A Foundation For Fascism? Critics Warn of Authoritarian Design Behind Trump’s Call For Classic Building Styles

There are many who disagree with the executive order to mandate that new federal buildings follow classical styles of architecture. There are also those of us who have objected to some modern designs like the eyesore design in London of our new embassy. It is a view shared by Prince Charles who lamented how modern designs were ruining the classic profile of key London areas. However, Yale History Professor Glenda Gilmore and columnist Mark Lamster see a far more sinister and frightening meaning in President Donald Trump’s executive order: the blue print for fascism. It appears that we are just one Corinthian column way from an authoritarian structure.

In a column in Dallas Morning News, Mark Lamster warned readers that this is all the stuff of Hitler and Stalin:

“Not mentioned is the fact that classical and traditional styles have also been associated with fascist and totalitarian regimes; Hitler, most notoriously, repudiated modernism and mandated classicism as the state style of the Third Reich. Berlin was to be remade as a city of monumental classicism — the centerpiece being an enormous dome modeled on the Roman Pantheon, its design carried out by architect Albert Speer. The Soviet Union also prescribed classical building as expressions of state authority.”

That apparently was too subtle for Professor Gilmore. Gilmore teaches African American history as well as women’s and gender history at Yale. She tweeted: “This may not seem like the most dangerous thing we face, but it’s one of the warning signs of fascism and…wait for it…genocide. The cult of antiquity & the imposition of monuments to a nation’s mythical glorious past precede both of those disasters.”

The controversy struck a cord with me because I have been writing on the connection between architectural and Madisonian theories of space and design. See Jonathan Turley, Madisonian Tectonics: How Function Follows Form in Constitutional and Architectural Interpretation, 83 George Washington University Law Review 305 (2015). Mies van der Rohe spoke of form follows function, not fascism follows form.

One can certainly denounce the executive order as artificially limiting artistic and architectural expression. Buildings reflect the people and age in which they are built. However, it is lunacy to suggest that classic architecture somehow belongs to or perpetuates fascist ideologies, let alone genocide. Only in the most feverish mind would anyone view this executive order of marching us toward fascism one Doric column at a time.

113 thoughts on “A Foundation For Fascism? Critics Warn of Authoritarian Design Behind Trump’s Call For Classic Building Styles”

  1. Why do people post this BS? Because it calls out the real Fascist, People like “Mark Lamster” who use newspeak to push an agenda. How many fingers am I holding up Winston? Drive the BS into someones brain long enough, they’ll start to believe it.

    But then this is Dallas, my once great city, known as the place that killed Kennedy. Has devolved into a Leftist wasteland. Why, you can even steal up to $750 worth of merchandise, and not worry about getting arrested, or charged. Isn’t Liberalism Great!

    1. Anti Orwellian – I have been wondering about these places that mandate a $750 limit on thefts. Do thieves carry a calculator or do they calculate in their heads?

  2. The London Building for the US Embassy looks like the Cube of Saturn for the Occult practices. You take a ball and you throw it into the cube to vote. Does anyone on here know what I’m talking about…

    Also, didn’t GW, in 1791, do the original survey DC area into a giant square ad quadtraum? No? Yes? Maybe the cube for the US Embassy is fitting considering DCs layout. Not saying it’s an attractive building 👀

    Anyway, I’m more concerned about the employees who work there…can they see out of the windows? Are they getting any sunlight? I would be worried about depressed employees.

    I enjoy the Greco-Roman art of the buildings in DC, my only concern would be expense, and it seems expensive…

  3. Mr Kurtz — Art Deco was fantastically expen$ive. The Bauhaus style was, and is still, to bring architecture, etc., to the so-called machine age. It works. It was banned by the Nazis. Art Deco was not.

    Near The Louve there is the Museum of the Decorative Arts. Visit for the Art Deco offices, but much more.

    After COVID–19 of course.

    1. i loathe bauhaus, gropius, yuck, weimar, blech. the one I loathe the least was mies van der rohe, but i have spent a lot of time over many decades of life as a visitor and a resident at different times, walking in the shadow of his massive buildings in chicago and to me they may work fine for the corporations who own and rent them but they are gutless and soulless and unpleasing.

      but the art deco ones warm my heart even in the wind and cold

      https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/illinois/articles/an-art-deco-architecture-tour-of-chicago/

      i don’t react against things just because nazis liked them. hitler liked Wagner. I do too. why would I let what hitler liked or didn’t, dictate my tastes? hitler’s dictating days were over a long time ago. too many people worry about what hitler did or didn’t like.

  4. Unfortunately the J. Edgar Hoover Building on 10th St in Washington DC is not scheduled for demolition. The FBI is housed in at least 21 buildings and the top officials feel put upon.

    — David B Benson

  5. Technocrats once spoke the language of socialism and central planning; Koolhass and his ilk are more likely invoke markets, openness, and globalization. But the underlying impulse is the same: Society can be cataloged, organized, and ultimately shaped from the top down through the design of its cities and buildings. Beauty, tradition, and culture are secondary considerations.
    https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/07/brutalist-architecture-disappearance-beauty-will-collins.html

  6. “…this is all the stuff of Hitler…”

    – Professor Turley Quoting The Dallas Morning News
    __________________________________________

    To be sure, the President who most resembled Hitler was “Crazy Abe” Lincoln. Lincoln accidentally won the fractured1860 election with 38.9% of the vote, as did Hitler, and 1864 with brute military force. Lincoln neutralized the legislative and judicial branches and ruled with an iron fist through unconstitutional proclamations and executive orders. Lincoln’s denial of secession was unconstitutional, particularly in a nation born of secession by “rebels” against the Crown conducting secession-termed-“rebellion” against the formidable British Empire (secession has been conducted by many multiple states and nations). Lincoln conducted an illegal and unconstitutional war until a “Resolution” was forced out of Congress. Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus was done in a condition of secession, not of rebellion and, therefore, unconstitutional. Etc., etc., etc. Lincoln should have been impeached, convicted and imprisoned for treason. Lincoln’s “Reign of Terror,” acts “…injurious to the Constitution…” and the actions of his successors were and remain illegitimate, just as the actions of Hitler’s fully annihilated and terminated “Third Reich” were and remain illegal and illegitimate.

  7. A fascist is anyone who disagrees with a leftist, a tenant of leftism or anything proposed by a leftist. That means JT and Prince Charles could be accurately classified as fascists now.

    And while I claim no expertise in architecture or design, didn’t the USSR create massive buildings and monuments in the style of what was known as “Socialist Realism”? Probably not the same as anything found in classical Greek Architecture.

    antonio

      1. @bythebook

        This is true, and people and circumstances can be quite complex, but leftists love to direct slurs at anyone who disagrees with anything they believe or propose. I am neither a leftist or a fascist but many leftists would call me a nazi because I do not support massive uncontrolled immigration, open borders and believe human subgroups (i.e. races) differ in average IQ and create different types of civilizations. How is open borders working out in the corona virus era?

        Have seen few leftists who will debate the issues instead they support speech codes, doxxing and deplatforming.

        antonio

        1. antonio, might be more productive, but especially entertaining and interesting to discuss and argue issues and people instead of stereotypes.

      1. another good example is the Rodina statute in Stalingrad or whatgeve they call it now – Volgograd?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Motherland_Calls

        Yvgeny Vucetich is possibly my favorite sculptor, tied with Rodin

        i like representational styles. Abstract art is often just incompetent or weak art. Not always just ofen. For example. in Mayor Pete’s hometown of South Bend Indiana there is a big hunk of twisted metal painted orange staged in the St Joe River. It is abstract art, or so they say. I have seen it and it looks to me like something studebaker left behind when all their factories were demolished.

        here is a picture of the iron garbage:

        http://zbuild.com/images/samples/painting-sculpture.jpg

        1. Agree. It’s not that abstract art or rap can’t produce some good stuff, but

          1. How do you tell?
          2. They usually don’t.

          1. i am not tied to hidebound notions of representational art. for example in painting, I like Van Gogh, I like Gaugin, I like Cezanne. I like all phases of Picasso, can appreciate cubism

            In surrealism i like rene magrite or salvador dali, but not joan miro. miro to me, is almost always ugly and somehow repellent. oh, there’s another one i dislike that is marc chagall.

            I have seen abstract art done by amateurs that was fascinating. i have seen amateur jackson pollock style art that was a lot more interesting to me than jackson pollock. whatever I am supposed to get from that I simply dont grasp, cant grasp, it just looks like complicated dribbles of paintings that are intentionally chaotic and about as interesting as grey noise coming from an untuned radio receiver.

            i have no clue what makes paintings popular to collectors. it seems to me that art collecting is often operating according to the “greater fool” theory of value

            to know your own tastes is more important than knowing others. if you ask me

    1. in architecture it was called socialist classicism

      in painting and sculture it was called socialist realism.

      i actually like both.

      i am not a fan of “Entartete Kunst” which is at least about half the non-representational garbage puked forth by the 20th century.

  8. Brutalism Gave Modern Architecture A Bad Name

    This order to preserve classic architecture in Washington does not trouble me. Perhaps Trump wants to avoid trends from the recent past like the so-called ‘Brutalistic’ style (late 60’s to early 80’s).

    The FBI’s Hoover Building, completed shortly after Hoovers death in the 1970’s, is an example of a style that clashed dramatically with Classical. What’s more The Hoover Building never found any love. In fact all over the country Brutalism still lacks admiration.

    If I were an architect, I would love the chance to design a government building in Classic style. With regards to The Hoover Building, it is currently slated to be demolished.

    1. bauhaus is another inferior school of architecture on the dungheap of history
      sort of like art deco, with which it was contemporaneous, but ugly. art deco was modern and yet beautiful

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