Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Can't Find A Pope Francis Effect In The Book Market Yet

Rush called Francis a Marxist. Francis makes statements about the rich and the poor which certainly sound more Leftist than Rightist. Now he's said, "I know many Marxists who are good people." In angry opposition to Francis, or so he thinks, a rightwing freemarket laissez-faire rah-rah-siss-boom-bah capitalist has written: "Capitalism and many variants called Capitalism has raised the standard of living for more people around the world than any system every created by man. Capitalism has produced more wealth and increased production greater than any other system in the world." I replied to him: "That's very close to a direct quote from the first pages of the Communist Manifesto. Which you might want to read sometime. It's only 20, 30 pages or so. Maybe some people somewhere dispute what you say about capitalism's effect on the world's wealth and productivity. Marxists certainly don't."

So that's when I wondered whether perhaps many Americans had indeed read the Communist manifesto because of Francis. What with the economy and all, and now in top of that what with Francis infuriating rightwingers on such a regular basis in such a delightful way. Marx has been read very little in the US in proportion to how much he is dissed. People don't know what they're talking about when they diss him, they're just repeating the staggeringly-successful US capitalist talking points on Marx and Communism. So I thought, maybe now, after years of spectacular worldwide abuse of financial deregulation and now with Francis, and what with the economy and all -- maybe now, finally, Americans would start reading Marx. The Communist Manifesto at least. Capital and Critique of Political Economy, that could come a little later, and then pretty soon Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brian could discuss Maoism versus New Left with their movie-star guests and everybody would get it and the Earth would be saved and we could all just really get on with it. Thanks to a Pope, sure, why not, who, if not History, doesn't love irony?

But no, I was getting a little ahead of myself. I couldn't find an edition of the Communist Manifesto higher than around #20,000 on Amazon's book bestseller list. Then I thought: maybe The Portable Karl Marx,but ouch: it's at #147,305.

Even Francis himself is not burning up the track: a book by him published in November is at #1348, and Evangelii Gaudium,which caused such a fooferah in the headlines? It's at #661. Holy moly, pardon my French, Holy Father. Wouldn't something by John Paul II have been at #1 by now? And in Amazon's top 20 for books there are items by Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. It's all horribly disappointing and surprising for me, except for the success of O'Reilly and Beck, which is merely horribly disappointing for me.

Then I thought: Maybe Kindle is here and it's passed me by because I'm old, and that's where the real bestsellers are, and Francis is way up high in the Kindle bestseller list, but no. Marx, also no.

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