Gigantomania

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Gigantomania (from Ancient Greek γίγας gigas, "giant" and μανία mania, "madness") is the production of unusually and superfluously large works.[1]

Gigantomania was in varying degrees a feature of the political and cultural lives of several totalitarian regimes such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, People's Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.[1]

Gigantomania in the Soviet Union[edit]

The social engineering and modernization efforts in agriculture and industry of Soviet dictator Josif Stalin have been described as gigantomaniac.[2] The creation of extremely large industrial complexes, farms, engineering efforts, buildings and statues was to prove the superiority of the socialist system over capitalism.[1] These projects also aimed for a mass transformation of the Russian peasant society into a proletarian one: massive construction sites also functioned as ideological education centers for the workers or Gulag inmates.[3]

In addition to massive construction projects, Stalin's gigantomania can be seen in the ideologue of Stakhanovism, which emphasized constantly over-fulfilling production target quotas.[4]

Soviet gigantomania continued, albeit with less popularity, after Stalin's death.[1]

Examples[edit]

Gigantomania in Nazi Germany[edit]

German dictator Adolf Hitler was extremely interested in architecture, and desired works of monumental scale to be built to represent the values and achievements of the Nazi regime, and to impress foreigners and later generations.[5] He stated that architecture was "the Word in stone" (i.e. it was inseparable from politics), which demonstrated if a civilization was in ascendancy or in decline.[5] Colossal architecture was to render the individual impotent by its sheer scale, and then mold him according to the values of National Socialism.[6]

Albert Speer reports in his memoirs that Hitler's irrational obsession for the gigantic was also demonstrated in his demand for super-heavy tanks, which had limited usability in the battlefield.[7]

Examples[edit]

Gigantomania in North Korea[edit]

Korean dictator Kim Il-Sung endorsed a number of hydroelectric engineering projects with gigantic Stalinist scale.[8] They were intended to represent man's ability to transform nature according to his will, which is one of the tenets of the Juche ideology.[8] Massive urbanisation of the capital Pyongyang was also undertaken during Kim Il-Sung's rule. The high-rise suburbs (some with thirty storeys) are connected to downtown by huge thoroughfares – one even being 13 lanes wide.[8][9] The building of superfluously sized monuments and buildings in order emphasize state power and Kim Il-Sung's cult of personality was continued even after the De-Stalinization process in the Soviet Union.[8]

Examples[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Khiterer, V. Gigantomania. Gale Encyclopedia of Russian History. ISBN 0028659074
  2. ^ Rappaport, Helen. Joseph Stalin: A biographical companion. Biographical Companions. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-57607-084-0. 
  3. ^ Paul R. Josephson. (2010). Would Trotsky Wear a Bluetooth?: Technological Utopianism under Socialism, 1917–1989. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. p. 75. ISBN 0801894107
  4. ^ Lee, Stephen J. (2003). Europe, 1890–1945. Routledge. p. 303. ISBN 978-0-415-25455-7. 
  5. ^ a b Robert R. Taylor (1974). The Word in Stone: The Role of Architecture in the National Socialist Ideology. University of California Press. ISBN 0520021932. pp. 39–41
  6. ^ Housden, K. (2000). Hitler : Biography of a Revolutionary. Routledge. pp. 153–156 ISBN 0-415-16358-7
  7. ^ Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich, p. 280. ISBN 978-1-84212-735-3.
  8. ^ a b c d Josephson (2010), pp.145–147
  9. ^ Global Security – Pyongyang