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PREFACE

was a first-rate tragedy, w hose price we are now paying in an inexorable, deadly resum ption of gang warfare. The gravest danger, as always, is in ter­ ethnic violence, spreading from the chronic w arfare betw een Blacks and Latinos that is tolerated in the county jails and state prisons. Our over­ crowded penal institutions, governed by a cynical calculus of social incapacitation, are expressive of the m ean Victorian ethos that currently com mands California politics. 7. CITY OF ORGANIZERS? Finally, a cautious note of optimism. The local labor m ovem ent is largely missing from City of Quartz, yet - as I argued later in a little book called Magical Urbanism - Los Angeles over the last fifteen years becam e the principal R&D center for the future of the American labor m ovem ent. The militant, creative organizing campaigns of the janitors, hotel w orkers and dry wall w orkers kept hope alive in L.A. during the tough years of the 1990s and helped train a new generation of activists. As elite pow er become m ore politically diffuse and uncertain, the renovated L.A. County Federation of Labor em erged as the single m ost im portant electoral and social force in the city. The successful Living Wage campaign d em on­ strated th at local governm ent could play a proactive role in restructuring labor m arkets and preventing the race to the bottom in wages and benefits. The long, bitter but ultim ately successful campaign to defend the rights of catering and cleaning w orkers at USC - culm inating in hunger strikes and mass arrests - took the battle into an inner sanctum of elite privilege and self-righteousness. Los Angeles in the 1990s becam e a city of organizers. But Los Angeles' new progressive politics, buoyed by the dynam ism of the new unionism, has arrived at a w atershed. Clearly, the labor m ove­ m ent needs to stay on the political offensive, expanding its clout into additional areas of vital interest to local working people, especially the politics of land-use, transportation, healthcare and housing. It requires an expansive vision and com prehensive program, yet the labor m ovem ent has mortgaged its future to a Democratic Party, large elem ents of w hich are in full retreat from traditional New Deal com mitm ents. In striving to rem ake it, labor runs the risks of having its ow n new unity and militancy unm ade instead. Indeed, some w ould argue that the Democratic Party is the inevitable graveyard of political principle. Labor's forward m arch in Los Angeles, and w ith it the future of the urban region, depends, in my opinion, upon further consolidation of a program m atic vision, built around a h u m an needs agenda, that is not hostage to any individual campaign or political personality. Los Angeles needs, in short, a more, not less, ideological politics. I find nothing

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