Saturday, June 13, 2015

Collecting Ethics

The ethics of antiquities collecting (of course including collecting ancient coins) are constantly being assailed by leftist archaeologists and their sympathizers. With due respect for the principle that the tenets and motives of such archaeology-centric activists cannot accurately be encompassed in a few words, a reasonable attempt would be to advance the concept that the archaeological record, and all of the artifacts and situational context comprising it, inherently belong to all mankind and must not be disturbed by, still less possessed by, private individuals.

This observer believes the above to be a neutrally worded statement of fact which everyone involved in any side of the question ought to be able to agree upon.

What does the above statement imply? A great deal. To begin with, it asserts an overriding declaration of inherent ownership based upon a concept of cultural and societal identity, as being superior to and overriding all traditional principles of personal ownership and property rights.

Speaking in admittedly very general terms, the above declaration of inherent ownership of cultural identity most easily fits the tenets of the far left wing of the present political spectrum, i.e. left wing Socialism and Communism.

Before anyone trundles out the heavy artillery of their personal political persuasion for a barrage against that observation, this observer must declare that he is primarily concerned with individual human rights, and the extreme desirability of individuals enhancing their understanding of the past. If that understanding is improved by the efforts of left wing Socialism and Communism to present their social perspective, which should not be rejected without careful study, so much the better. But that understanding also unquestionably depends upon the efforts of concerned individual students of the past, expert in their discipline, to present and assert their perspective.

This observer is neither a Communist nor a left wing Socialist. He will, however, confess to being an inveterate idealist willing to go to to great lengths in defense of his ideals.

That is a description which could also be varyingly applied to almost everyone from American Kennedy Democrats (mea maxima culpa) to SS Totenkopf storm troopers. This observer's father was a naval officer in the great War against Fascism, who hated Fascism and Naziism with an impulsive aversion difficult to convey in today's terminology, for in those days when Communists were our cordial allies he was equally far from being a Socialist, and farther still from being a Communist. But he was unquestionably also something other opponents of Fascism all shared: a resolute defender of personal freedom.

There is a great deal to be said for the ancient Roman tradition of mos maiorvm, societal morality or  'the customs of our fathers." Therein lies societal stability, a sense of social identity and a genuinely rational personal commitment to liberty and freedom.

Mr. Barford very freely advocates being completely "up to date" regarding one's personal attitude toward left wing Socialism and Communism. Perhaps it would be better if he also equitably addressed the values and merits of moderate Socialism, and even those of socially responsible Capitalism. This observer tends to see them all converging upon a social perspective Barford ought to be able to support.


Post a Comment

<< Home