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Building the City of Man: Architecture for a World Utopia

May 28, 2013

Note: This short article was originally published in the first edition of Forcing Change (2007). In posting it here, I have added extra details and material, and cleaned up editing points.

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Cities have always been viewed as civilization’s crowning achievement; the blended housing and interaction of culture, religion, science, commerce, innovation, and government – all solidified in architecture and design.

Article 3 Tower of Progress

Andersen’s Tower of Progress.

In 1913, the year before World War I erupted, an unusual publication circulated to government leaders and prominent individuals. Titled World-Conscience: An International Society for the Creation of a World-Centre and penned by Hendrik C. Andersen – an American sculptor of Norse descent living in Rome – this strange document detailed the plans for a global city; an urban jewel designed to elevate international human advancement.

Just under 50 pages in length, and illustrated with numerous drawings – including city plans, a “Tower of Progress,” and other architectural structures – Andersen mapped out potential locations for this international city-tower complex, and pitched the idea to respective governments and people of influence.

Suggested locations for this “World City” included…

– In the Municipality of Tervueren, near Brussels, Belgium.

– At the north-west end of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland (where the Witzwil farm-prison stands).

– Just south of The Hague in Holland (Netherlands), right on top of what is now the Bloemenbuurt West development in Segbroek.

– Northwest of Paris, in the district between the Oise River and what is now the A15 and D392 interchange at Herblay.

– At Frejus on the French Riviera, where the Argens River empties into the Mediterranean.

– Near Istanbul (Constantinople), beside the community of Yesilkoy (San Stefano). Today, the Ataturk International Airport sits directly on the ground Mr. Andersen believed to be an excellent location for his “International City.”

– To the west of Rome, against the Tyrrhenian Sea, exactly where the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport sits today.    

– On the New Jersey coast, taking up most of Brick Township and the eastern half of Lakewood.

otlet-world-centre-1

Wherever it was to be ultimately situated, the “International World Centre” would be a showcase of Mankind’s unity and progress; it would host a World Reference Library, an International Bank, an International Hall of Justice, various International Scientific Congress buildings, and a Temple of Religion – all surrounding a 320 meter (1049 feet) Tower of Progress.

What is particularly interesting is the philosophical basis for the project. This “International World Capital” was to be a unifying concept, bringing the world together in a new age of international peace and harmony. According to the document, “It would encourage the desire, ever increasing in the world, for unification, and it would give a strong impetus to the progress of religion, science and justice.” And religion, of all the foundational components, was a major factor in this grand scheme.

In developing his argument for a world capital, Andersen traced the history of civilization and religious thought, culminating with Christ and Christianity. However, the depiction of Christ presented by Andersen doesn’t line up with the Jesus of the Bible. In John 14:6 we find Jesus making an exclusive statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Acts 4:8-12 and Acts 10:39-43 likewise attests to Jesus’ exclusive divine nature). However, Andersen’s focus on man’s divinity as the Christ-point for this city project runs counter to the Biblical account.

“He [Jesus] taught men that the kingdom of heaven is within, and that, through love and devotion, through labour and justice, this invisible kingdom would grow strong and imperishable.”[i]

“…the definition, clearly outlined by Christ, of God in man, can never pass away.”[ii]

“…as we are assured of the divinity of the human soul, we can survey the past with calm and serene judgment, and endeavour to strengthen the future by a deeper comprehension of the God in man and so help through unity, strength and culture, to build the ladder, as in Jacob’s dream, that reaches from earth to heaven.”[iii]

Today we would say that Mr. Andersen’s religious positions would be more at home with the esoteric side of spirituality, for he spoke of a New Age-style harmonization of human souls “blending humanity into one complete unity of purpose.” This, he explained, would be “Humanity rising in majestic dignity from earth toward heaven… [in] humble devotion to its Creator – the embodiment of the universal soul mounting in appealing harmony towards the divine source of life.” (p.15)

hebrard2

Andersen’s proposal for a world center of unity wasn’t new in 1913, nor has the notion of world spiritual cities dissipated. The idea of creating a spiritual/unifying world-city under the banner of Humanity’s Ascension has been scattered throughout the pages of religious and esoteric texts, and it is still observable in our modern age.

Atlantis, the mythical land described by Plato, was said to contain a great Royal City (known as the City of the Golden Gates), and over the years esoteric scholars have propagated that this city was a global-spiritual center.[iv] More recently, Benjamin Crème, the spokesperson for the channeled messages of Maitreya the Christ, (a supposedly ascended spirit master guiding man’s evolution) lists New York, London, Geneva, Darjeeling, and Tokyo as the five main city-centers of cosmic energy on Earth, with Rome and Moscow acting in an important but less direct capacity.[v]

In a similar vein, an interesting article on the spiritual symbolism of cities can be found posted at the Theosophical Trust web portal. In this piece titled “The City,” the writer reviews the historical significance of various religiously oriented cities, including Hindu (the Golden City), Buddhist (Kapilavastu), Judaic (Jerusalem), and Roman and Grecian centers. After citing numerous examples, the author concludes by saying, “We can recognize the sacred design nurtured in the united mind of the Builders and, once again, lay down a plan for the City of Man.”[vi]

Professor Warren Wagar, in his 1963 book titled The City of Man (published by Houghton Mifflin Company), puts it this way,

“The world-city is the inevitably large spiritual and intellectual and administrative capital of a civilization, of the whole known civilized world. Or, more broadly, it is the quintessence of a civilization, the gathering of all its vital human resources into a living organic unity… (p.15)”

On page 167, Wagar lays out the formula; “The coming world civilization will have a single, all-embracing religion, just as it will need a federal world government and an integrated world economy.”

While Hendrik C. Andersen has been relegated to the dustbin of obscurity, his conviction to create a world capital flows from a long history of humanity’s attempt at self-enthronement. Today, the idea of aggrandizement still percolates. The City of Man still captures imaginations and feeds desires, and for those willing to study and observe, we can see the City of Man being built – brick by brick – in the fields of science and technology, global governance, world religions, and the international banking community. All of the above can be considered part of the Babel syndrome, represented in the collective “First City of Man.”

In Genesis 11 we find the fascinating account of the Tower of Babel, and although it’s not the first city mentioned in the Bible, it is ground zero for a building project whose core element is power in unity. Here, in the Genesis account, the people are united in a common cause, one that sought to elevate the status of humanity through the works of their hands. But in reading the narrative, we have to note that it wasn’t just about the tower. Rather, the tower was but one element – albeit the most recognized – in what was a city-tower complex meant to demonstrate human pride, collective security, and world status. Mankind’s power-in-unity would be on display, and implied was the idea that “we’re are own God,” for we have taken charge of our own destiny. And all of this was wrapped up in an architectural synthesis.

As professor Yehezkel Kaufmann noted in his book, The Religion of Israel, the Tower of Babel was an attempt “to storm heaven; to be ‘like God,’ to rule the world.” (p.294). It was an edifice and a system – a technique – one that sought to demonstrate our own power through our collective action. Therefore, the City-Tower of Babel was not just an “event,” it was a foreshadowing and a meme, carrying with it the pulse of Mankind’s unifying desire and rebellion – a theme repeated and asserted throughout history, and ingrained in the fabric of our modern era.

And as God judged the people who built the Tower of Babel, and thus doomed the project to failure, so too God will judge the final Babel – the City of Man.  FC

Carl Teichrib is editor of Forcing Change, a monthly publication documenting and detailing the political, economic, religious, and social challenges now facing the Christian community.

hebrard1

Andersen’s top-down street layout for the World Centre.

 


[i] Hendrik C. Andersen, “World-Conscious” — An International Society for the Creation of a World-Centre (Rome: Communication Office of Hendrik C. Andersen, 1913), p.10.

[ii] Ibid, p.10.

[iii] Ibid, p.11.

[iv] See Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pp. 33-34. See also, H.P. Blavatsky, The

Secret Doctrine (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1988, originally published in 1888).

[v] Benjamin Crème, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, (London: The Tara Press, 1980), p.81.

[vi] “The City,” Theosophical Trust, [www.theosophytrust.org/tlodocs/dispreport.php?d=symbols/CityThe-1281.htm]. Accessed June 23, 2005.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2013 10:33 am

    All of this is demonic… Jesus Christ the only KING and true Son of God ,,,is coming again to clean up all this…man centered foolishness. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12

  2. June 4, 2013 9:38 pm

    We do agree with Rohl that the archaeological period known as Late Uruk 4 is the background for the biblical city and tower of Babel. It is further agreed that the hunter-king of the Late Uruk 4 period is none other than the biblical Nimrod (of which more later). Nevertheless, we simply do not think that there is any need to shift the Early Dynastic kings from their archaeological contexts. Nimrod was simply Nimrod, and we do not need to correlate him with Enmerkar, Gilgamesh, or Tukulti-Ninurta in order to recognize him as an historical figure. New Courville holds that the collapse of the Late Uruk 4 period is the result of the Dispersion incident. We would agree with Classic Courville that the Jemdet Nasr period that followed Late Uruk 4 involves some residual effects from the Dispersion in Mesopotamia, but it is our opinion that it really reflects the post-Dispersion period in the southern alluvium. In Mesopotamia, it is more of a proto-dynastic level leading to the Early Dynastic period than it is a post-Uruk level. It sets the stage for a new urbanism. The peoples of the ancient world were regrouping, or re-urbanizing, and this is probably what the Jemdet Nasr period reflects in Mesopotamia.

  3. June 5, 2013 11:18 pm

    world gov my ass.clean up the mess first and look around.easier to kill …

  4. Laura Dawson permalink
    August 1, 2013 7:02 pm

    This is probably the dumbest article I have ever read in terms of human unity.
    How can you even suggest humanity to unit under such nonsense when you’re quoting only Christianity as your only source for religion. Christianity is relatively new compared to many others. The Bible itself was formed using thousands of different scriptures, and which was adopted using a Roman religion. This was written by just another mislead individual

    • August 7, 2013 11:38 am

      Laura, thanks for commenting on the article I wrote. However, it seems you missed the point: I was not advocating human unity, but simply describing a 1913 idea that was circulating at that time – and the worldview this idea was based on (a mystical interpretation of Christianity). In other words, it was an historical piece (remember, 1913, not 2013). Moreover, it you read it to the end, you would see that a criticism was offered based on the Biblical view – that human unity is an act of hubris.

      Your other assertions about religion and Christianity are also erroneous. First, Christianity is rooted in the Old Testament, as Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Laws and the Prophets. Further, as it is based on Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created…,” it has a foundation that rests on very ancient ground.

      Secondly, it was not built on thousands of different scriptures. Rather, its written account is based on 66 letters and books. And it was not Romanized until 300 after Christ – and even then, not everyone accepted the Roman politicizing of Christianity. Yes, Greco-Roman influences are there – that was the cultural milieu at the time, but if you study the New Testament, you’ll see that the internal struggle wasn’t about Roman religion, but about the connections between Judaism and the teachings of Jesus.

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