Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 19: GroupThink analysis and examples (i)

 GroupThink Model
© Irving Janis 1972.  Victims of GroupThink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-policy Decisions and Fiascoes
(click to enlarge)  

For the next few parts I will present an analysis with examples for each of the boxes in the flow chart above. While the chart is about GroupThink, the groups are not always organized and it is possible for one or more individuals to be working away from the direct influence of a large institutional group yet demonstrating certain influences from such groups. Only hierarchical and economic factors of the large group are absent with the individual or small group of followers. Additionally, a large group can exist with no formal group arrangement other than a shared philosophy and the transference of certain memes.

Box A: Decision Makers (Cohesive Group)

At the top of this hierarchy is UNESCO with its cultural property conventions framed within purely nationalistic advantages. None of these bestow any benefits to any cultural groups within the national borders that are contrary to the policies and attitudes of the government of that nation, even if the government is engaging in genocidal practices. Furthermore, while any convention has a date attached to it, it does not come into force in any country until it is ratified by that country and made subject to its laws. Such laws can also vary, country to country, for the same convention. This is not just in matters of punishments for violating these laws but sometimes the laws can change the application of the articles of the convention to better fit other existing laws. Cultural heritage protectionists almost always use the term "illicit" and refer to to the date of the convention, itself and not "illegal" and the date of its legal implementation. Of course, no one can be charged with an offence that was committed any time before the law existed that made such acts illegal. Such subterfuge, which is using the word "illicit" not in a legal sense but according to the mores of the group which might be very different from that of other groups, is the first rung on the ladder of a gradual increase in misleading and false information given in order to sway public opinion toward the groups ideals. These include memes and weasel phrases which have no real meaning or are just false. The psychology is always the same: dishonesty is used "for a greater good". Even forgery can be praised as it adversely effects the "enemy groups" of art and collectible dealers and collectors, themselves. In a very extreme case, one archaeologist publicly compared the activities of the Ancient Coins for Education (ACE) non-profit charitable organization which provides free ancient coins that are donated by dealers and collectors for schools and which awards prizes for student's historical essays to "drug-pushing". Yet, in the same breath, cultural heritage is said to belong to all people. As far as I can see, the reason for such condemnation is that donations to schools from coin dealers goes against the image of dealers that the group is trying to create in the mind of the public. While school museums are condemned, public museums are only attacked when parts of their collections have no chain of ownership that can be tracked back to before laws were in place prohibiting their export from the source country. In actual criminal law outside of police states it is up to the prosecution to prove guilt and not up to the defence to prove innocence. Innocence is presumed.

We also have to include evolution when thinking about UNESCO. It was founded with the stated belief in eugenics (Julian Huxley) and in a single world government. I have a personal interest in the former as I brought the problem of Alberta's eugenics law which justified the sexual sterilization of people with psychological problems, to the attention of Peter Lougheed, who, as the Premier of Alberta, eventually had that law overturned and its victims financially compensated. It was the largest compensation package ever paid out by the Alberta Government to its wronged citizens. Even though evolution never stands still, elements of former characteristics remain through those subsequent changes.

Below UNESCO comes a great number of local public institutions and academic organizations, and in the case of the latter, some "art-crimes" courses are created which further the aims of UNESCO and they use all of the techniques I have mentioned here.

Tomorrow, we move on to Box B in the chart


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