Deconstructing 194X, Part I of X

Quote 1
…only revolutions offer up spontaneous futures like 194X, and usually at the cost of great memory loss – heads must roll in order to usher in Véndemiaire, the first month of the French Revolutionary calendar (page seventeen).

Quote 2
…as the lingua franca of modernists, abstraction was seen as ameliorative, instrumental, and revelatory. Its claim to universality offered an ideal mode for planning, whose very nature remained, even at this date, an abstraction, and which, in its most radical form, aimed to liberate the masses. Abstraction conveniently hid planning’s most violent aspect, namely, its assertive destruction of the city of the present, which many architects believed was stuck in the straightjacket of the past. Planning, the social abstraction that would rid the world of slums, create equality, and reconstruct cities into ideal urban fabrics (page twenty-nine).

Quote 3
…the NRPB provided an especially broad understanding of planning. This legacy deserves more attention, from the practical and ideological content of its literature to is strategies for publicizing planning and the visual culture surrounding its work. Its influence can be gauged in part by how many of its central concerns remain with us today. The agency emphasized local participation and organization (a legacy that would reemerge strongly in the 1960s), coordinated planning on all levels, and gave planning an accessible image (page eighteen).

Quote 4
…more than anything, the NRB realized that planning was an alien concept to most Americans, whose deeply rooted individualism ran counter to the common misperception of planning as “the wholesale regimentation of private life,” commonly associated with totalitarianism (page nineteen).

Quote 5
…the planning that leads to overcentralization belonged to the established technical fields of industrial, social, and economic planning, bound together by national planning. The planning that “plans its own decentralization,” by contrast, expressed a social attitude, or perhaps something more: an élan vital at the heart of democracy’s social justice-the idealistic creed of liberal government (page twenty).

Quote 6
…the NRB’s tacit, though thinly veiled, assumption was that laissez-faire capitalism had failed and only a planned society could save it (page twenty-one).

Quote 7
…the authors made publicity a centerpiece of bringing “Plans into Action,” as they called one section. including the use of newspapers and radio, town meetings, and planning classes in the local school system. Propaganda and education would transform planning into a cultural force that emanated from the public will and a patriotic duty on which the future community rested (page twenty-three).

All quotes from 194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front by Andrew M. Shanken

Related
What Happened to Obama? Absolutely Nothing. (WSJ)

Mr. Obama was a genuine product of the political culture that had its birth among a marginal group of leftists in the early 1960s and that by the end of the decade had spread metastatically to the universities, the mainstream media, the mainline churches, and the entertainment industry. Like their communist ancestors of the 1930s, the leftist radicals of the ’60s were convinced that the United States was so rotten that only a revolution could save it…Thus, not one of the six Democratic presidential candidates who followed Mr. McGovern came out of the party’s left wing, and when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (the only two of the six who won) tried each in his own way to govern in its spirit, their policies were rejected by the American immune system. It was only with the advent of Barack Obama that the leftists at long last succeeded in nominating one of their own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.