Sunday 23 May 2010

ACCG: How to Debate "cultural property" Issues

I am reliably informed by a well-wisher that John Hooker claims on a Yahoo group that he has been debating "cultural property" issues with archaeologists for longer than anyone he knows. He is currently the editor of the ACCG Newsletter the next issue (available only to members apparently) will be out 1st June.
I will be writing a "survival kit" for the discussion of such topics. It is my hope that it will provide the means for everyone to stop being led by the nose so easily!
So, let us get this straight, it is not collectors that are instructing the ACCG on what it has to say and do to defend their interests, it is the ACCG that are now telling collectors what to say to defend the ACCG's positions? Who is leading who by the nose? I admit I toyed with the idea of joining the ACCG to get a copy of this curious document, but it costs $35 and you'd have to be called a "Friend of the ACCG". Neither is it at all clear that my 35 dollars would not be being used to support dealing with cultural criminals involved in illegal exporting activities. No matter, I am sure soon after it comes out the more garrulous gullible numismophiles will be parrotting the whole lot of the Hookian mantras for our confounding.

This is typical of the collectors' group mentality. The ACCG had a "how to fax your congressman" feature, it had a "useful things to say to the CPAC" section on the V-coins fax wizard recently, UK metal detectorists were handed a screed of things to say to their MPs about the PAS when it was "threatened", all to be cut and pasted and passed off as the writer's deep felt convictions and original thoughts. The evidence seems to be pretty convincing however that the majority of them have neither (about collecting at least).

How arrogant and paternalistic of the ACCG however that it does not ask the collecting milieu ideas what such a "survival kit" should contain. Perhaps, as someone suggested to me just now, Hooker already has at his disposal a pattern in the form of those "how to witness to your friends" pamphlets various cultic groups issue. ("Twenty questions and the most effective way to answer them" - still that is better than the ACE "avoid such discussions like the very plague").

What is more important, is there any point discussing anything with a group of people who actually individually have no real ideas or notions of their own, but are merely repeating the unified version of "the state of things" that they have been told to say by a centralising group? A group that has so distorted the reason of its uncritical audience that they are repeating glib mantras without any real consideration of what it is they are saying and why, precisely like a controlling cult. It seems to me that a group which has one set of inflexible ideas standardised and enforced from above, is not going to have the flexibility to adapt or compromise on any of the points of the anachronistic (nineteenth century) firm anti-archaeological, anti-preservationist no-questions-asked collecting model. It is precisely these people who if they cannot fall in with what an increasingly conservation and heritage conscious society sees as acceptable that will eventually be "steamrollered" by the tide of public opinion. Like the Dodo.

UPDATE 24/5/10: Hooker's reaction (on the Yahoo Ancient Artifacts list):
Funny [...] Not as good as the one by Nigel Swift where he quoted something I had said on an intellectual property matter (changing the spelling to affect a German accent) after he compared me to Blofeld, the Bond villain -- right down to having me stroking a white cat on my lap. That one stands in a league of its own, and I never tire of telling the story. Still, this one has a couple of good moments and deserves a mention once in a while. Cheers, John.
This only goes to prove the point I made about the arrogance and paternalism of the ACCG, now (instead of answering the criticism) they are even telling collectors when to laugh. Mr Hooker clearly harbours ambitions to be a key figure in the "culture property war" and sees his involvement with Satyles' ACCG to be a step in this direction, so I imagine he regards Nigel's reference to Blofeld flattering. The fictional Blofeld by the way in the Fleming novels was born in Gdynia and was a Polish national, not a "German".

Vignette: Coin collectors believe that if they put their trust in Sayles, Welsh and now Hooker, all the suffering will soon be over...


David Gill said...

Hooker appears to be a writer of fiction. I am still waiting to hear the basis of some claims Hooker has made about me. But that is the "quality" of material that we can expect to see produced by the ACCG.

Paul Barford said...

Well, they are always the ones to make outrageous claims (most happily when they feel there will be nobody there to answer them) and consistently fail to back them up when challenged. And collectors will gullibly go along with anything they say and follow them to the ends of the earth...

Curious from a group that claims to be involved in "research" through collecting...

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