Cultural Property Fascism
Going too far?http://ancientcoincollecting.blogspot.com/2012/09/going-too-far.html
by Wayne Sayles
The question posed by Lee Rosenbaum "When do cultural-property demands go too far?" is one that easily flows off the lips when considering the Elgin Marbles or the Mona Lisa. But the demands go too far in the other direction as well. Neither UNESCO nor the U.S. Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act that enables some of its 1970 resolution provisions ever intended that ubiquitous personal and commercial objects like common jewelry, arrowheads, oil lamps, coins and myriad other utilitarian objects should be treated as national patrimony. To do so is just as inane as to believe that every work of art that ever was produced by man belongs in the geographic confines of a modern geo-political entity that lays claim to its inheritance. This modern day nationalist penchant for restricting the international transfer of ownership of objects that were fully intended at the time of manufacture to traverse freely across international borders is nothing short of bizarre. Those who falsely characterize the legitimate trade in such objects as being unethical are really just saying "You must be like me, think like me and follow my rules" even when those rules run contrary to common law. Upon reflection, that is in fact the nature of National Socialism -- is it not?
> Those who falsely characterize the legitimate trade in such objects [ancient coins] as being unethical are really just saying "You must be like me, think like me and follow my rules" even when those rules run contrary to common law.
> Upon reflection, that is in fact the nature of National Socialism -- is it not?
Indeed it is, and I observe that Wayne's well justified disgust with the "Cultural Property Establishment" has now reached the point where he is now publicly pointing out the essentially Fascist character of the "crusade against looting" being carried on by such diverse personalities as archaeo-blogger Paul Barford and State Department bureaucrat Maria Kouroupas.
There is not, nor has there ever been, one shred of scientifically validated evidence supporting Colin Renfrew's hypothesis that antiquities collectors and the trade supplying them are the root cause of illicit excavation of antiquities. Renfrew was, perhaps, justified in advancing this radical hypothesis for discussion before his canonization as an archaeological saint, however no public authority is justified in accepting it as a basis for public policy.
Renfrew's unproven hypothesis is in my view just as nonsensical as the spurious concept of "Aryan Physics" -- and I suppose I must now go through the obligatory ritual of stating that neither Renfrew nor anyone else on the anticollecting side of these issues is a Nazi, and that apart from disposition of artifacts, none of them have anything at all in common with National Socialism.
To me, that only heightens the irrationality of such well-educated, well-intentioned individuals being willing to adopt quasi-Fascist methods to advance and protect the cause of "preserving the archaeological record." That willingness demonstrates a view that "the end justifies the means," a perspective which has caused immense destruction and human misery throughout recorded history.
Fascism and Fascist methods have no place in a democratic society, and it is past time to recognize that the "crusade against looting" of Maria Kouroupas and her State Department cohorts violates that principle.