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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.
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?
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.
Fear and Money in Dubai
On the rim of the war zone, a new Mecca of conspicuous consumption and economic crime, under the iron rule of Sheikh al-Maktoum. Skyscrapers half a mile high, artificial archipelagoes, fantasy theme parks—and the indentured Asian labour force that sustains them.
Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US Big City
Sometime during 1996, at the very latest, Latinos surpassed Blacks as the second largest ethno-racial group in New York City. (They long have been the largest census group in the Bronx.) There were no street celebrations in El Barrio or Washington Heights, nor did the mayor hold a press conference . . . read more
Cosmic Dancers on History’s Stage? The Permanent Revolution in the Earth Sciences
Early on the morning of 1 February 1994, President Clinton, Vice-President Gore, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the members of the National Security Council were awakened from their sleep by Pentagon officials.footnote* A military surveillance satellite had detected the brilliant flash of a nuclear explosion over the western Pacific. . . . read more
The Dead West; Ecocide in Marlboro Country
Was the Cold War the Earth’s worst eco-disaster in the last ten thousand years? The time has come to weigh the environmental costs of the great ‘twilight struggle’ and its attendant nuclear arms race. Until recently, most ecologists have tended to underestimate the impacts of warfare and arms production on . . . read more
Who Killed Los Angeles? Part Two: The Verdict is Given
The 1992 film Grand Canyon opens with every white yuppie’s worst nightmare about Los Angeles. Driving home from a Laker basketball game at the Forum, a wealthy attorney (Kevin Kline) gets lost in a labyrinth of mean, Black streets (actually the racially-mixed suburban city of Inglewood). After his car finally . . . read more
Who Killed Los Angeles? 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 . . . read more
Los Angeles: Civil Liberties between the Hammer and the Rock
On a weekend in early April Los Angeles police and sheriff’s units arrested more Black youth than at any time since the Watts Riots of 1965.footnote* A thousand extra-duty patrolmen, backed by elite tactical squads and a special anti-gang taskforce, imposed Chief Daryl Gate’s ‘Operation Hammer’ on ten square miles . . . read more
'Chinatown', Part Two? The 'Internationalization' of Downtown Los Angeles
The shortest route between Heaven and Hell in contemporary America is probably Fifth Street in Downtown L.A. footnote* West of the refurbished Biltmore Hotel, and spilling across the moat of the Harbor Freeway, a post-1970 glass and steel skyscape advertises the landrush of Pacific Rim capital to the central city. . . . read more
The Lesser Evil? The Left and the Democratic Party
In the summer before the 1984 presidential elections, Michael Harrington and Irving Howe, in a widely noted interview in the New York Times Magazine, boasted that ‘by now practically everyone on the left agrees that the Democratic Party, with all its faults, must be our main political arena’.footnote1 In recent . . . read more
Urban Renaissance and the Spirit of Postmodernism
It has become customary for historians to speak about the death of the Victorian Age in 1914, or the reign of a politico-monetary Long Sixteenth Century persisting well into the middle of the calendrical 17th century. By the same token, there are innumerable incitements in contemporary cultural, if not political, . . . read more
Reaganomics' Magical Mystery Tour
The re-election of Ronald Reagan will unleash new debate on the causes of the continuing conservative ascendancy in North America and Western Europe. Following in the well-worn grooves of discussions in 1980–1, some will stress the renewed importance of a reactionary-populist social discourse centred on ‘right to life’, family traditionalism . . . read more
The Political Economy of Late-Imperial America
Conventional definitions of American post-war ‘hegemony’ have focused on the sheer preponderance of economic and military power concerted through an atomic-military monopoly, monetary sovereignty, overseas investment, and historic differentials of productivity and mass consumption. Accordingly, from a baseline in the late 1940s when the conjunction of all these factors promoted . . . read more
The AFL-CIO’s Second Century
The American Federation of Labor celebrated its centenary last year. It is one of the world’s great conservative institutions, with a stability of internal rule and ideology that might make even the Bank of England gasp. Although the United States has had nineteen presidents since the founding of the afl . . . read more
The New Right’s Road to Power
The worst nightmares of the American left appear to have come true.footnote* Like the beast of the apocalypse, Reaganism has slouched out of the Sunbelt, devouring liberal senators and Great Society programmes in its path. With the fortieth President’s popularity-rating soaring above eighty percent (partially thanks to an inept assassin), . . . read more
The Barren Marriage of American Labour and the Democratic Party
On the eve of the New Deal’s inauguration in the winter of 1933 the auto industry in Detroit was stunned by an energetic and well-planned walkout at the Briggs Auto plant.footnote* Following three and a half years of nearly catastrophic unemployment and paralyzed inaction by the American Federation of Labor, . . . read more
Why the US Working Class Is Different
In 1828—as Karl Marx once reminded his readers—a group of Philadelphia artisans organized the first ‘Labour Party’ in world history. Now, one hundred and fifty years later, a television news camera depicts a group of modern Philadelphia workers arguing in their local tavern over the candidates in the 1980 presidential . . . read more