I was born in 1939, the year the Second World War broke out in Europe. My parents were Jewish intellectuals who fled Germany to escape the Nazis. I listened to their dinner table conversation and concluded, while still a child, that which side I was on in the great battle between fascism and anti-fascism gave ultimate meaning to my life. I thought that as a Jew I had no choice but to be an anti-fascist. I now no longer connect the duty to be antifascist to being Jewish. The way Israel treats the Palestinians has shown me that Jews, like all people, are capable of acting like fascists. I think of the battle between fascists and anti-fascists as one form of the eternal life-and-death struggle between reason and unreason, tenderness and brutality. However, I also believe that the sides in that struggle tend to get mixed up. Nothing we do is free from contradiction. In the Sixties I became a founding member of an anarchist street gang known as The Motherf--ers, whose very name embodies those contradictions. I'm now a painter, a sculptor and a lawyer. I supervise a free legal clinic for poor people who can't get help anywhere else. In the Sixties we had a movement without a crisis of capitalism. Now we have a crisis of capitalism without a movement. The same System that causes suffering for the poor threatens the natural world. The poor and the polar bears -- their fate intertwined. I wonder who will survive and how those who do will live.
What a time to be reaching the butt end of my days.
What I'm writing:
I've completed the manuscript of a book about art with the title: "Is Art Dead or Dying or Just Going through its Usual Changes?: Reflections on Art and its Obstacles." I'm looking for a publisher.
I'm working on a long article about a mood of despair that many people, including myself, feel about our apparent inability to prevent catastrophic climate change. We're told that global warming threatens life on this planet as we've known it; we're told we may be past the "tipping point," and still we have to find a way to continue the eternal struggle for the greatest good possible for the greatest number of people. I'm writing about how to do that.