(1) The loss by fire of Brazil's National Museum brought to mind the two Getty Center sites in Los Angeles, and other priceless treasure houses around the world.

Politics is central to this issue.

Photo: People gathering around the burnt out museum today in a kind of embrace.
(2) People are constantly telling me that politics doesn't matter, that it's pointless, that they don't need to form a view and act on it.

What a cop out.
(3) You are, of course, free to ignore politics as much as you wish. That's WHY millions have fought and died for the sake of liberty and freedom.

But for most people, if you ignore local, state, national, or international politics, then you're not being part of the solution.
(4) Fire is a force of nature that can take lives and property in an instant. Since civilization began, preventing, controlling & extinguishing fire has been the focus of human knowledge and technological development. Even a poor community or country can now win against fire.
(5) The fact that in so many cases, people DON'T win against fire, is almost always a preventable tragedy. My focus is always on lives lost and injuries acquired, but property loss also matters.

Especially where the property is irreplaceable and of high value, such as museums.
(6) The root cause of the "total loss" of Brazil's National Museum is the political heritage of Brazil. I could write an entire thread about that, but read this one by the well qualified founder of the FacesOfAuschwitz.com @FacesAuschwitz project:

(7) Property loss by fire threatens human life directly and indirectly. Economic damage strains the private and public resources needed to sustain life and rebuild after a major fire. National security is based on economic security. Cops and soldiers must be paid and equipped.
(8) Naturally occurring climate change has made the already challenging task of tackling #wildfires more difficult, around the world. I wrote about the problem in the USA, in this recent thread:
(9) Both sites of California's Getty Center are at risk of destruction by wildfire. There is the main campus getty.edu/visit/center/ and the getty.edu/visit/villa/.

Both sites contain buildings, gardens and art works that would be a great loss to the world if they caught fire.
(10) The Getty Center claims that it's fire mitigation efforts are 100% failsafe.

(11) Granted, unlike Brazil's National Museum, the Getty Center campuses do have sprinklers and working fire hydrants nearby.

(12) That's right. I, too, had a shocked face when I realized that the 20 million irreplaceable artifacts gathered over 200 years and held in the national museum of one of the world's largest countries, which calls itself modern, were unprotected by sprinklers or nearby hydrants.
(13) I was shocked by the realization about the museum, but not by the fact this happened in a country with the political heritage of Brazil. Largely the same kind of political heritage in countries throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, & some US states.
(14) Until relatively recently, most people in the English speaking world broadly accepted the idea of sovereign nation states, with functioning borders, effective voting rights, separation of powers, & the rule of law. One country has more or less maintained these since 1776.
(15) I'm confident I can logically defend the argument that no country can survive without valuing and having:
>national sovereignty
>functioning borders
>effective voting rights
>separation of powers
>the rule of law.

Leftism/Socialism fights against these things.
(16) I was a Leftist for most of my life, before becoming a strong conservative in 2016. Despite a college degree in political science & history, and several years working as an adviser to the NZ government, I had completely misunderstood the political history of the world.
(17) These days I focus on the politics of saving lives in disasters, emergencies & major crime events. Everywhere I look, I see communities dealing with disasters better if they have a generally conservative political heritage & worse if it's generally leftist/socialist.
(18) Conservatives (generally) have better leadership skills & experience, whether it's leading a country, state, county, city, business, nonprofit, group, club, or household.

Leftists/socialists (generally) deal with form over substance. Words over actions. Identity politics.
(19) My view of conservativism is that we try to learn what works, from history, tradition, & the mistakes of others.

Progressivism is, by definition, based on the claim that what exists is flawed & that it should be reviewed in light of advancing theoretical knowledge.
(20) One mindset sees value in what has gone before, along with scientific advancement, in its proper place.

One mindset sees value in what is newly thought and felt.

Ironically, those who prefer new ideas over old ideas, also claim to be the rightful guardians of museums.
(21) To me, there's a supreme irony in the fact that the big museums are linked to "the academy," which has become dominated by the Left over the past 100+ years.

It's the ideas of the Left that work against the 5 principles I listed in tweet (15), resulting in risk to museums.
(22) I'm very, very upset about the loss of Brazil's National Museum, and I see on Twitter that conservatives and leftists alike are saying the same thing.

I always try to make lemonade out of lemons. This is an opportunity, a teachable moment.
(23) The Getty Center is a large resource intended for the world to enjoy and learn from. At this page: getty.edu/about/whoweare… it's website says that J. Paul Getty viewed art as "a civilizing influence in society."

This is a classic leftist view that ignores a few things...
(24) He and his legacy institution were not wrong to say art is a civilizing influence, or that we can "promote a vital civil society through an understanding of the visual arts." getty.edu/about/

But I say these are not sufficient. And the Center itself is at risk.
(25) The management and staff of Brazil's national museum also worked "to make a lasting difference in art history and conservation practice."

It will take leaders (not managers) with a sound track record in business to ensure the Getty Center and Getty Villa are "conserved."
(26) As stated in the Smithsonian Mag article above, the Getty Center believes its sites are adequately protected from fire.

They could be right. But skepticism is understandable. The air-movement system relies on an electricity supply, I imagine?
(27) And what of the equally valuable Getty Villa's buildings, gardens, and art?
(28) (28) Both sites appear on this map, which shows how close they are to areas that are constantly hit by wildfires that move extremely fast, are ferocious, and very difficult to control. At least 8 firefighters died in the latest CA wildfires, plus several civilians.
(29) The donors, staff, visitors and other stakeholders of the Getty Center's world class work are as diverse as the wider community: conservative, liberal, other.

The future of the institution is of public interest. We all have a say in how it's run, just like in Brazil.
(30) We have a say in it, but the institution's owners don't have to take what we say into account. That's fine. I would hope they are interested in all points of view.

When a country is functioning well, private and philanthropic work can thrive.

Let's learn from Brazil.
(31) Let's salvage something from the ashes. I believe that the wellbeing of humans (and the rest of the natural world) is best served by learning from the mistakes of others, before life has to teach us directly.

The Getty Center website uses the language of the PR profession.
(32) It's just words. Like the words of the politicians in Brazil. If we as voters believe words without looking into actions, we will fail.

I really hope this tragic fire serves as a wake up call for people around the world willing to have an open mind.


(33) ADDENDUM: I admire Marina Amaral's reporting & other work but I disagree with the below. Criminals are gonna criminal. It's up to us to stop them, through first world govt processes & monitoring. Museum Director *could* have authorized moving artifacts to safety (cont'd)...
(34) Those who knew about the lack of basic fire protection systems could have moved some of the museum's artifacts to other sites until the work was done. It would need to be authorized, & the Director could have done that. I have a suggestion for museum supporters worldwide:
(35) The many professional & personal supporters of museums around the world could establish an international watchdog group to keep tabs on major museums that aren't adequately managing conservation risks. The info can then be used by each country's citizens to inform decisions.
(36) If today's UNESCO was functioning like the original UNESCO did, then a useful vehicle for this work would already be available.

Leftists are generally internationalists. They believe transnational govt or NGO organizations should be able to direct sovereign states to act.
(37) I'm arguing for volunteerism instead. Instead of trying to force Brazilian govts to protect their major museums, a new, international museum conservation monitor could reduce the "information asymmetry" that exists between museum experts & most Brazilian voters.
(38) I'm just using Brazil as an example, not claiming its voters would act on such information. The proposed model doesn't violate sovereignty, respects the ability of voters to understand the issues, and invites those who can change a situation, to do so.
(39) In our various countries, we've been lulled into a mindset that trusts govt to ensure museum conservation risks are properly managed.

Brazilians who blame govt for this fire are missing the point. Like a home buyer who fails to get a pre-purchase inspection then complains.
(40) Citizens have duties: To gather info about govt performance & take appropriate action to address it.

Museum managers have info like "there are no sprinklers. The smoke alarms & fire hydrants don't work."

Complaining, while not removing the artifacts, won't fix a thing.
(41) Public institutions and agencies must be run like businesses, in terms of methods, not the profit motive. It can be done, and it has been done this way in New Zealand since the 1980s. Unions complain, but why should they have the power to override the will of voters?
(42) Leftist voters have been told to oppose public-private partnerships, for the wrong reasons. They don't understand basic economics. History (and social science) has shown time and again that bringing in an element of private sector management practice does improve outcomes.

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