[OPE] Booklovers turn to Karl Marx as financial crisis bites in Germany

From: Gerald Levy <jerry_levy@verizon.net>
Date: Wed Oct 15 2008 - 11:40:00 EDT

More people are reading Marx but his 1857 prediction (see end of
article) should serve as a precautionary note.

In solidarity, Jerry


 Booklovers turn to Karl Marx as financial crisis bites in Germany
Kate Connolly in Berlin
Wednesday October 15 2008

 Karl Marx is back. That, at least, is the verdict of publishers and
bookshops in Germany who say that his works are flying off the shelves.

 The rise in his popularity has of course, been put down to the current
economic crisis. "Marx is in fashion again," said J&ouml;rn Sch&uuml;trumpf,
manager of the Berlin publishing house Karl- Dietz which publishes the works
of Marx and Engels in German. "We're seeing a very distinct increase in
demand for his books, a demand which we expect to rise even more steeply
before the year's end."

 Most popular is the first volume of his signature work, Das Kapital.
According to Sch&uuml;trumpf, readers are typically "those of a young
academic generation, who have come to recognise that the neoliberal promises
of happiness have not proved to be true."

 Bookshops around the country are reporting similar findings, saying that
sales are up by 300%. (Though the fact that they are not prepared to quote
actual figures suggests the sales were never that high).

 Literature comes and goes and it is nice to see that trends are not always
driven by slick marketing campaigns. Just as Rudyard Kipling would have been
delighted that his poem The Gods of the Copybook Headings which contains the
apt lines: "Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued
wizards withdrew." is modish once more, so Marx would have reveled in the
idea that an economic crisis had reignited interest in his works. (Not, you
understand, because of the increased royalties that would be coming his way
over the next few months were he still alive.)

 Increasing numbers of Germans appear ready to out themselves as Marx fans
in a time when it is fashionable to repeat the philosopher's belief that
excessive capitalism with all its greed finally ends up destroying itself.
When Oskar Lafontaine, the head of Germany's rising left-wing party Die
Linke, said he would include Marxist theory in the party's manifesto, in the
outline of his plans to partially nationalise the nation's finance and
energy sectors, he was labeled as a "mad leftie" who had "lost the plot" by
the tabloid Bild. But even Germany's finance minister, Peer Steinbr&uuml;ck,
who must have had some sleepless nights over the past few weeks, has now
declared himself something of a fan. "Generally one has to admit that
certain parts of Marx's theory are really not so bad," he cautiously told
Der Spiegel.

 "These days Marx is on a winning streak in the charm stakes," Ralf Dorschel
commented in the Hamburger Abendblatt.

 But for those not quite ready to immerse themselves in Marxist theory,
Marx's correspondence to Friedrich Engels at the time of an earlier US
economic crisis makes more entertaining reading. "The American Crash is a
delight to behold and it's far from over," he wrote in 1857, confidently
predicting the imminent and complete collapse of Wall Street.

 Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008

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