Charles Foster is a modern incarnation of the madly eccentric British naturalist, traveller and explorer. He teaches Medical Law & Ethics at Oxford, is a Barrister, and is a qualified veterinary surgeon.
Outside Magazine excerpts Foster’s account of being hunted, like a red deer, by one of Britain’s bloodhound packs.
I was behaving very much like a hunted deer. My adrenals were pumping out cortisol and adrenaline. The cortisol made me taut. (The next day its immunosuppressive effect threw open the drawbridge of my throat to an invading virus.) Blood was diverted from my gut to my legs. Though I was slumping from the effort, I’d stop from time to time, hold my head up high, and reflexively sniff. If I’d had mobile ears they’d have pricked and swiveled. Though I looked for water, as deer do, to cool me and to send my scent spiraling away, I ran on the driest ground I could find. I knew (from well before birth, rather than because I’d read books and watched hounds) that dry earth doesn’t hold scent well, or, if it holds it, hugs the particles close, leaving few for snuffling noses.
Unlike a deer, though, I longed to be out of the wood. It’s often very difficult for staghounds to push deer into the open. Sometimes it takes hours. The deer double back, lie flat in deep cover, and saber-rattlingly confront hounds rather than breaking out.
It would have made sense for me to stay in the wood. Scent bounces off trees like balls in a pinball machine and eddies like the dark, curd-coated corners of the East Lyn River. It’s hard for even the most educated nose to read it there. Out in the open, there’s a slime trail of scent through the grass. It points in the direction of the prey.
My preference for the open was therefore strange. I suppose we want to die where we’ve evolved, just as an overwhelming majority of people say that they’d prefer to die at home.
When asked “Where are you from?” almost no one would answer “Europe,” because after 50 years of assiduous labor by the eurocrats, Europe remains a continent, not an identity. As Matthew Yglesias points out, an EU-wide soccer team would be invincible — but who would root for it? These sorts of tribal affiliations cause problems, obviously, which is why elites were so eager to tamp them down. Unfortunately, they are also what glues polities together, and makes people willing to sacrifice for them. Trying to build the state without the nation has led to the mess that is the current EU. And to Thursday’s election results.
Elites missed this because they’re the exception — the one group that has a transnational identity. And in fact the arguments for the EU look a lot like the old arguments for national states: a project that will empower people like us against the scary people who aren’t.
Unhappily for the elites, there is no “Transnationalprofessionalistan” to which they can move. (And who would trim the hedges, make the widgets, and staff the nursing homes if there were?) They have to live in physical places, filled with other people whose loyalties are to a particular place and way of life, not an abstract ideal, or the joys of rootless cosmopolitanism.
Even simple self-interest suggests that it may be time for the elites in Britain and beyond to sue for peace, rather than letting their newborn transnational identity drive them into a war they can’t win.
però che, come su la cerchia tonda
Montereggion di torri si corona,
così la proda che ‘l pozzo circonda
torreggiavan di mezza la persona
li orribili giganti, cui minaccia
Giove del cielo ancora quando tuona.”
As, with circling turrets
Monteriggioni crowns its walls,
Just so, the shore encircling the abyss,
Was turreted, with half their length,
By horrible giants, whom Jove threatens
when he thunders.
Dr.Tom Whyman, (part-time) Philosophy teacher, University of Essex
Part-time red-brick academic Tom Whyman inveighs against his native English village in the American Sunday Times:
Alresford is my personal hell.
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. …
[I]t 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?
Michael Harrington performed some comparisons with previous primaries and calculated that there were 12,000,000 cross-over democrats voting in GOP primaries.
After a lot of work I have finished my math calculations. … Using 2000 and 2008 as baselines, the conclusion was staggering. Trump only got about 3.3 million Republican Votes. The rest are Democrats, approximately 12 million of them.
I also found via my studies by going back to 1992 that this behavior is not new, in fact even when there is a tight contest about 5% will “strategically vote” in the Republican Party primary/caucus. Even more disturbing is that it appears that there may be even a 5% not normally detectable, of Republicans who only vote Democrat. Aka plants that we always knew existed. …
[O]ur election was stolen. Trump would be in fourth, or worse, without Democrats, he would probably only have won New York and considering he would be doing so badly when that election happened it is unlikely even there. We have been tossed to the ground and electorally gang raped by Democrats.
Standing outside a university café, after a night of celebration following her final exam, 19-year-old (Oxford) medical student Evie Rothwell said she was feeling a sense of “betrayal” this morning.
“A really important decision was made for us by the older generation,” she explained, noting that exit polls showed that three-quarters of voters aged 18 to 24 wanted to remain in the EU. By contrast, more than 60 percent of seniors aged 65+ voted to leave.
“Essentially people much, much older than us — and who won’t be around for the consequences — are giving us a future we don’t want,” added Jack Lennard, who just finished his undergraduate degree in archeology and anthropology.
This insult – based on a real Swiss surname – applies to those boring people who follow all the rules and make sure everyone else does too. A Bünzli is the sort of person who would never cross the street when the light is red, who never stays out too late and never gets too drunk.
He is also the person most likely to complain to the building president when you dare to do your washing on Sunday, or to ring the police when he sees someone parked in front of a fire hydrant. Think garden gnomes and socks paired with Adiletten and you have the idea.
J. Duncan Barry, on Facebook, explains why the majority of the British people voted as they did.
This Canadian reaction typifies a mental and moral attitude which helps to explain the #Brexit victory:
[MACLEANS:] “There is a growing realization in many corners of the U.K. that the EU referendum should never have been called in the first place. Unlike the national sovereignty debates of Scotland and even Quebec, which were largely dependent on a people’s sense of cultural identity, the question of EU membership and whether it truly benefits Britain is exceedingly complex, fantastically dull, hugely important, and exactly the sort of thing policy-makers are elected to decide so normal people don’t have to.”
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? Normal people want a say in the unfolding of their own lives. At least normal English folk do. The whole approach to the living of one’s own life embodied by the EU is antithetical to the deepest roots of the Anglo experience.
Great Britain is not Europe. Duh. It’s called “diversity.” Not every culture has to be emulsified into one, huge, swirling Euro-mess. And I am already mourning the loss of regional European micro-cultures that are being swept up into the (vastly irrational) reasoning machine that Brussels pretends to be. And I’m quite confident that they’ll realize this sooner or later. The larger financial realities do not bode well for the Brussels contraption, so it will be interesting to see how long they endure the pain they inflict on themselves.
I would argue that as soon as *we* can find a constructive way to secede from America’s comparable tyranny of a controlling, élite minority, that we’ll find a similar, healthy detachment from a way of thinking and a way of life that goes against the grain of everything we gained from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence. And the sooner the better!