Seven Wonders of the Totalitarian World

21 November 2007 at 12:24 am 13 comments

| Peter Klein |

north-korea-monument.jpgOn a recent trip to Paris my wife suddenly remarked, in horror, “Do you realize that all the famous Parisian landmarks are government buildings?” It’s true, there’s not a private-sector creation among them, unless you count churches or the Tour Montparnasse (which I think was built with private funds). Come on kids, let’s see the next monument to government waste!

On a related note, if you like black humor, check out this Esquire piece on the Seven Wonders of the Totalitarian World. It’s fascinating, in a creepy sort of way. (Only structures built by second- and third-world despots are included, which rules out the grotesque US Embassy in Baghdad.) (HT: Steve Sailer)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Ephemera.

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cliff Grammich  |  21 November 2007 at 12:31 am

    Good grief, why would you count the Tour Montparnasse? A Parisian friend once told me the two tallest structures in the city are the Tour Eiffel and the Tour Awful . . .

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  21 November 2007 at 12:35 am

    Hey, I didn’t say it was pretty, just that it’s on the “standard” lists of tourist attractions. But the point is well taken.

  • 3. Cliff Grammich  |  21 November 2007 at 12:37 am

    And is the question in your mind whether a church building in France counts as a landmark or as a government building? Surely Notre Dame or even Sacré-Cœur count as famous Parisian landmarks, no?

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  21 November 2007 at 12:40 am

    Yes, absolutely, it was the “government-funded” part I was questioning. I meant “all the famous Parisian landmarks are churches or government buildings.”

  • 5. Cliff Grammich  |  21 November 2007 at 12:53 am

    OK. The question of government financing for French churches is an open one. I don’t know 13th century French public finance at all, but I’m willing to concede the point on Notre Dame.

    Regarding Sacré-Cœur, Wikipedia notes the following:

    “Construction costs, entirely from private donations, estimated at 7 million French francs, were expended before any above-ground visible structure was to be seen. A provisional chapel was consecrated 3 March 1876, and pilgrimage donations quickly became the mainstay of funding. Donations were encouraged by the expedient of permitting donors to ‘purchase’ individual columns or other features as small as a brick. It was declared by the National Assembly that the state had the ultimate responsibility for funding. Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914, although consecration of the basilica was delayed until after the First World War.”

  • 6. links for 2007-11-21 « Romulo Lopez Cordero  |  21 November 2007 at 1:23 am

    […] Seven Wonders of the Totalitarian World « Organizations and Markets Very insighful list. Agree with US elephant missing. (tags: totalitarism wonders) […]

  • 7. Hakan Ener  |  21 November 2007 at 1:39 am

    How about the fact that the Parisian landmarks are among the best investments in tourism ever made? Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and others rake in a total of billions of Euros every year, which are huge returns compared to what it costs to make and maintain them. These may be among the best government investments in France rather than worst government waste!

  • 8. Per Bylund  |  21 November 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Might very well be true, but even the French seem to acknowledge this “mistake” and seem to strive for privatizing the “wonders.” At least, [part of] the Eiffel Tower is for sale: USA Today

  • 9. Rafe Champion  |  21 November 2007 at 11:22 pm

    In Paris circa 1972 the UNESCO building was one of the few towers because the old city was still limited to seven (?) floors. Kind of fits the bill although i didn’t realise the real nature of the UN at the time.

  • 10. Rafe Champion  |  21 November 2007 at 11:27 pm

    #8 We have got a really fantastic bridge for sale down here in Sydney!

    This is the downside of it (from my son’s blog)

  • 11. Americaneocon  |  21 November 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, market guys!

  • 12. Bogdan Enache  |  22 November 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Sacré-Cœur may be build with private funds, but its doubtful that we can count it as a monument of freedom. It’s name means sacred heart and it’s actually a monument for French nationalism build to reinforce the idea of the “Eternal France” within its “natural borders” after the loss of Alsace and Lorrain (the Easter French provinces of Germanic culture taken by Richelieu from the Habsburgs after the “30 years War”) fallowing the Franco-Prussian war of 1866 : this is actually the reason for the rivalry between France and Germany that lead to both the first and second World Wars.

  • 13. Bogdan Enache  |  22 November 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Correction : the Franco-Prussian War took place between 1870-1871; the war between Prussia and Italy, on the one hand, and Austria and the other hand took place in 1866.

    But the picture it’s clear I think : the era was one of rampart nationalism, and ideology that destroyed at the end of 19th century the liberal/free-trade order in Europe, particularly in Continental Europe, and set the tone for the totalitarianism to come.

    Sacré-Cœur is one of the most beautiful monuments that unfortunately symbolizes this type of ethnic and vindictive nationalism that strive for national autharchy coupled with international political domination.

    As to the other churches, like Notre Dame for example, remember that the medieval Catholic Church was sharing the statehood with the grand barons and the King, all bishops were de jure feudal lords : consequently, there were all sorts of taxes in kind or labour that the ordinary people were forced to pay to the institution of the Catholic Church.

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