> Sounds to me like an argument over whether something's broken or not, with one side claiming it's not broken and the other saying it is.
No most of the complaints about systemd aren't from people saying that init can't be improved upon, it can and it needs to be. It's just that systemd has taken the wrong turn in it's attempt to fix things.
There are other attempts to produce a better init, a better init is needed sure. But an init that thinks it is also an NTPd is not what the world needs.