Books for changing the world

Elite Capture: How The Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (& Everything Else)

“I was waiting for this book without realizing I was waiting for this book.”—Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition

“Olúfémi O. Táíwò is a thinker on fire. He not only calls out empire for shrouding its bloodied hands in the cloth of magical thinking but calls on all of us to do the same. Elite capture, after all, is about turning oppression and its cure into a (neo)liberal commodity exchange where identities become capitalism’s latest currency rather than the grounds for revolutionary transformation. The lesson is clear: only when we think for ourselves and act with each other, together in deep, dynamic, and difficult solidarity, can we begin to remake the world.” —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

Through a substantive engagement with the global Black radical tradition and a critical understanding of racial capitalism, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò identifies the process by which a radical concept can be stripped of its political substance and liberatory potential by becoming the victim of elite capture—deployed by political, social, and economic elites in the service of their own interests. Táíwò’s crucial intervention both elucidates this complex process and helps us move beyond a binary of “class” vs. “race.” By rejecting elitist identity politics in favor of a constructive politics of radical solidarity, he advances the possibility of organizing across our differences in the urgent struggle for a better world.


Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He is the author of Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else) and Reconsidering Reparations. His work exploring the intersections of climate justice and colonialism has been featured in The New Yorker, The Nation, Boston Review, Dissent, The Appeal, Slate, Al Jazeera, The New Republic, Aeon, and Foreign Policy.

Robin D.G. Kelley is Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA and the author of many books, including Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class, and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression.

This event is sponsored by Haymarket Books and Dissent Magazine.

  • Elite Capture

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