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June 16, 2004

We need a word

It occurs to me that we have a well-established word for hatred or fear of foreigners or of foreign countries (xenophobia), but we have no corresponding term for hatred of one's own country or fellow-citizens.

No doubt hatred of other countries is more common than hatred of one's own, but the latter phenomenon is common enough to deserve a name. It is particularly common among left-liberal 'intellectuals' in Britain and the USA, though in Britain it also has a more subtle variety in the form of Europhilia (think of Chris Patten or Ken Clarke): the belief that Britain is so hopeless at everything that we might as well just give ourselves up to Europe.

Anyway, can anyone think of a good word for it? By analogy with xenophobia, the best term might be politiphobia (literally, fear of fellow-citizens), but this would be liable to be confused with fear (or hatred) of politics or politicians, which is quite another matter. Another possibility would be patriophobia (fear/hatred of one's own country), but pedants will object to the combination of Greek and Latin roots. Homophobia (fear of the same) would avoid this objection, but has already acquired another meaning. Anti-patriot would be a good Latin form, but tends to suggest hostility to patriots, not hostility to one's country.

Of course, one could use the good old term traitor, but that might be a bit over the top.

Any thoughts from our erudite readers?

Posted by David B at 12:43 PM