Panic in Detroit


David Bowie imagines the apocalyptic breakdown of civil society. In Detroit of all places, because of course Detroit. It was 1973, and the point of reference was probably the 1967 Detroit riots, as well as the general sense of unrest in the United States at the time. Today Detroit has become as close as any place in America to an actual post-industrial wasteland. Oh, and urban America has been engulfed in rioting and violent unrest, repeating the exact same pattern as before, with the same players in the same roles. All of which makes this an eerily prescient portrait of normal life descending into chaos overnight. The more things change, eh? What was relevant in 1973 is if anything more relevant today. Why does it seem that every dystopian speculation eventually winds up coming true? Is it because people are fundamentally stupid and short-sighted and inevitably bound to repeat the same calamitous mistakes as soon as the previous ones begin to fade from living memory?

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