Lost in America

Essay Excerpt

I am raising this issue of the growth of the violent imaginary because it is linked to a question of method in the appreciation of social movements. There are two strands in City of Quartz:(1)The moves of international capitalism with the longarm of the police are clear testimony to the strategic order of description that must be adopted by the urban historian. History is top-down. And in this sense, everything on the Los Angeles scene can now be explained by the fact that the area has become a major outpost of international capitalism.(2) However, the alliances inside local communities, the complexities of population movements, and the realities of microeconomics, not of the international stock exchanges, suggest a more local and disseminated political order that makes broad populist insurgencies hard to imagine. Or, if such insurgencies actually take place, as is the case when the Catholic archdiocese seemed, for a moment (1986), to embrace the critical needs defined by a fragile coalition of Anglo and Latino middle class and new immigrants, they soon unravel  (pp.325-368). History is close to the ground, and closer yet to street signs and store fronts than to libraries, newspapers, mayoral proclamations, or the municipal archives. It is the history of daily strategies and survivals. In the end, the book asks the question; Can the two histories ever coincide in the southern Californiaun conscious? (Blanchard, 504)

About the Author

Marc Blanchard was a Professor of comparative literature at the University of California, David. He died Nov. 8 after a long battle with cancer. 

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