Tomislav S. Šola
The Total Capitalism
The Total capitalism (the one that permeates the entire structure of the society and its value systems) has invented a mythological genius of successful individual, a sort of demi-god, - a super human always crowned with success, possessing all the attributes of his (rarely hers) super-social power. These lucky bastards (sorry, I forgot you expect scientific vocabulary, a discourse al secco, so to say) unfortunately are minor human beings like Donald Trump, or exceptional cases that confirm the rule, like Bill Gates. The perverse drama of jumping from dormant waters of administrative socialism/communism into wild Tacherist torrent is still a global theatre for learning the true predatory nature of globalist, Tacherist capitalism. The protagonists were and still are bare naked in front of those who are able to see while regarding. While overnight tycoons are hastily trying to disguise into the decent citizens with legal assets and lawful business procedures, the West is scrupulously watching because most of the profits will anyhow go to them: local maharajahs will be happy vassals to international business empires. The obscenity of this arrangement emerges with the paradox of the common denominator of their rules: radical nationalism lacquered, in the latter phase, for the international use, by the phrases on unity of diversity etc. As this is still an evident scene to watch, so is their direct conspiracy with politicians (a corruption hidden in the West by many transitions like lobbing, PR campaigns etc.).
Now, why would this have anything to do with industrial archaeology? Well, this IS the industrial archaeology in making, - i.e. Its the soft part, the context, the society, the subtle tissue of values (and "values"), implemented, the very essence which is then materialized in technique, technology, buildings, business relations, trade etc. Imagine an industrial archaeologist who digs in ice or mud (whatever the scenario of global warming can bring) the remnants of great worlds' corporations. The head is a dull building with offices, and informationon technology, - nothing to see. The body does not exist and tentacles are on the other part of planet (and have changed their position and technology times over in a decade only. Is this part of the environment that finally convinced that intangible heritage has to enter world's professional definitions? There were two major consequences most professionals failed to understand: it will finally affirm that museum is not a place of objects but of ideas (I do not mind objects, on the contrary!), and will call for a profession. Namely, only a distinctive profession can deal with self-assured precision what is intangible heritage and what is a mere tittle-tattle or hear-say. Does this have to with industrial archaeology? Well, what profession should you envisage to grapple with these subtleties? The one we have. Alas, what we have is just an occupation, and there is a long way to go to reach the importance and societal position of a profession. But, that is a another, long story.
I therefore claim that museums and other actions, permanent or temporary in the field of industrial archaeology, have one grand mission to accomplish and that is to propagate the culture of human endeavour, of a constant effort to subdue materials, create means and organize processes that would result in honest products, needed, well done, beautiful (especially when their function comprises that) and usable. They have to bring back to the skills and imagination the aura of importance, the dignity of creativity. In the age of mass production where automated machines handled by underpaid poor devils produce cheap goods for short use and throwing off, it is hard to expect a radical turn to the values. Yet, it isn't impossible. We shall know only when we try.