You make good arguments. However, I am not sure that the background idea is completely sound. I would like to point you to a subtle contradiction in your message:
You will notice that the only way to keep backwards compatibility is to keep the cruft and polish it. Many packages in a modern distro have preferred this route: Linux, X Window System, Bash, emacs (and vim). But, as others have pointed out, all this baggage is actually useful: it codifies many use cases which have not disappeared magically but are still used by someone. Whenever a specific bit is not used by anyone it will decay naturally. Just browse the Debian-PowerPC archives for an example.
On the other hand, when compatibility is not a requirement developers are free to break with the past. The result is not always to the liking of everyone: we have seen many recent examples with PulseAudio, systemd, Gnome 3 and Ubuntu Shell, to keep it short. In an unconstrained environment such as the GNU/Linux ecosystem, it is inevitable that some people will prefer compatibility, and others will prefer to take a different route of their own.
Breaking with the past and bringing everyone else aboard can apparently be achieved only in a very reduced environment or when there is a controlling entity, and even one of these conditions may not be enough: Microsoft has tried to peddle Windows Vista and now 8 without success, and in the reduced *BSD world there are many competing distros. Perhaps Haiku can do what it does (break with everything) only because it has no inertia and few developers. We will see.
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