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 â€” a pleasant town with a pretty center â€” 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, itâ€™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. Letâ€™s call it â€œAlresfordism.â€ 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 Iâ€™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?
“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 â€” and who wonâ€™t be around for the consequences â€” are giving us a future we donâ€™t want,” added Jack Lennard, who just finished his undergraduate degree in archeology and anthropology.
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 â€ª#â€ŽBrexitâ€¬ 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 peopleâ€™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 donâ€™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.