Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Will you stand by and watch?

Following on our recent blog about the trashing of Ruskin College, Oxford's archives SQA is saddened to learn of academic disappointment with the various archives advocacy, professional and umbrella organisations' record in intervening in or speaking up for archives under threat of closure, destruction or dispersal. This it transpires extends beyond Ruskin College to a surprising number of third sector organisations including the Women's Library (London Metropolitan University), the Scottish Roman Catholic Church, the Law Society's Mendham Collection held by the University of Kent at Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral Library.

Where's the fire brigade?

This disappointment is expressed by Anne Summers in a post entitled Archives: A House on Fire? on History Workshop Online

In her post Ms. Summers echoes many of SQA's concerns down the years, levelling at the National Archives, Archives and Records Association (ARA) and the Parliamentary Group on Archives and History the accusation that they have been conspicuously quiet and ineffective in defending archives. It is an indictment on these organisations that Summers can say in 2012 "no single body in Britain holds the ring for archives". She goes on to accuse "those bodies who do have a protective remit of gross dereliction of duty." Furthermore, her approaches to ARA and the Parliamentary Group for further information went either unanswered or even unacknowledged.

The best metaphor to emerge from Ms. Summers' article is that of the burning house. Let us quote her in full.

The other day I stood politely at a reception at the House of Lords, organised to launch the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives, as representatives of The National Archives and of the all-party group talked about the good work they did issuing guidelines for the care and maintenance of organisational records. It was as if a bunch of firefighters were handing out leaflets on fire prevention while standing, apparently oblivious, next to a blazing building. When are they going to get out the hoses?

This picture contrasts with the official public image of the National Archives as national leader for archives under recent arrangements following the demise of the Museums, Libraries and Arts Council and its allies at the launch of the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives attended by Tristram Hunt MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Group on Archives and History and Oliver Morley, Keeper of the Public Records and Chief Executive of the National Archives. Ms. Summers might have added that for good measure that ARA had just completed its self-congratulatory annual conference where members were at least able to put out fires of a different kind at Horatio's Bar on Brighton Pier.

So far, so good. Ms. Summers has drawn the appropriate conclusions about the archives umbrella organisations in the UK. However, like other bystanders watching the house on fire, she has yet to see through the smoke and identify the real nature of the malaise. Conspiracy theorising doesn't come easily to self-respecting acamedics, even after considering and excluding all rational explanations and in face of the fact that nearly all conspiracy theories are borne out. Katherine K. Young, professor of religious studies at McGill University, states "the fact remains, however, that not all conspiracies are imagined by paranoids. Historians show that every real conspiracy has had at least four characteristic features: groups, not isolated individuals; illegal or sinister aims, not ones that would benefit society as a whole; orchestrated acts, not a series of spontaneous and haphazard ones; and secret planning, not public discussion."

Where is national archives legislation? Why are archival collections not listed or scheduled like historic buildings?

Conspiracy in the corridors of power is not far to seek. Alongside the inocuous sounding Parliamentary Group on Archives and History is the Parliamentary Group on World Government which aims to steer the UK towards submission to unaccountable collectivist world government. How could any world government ever be accountable? The EU, itself the product of a deception plan in the UK and beyond is a good enough indicator of corruption and dictatorship on the supra-national scale and it's only just warming up.

Just as in Fahrenheit 451, Britain's firefighters are not there to put out fires. They are there to start them and stoke them.

How best to explain the real agenda to the uninitiated? Well, we are talking about dialecticalism, as in Soviet or Communist dialecticalism. By way of example of how things aren't always what they seem, we refer to the declassified US Government document entitled in brief "Food for Peace", authored by Henry Kissinger, which outlined how to use US food aid to stabilise unstable regions. Suspicions arose among journalists and academics when civil and regional wars flared up in regions targeted for food aid, as though the effect of US policy was to inflame traditional divides and racial hatred not quell them. Eventually, the policy document emerged and it became plain it could be read as a manual for destabilisation rather than stabilisation, hence dialecticalism.

So welcome to the world of archives dialecticalism!

However, SQA wonders whether leftist-leaning academics might have only themselves to blame for this continuing trend…..we call to mind Lenin's useful idiots.

Antonio Gramsci

Among Lenin’s contributions was the theory of the vanguard. Since the proletariat masses would never rise up, Lenin argued that it was necessary for a relatively small number of vanguard leaders—professional revolutionaries—to advance the revolutionary cause by working themselves into positions of influence. By taking over the commanding heights of labor unions, the press, the universities, professional and religious organizations, a relatively few number of revolutionaries could multiply their influence and exercise political leverage over their unwitting constituents and society at large......While Lenin was seizing power in Russia , Antonio Gramsci was emerging as a leading Marxist theoretician in Italy and would found the Italian Communist Party in 1921. After being imprisoned by Mussolini, the Fascist Prime Minister of Italy, Gramsci authored what came to be called the Prison Notebooks, partially published in 1947 and in complete form in 1975, a legacy that made him one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the 20th century. Gramsci argued that power for the communist is best attained in developed, industrialized societies such as Europe and the United States through “the long march through the institutions.” This would be a gradual process of radicalization of the cultural institutions—“the superstructure”—of bourgeois society, a process that would in turn transform the values and morals of society. Gramsci believed that as society’s morals were softened its political and economic foundation would be more easily smashed and restructured.......Cultural Marxism was also in vogue at the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University in Germany —that is until 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Many members of the Frankfurt School, such as Herbert Marcuse, Eric Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkeimer and William Reich fled to the United States, where they ultimately found their way into professorships at various elite universities such as Berkeley, Columbia, and Princeton. In the context of American culture, “the long march through the institutions” meant, in the words of Herbert Marcuse, “working against the established institutions while working in them.” The countercultural influence of radicals like Marcuse and Gramsci has been advanced more by insinuation and infiltration than by confrontation. Their “quiet” revolution was intended to be diffused throughout the culture, over a period of time, to remake society.
Scott Powell, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and author of Covert Cadre.


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