It’s funny, my first thought after reading the above passage from the Times on Detroit and “Ruin Porn” was simply to juxtapose it in a blog post with a quote from historian Frederick Taylor’s 2005 book Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 from Robert Ley, the head of the National Socialist Labor Front. When Dresden was flattened by the Americans and British in 1945, with the approval of the Russians simultaneously advancing into Germany from the east, Ley fanatically said:

“After the destruction of beautiful Dresden, we almost breathe a sigh of relief. It is over now. In focusing on our struggle and victory we are no longer distracted by concerns for the monuments of German culture. Onward!…Now we march toward the German victory without any superfluous ballast and without the heavy spiritual and material bourgeois baggage.”

Of course it’s fantasy, with the end of the Nazis clearly in sight, even to them. (And recall early in the film Downfall, Hitler utters a very similar remark to Albert Speer when staring at his enormous model of Berlin, backhandedly praising the allies for hitting the CTL-ALT-DLT keys on Berlin, which they themselves had planned to do, either before the war or if they had won.) But at least there was an assumption that these cities would be rebuilt.

Many of today’s left though simply want to leave the ruins in place. Earlier today, we linked to Robert Tracinski in Real Clear Politics, written after watching the Oscars last week revealed to him the abyss of 21st century Hollywood, and Tracinski concluded:

This is the dead end of Modernist culture, which sought to break down traditional values and rules but was unable to replace them with anything better. It left us in a cultural void where, as the New York Times piece puts it, everyone is afraid that “serious commitment to any belief will eventually be subsumed by an opposing belief, rendering the first laughable at best and contemptible at worst.” In the second half of the 20th century, this corrosive Modernist skepticism brought us the ruling concept of contemporary popular culture: the “cool.” Remember the original meaning of the term. To be “cool” is to be emotionally cool, to refuse to be caught up in enthusiasm. Early on, this could be taken to mean a kind of manly reserve, the ability to be calm, cool, and collected in the face of strife, or to refuse to be carried away by momentary or trivial emotions. This is the sense in which James Bond was “cool.” But by the end of the 20th century, the culture of cool increasingly came to mean a studied lack of response to values. It meant refusing to be carried away by enthusiasm about anything.

That sense of nihilism has implications far beyond the television and movie screen. Much of today’s left have abandoned the serious study of history, and have largely turned their backs on the future as well. All that is left for them is to play in the ruins — and to create more of them.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple Shutterstock.com images.)