Mike Davis: Excavating the Future

John Thomason at Commonweal:

Aside from the flicker of fame that followed City of Quartz, Davis has managed to largely avoid the limelight for nearly four decades, despite receiving a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and many other honors along the way. For his devoted readers, part of his appeal is surely found in his writing style, which though forceful, self-assured, and playful, is also unapologetically precise, even scientific, making full use of a century-and-a-half’s worth of Marxist vocabulary. And part of it is his seemingly dour and idiosyncratic interests, which have led him to write books about the history of the car bomb, developmental patterns in contemporary slums, and the role of El Niño famines in nineteenth-century political economy.

But topics as weighty as these are only idiosyncratic as long as they have no immediately obvious bearing on the present—and 2020 appears to be the year that many of the apocalyptic futures excavated by Davis have finally come into full view. In 1998, Davis argued that megafires of increasing virulence were an inevitable feature of California’s future, given its rampant, loosely regulated development boom and the counterproductive policy of total fire suppression demanded by real-estate interests.

more here.