Ancient and/or Modern

In New English Review Dalymple reports on a poll demonstrating French preference for architectural preservation over forward-looking creativity, and identifies an ideological source for the disapproval expressed by the newspaper Le Monde:

The fact is that, after hundreds of years, the French have lost altogether the knack of building something that someone in the future might look upon with pleasure. They are not the only European nation to have done so; but their architects are definitely among the worst and most incompetent in the world.


That modernism in France was and is more than a merely aesthetic mistake, but was and is motivated by a mean-spirited, envious, ideological levelling impulse, is something that the article in Le Monde makes clear:

The classification or labelling [of buildings to be preserved], without regard to the social class protected, could be a brake on modernity… It also limits brave new forms in architecture. It promotes the process of gentrification, chasing the least well-off classes from the city centres when real estate prices rise with the growth of tourism.

It seems to me that this amounts to something like the following: I cannot, and will never be able to, afford to live in the best part of Paris, therefore I would prefer that no one should live in the best part of Paris, at least as it currently exists; I would prefer it to be the kind of place that I could afford to live in, that is to say much uglier and less desirable. For this to happen, it must be ruined by, for example, the kind of buildings erected in la cité de l’Etoile – a single one of which, incidentally, would be more than enough to destroy the appearance of whole quarters of Paris.

One thought on “Ancient and/or Modern

  1. Mark

    This seems very neatly to encapsulate the ethos of Socialism in Britain, which seeks to enlist support for a wholly negative agenda which contributes nothing to the commonweal.


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