I’m a fatalistic Celt, and I have the example of my mother and older sister, who died like Russian soldiers at Stalingrad. Thanks to California’s aid-in-dying law, I have control over the final act. But I guess what I think about the most is that I’m just extraordinarily furious and angry. If I have a regret, it’s not dying in battle or at a barricade as I’ve always romantically imagined — fighting. Everybody always wants to know: Aren’t you hopeful? Don’t you believe in hope? To me, this is not a rational conversation. I’m writing because I’m hoping the people who read it don’t need dollops of hope or good endings but are reading so that they’ll know what to fight, and fight even when the fight seems hopeless.
Mike Davis (2022 Verso Books Blog)
You’ve been organizing for social change your whole life. How do you deal with a future that feels so bleak?
For someone my age who was in the civil rights movement, and in other struggles of the 1960s, I’ve seen miracles happen. I’ve seen ordinary people do the most heroic things. When you’ve had the privilege of knowing so many great fighters and resisters, you can’t lay down the sword, even if things seem objectively hopeless.
I’ve always been influenced by the poems Brecht wrote in the late 30s, during the second world war, after everything had been incinerated, all the dreams and values of an entire generation destroyed, and Brecht said, well, it’s a new dark ages … how do people resist in the dark ages?
What keeps us going, ultimately, is our love for each other, and our refusal to bow our heads, to accept the verdict, however all-powerful it seems. It’s what ordinary people have to do. You have to love each other. You have to defend each other. You have to fight.
(The Guardian 31/08/2022)
It would be impossible to summarise the work of Mike Davis, and there are no doubt those who could do it far better than us. Partly inspired and indebted to the work of Karl Marx, he never fell to the illusion of fetishizing his writings, and this both in his own written work and in his political engagements.
The range of Davis’ writings is impressive, but perhaps no domain was more central to his concerns than the city. In his memory and as a testimonial to his presence, we share below the important essay, “Who will build the ark?”, published in the New Left Review (No. 61, January-February 2010).Continue reading