-carrying Straussian, I have, on occasion, been cruelly victimized by Straussophobes.) And “oikophobia”—meant to be the opposite of “xenophobia”—invented by Roger Scuton is, Scruton admits, a bit of a reach. I’m going to give you his description of it anyway, as a telling excerpt from what might be the best book on political philosophy published in the last several years (entitled, fittingly, A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY):

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 educated system . . . .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.” Being the opposite of xenophobia we might describe this state of mind as “oikophobia,” meaning (to stretch the Greek a little) the repudiation of inheritance and home. Oikophobia is a stage through which the adolescent mind normally passes. But it is a stage in which intellectuals tend to become arrested.

So we postmodern conservatives affirm with our porcher friends the importance of inheritance and home. But we may take greater solace in the tendency of ordinary Americans to fight off oikophobia by identifying with the American nation, just as they identify more readily than most of their English brethren with the personal God. (Start singing Lee Greenwood here.)

Articles by Peter Lawler

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