Old Gods, New Enigmas: Marx's Lost Theory

Regular price $ 19.95

by Mike Davis

Verso Books

10/06/2020, paperback

SKU: 9781788732178


Is revolution possible in the age of the Anthropocene?

Marx has returned, but which Marx? Recent biographies have proclaimed him to be an emphatically nineteenth-century figure, but in this book, Mike Davis's first directly about Marx and Marxism, a thinker comes to light who speaks to the present as much as the past. In a series of searching, propulsive essays, Davis, the bestselling author of City of Quartz and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, explores Marx's inquiries into two key questions of our time: Who can lead a revolutionary transformation of society? And what is the cause -- and solution -- of the planetary environmental crisis?

Davis consults a vast archive of labor history to illuminate new aspects of Marx's theoretical texts and political journalism. He offers a "lost Marx," whose analyses of historical agency, nationalism, and the "middle landscape" of class struggle are crucial to the renewal of revolutionary thought in our darkening age. Davis presents a critique of the current fetishism of the "anthropocene," which suppresses the links between the global employment crisis and capitalism's failure to ensure human survival in a more extreme climate. In a finale, Old Gods, New Enigmas looks backward to the great forgotten debates on alternative socialist urbanism (1880-1934) to find the conceptual keys to a universal high quality of life in a sustainable environment.


"Old God, New Enigmas is a project that no one but Mike Davis could have conceived and successfully executed: a systematic account of working-class politics on a global scale that can serve as a worthy accompaniment to Marx's Capital itself. Historical sociol­ogy, cultural analysis, strategic handbook, and brilliant entrée to Marxist debates, Davis's book constitutes a weapon for action that is outrageously pleasurable to utilize." -- Robert Brenner, author of The Economics of Global Turbulence

"In this collection of essays, Davis searches Karl Marx's oeuvre for a revolutionary paradigm capable of addressing present-day economic inequality and climate change... While the esoteric case studies and historical summaries will appeal primarily to readers already familiar with Marx, the book also offers the simple pleasure of watching Davis's nimble mind at work." -- New Yorker

"Brimming with insights, Old Gods, New Enigmas is a collection in which [Davis] attempts to make sense of how, in the face of crisis and potential disaster, workers can realize their latent power to build a world that respects the implacable demands of ecology and averts climate apocalypse." -- Micah Uetricht, The Nation

About the Author:

Mike Davis is the author of many books including Set the Night on Fire, Prisoners of the American Dream, Old Gods, New Enigmas, Late Victorian Holocausts, City of QuartzThe Monster EntersBuda's Wagon, and Planet of Slums. He is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and the Lannan Literary Award. He lives in San Diego.