Too Black to Fail: The Obama Portraits and the Politics of Post-Representation

Too Black to Fail: The Obama Portraits and the Politics of Post-Representation

In the past several decades, progressive leftists have gradually replaced socialism with populist criticism of elites and single-issue coalitions. As global economic crisis deepens, the spectre of both the radical left and the extreme right have re-emerged. Max Horkheimer famously stated that whoever does not criticize capitalism has nothing to say about fascism. With a focus on the American scene, Too Black to Fail adds to this the argument that whoever does not criticize identity politics has nothing to say about capitalism. Taking the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama as a touchstone for the contradictions of our era, Léger questions the Obama legacy in relation to the neoliberalization of society and culture. Arguing for the renewal of emancipatory universalism, Too Black to Fail makes an unsparing critique of woke aesthetics and black capitalism, drawing the connections between today’s racialist agenda and the ideology of post-representation.

Book Details

Publisher: Red Quill Books (October 17, 2022)
Authors: Marc James Léger
Paperback 390 pages
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1926958365
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1926958361
Product Dimensions: ‎ 6 x 0.87 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.26 pounds
Price: $32.95 USD


“For those who want to know how economic and racial inequality grew worse during the first black president’s eight years in the White House, look no further than Marc James Léger’s Too Black to Fail: The Obama Portraits and the Politics of Post-Representation. In dialogue with some of the most insightful critics of neoliberal capitalism, from Slavoj Zizek to Adolph Reed, Léger argues that the only effective way to criticize contemporary ideology is to also criticize identity politics. Ranging from astute aesthetic analysis of the Obama portraits to a discussion of the politics of the Obama administration and cultural criticism that takes on woke racialism, Too Black to Fail defends a universalist socialist programme against global capitalism.”

– Andrew Hartman, author of A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars

Table of Contents

Introduction /8

1. A Trap for the Gaze /25

An Effect of Grace – Can’t Knock the Hustle – The Brass Menagerie – Dogs
Playing Poker – The Science of Imaginary Solutions – We Tortured Some Folks

2. From Obamarama to the Drone Presidency /54

Dark Horse – Too Big to Fail – Too Big to Jail – That Creed Reaffirmed

3. Woke Aesthetics /85

The Artsy Vanguard – Viewing Habits – Kehinde Wiley, Genius – Ghetto
Life – Brandstorming – Sex, Race, Gender and Bentham – The Souls of
One-Dimensional Folk – The Man Who Sold the World – In the Court of
Charles V

4. Racialism and Its Discontents /145

The Activists – The Scapegoat – The Devil’s Advocates – The Managers –
The Intellectuals – The Brokers – The Freedom Fighters Were Here

5. Black Capitalism and Embedded History /234

Worthy Causes – My President – Heavenly Compulsions – Dreams From
Beyoncé – Not My President – Mojo Morality – You Ain’t Got No Alibi – The
Umpteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

Conclusion /309

Notes /321

Index /369

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