LONDON: With capitalism in crisis, Karl Marx has become fashionable again in the West. Das Kapital, his seminal work, is set to become a best-seller in Europe.
In his native Germany, copies of Das Kapital are reported to be “flying off the shelves” as failed bankers and free-market economists try to make sense of the global economic meltdown.
Jorn Schutrumpf, head of the Berlin publishing house Dietz, is reported as having said that the sales of the works of Marx, and Friedrich Engels, have trebled. “Marx is fashionable again…We have a new generation of readers who are rattled by the financial crisis and have to recognise that neo-liberalism has turned out to be a false dream,” he told The Times.
A dramatic rise has been reported in the number of visitors to Marx’s birthplace in Trier. And film-maker Alexander Kluge is planning to turn Das Kapital into a movie.
Western leaders who once sneered at Marx’s dense tome, breezily dismissing it as a “doorstop,” have been seen flaunting Das Kapital in recent weeks. French President Nicolas Sarkozi has been spotted “flicking through” it, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck has said nice things about it, and even the Pope has praised the book for its “great analytical” quality.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams recalled Marx’s analysis of capitalism in glowing terms, saying: “Marx long ago observed the way in which unbridled capitalism became a kind of mythology, ascribing reality, power and agency to things that had no life in themselves.”
Some British cheerleaders for free-market, such as The Times and The Daily Telegraph, have suddenly become interested in Marx. There has been a wave of soul-searching analyses of whether he was right, after all.