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Making Money Selling Marx November 18, 2008

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Culture, Nina Rosenstand's Posts, Political Philosophy.
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Do you want to be in on the hottest trend in political philosophy and economics? Try Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. According to a news story from Der Tagesspiegel a few weeks ago that has, apparently, made the rounds in newspapers and blogs around the world (but I’ve had a hard time finding references to it in the MSM), the economic crisis has spawned a huge wave of interest in Marxism, especially in Germany. Sales of Das Kapital—which had been very slow—are skyrocketing, especially among university students. But according to the publisher of Karl Dietz Verlag,  Schütrumpf, this creates a moral dilemma for a Marxist: If Marx sells because of a crisis, that means the publisher profits from others’ misery…You can read a short version of the story here from BBC News. Anyone taking Philosophy 109, Issues in Social Philosophy, with me in Spring ‘09? We’ll discuss this!

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Comments»

1. Dwight Furrow - November 18, 2008

Maybe I’m dense this morning, but you will have to explain the dilemma to me. I don’t recall Marx arguing that authors should not sell books or that people should not buy them; or that authors who diagnose and explain a system that causes misery are somehow complicit in the misery, especially if the diagnosis and explanation are intended to change the system and alleviate the misery. Surely he didn’t think that workers who continued to go to work to earn a living were morally corrupt because they participated in capitalism. I suppose he would object to a publisher holding a copyright for work written by an author long since departed. But that is another matter.

2. Nina Rosenstand - November 19, 2008

I think the good publisher was either jesting, or perhaps suffering from an overload of conscience: making a profit from people going through hard times. The article does emphasize the sale price of Das Kapital: 19.90 Euro, approx. $25. And that’s a steal, with today’s European book prices…The entire article veers off into speculations about the publishing industry in a crisis, and ironic observations about an Eastern German institution (Dietz Verlag) surviving in a time of capitalism. I did enjoy the publisher’s favorite Marx quote, Marx/Engels Werke vol.8, from “18. Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte,” (loosely translated) “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great personal and world history events happen twice; what he forgot to say is that the first time it’s a tragedy, the second time it’s a farce.” Good one for the “Message in a Bottle” category…

3. Huan - November 19, 2008

Reminds me of punk culture. Capitalists are like water, they flow where ever there is money to be made, enveloping even flames of passion that ignite in rebellion.


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