Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Elgin Marbles

One thing I am not proud of is not having kicked up more of a fuss, hitherto, about the Elgin Marbles. It is the kind of issue that it is easy to leave to others. But if all fair-minded people take that stance, then the day is won by people of extreme views and sophisticated arguments.

A few years ago my local MP phoned me and asked if there was any pressing issue I would like to discuss. I said: "Yes, we should give the Elgin Marbles back to Greece." He said that was a first for him, to have a constituent raise that issue.

I haven't got a lot of complicated arguments to present about the Elgin Marbles. Leave complicated arguments to the brainy types at the British Museum, and to defenders of the British Empire/Establishment. Britain stole the Elgin Marbles from Greece. Britain should be in a hurry to give them back.

If there is any British tendency to be proud of, it might be fair play. So, if there are British people reading this blog who might be open enough (to the point of gullibility?) to be interested in the views and opinions of a person like me, one view I would definitely like to express is that we should give the Elgin Marbles back to Greece!


Pete said...

Fair play! Don’t make me laugh. British justice, whatever that means, was achieved trough class struggle. A long and bloody struggle! The people against the aristocracy. Fuck the aristocracy, they stole the land. Give the marbles back to the Greeks and give the land back to the people. But then where did the wealth of Athens come from? Plunder and slave labour of course! Most of the citizens of “ democratic” Athens were slave owners so fuck the slave owners and give the marbles to the slaves. But where are the slaves? I’m a slave to my habitual responses so send the marbles round to me. They would look great over my mantelpiece
Cheers Pete

Mike Cross said...

You make some fair points, Pete.

I think what motivated me to write this post was that the fact we, as members of the British voting public to whom the government is supposed to be accountable, are still hanging on to the Elgin Marbles is just a very clear red flag signalling that there is something very wrong, that we could easily rectify, if only we could be arsed.

So many of the wrongs of British history cannot be righted, but here is one we could easily set right, if only we could be bothered.

The fact that Britain has still got the Elgin Marbles is a red flag. And it bothers me probably because I fear an apathetic tendency in myself.

Gudo Nishijima was a truly truly terrible teacher of sitting-zen. People need to understand the werongness of his teaching. Because he was like a father to me in many ways, it is not easy for me to say so. But it is my duty to say so, just as it is the simple and obvious duty of the British government to hand the Parthenon Marbles back over to the Greek government.