Who Killed LA? A Political Autopsy
It was the most extraordinary conjuring feat in modern American political history. The spring presidential primary season had barely opened when a volcano of Black rage and Latino alienation erupted in the streets of Los Angeles. Elite Marine and Army units fresh from the Gulf War had to be landed to restore order to the bungalows of Compton and Watts. While the world press editorialized apocalyptically about the ‘decline of America’, a grim-faced procession of inner-city leaders from Oakland to BedfordStuyvesant warned that their neglected neighbourhoods too were tinderboxes awaiting a spark. They recalled the 164 major riots—the ‘Second Civil War’ some warned at the time—that spread through urban ghettoes like wildfire for three summers after the original ‘Watts’ rebellion in 1965.
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Taking the Temperature of History
From Vichy-era rural conservatism, via communism and Furet, to a grand synthesis in ecological history, culminating decades of empirical research. Portrait of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, historical materialist and quasi-reactionary, founder of historical climatology and last outpost of Annales-school historiography.
The Year 1960
Prelude to the explosive struggles of the sixties in California, as the social actors, left and right, gather in the wings. Black student militants, white aerospace workers, City developers, RAND Corps dropouts, Latino activists—and Lena Horne, taking direct action against racism in Beverley Hills.
Opening an NLR symposium on the US transition, Mike Davis argues the vote was not a critical realignment but a razor-thin margin for the Republican, mobilizing rustbelt discontent while locking in the Christian right.
The Coming Desert
Episodes from the history of climate science, where discoveries of secular planetary variation—ice ages, desiccation—have always alternated with emphases on human depredation. Mike Davis draws back the curtain on the landmark contribution of the great anarchist geographer Pyotr Kropotkin, penned from a Tsarist prison.
Marx’s Lost Theory
In a landmark re-reading of Class Struggles in France and The Eighteenth Brumaire, Mike Davis draws out the theoretical propositions on class and nation, world-market and inter-state rivalry, that underpin the seminal political writings. Repudiation of politics as discourse pur, and revaluation of Marx’s ‘middle-level concepts’ for the mediated expression of complex social interests.
The Last White Election?
Panoramic survey of America’s political landscape as revealed by November’s vote, with age, gender, ethnicity and geography the volatile determinants of Obama’s victory. Within an increasingly polarized ideological force field, how will the coming struggles unfold between Democratic President and Senate and a Republican House, itself consumed by turmoil?
Spring Confronts Winter
Echoes of past rebellions in 2011’s global upsurge of protest. Against a backdrop of world economic slump, what forces will shape the outcome of contests between a raddled system and its emergent challengers?
Who Will Build the Ark?
Copenhagen’s charades dispel any illusion that world rulers intend to deal with the environmental damage industrialization has caused. Mike Davis argues that green urbanism’s twining of social equality and ecological sustainability could offer an alternative starting-point.
Obama at Manassas
Does Obama’s victory signal a political turning point comparable to 1980 or 1932? Mike Davis maps county-level changes, from below—minority-majority demographics, subprime suburbs, white-collar financial worries—catalysed by the 2008 campaign. From above, realignment of American capital behind the Silicon President.
The Democrats After November
With anti-war sentiment growing—if still passive—in the US, how will Democrats use their recapture of Congress? Mike Davis analyses likely outcomes on the questions—Iraq, corruption, economic insecurity—that confront a Party leadership hooked on corporate dollars, and myopically gazing towards 2008.