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Dr. Oliver Garden
Worker Surveillance in China
Ben, don’t wanna work; he just wants to do big ideas every day
Axios’ unemployment fraud piece, and problems therewith
Despite their interest in architecture, most Tartaria theorists do not appear to have backgrounds in the building trades: Many of the more easily refuted arguments spring from very basic misunderstandings of how the built environment works, as well as broader confusion about how buildings function in the economy and culture. An abundance of posters appear convinced that below-grade basement windows in older buildings, for example, are evidence that the building had been “mud flooded,” and the rest of the structure is actually buried deep underground. Sometimes this will get some skeptical pushback (“I think they didn’t have lights in the cellar so they build in windows for them?” was how one poster responded), but that’s more of an exception than the rule.
Please, I’m begging, read a book
They sneer at the wedding-cake-topper Second Empire buildings designed by Alfred Mullett after the Civil War, for example. “How many stamps did you sell to build yourself a post office like this?,” says popular Tartarian YouTuber JonLevi in one of his videos. “Absolutely ridiculous. The post office has always struggled.” (He has more than 100,000 subscribers.) Some of this confusion is unfamiliarity: Mullett’s U.S. Customs House and Post Office in St. Louis, for example, was a huge federal project, built to process the mail of 10 states and four U.S. territories, not a neighborhood letter depot. But beyond that, there’s a broader refusal to believe that public architecture could ever have been built in an atmosphere of generosity and abundance. This is echoed by their astonishment at the double-height grand lobbies and arched doorways of old buildings, which they see as artifacts not meant for us. (Some theorists surmise that ancient Tartarians were giants.) The Tartarian community seems to have internalized the current era’s predilection for public sector austerity and the resulting aesthetics, which they abhor, more than they realize.
So, so close
This disregard for architecture’s “true” history moves into a wider rejection of how disposably cheap and commodified the culture at large seems to be. As such, one canonical belief of Tartarian aficionados is that the elaborate temporary pavilions built for late 19th century and early 20th century World’s Fairs were in fact Tartarian capital cities. It strikes them as improbably wasteful that anyone would erect these magnificent complexes, full of fluted columns, domes and pediments, out of plaster of Paris, hemp fiber, and straw, as was done for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. In Tartarian lore, these sites were ancient monuments that were co-opted to teach a falsified history of the world and make a few bucks selling popcorn and Ferris Wheel rides. Then they were demolished, to erase the handiwork of the real builders. … In pointing out the eradication of an ancient culture by an expanding imperial power, Tartarian believers again stumble on something real, but they scramble the protagonists.
The Tartaria commentariat is laced with economic discontent; they often decry the evaluation and disregard of buildings purely as salable commodities, untethered from broader notions of cultural legacy and achievement. There’s a reoccurring and implicit understanding that buildings, like the Singer Building, get torn down when they stop making money — the only thing that really matters — and that the world is a vast field of predation, where the rich and powerful consume the poor and weak.
…the Tartaria theory is just an extreme form of aesthetic moralism, the idea that traditional architecture styles are inherently good and modern architecture is the product of a degenerate culture. The tastes of the community generally align with traditional architectural revival proponents (some of whom also embrace reactionary and white nationalist politics). This sort of aesthetic nativism flourished during the Trump era, and it appears to have fresh converts in Congress: Recently, representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar formed a new caucus dedicated to “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and infrastructure that “befits the progeny of European architecture.” The language is different, but the sentiment wouldn’t appear out of place in r/Tartaria.