James Bond villains and their love of post-Soviet architecture

For JSTOR, Jonah Goldman Kay examined the preferences of James Bond villains for post-Soviet architecture and it came from Sir Ian Fleming and his disdain for modernism:

In particular, Fleming objected to modernism’s obsession with utopia, which was antithetical to his conservative ideology. Fleming saw the ideal world as existing in the past, within an already-existing power structure. Modernists like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe believed that architecture could be used to create a better, more ideal world, full of new conceptions of power. The Western world ran with modernism as a way to remove inefficiencies, construct a more prosperous society, and generally live out the principles of capitalism. In the USSR, modernism came to represent the goals of the communist project: leveling, equality, and a strong presence of the state.

Fleming’s distrust of modernism and utopia played out in the ideologies of Bond villains, which tend to be grounded in a distinctly modernist idea that technology and utilitarianism can radically improve humanity. Part of the reason that modernists were so drawn to utopia was that they shared a twin interest in the end of history. In creating the villains of the Bond franchise, Fleming took this theoretical idea and made it quite literal: nearly all of them harbor an obsession with ending history, usually through mass destruction.

For more on post-Soviet buildings, check out Frank Herfort’s “surreal photos” and, if you want to branch out to general pop culture, NSS Mag published an article in January about the evolution of post-Soviet aesthetics.

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