An odd bit of synchronicity: I'm reading Life, Inc. which talks about the creation of Levittown and suburbs in general as a way for corporatism to harness the American by making him too busy mowing lawns and taking care of the house to become a communist. The book goes so far as to say that the heavily-touted idea of home ownership was mostly a scam to convert low-value rural land into expensive, desirable suburban property -- by inventing the concept and desirability of suburbanism in the first place.
On a long drive, I began listening to Welcome to Mars, a 12-part podcast series of lectures on the "fantasies of science" from 1947-1959. I expected to listen to one, perhaps two of these while driving but quickly discovered that it's completely addicting and just kept listening to one after another. Just like Life, Inc., it's full of fascinating things that you either never heard of in history class, or that contradicts what you learned there (the stories of the CIA and their rather extensive experiments with hallucinogenics on unsuspecting members of the public are especially eye-widening).
Welcome to Mars also begins with Levittown, but adds that a major motivation is the reaction to the devastation in Europe during WWII by "death from above." Apparently the thinking was that, by spreading the population out via suburbs, they would be less vulnerable to the kind of bombing that caused so much damage in Europe. (Mixed into all the episodes are descriptions of science-fiction movies that were coming out, and how they related to the events and ideas of the time).
The theme running through both stories is control, specifically mind control. The CIA was looking for a way to control minds through drugs, while corporatism looks for a way to produce docile robot-workers for its factories. Somehow Levittown seems to be an icon not just for the goal of control, but how it fails.
One of the more memorable electives I took as an undergraduate was Environmental Psychology. I learned much in the course but the one thing I've seen again and again is that humans find sameness quite disturbing. As an experiment in putting people into identical boxes, Levittown was an astounding failure. Indeed, it began with all houses perfectly identical, but the changes made by the owners (encouraged by the design of the house) has made that virtually unrecognizable. Although it was intended to create social conformity (and regulations including those from the FHA prevented non-caucasians from living there), it seemed to do the opposite; it might even have been one of the starting points for the explorations that started the unrest of the 60s.
Whether you look at attempts to put people into identical boxes as simply a government goal, or as the goal of a government manipulated by corporate interests, the goal itself is flawed. It seems to be our fundamental nature to express our individuality -- perhaps this comes from biology, which is primarily interested in variations. Even if we were convinced for some decades of our history that we needed to become robots to work in factories, the real robots have taken over and meat robots have become too expensive and difficult to use this way. The only thing we're good for now is what we seem to be designed for in the first place (and what those in power have been trying to suppress for so long): our creative uniqueness, which (as Seth Godin, Dan Pink and many others have been saying for awhile now) we need to discover and develop. There is no place for us as robots anymore.