“What leftists are here to do is push. Push, push, push. . . . and call out bullshit. That’s what we do.” — An interview with Richard Walker

Walker, speaking about his new book, in February 2019

Richard Walker has played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the Bay Area. A prolific author, educator, and advocate, he has helped us see how the capitalist system has remade the region in its interest but also how ordinary people have mobilized to fight back. His latest book, Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a comprehensive survey of the high-tech boom. He describes the stresses and injustices that it bears as well as its fault lines and vulnerabilities.

Although he writes in a popular, accessible style, his work rests on sophisticated ideas about how the world operates and where it is going. Whether or not you share his conclusions, his reflections can help us explore the big questions that local radicals—and radicals anywhere—must address in order to transform society.

In this interview, I ask Walker a series of questions designed to provide some context for understanding his work. We talk about his personal and intellectual evolution, his political and theoretical convictions, and his thoughts about the future. If you are curious about what makes him tick, this podcast is for you!

Here is an overview of the episode:

0:00 — Why this podcast?
3:20 — Why interview Richard Walker? 
4:45 — The interview itself
4:58 — His background and the impact of the 1960s
8:43 — The rise of a left in geography 
17:50 — Why write about the Bay Area?
35:05 — Why write Pictures of a Gone City now?
40:45 — The goal: communist revolution or a New Deal? 
49:35 — Marxism and anarchism in the Bay Area
55:03 — What distinguishes radical demands from reformist demands?
103:05 — His decades of mentoring 
111:50 — What he is working on now and how to find him

Some of the things and people mentioned: 
Save The Bay
Sierra Club
Students for a Democratic Society
Henri Lefebvre
The Situationists
David Harvey
Dick Peet 
Socialist Geographers
Puerto Rican Liberation Front
Carl Sauer
Berkeley Citizens Action 
Michael Storper
Friends of the Earth
David Brower
Allan Pred
Michael Watts 
Phil Levine
Doreen Massey
Ann Markusen
Bennett Harrison
Mike Davis
City of QuartzExcavating the Future in Los AngelesEcology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster
Jeff Lustig
Frank Bardacke
The California Studies Association
The Capitalist Imperative: Territory, Technology and Industrial GrowthAndrew Sayer
The New Social Economy: Reworking the Division of Labor
An Atlas of California: Mapping the Challenge of a New Era
The Conquest of Bread. 150 Years of Agribusiness in California
The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area
The New Left Review
The Living New Deal Project
East Bay Socialist School
PM Press
Élisée Reclus
Peter Kropotkin
Colin Ward
Murray Bookchin
Anthony Ashbolt
Elizabeth Warren
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Symbionese Liberation Army
Bernie Sanders
Robert Reich
Judith Butler
Just Cause

Interview with Richard Walker