AP

‘Marxist environmentalist’ and author Mike Davis dies at 76

Oct 26, 2022, 1:03 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2022, 7:00 am

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Mike Davis, an author, activist and self-defined “Marxist environmentalist” whose greatest fears drove him to anticipate riots, fires and disease in such bestsellers as “City of Quartz” and “The Ecology of Fear,” has died at age 76.

Davis died Tuesday after a long battle with esophageal cancer, his friend Jon Wiener announced this week in an online posting for The Nation, a progressive magazine. Wiener, a historian who with Davis wrote “Set the Night on Fire: L.A. in the Sixties,” told The Associated Press that Davis died in San Diego.

Davis, dubbed by the Los Angeles Times as the prophet Jeremiah of Southern California, had announced over the summer that he was terminally ill.

“Although I’m famous as a pessimist, I really haven’t been pessimistic,” he told the Times in July. “You know,(my writing has) more been a call to action. An attempt to elicit righteous anger against those whom we should be righteously angry against. But now, there is a certain sense of doom. This is not the time or history that my kids should inherit, you know?”

As noted in Wiener’s tribute, Davis was “a 1960s person” whose background was not privileged, but working class and conservative. Raised in San Diego County, he was a onetime member of the military oriented Devil Pups youth program, radicalized by the civil rights movement. He volunteered for the Congress of Racial Equality, burned his draft card to protest the 1965 U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic, joined the Communist Party and became an organizer for the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society.

“I was like Zelig in the events of the period,” Davis told The New Yorker in 2020. “I was at every demonstration and several riots, just there in the crowd, rank and file.”

He was faulted for ideological bias and for various errors and fabrications — some acknowledged — but his dark takes on Los Angeles and broader subjects often proved justified. “City of Quartz,” published in 1990, condemned the race and class divides of Los Angeles and labeled the city a “carceral” society, prison-like and overseen by an oppressive police force. The police beating of Rodney King in 1991 and the riots following the 1992 acquittal of his attackers made his book seem like prophecy.

Davis’ “Ecology of Fear” foresaw the growing catastrophe of wildfires in California and “The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu,” published in 2005, warned that a deadly pandemic was increasingly likely. During his New Yorker interview, Davis called capitalism unfit to handle public health and environmental disaster, but still believed a better world was possible.

“This seems an age of catastrophe, but it’s also an age equipped, in an abstract sense, with all the tools it needs,” he said. “Utopia is available to us. If, like me, you lived through the civil-rights movement, the antiwar movement, you can never discard hope.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday.

2 days ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

2 days ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

2 days ago

Donald Trump appears in court for opening statements in his criminal trial for allegedly covering u...

Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York over alleged hush money payments started with opening statements on Monday.

3 days ago

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

5 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

‘Marxist environmentalist’ and author Mike Davis dies at 76