Oikos, from which we take our word economy, means the household, the order and guidance of a home.
It is the private world of a person’s abode. Also of a family, but by extension also of a village, a people, or an ethnicity.
Oikophilia is a principle of value for the small, the local, and the private.
The most important things people build, even more important than the cathedrals and great works of art and music, are not primarily the result of planning. They develop organically over time, with trial and error, as the work of many hands. An example is the common law of England.
Recognising this, we seek to protect these things against those who would tear them down out of a misguided zeal for what they see as the demands of liberty, equality, or social justice.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the concept of love of home has deep roots in the fabric of religious and cultural identity. The Hebrew Bible is full of stories that emphasise a sacred land. It is not only a geographic space but a symbol of covenant and identity.
Similarly, in Christianity, the concept of home transcends the physical world. The New Testament emphasises a spiritual dimension to belonging. This communal bond extends beyond familial ties to encompass a broader community united by shared values.
Contemporary populist intolerance threatens to erode the foundations of oikophilia. The relentless pursuit of individualism, and the divisive nature of populist movements overshadow the inherent value of love for one’s home and community. The workplace, instead of being a space for collaboration and shared purpose, has become a battleground for power struggles.
Oikophilia originates in our need for nurture and safety, and is a call to responsibility.
We can define some core characteristics of oikophilia: respect for the dead, community connection, the voice of tradition, aesthetic local appreciation, and natural piety or respect for the sacred.
Green philosophy, motivated by Edmund Burke’s concept of trusteeship, encompassing the dead and the unborn, our responsibility to past and future generations, combined with a love of home, offers a natural incentive to preserve our local habitat.
The motive in oikophilia is the love of country, love of territory and love of that territory as home. It is a natural motive that can act as a catalyst in reversing environmental degradation. Only at the local level will people find a genuinely motivating force to preserve what they identify as theirs, unlike the apocalyptic visions of environmentalism.
UK Green Party politician Caroline Lucas is critical of this idea. Lucas sees oikophilia as desirable, but doubts its practicality, and argues that the idea that a volunteering spirit emanating from a love of home will solve global environmental issues is pure fantasy.
Animosity towards state and central power stems from a broad suspicion of top-down, big government and its disposition to ignore unintended consequences or undesirable side-effects of its decision making. Instead, it is claimed, environmental degradation can be tackled from the bottom-up through community groups, local organisations and civic associations. One such civil association is the Women’s Institute, which “has no other purpose than to encourage its members to gather around socially beneficial projects.”(Roger Scruton).
The fast emerging field of Geo-engineering, particularly the practice of carbon capture, is one radical development that gives us ammunition and armour for the cause. There is evidence of its cost effectiveness and immediate impact.
The benefits of large-scale, transnational schemes like geo-engineering is an admission that oikophilia alone is not a powerful enough tool to fight global issues like climate change.

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