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Hating Little England

Tom Whyman is a piece of work. [1]Behold, the rage of a 27-year-old who hates the little people of his hometown, especially because they voted to leave the EU. Excerpts:

We are not used to thinking that a place like this — a pleasant town with a pretty center — might actually be hell. There is almost no poverty and only the occasional act of violence. There are good schools, a range of shops, a heritage railway. In fact, it’s somewhere that a lot of people, apparently, actively want to live: Houses in the center easily sell for upward of a million pounds. (What they will cost once the vote to leave the European Union makes the economy crater remains to be seen.)

But dig below the surface, and you will find the demons crawling. You can see them in the looks that residents give you when they pass; sneering snobs glaring down their noses with entitlement; small-minded townies, bullying you with eyes that you recognize from the primary school lunchroom; the old people, 80 and above, wearing blank stares. You can hear it in their bothered tutting at the bus stop (especially if they ever hear a visitor mispronouncing the name of the town), the shots that constantly ring out from across the countryside as they set about murdering as many of the local pheasants as they can.

Hell, I tell you! An air-conditioned nightmare! More:

And it is impossible to leave Alresford, because Alresford is not just a place: It is an ideology that infects your very soul. Let’s call it “Alresfordism.” It is an ideology of smallness, of contraction, of wanting to curl up in our own personal, financially secure hole and will everything amusing or interesting or exciting in the world away.

Since my late teens, every effort I have ever exerted has been with the intention of escaping Alresford. And yet, I am an early-career academic and so I am forced to move back, every summer, to live with my parents because I cannot afford to pay rent elsewhere after my temporary teaching contract ends. Then, sometimes, I think: What if I’m actually secretly comfortable here? What if I have chosen the security of death in Alresford over the risks of life elsewhere? What if I am in fact fully in the clutches of Alresfordism?

Oh, the humanity. I think we can all agree that Alresford doesn’t deserve the provincially cosmopolitan young Tom Whyman.

Read the whole thing.  [1] Marvel at the snobbery, the spite, the total lack of self-awareness of this guy.

 

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131 Comments To "Hating Little England"

#1 Comment By Pilgrim On June 27, 2016 @ 9:59 am

“Since my late teens, every effort I have ever exerted has been with the intention of escaping Alresford.”
Maybe he should try something like the Peace Corps, if they have an equivalent over there. Or find an inner city mission outreach. Serving the less fortunate (if he can find any!), would give him a better avenue of escape than academia.
Alternatively, going to an ancient, empty local church, reading a few Psalms, and sitting in silence could begin to re-enchant his vision.

#2 Comment By Chris Travers On June 27, 2016 @ 11:21 am

I posted a comment on the article on the NYT site. One point I made was that the hunting statement showed a difference in how we relate to our food because as every city dweller knows, food grows in supermarkets where no real animals are harmed in the process.

The replies were really funny. Two people replied to say, basically, “but they are rich, so they aren’t hunting for food!”

Don’t know whether to laugh or cry….

#3 Comment By Ben H On June 27, 2016 @ 11:41 am

Kind of weird to say this but one of my children has an essay appearing in next Sunday’s NYT, apparently they are sticking with the theme. Look out for it, the title will be: “You won’t let me have Ice Cream? You never let me have ANYTHING!”

#4 Comment By connecticut farmer On June 27, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

This young man identifies himself as “an early career academic.” A dead give-away if there ever was one.

“Nothing but the dead of night back in my little town” crooned Simon and Garfunkle.

And, pray, how does one “murder” a pheasant?

#5 Comment By David J. White On June 27, 2016 @ 2:17 pm

That also means the UK can probably kiss it’s security council seat goodbye.

Why? The Soviet Union’s Security Council seat didn’t disappear when the USSR broke apart. It went to Russia, the recognized “successor state.” If Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the UK, the remaining rump UK — England and Wales — will be regarded as the “successor state,” and will presumably be in possession of all the former UK’s nukes, just as Russia is now in possession of all the former Soviet Union’s nukes.

The relative size of Scotland’s territory as compared with England’s disguises the fact that these two countries are in no way close when it comes to population. Of a total UK population of about 65 million, only about 5 millions of those live in Scotland, about 3 million in Wales, about 2 million in Northern Ireland. England alone thus accounts for close to 85% of the total UK population. Even if Wales, too, were to leave, a good argument could be make for regarding England, by itself, as the “successor state” to the current UK.

#6 Comment By WillW On June 27, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

Was it here in the comboxes or one of the other blogs I read where a woman mentioned years and years ago a neighbor was complaining about the noisy teenagers in the neighborhood and she asked “Come now, what were you doing at that age?” His response? “Invading Guadalcanal.” Point is, your society has had to be very secure for a very long time indeed for a 27 yr old man to be able to fuss like a rebellious teen. Just putting that out there.

#7 Comment By Gromaticus On June 27, 2016 @ 3:29 pm

This young man identifies himself as “an early career academic.” A dead give-away if there ever was one.

He’s probably still in an emotional tizzy from this news:

[2]

#8 Comment By John On June 27, 2016 @ 3:59 pm

Brexit, in which the NYT publishes “Hot Fuzz” fanfiction.

#9 Comment By Chris Travers On June 27, 2016 @ 4:25 pm

Connecticut farmer wrote:
And, pray, how does one “murder” a pheasant?

Evidently nobody eats pheasant, especially not if they are well off…..

#10 Comment By mrscracker On June 27, 2016 @ 4:56 pm

John says:

Brexit, in which the NYT publishes “Hot Fuzz” fanfiction.”
********************
Loved that film.
🙂

#11 Comment By mrscracker On June 27, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

It’s a pretty silly, self absorbed article, but the part about paying high rent is quite true.

#12 Comment By M_Young On June 27, 2016 @ 5:10 pm

“Conservatism cannot merely be an obsession with resisting change. Rather, it has to represent an attitude with which we navigate change, but which ultimately accepts change as inevitable”

Development is ultimately inevitable, we must yield to the multi-national megabuilder who wants to put up 100,000 housing units on the farms of our county.

Global warming is ultimately inevitable, we must simply take defensive measures such as abandoning some lower lying sections of our coastal cities to accommodate rising sea levels. (Extra bonus — it will be warm in Canada, more food!)

Its funny how ‘change is inevitable’ is the mantra of the modern cosmo-liberal, except when that change is in a direction he doesn’t want.

And @Bobby, your characterization of the anti-homosexual marriage fight is so unconnected from reality that it is hardly worth mentioning. Fact is that conservatives never got into the lack of monogamy in homosexual male marriages, never attacked sodomy for its public health consequences, never did anything but present a happy face ‘my best friends are “gay” and that’s cool, but marriage is between a man and woman’.

#13 Comment By M_Young On June 27, 2016 @ 5:17 pm

“The UK leaving the EU has smashed his one shot at academic achievement – a full professorship at a second rate Bulgarian technical college. You’re a heartless bastard if you don’t weep today for Dr. Whyman.”

LOL…literally LOL. But probably not true — that second rate Bulgarian tech is going to hire someone with a degree in Horticulture or (non-gay) Husbandry or Draftspersonship.

#14 Comment By grumpy realist On June 27, 2016 @ 5:58 pm

JonF–the US trope has been “wicked city-dweller, innocent and godly rural inhabitant” ever since the 1890s. Thomas Beer talked about it in his first chapter of The Mauve Decade.

#15 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 27, 2016 @ 6:38 pm

‘Anyone who is not a socialist when he’s 20 has no heart. Anyone who is still a socialist when he’s 40 has no head.”

Based on this observation — I have never had a heart.

#16 Comment By dominic1955 On June 27, 2016 @ 11:57 pm

JonF,

“And yet the words “civilization” and “city” have the same roots.”

True, but “civitas” meant, basically, the res publica-the people and the duties and responsibilities that tied them together. Civilization and city having the same Latin root says nothing qualitative about city-as if “city” can be seen as equivalent to “civilized”.

“You mention survival things– but humans are meant to more than just slog through life killing and eating. We are not wolves or cats.”

True, but it’s foundational. As far as I’m concerned, you need a fair grasp on these basics if you will ever properly deal with anything else, including governing. If you don’t really get birth/death, how we relate to the rest of creation, etc. you have no business calling any shots.

“America is very weird in its city-hate. You just don’t find that elsewhere. At most one finds some sentimental pastoralist nonsense, like the Marie Antoinette playing at shepherdess at La Petit Trianon.”

In the city you find most of what is wrong with this country-and with most countries. It’s no surprise when you see a voter map, most of the blue cancers in a sea of red are cities. They come up with collectivist utopian pipe dreams and fear driven emotionalism to take away the rights of a free people because they are too removed from reality.

#17 Comment By mrscracker On June 28, 2016 @ 9:59 am

Chris Travers says:

Connecticut farmer wrote:
And, pray, how does one “murder” a pheasant?

Evidently nobody eats pheasant, especially not if they are well off…..”
********************************
They should eat them if they shoot them. Just from personal experience walking for miles in the UK countryside, there are pheasants everywhere.

#18 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On June 28, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

Retrospectively, this story brings to mind another time when I learned about troubled relationship between Smoky and provolone.

#19 Comment By Chris Travers On June 28, 2016 @ 11:22 pm

Regarding the inevitability of change. As one wise man many centuries ago said, change is inevitable. You cannot step in the same river twice. I don’t think resisting change is a good definition of conservatism.

The difference between the conservative and the progressive rather is that the progressive sees nothing of value in the past, while the conservative has a healthy relationship with the past.

That relationship with the past and by implication the fact that we are but trustees for what has been loaned to us by our ancestors on behalf of the generations yet unborn, is what conservatism must be about.

That doesn’t mean all change is good or that some change shouldn’t be resisted. But we need to look to the past as a mentor, not a malicious slave-master we need to break free from.

#20 Comment By Chris Travers On June 28, 2016 @ 11:24 pm

It’s no surprise when you see a voter map, most of the blue cancers in a sea of red are cities. They come up with collectivist utopian pipe dreams and fear driven emotionalism to take away the rights of a free people because they are too removed from reality.

I wonder if we could say that the difference is between the collectivist individualism of the cities and the communitarianism of the small towns.

#21 Comment By Chris Travers On June 28, 2016 @ 11:26 pm

Mrscracker wrote, replying to me:

They should eat them if they shoot them. Just from personal experience walking for miles in the UK countryside, there are pheasants everywhere.

Sorry. Sarcasm doesn’t come across well on the internet.

I should have said:

Evidently nobody eats pheasant because everyone knows meat is cultivated on supermarket shelves where no animals are injured or killed in its production.

#22 Comment By JonF On June 29, 2016 @ 12:09 pm

Dominic1995,

Most humans have not been hunters since our species took up agriculture on a wide scale– certainly by the early Iron Age as far as the Old World goes. And given modern realities would you suggest there’s something deficient in people who do not engage in the growing of plants (e.g., farming or at least gardening), or the keeping of animals? Lord knows I love my garden and I have a knack for it, and I love my cats too, but I would hardly insist everyone *must* garden or have pets in order to be considered valid members of the human community.
We humans have been specializing for many, many millennia and apart from having humans genes and something like human-normal levels of intelligence (very broadly defined) I don’t think there’s anything that can uniquely qualify us as “real” people.

As for birth and death, we have, often for good reasons, medicalized both so that they are things that very often happen in special settings where attendance is very limited. We have opened up the maternity room to fathers at least, something that was unthinkable when I was born, and courtesy of Hospice more people can die at home, surrounded by their loved ones rather than medical personnel. Still, are we all somehow deficient for not having the common experiences with birth and death that they knew in the Middle Ages– or the Paleolithic?

Re: In the city you find most of what is wrong with this country-and with most countries. It’s no surprise when you see a voter map, most of the blue cancers in a sea of red are cities.

Oh, good grief, at this point you are just indulging in partisan balderdash. There’s nothing inherently or objectively “wrong” about preferring one (very major and mainstream) political party over another– certainly nothing that should brand one as illegitimately human. No, there isn’t. Would you have said the same thing in 15th century England– “Look at London and the other cities– there’s everything that’s wrong with our England represented by the fact those horribly unEnglish city slickers favor the House of York over the good old House of Lancaster”. That was true by the way– an early example of a city-country political split– but from the perspective of 500 plus years it also seems uncommonly silly.

Here’s my advice. People on the Right need to stop hating cities and maybe even find reasons to love them even if they don’t want to live in them. There are even conservatives who can help you all there– Rod himself probably could. Oh, and that guy who writes the New Urbs pieces on this website. Likewise the Left needs to get rid of its rural-hate, and should instead start seeing people in rural areas as fellow citizens who have been all too often left behind by the same elitist and, yes, globalist, forces that have ruined the prospects of many urban dwellers.
We really are all in this together.

#23 Comment By mrscracker On June 29, 2016 @ 5:17 pm

JonF says:

“Most humans have not been hunters since our species took up agriculture on a wide scale– certainly by the early Iron Age as far as the Old World goes. And given modern realities would you suggest there’s something deficient in people who do not engage in the growing of plants (e.g., farming or at least gardening), or the keeping of animals?”
**************************
Absolutely. Not that they’re deficient human beings but that their quality of life is deficient & lacking in connection with nature.
And speaking of England, the very first thing you notice are the greenbelts & lack of urban sprawl. You can be in a reasonably sized town & still in close proximity to livestock grazing. Even in high rise apt. areas there are community gardens.
Nature is healthy & good for us. We do have a deficiency of it. Studies show that patients in hospital rooms with a view of trees/gardens recover better. Just petting an animal releases calming hormones & owning pets is associated with lower blood pressure.

#24 Comment By Joe On June 29, 2016 @ 5:56 pm

So the guy can’t find year-round full-time employment that will let him move out of his parents’ home and live on his own. He hates his little hometown, he hates the infrastructure, he hates the housing developments, he hates the businesses, he hates his neighbors.

But wait, isn’t this all the result of living in the EU that he is whining that his townfolk have voted to leave? Alresford, 2016 IS the EU, so if he doesn’t like that, maybe it’s the EU’s fault he has such dismal prospects to improve his lot. Why stay in such an organization?

#25 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On June 29, 2016 @ 6:29 pm

Just wish everyone to taste some usual supermarket (or even farmers market) pork, and then compare it to wild hog’s meat (especially of the one fed on nuts). You’ll get the hang why hunting will always exist at once.

#26 Comment By JonF On June 29, 2016 @ 9:36 pm

Re: Not that they’re deficient human beings but that their quality of life is deficient & lacking in connection with nature.

Many, many generations of human beings experienced nature as “red in tooth and claw”, a great hag-mother dancing the dance of Kali in her guise of Dhurga– the destroyer of worlds. For this reason humans for a very long saw nature as something to conquer and subjugate. Which we have now basically done– or think we have, though certain very fundamental things (like Time) lie outside our power still.
What is the “real” experience of nature? The Paleolithic hunter’s? The Sumerian farmer’s? A medieval monk’s in his monastery garden? Mine? Yours? Cities after all are natural too, if you accept that we humans and all do are also part of nature. Is a cave more “real” than a house, a wild wood more real than a garden, a wild wolf more real than a dachshund puppy? What about a Bach fugue, the terza rima of Dante’s great work, Hagia Sophia, the Pieta of Michelangelo, the austere beauty of Einstein’s equations? All inferior and deficient, because they are the work of human hands, and indeed, of city-dweller hands?
And, really, the argument is a silly one because it is neither Nature nor the works of our own hands and minds that can save us. Dhurga still dances– but Christ is still risen, and for the country dweller and the city dweller alike that is what matters.

#27 Comment By Chris Travers On June 30, 2016 @ 1:19 am

JonF, I think you are wrong on two important counts.

First, while it is true that nature as a whole can be dangerous it is also true that the experience of those peoples in more wilderness environments is subject to a lot more nuance than you suggest. If the wilderness is a wild hag, it is also a grandmother. You won’t find any culture anywhere which has an entirely conquest-oriented view of nature outside, perhaps, our own. Where do the rishi in Indian epic live? Why do they reside in the wilderness?

On the second point we are not more or less done today. Look, for example, at the crash of Air France 447 (solely weather related), the people who drown at sea because they fail to understand the power of the wild.

We humans do need nature. And my big fear is that our cities provide the wrong sort of isolation as the hostility towards hunting from city folks shows. If I were to say I have eaten whale meat, or buy wild moose meat at my local supermarket, how many city folk will immediately condemn me? If I were to express a desire to hunt or slaughter my own meat, what is the response?

There was an interesting insight Rene Girard had on the slaying of Abel in Genesis. He pointed out that Abel raised animals and killed them for food and offering, while Cain only raised plants. Girard argued then that the reason for the murder was that Cain had no other connection to the violence of life. And Walter Burkert (in his book “Homo Necans”) argued that animal sacrifice in ancient Greece had similar functions. But we lose this because of the illusions that the city provide. Only in the city can one imagine that one can be something without family. Only in the city can one imagine oneself to be self-authored or self-made.

#28 Comment By JonF On June 30, 2016 @ 6:16 am

Chris Travers,

You missed an important point in my post. We humans are also part and parcel of Nature (and yes, we are also dangerous beasts too). A city is no more unnatural than a desert or a mountain peak– and has its own dangers and its own violence.
(Several years ago I visited Alaska and while browsing some Alaska-themed books in a gift shop I was looking at one titled something like “Risks and Dangers of Alaska”. One section of that book was devoted to “wildlife”:, and the last section of it was “human beings”

#29 Comment By mrscracker On June 30, 2016 @ 10:13 am

JonF ,
It’s not a religious or moral issue, contact with Nature is just better for our health. And studies have been done on that.

#30 Comment By mrscracker On June 30, 2016 @ 10:25 am

Alex (the one that likes Ike) says:

June 29, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Just wish everyone to taste some usual supermarket (or even farmers market) pork, and then compare it to wild hog’s meat (especially of the one fed on nuts). You’ll get the hang why hunting will always exist at once.”
*****************
True. Even home grown hog meat tastes completely different from the stuff at Winn Dixie.
After only eating the hogs we’d raised, I purchased some pork chops at the grocery store. The flavor of commercial feed was strong. Same way trout taste when they’re first released from the hatchery. You wouldn’t notice if you had nothing to compare it to.

#31 Comment By JonF On July 1, 2016 @ 1:11 pm

Re: It’s not a religious or moral issue, contact with Nature is just better for our health.

I don’t disagree with this. It’s a big reason I have garden, which at least benefits me psychologically amid the all the crowds and concrete of urban living. My complaint is with theories that country folk are somehow more virtuous or wiser. That’s not true, because virtue and wisdom come from within, or perhaps from totally without– beyond “the walls of the world” entirely. Nature is utterly amoral and often quite foolish.