For a City of Refuge and Love

The profound harm that Martinez, Cedillo, Herrera, and De Leon, inflicted on the city of Los Angeles are as profound as the structure that produced them. Nationally, we are living in the resurgence of the nation-state, or to the hegemony of a dominant community. Trump is exactly that. Locally, we are living the insurgency, the Jan 6, of dominant issue groups. What Martinez, Cedillo, Herrera, and De Leon attempted, and perhaps have so far succeeded in doing, is carving out an “ethnic” (using their own, awful, conceptions of ethnicity) dominant community, hegemonic over any minority, undergirded by egotistical ideologies that argue that putrid politics are legitimate because of one’s oppression.

The sad part about the whole thing is that it is not true that latinx communities, resplendent with beauty and life as all know they are, want to dominate over “inferior” and less legitimate others. This was Martinez and etc’s own thinking. The scheme is that they represented and would represent this domination with the votes that they would receive in good faith.

Their resignations are only part of the solution. The structure that is the domination of groups over others must stop. Los Angeles must produce an identity that pushes away any dominant community, a rainbow identity, and establishes a city that gives itself the resources to develop based on this identity. The resource in question is a deepened democracy, the sort of democracy that removes power from city council and the mayor and gives it to communities.

Los Angeles is a gesamtkunstwerk, a complete work of art. It’s almost a permanent exhibition of liberalism, of progression, of all kinds of battles that began in the US in the 19th century. As a city, it suffers from having been truly founded after the foundation of the US, where, because of this, it often wants to be the best version of the country, as opposed to the best version of itself. This produces a self-confidence in the city, despite the machinations of the city that have partly come to light in Martinez, Cedillo, Herrera, and De Leon’s racism.

Suddenly, a wake up call. To what? Yes, to racism. However, more so to the civic and political of a city, a municipality in active decomposition. This decomposition that we see begins with Antonio Villargoisa who, not having been backed by the dominant Unions, turned his back to them, instead of putting politics aside and governing with them. That is domination. To be pushed aside because one lost despite what one represents is barbaric. Villargoisa’s reign can be considered a decomposition of ethics and trust despite its garlands of BIPOC leadership. The instinct that led to this decomposition is cynicism. Despite his roots in Lincoln Heights, a political Greenwich village in 20th century Los Angeles, Los Angeles entered a cynical age. This decomposition led to the Unions getting behind Eric Garcetti, who won as an anti-republican working class vote.

With Garcetti has come a further decomposition of politics, defined here as it originally was or the smoke that comes out of a peace pipe, before it became “the affairs of the polis”. LA is so decomposed that those in political power do not have the power nor the organization to turn the city around. Garcetti came to represent a dominant community, the development community, partly because he could smell the decomposition that had led him into power. Decomposition can only mean internal issues and hesitancy. Garcetti allowed development to essentially become hegemonic in Los Angeles, all the while dialoguing with community groups whose bases are virtual, and whose primary concern being power should be replaced with regaining strength.

Any city, especially a mega-metropolis like Los Angeles, will be made of many communities. These communities in modern times are subjects of a municipality that exists as an ongoing dialogue between these many communities, some of them being meta-communities (communities that contemplate community) and others are coincidences that nonetheless function as communities.

The racism overheard in the video is a further decomposition of trust and ethics, of human life. Degenerate, it is a work of art, posing as perfection. It is a decomposition of representation, and leadership. When the government is decomposed, it can be expected.

Yes, the business community has the right to exist. So does the tenant community. So does the balck community however small or large it may be. So does the Oaxacan community. In an enlightened city, enlightened to both the concept and practice of politics, all of these communities should work together (i.e. do politics) as opposed to being forced to be dominated.

Los Angeles remains one of the greatest cities in the world. Despite the structure of the city, it continues to blossom and thrive. A great city must not content itself with the ability to clean its streets, have running water, and have pretty museums and nice restaurants. To be Victorian. All these things are things that have been done for a long time. A great city must translate the qualms that it presents into a city, resplendent with spirit, and the ability to host a dialectic that, nonetheless, however awful it may become, offers every human the freedom and resources to thrive. It must end this decomposition of political and civil life, through assembly, and be what it aims to be, as it exists in its songs, its friendships, its experiences, its sympathies: a city of refuge and love.