Thursday, November 24, 2005

Patrimony or patriotism?

Our regular readers will be aware of SQA's abiding concern with European Union intervention in British archives.

It is only natural for professionals engaged in the preservation of cultural heritage to have a conception of the intellectual character, meaning and usefulness of the cultural assets with whose care they are charged. It stems from this archivists should be opposed to the use of archives for the fabrication of mischievous political agendas. Either that, or like the so-called firemen of Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 published in 1953, in which firemen have turned from fighting fires to burning books deemed to be ideologically in conflict with their totalitarian regime, archivists allow the distortion of history and fact.

The central character of the novel is Guy Montag who enjoyed his job as a fireman....

He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames... never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid.

Elsewhere we have quoted George Orwell and we delight in quoting him again on the same theme.

The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -- if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became truth. Who controls the past, ran the Party slogan, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. Reality control, they called it: in Newspeak, doublethink.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in 1949.

The EU's continuing manipulation of cultural heritage towards the end of assisting political integration is such a case and amounts to cultural fraud. In our previous blog A common cultural heritage? we examined the tendency for archives to be used in the deception there is a common European cultural inheritance.

The evidence of this agenda is wide-ranging but a recently published EU report, Report on Archives in the Enlarged European Union: Increased Archival Co-operation in Europe - Action Plan neatly encapsulates the EU's long term strategy of using archives as a building block for an integrated Europe.

The report enshrines EU archives policy along totally integrationist lines. It talks of establishing the coordination of Europe-wide priority activities, the creation of an Archivists Committee of the member states, the establishment of common standards and training methods and alarmingly of the usual non-existent commmon archival patrimony in Europe.

This is a far cry from the referendum in 1975 in which British voters agreed to a free trade area. Even more worryingly, the EU is pushing ahead with this cultural agenda despite the rejection of the proposed EU constitution by French and Dutch referenda more recently in 2005. We are reminded of Lindsay Jenkins' view offered at a recent UK Independence Party conference that the EU is aiming for completion of integration by 2010.

And what of the meaning of the word patrimony? According to that etymological and philological bastion of the English language, Sir James Murray's The Oxford English Dictionary, first published in 1933..., we quote:

Applied to things (usually immaterial) received or inherited from ancestors or predecessors; heritage.

We like the suggestion of the immaterial as applied to the EU use of the word patrimony in connection with cultural heritage. It is a very abstract interpretation of heritage or patrimony to assume a common European origin for all EU member states. Need we compare the prescriptive legal systems of mainland Europe with the Common Law system of the United Kingdom and Anglosphere, the revolutions and genocides of our European neighbours with the security of our parliamentary democracy and the intolerance of free speech and lust for centralised government that characterise the Anglophobic mainland Europeans with our system of accountable government which has been imitated world-wide?

Archaeological and anthropological evidence proclaims a unique origin of the indigenous British people who even 2000 years ago differed from their Celtic European neighbours.

Death to the Eurocrats.


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