In this clip from his 1980 television series “The Shock of the New,” now being re-shown by the BBC, Robert Hughes peels apart how design is wielded as a tool by those in power to tell a story without words. The iconic buildings of post-World War II America (e.g. New York City’s Lincoln Center and Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center) mirror the aesthetic of Mussolini’s Italy, a style combining “the myth of ancient Rome and vision of a technocratic future”:
All the ingredients of an architecture of state power as imagined by the totalitarians of the twentieth century are also present in what used to in the fifties be called the architecture of democracy…[expressing] the centralization of power. What comes out is not the difference between America and Russia, but the similarities between the corporate and the bureaucratic states of mind.