Look on those monuments to megalomania, and despair

Projection of power is behind world's most architectural marvels. Awe inspiring gigantic palaces, tallest of the tallest buildings, sinewed curvatures of domes, diamond and gold glittering arches made from mathematical precision from antiquity or forthcoming technological singularity. "Men build great palaces to show they are strong, or defy the world, or prove their worth to themselves. Or to hide."

Ben Macintyre analyzes Burma's ruthless dictator's recent "opening" of their "Seat of Kings", a city built for the Burmese juntas, "In the foetid depths of the Burmese jungle, on the road to Mandalay, slave labourers toil to build a glinting new metropolis for their military overlords. This is Naypyitaw, “Seat of Kings”, the new capital city decreed by Burma’s brutal junta, and the latest (and oddest) example of autocracy as architecture."

The writer accurately observes that "the moment of greatest architectural extravagance seems often to presage the waning of power. Sir Edwin Lutyens completed his redesign of New Delhi in 1931, a magnificent modern imperial capital intended to last for ever. The bells carved into the pillars of the Viceroy’s Palace were silent as an indication that they would never ring to signal the end of empire. The British left just 16 years later."

Not only the dictators or "Kings" are prone to show their megalomaniac prowess just before their on coming total collapse, "In the same way, it has been shown that large corporations often disintegrate most rapidly after building large and impressive new headquarters: a company that spends its cash and time on self-aggrandising buildings may already have lost the edge."

Mr. Ben Macintyre's article is thought provoking, though a few critiques may point out that he intentionally side stepped more timely examples of American adventures in our war ravaged globe. "Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini and Saddam", these are all dead dictators, whose influence on our world and its populace have long been the things of the past though the memories of their atrocities still resonate among forgotten victims. What about more recent examples of Mr. Bush, the "benevolent" junta's not-so-talked about building of military infrastructure in various corners of our globe?

Burmese military dictators are brutal, oppressions of their millions of civilians should be raised in every venues possible, however, the context of "architectural marvels" with megalomaniac fascists and dictators should not be seen in one-eyed prism of distortion or unfair exclusivity.


Mahbubul Karim (Sohel)

Read Mr. Ben Macintyre's Full Article from the following link:
Look on those monuments to megalomania, and despair-Comment-Columnists-Ben Macintyre-TimesOnline