Former President Barack Obama in his new memoir “A Promised Land” admitted reading Karl Marx amongst other radical political philosophers influenced by the German socialist revolutionary during his college years as a “strategy for picking up girls.”
“My interest in books probably explains why I not only survived high school but arrived at Occidental College in 1979 with a thin but passable knowledge of political issues and a series of half-baked opinions that I’d toss out during late-night bull sessions in the dorm,” Obama recalled in Chapter One of his first of two volumes presidential memoir book that was released last Tuesday.
“Looking back, it’s embarrassing to recognize the degree to which my intellectual curiosity those first two years of college paralleled the interests of various women I was attempting to get to know: Marx and Marcuse so I had something to say to the long-legged socialist who lived in my dorm; Fanon and Gwendolyn Brooks for the smooth-skinned sociology major who never gave me a second look; Foucault and Woolf for the ethereal bisexual who wore mostly black. As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless; I found myself in a series of affectionate but chaste friendships,” Obama added.
Marx is best known as a revolutionary, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century. The “Father of Communism,” Marx proposed the political ideology in the publication of the ‘Communist Manifesto,’ which he wrote alongside fellow German thinker Friedrich Engels in 1848. The theories would go on to inspire and have a huge impact on societies, most prominently in communist projects such as those in the USSR, China, and Cuba.
Meanwhile, Herbert Marcuse who is dubbed the “Father of the New Left” is a German-American political theorist whose essay “Repressive Tolerance” inspires many radicals today in his call advocating for “liberating tolerance,” that consists of intolerance to right-wing movements and toleration of left-wing movements.
Other political philosophers Obama names that he read included, Frantz Fanon, a West Indian psychoanalyst and social philosopher known for his works that inspired national-liberation movements and other radical political organizations. His book, ‘Black Skin, White Masks’ is a multidisciplinary analysis of the effect of colonialism on racial consciousness. Fanon’s expansive view was written a decade later in the book ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ which focuses on what he believed is the necessary role of violence by activists in conducting decolonization struggles.
Michel Foucault, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Virginia Wool were the rest of the names mentioned that Obama studied to help pick up women, whose theoretical work and perspective are also considered Marxist leaning that have influenced left-wing writers and its base.
Obama goes on to say despite failing to pick up the girls, the first two years became the start of his “political awakening.”
“The two years I spent at Occidental represented the start of my political awakening,” Obama wrote. “What did capture my attention was something broader and less conventional —not political campaigns but social movements, where ordinary people joined together to make change.”
Obama then goes on to write, “When I look back on my journal entries from this time, I feel a great affection for the young man that I was, aching to make a mark on the world, wanting to be a part of something grand and idealistic, which evidence seemed to indicate did not exist. This was America in the early 1980s, after all. The social movements of the previous decade had lost their vibrancy. A new conservatism was taking hold. Ronald Reagan was president; the economy was in recession; the Cold War was in full swing.”
The first of Obama’s 768-page book focuses on his childhood up-brings to part of the first term of his presidency, and the rise of his successor, President Trump and his rise that he writes was a trigger of racism based on his candidacy who “promised an elixir for the racial anxiety” due to “millions of Americans spooked by a black man in the White House.” This claim has been disputed by many if all conservatives who stated the Trump bid was based on the disaster of Obama’s presidency, not on his skin-color.
The second installment of Obama’s memoir, which is considered to cover the rest of the first term, the whole second term that was seen as a foreign policy disaster from the disasters of the Middle East, Syrian civil war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Iran nuclear deal, publication date hasn’t yet to be announced.
If one wants to opt to listen to Obama’s Volume one memoir, the audiobook runs for a whopping 29 hours on Audible.