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 Jörn Schütrumpf, 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 Schütrumpf, 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 Steinbrück, 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.
Courtesy: The Guardian