Monday 27 July 2015

Jackboot-fantasists in the Mall

This is a threat to collectors
everywhere:"Today Germany, tomorrow the world". 

Nazis on Dave Welsh's mind
Over on Moneta-L there is of course a lively discussion of Germany's proposed due diligence regulations. You know, that thing every coin dealer cheerfully tells you they 'did already' when they bought something for their stock. Now when it seems that to sell them to somebody in Germany, they'd have to prove that, it's a problem ("ooops-I-lost-all-the-papers-again"). This is what "Classical Coins" Dave Welsh has to say (RE: New German Legislation).   
In my opinion it is vitally important not only to develop enough opposition to defeat this attempt to legislate "political correctness" but enough outrage to politically discredit the cultural fascism that has brazenly attempted it. These extremists are not only against collecting, they are against freedom, and against the right of intelligent individuals to make their own informed decisions. We have here an attempt to institutionalize, in the government of Germany and thereafter Europe, archaeology as an official cultural ideology -- and that is every bit as wrong and ill advised as it would be to institutionalize an official religion. It is a form of totalitarianism, and I believe that the world has had enough of that, particularly in Germany.
Of course there is no question in a market where illicitly obtained material is in free circulation of due diligence being merely "political correctness" or "extremism". It is a matter of keeping tainted material off the market. Neither is the attempt to clean up the market any kind of "fascism" (comic-book cardboard cutout or otherwise) or assault on freedom any more than speed limits and red lights at road junctions are.

As for the idiotic notion of "archaeology as a totalitarian state ideology", what we are talking about is collecting histories and export licences. What it is proposing as a ruling ideology is not "archaeology" but following the law and avoiding criminal activity.

In the case of the suggestion that measures instituted to ensure the addition of illicit antiquities to a dealer's stock is "against the right of intelligent individuals to make their own informed decisions", it is amply demonstrated on every forum, discussion list and webpage on cultural property issues, that the coin collecting community (and that of the USA in particular) is not exactly overflowing with individuals even of average intellect and literacy skills. Funnily enough when it comes to following the law (driving a motor vehicle, selling weapons, age of consent for sex, taking other people's property, selling fireworks, employment etc) the German constitution does not enshrine a right "for intelligent individuals to make their own decisions", it is called there "breaking the law" and the German constitution (like most of those in Europe) is rather there to protect other innocent people from law breakers. 

But here we at last see what I suspect is the problem. Dave Welsh thinks "due diligence is for others", other dealers. He obviously considers himself to be an "intelligent individual" who can "make his own informed decisions". Thus we have it him selling Parthian coins as of kosher provenance because he bought them from a Spanish dealer and he's never heard of any looted stuff comiung from Spain.* Now obviously standards of what is considered "intelligent" will vary across the world. What may be considered an "intelligent opinion" in a Jesuit school in California would be considered a sign of utter idiocy in a grammar school in England.  Anyone who's gone to the latter and mercifully avoided the former will see that Mr Welsh's idea of "individuals making their own decisions" is no longer the sort of basis on which the antiquities trade of the twenty-first century should be based. Instead of subjective decisions based on what is made available at any time by foreign middlemen, we need the institution of well-documented good business practice, just as when eggs and potatoes are sold in German supermarkets. This is not "totalitarianism" or "fascism" (sic), but good business practice and consumer protection.

Vignette: Pennsylvania bill would require schools to post ‘In God We Trust’ motto

PS pointing out the mechanism by which he introduced those coins onto the market is what dealer Dave Welsh deletes in quoting that fragment of my text on his blog, labelling it "turgid anticollecting verbiage omitted". Apparently, in the eyes of those over-sensitive individuals involved in it, anything which raises any issue at all about the manner in which the commerce in archaeological artefacts is carried out is by its very nature "anti-collecting" - even though in fact what I was talking about was about buying and selling by a dealer and not collecting at all. 

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