Thursday, November 17, 2005

A common cultural heritage?

SQA has previously expressed concern about the malignant influence of the European Union on British archives and cultural heritage generally.

Things aren't always what they seem....

To those who recall the referendum on joining the supposed Common Market in 1975 and were beguiled into voting in favour of membership, it must seem strange indeed that a supra-national institution once offered to the British public by British politicians as being chiefly about economic development has since conceived of the need to concern itself with heritage.

But we shouldn't be surprised. With a proposed constitution and nascent foreign and defence policies, a single arms procurement strategy and a single currency, it is clear our European masters need to create a superstate based on the myth of a common European cultural heritage to underpin our enforced integration into the EU. Indeed, fostering the notion of a common European heritage is crucial to re-inventing the peoples of once independent nation states as Europeans, a concept hitherto of purely geographical or racial meaning.

Nowhere is this EU policy of cultural conversion more necessary than in the case of the United Kingdom, whose strong connections with the USA and Canada and the rest of the English speaking world or Anglosphere proclaim where our real cultural common heritage actually lies. The UK is associated with free trade, trial by jury, presumption of innocence, accountable government, habeas corpus, Imperial weights and measures and the Bill of Rights. No other European country differs so much from the EU norm of prescriptive government or in cultural identity.

The need to create this bogus new European identity may lead to desperate measures reminiscent of Nazi Germany and Chinese rule in Tibet, such as the burning of cultural heritage, in our case as loathsome evidence of a democratic past. In the interim most likely EU funding will ensure research on, and digitisation and conservation of, archival and other cultural heritage collections which are deemed to support the notion of a common European heritage.

So what motivates our latest outpouring?

David Lammy MP

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced a so-called Action Plan to make Europe's cultural heritage more accessible through the internet. This follows a Ministerial Council in Brussels where digitisation was high on the agenda. Minister for Culture David Lammy states:

The Action Plan will guide the future coordination of digitisation activity within European Member States, with the vision of creating a European Cultural Information space. This will provide rich and diverse cultural resources to support education and research, tourism and the creative industries, and to enable digital access by all citizens to the national, regional and local cultural heritage of Europe."

We could ask why a UK government minister is concerned with implementing EU policy but we must be economical with space. It is clear from this new development that the Malvine Project is rearing its ugly head again. Our regular readers will be aware we have raised concerns about the object of the Malvine Project before. Far from being an innocent and innocuous policy area, the object of the Malvine Project was revealed several years ago as facilitating a unified Europe. (See Will the real Malvine Project please step forward?)

We should also note the citizens referred to are not the citizens of the member states but EU citizens or citizens of a new post-democratic superstate.

The project at this stage looks like a portal with a hint of ensuring the inter-operability of contributors' databases, in other words EU control and manipulation of our digital heritage. The relevant EU web site for the project appears to be Minerva, part of the eEurope programme, each in turn compliant with the Lund Action Plan.

And are things are getting a bit confused at national level? The effect of a surreptitious EU agenda lurking behind UK Government policy seems to be a lack of a joined-up UK government policy on British archives, typical of the insidious effect of EU integrationist policy. Perhaps this suggests the real reason behind the lack of UK national archives legislation.

A2A already exists at national level courtesy of the National Archivesand is already practically obsolescent. A2A is gradually being converted into something new called ArchivesUK (aUK) cum Linking Arms which face funding problems. This particular EU initiative, coming as it does from a slightly less usual source, the DCMS, is evidence of a differently conceived or at least a differently branded EU agenda.

One particular concern is whether the National Archives and its collaborators have kept the archives profession and the public in the dark about the EU Action Plan and the implementation of the Malvine Project into which A2A and ArchivesUK could now be transmogrifying. Note should also be taken of the MICHAEL project, see below.

What a shame citizens and archivists of the UK are being deceived as to what our government really plans for our great documentary heritage.

SQA will observe closely as to how TNA and the National Council on Archives market these confusingly similar projects.

Further reading:

Multicultural bollocks

Linking Arms Project Nellie does another whoopsie

Archives Task Force Bollocks, Bullshit and Balderdash

Transcript of UK Government propaganda leaflet advocating entry to the EU click here

The Bruges Group Can the European Union be Reformed?

Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe (The MICHAEL project)
here and
here

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