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Ed Driscoll

Walking in a Weimar Wonderland

November 13th, 2013 - 3:42 pm

Over the summer, PJTV alumnus Steven Crowder angered some on the left by producing a brutal parody of Detroit’s then-new ad campaign, titled “Detroit: America’s Comeback City,” which — holy horrible timing, Batman! — hit the airwaves about five minutes before the city declared bankruptcy:

But Crowder’s riff on Detroit as a vacation getaway dovetails rather well with this item near the end of her new book on The Power of Glamour, in which Virginia Postrel spots the most unlikely glamorous destination of all:

“Where I live in the Bay Area,” writes the journalist Alexis Madrigal, “there’s a certain glamour to Detroit.” Detroit? To most people, the beautiful, prosperous, dynamic Bay Area seems far more glamorous than cold, rundown, and bankrupt Detroit. But the Bay Area is crowded, built-up, and expensive. Detroit appeals to the yearning, particularly among the young, for someplace cheap and open enough to allow people to take economic chances, following dreams that may not pay off — the kind of frontier California once represented.

The idea of Detroit is also alluring to those who’d like to reinvent the urban environment without the political resistance of activist residents and property owners. “Detroit,” Madrigal observes, “is the place where Bay Area types imagine an urban tabula rasa, a place where enough has gone away that the problems of stuffing millions of people into a small region can be reimagined, redesigned, remade.” But when he actually visits Detroit, the journalist finds that the emptiness that sounds promising in theory is depressing in person. “The number of abandoned buildings in Detroit— and the feeling they toss into the air — is truly unfathomable to someone raised on the west coast,” he writes. The city’s glamour is an illusion that tells the truth not about Detroit but about Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

No kidding. But Madrigal’s dream of escaping to an urban wasteland sounds very much like Daniel Henninger’s 2005 Wall Street Journal article on arty leftwing New Yorkers longing for the New York of the Taxi Driver/Death Wish era, after Mayor Lindsey had his way with the city in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Who knows, perhaps it too will resemble Detroit if incoming Mayor Bill De Blasio is allowed to go the full Bane:

And both of the observations on the urban left from Postrel and Henninger seeking a more nihilistic, dissipated culture are a reminder of the lessons the left always seems to learn the hard way, no matter how much the nuclear fallout impacts the rest of us:

Everybody wants to experience the nightlife in the Weimar Republic, but the hangover can be a real killer.

(For my interview with Postrel on her new book, click here to listen.)

Related: Mark Steyn on the Weimar-esque atmosphere masking Japan’s demographic implosion: “Sex at Sunset.

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Top Rated Comments   
"a reminder of the lessons the left always seems to learn the hard way"

But they don't learn. Ever.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
New Orleans had their hurricane Katrina, The Phillipines had their Typhoon Haiyah, New York had their hurricane Sandy and Detroit had it's agonizing long and catastrophic Democrat rule

44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's next: reverse diversity quotas? Why not sell it to Qatar? We'll even dig it up and float it there on pontoons. Residents too.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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For that thin slice of the populace that likes it, Detroit has a world class fresh water fishery.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
cali will be radioactive before long. that debris from Japan is on the way, and it will not be nice. watch out Texas, the handout zombies are coming. ask sailors who have traveled through it. takes the paint (sheen) right off a boat's hull. and its still leaking, badly.

on a nostalgic note, I had a very good time in the 70's. lived mostly in the South but always wanted to go to n.y. and check out the party scene. club 57. or 69. or whatever number it was. I did get to live right outside l.a. for a while, so I saw the whole Hollywood scene 1st hand. motorcycles, girls, racetracks, girls, clubs, beaches, girls, it was great. no exaggeration needed or required. califloridacation - coast to coast. nowadays, I much prefer the solace of obscurity.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
NYC will never be Detroit, just as Sweden will never be Greece. Different people equal different societies. There will likely always be enough intelligent, competent fixers in NYC to keep the city afloat, no matter how far Left the politics go. Detroit -- forget it. That's not to say that back in America, Americans may finally get their fill of the toxic, anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-white culture of NYC, Hollywood, MSM, academia, and simply do away with them, as the English did in 1290, the Spanish in 1492, and the Germans in the late 20s. Weimar was all about a dissipated, nihilistic culture. More importantly, it was an intensely anti-German, anti-Christian culture, which, in a State much more German than the US today is American (2/3? 60%?) just wasn't going to fly. No matter how dissipated Weimar was, the German people were not; and they naturally opposed the destruction of German society by alien and degenerate elements. No problem. They want to wipe German society, culture, religion, language and ethnicity from the face of the earth; maybe we'll just wipe them out first. The German Left was crushed by the Right (especially, but not solely, by the Nazis). And why, pray tell, would an ordinary German in the street oppose the disappearance of anti-German activists? Sounds pretty normal to me.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wish someone would tell me how the current residents of Detroit are worse off than the slaves of the South in 1820. The slaves were housed and fed, they had jobs, and some were treated badly. Current Detroit residents are living in the streets, begging for handouts to buy foods, and they are jobless. They may not be lashed or treated badly, but they *are* shooting each other which results in death, not disfigurement. In both cases, families are broken up.

Current residents of Detroit have chosen this lifestyle, however, spurning education as being a "white thing" and protecting the murderers among them to avoid the label of snitch. Were the slaves of the old south as self-loathing, as uneducated and as lazy as the current denizens of Detroit?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
You bet! Detroiters of today are exactly as ineducable, lazy, and stupid as the slaves in the 1860s, and all other sub-Saharan Africans since the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. For background, read any decent history of Indians in the British colonies in Africa and the Carribean. History is the fact; "The Bell Curve" is simply the explanation.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
New York, welcome to your Detroit future.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
A bit of late-sixties prophecy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yNM_k_6pbY
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually when the song was written, The Motor City WAS burning. The Detroit Riots of '68. It wasn't prophesying, it was reporting.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
What people leave out of the Weimar experience and IMO its foundation is the lack of men - killed in the war. We are doing something similar with our divorce laws. And our drug war on the Black Community.

And the 60s? Similar. Look up the M/F ratios.

When there are not enough men you get loose women.

Culture dives when the M/F ratio is out of whack. One need only look at the rise of nursing home sex due to the lack of old men.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Skewed M/F ratio has been blamed for the Boxer Rebellion in China (skewed the other way--fewer available women). There might be a good argument that that's one of the drivers of the violence in the mid-east.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tell those Bay Area types to try Louisville, that pretty much is what they hoped Detroit would be.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why do you hate Kentucky? Tell them that Detroit is open for business, that they don't take credit and to bring all their assets in cash and that the crime and violence has been way exaggerated.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Also tell them not to look before they leap, otherwise they might be swayed by the false impression their eyes will give them of the wonderful realities of "free Detroit".
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The art photos of Detroit remind me of the engravings of fallen Rome made from the Renaissance through 18th century. People living among the ruins of the once great city, building hovels in the arches of Roman aqueducts, the fallen columns of the Roman temples, are all mirrored in the New Detroit.

I get the feeling though that the intellectual underpinnings are different. During the Renaissance, people looked at the Glories of the Rome Which Used to Be and decided they could be reborn. Detroit's photographers seem to glory in the collapse.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
"a reminder of the lessons the left always seems to learn the hard way"

But they don't learn. Ever.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left is not in the learning business. They have three goals: steal, kill, destroy.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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