The global crisis of capitalism has led to a surge of interest in socialist ideas all over the world.
Merriam-Webster reports that socialism was the third most searched-for term ("bailout" was #1) during 2008 in their online dictionary, which receives 125 million views per month, meaning millions of people were looking to find out what socialism means.
Sales of The Communist Manifesto have skyrocketed, with Amazon.com reporting a 700% increase since the banking collapse, according to the Times (UK) (11/9/08).
In Berlin, all copies of Karl Marx's Capital reportedly sold out several months ago. According to Joern Schuetrumpf, the German publisher of Marx's Collected Works, "Until 2004, we sold less than 100 copies of Das Kapital per year. In the ten months of 2008, we have sold more than 2,500 copies. It is clear that people are interested in learning what Marx has to say about why capitalism does not work." (Inter Press Service, 11/7/08)
There's even now a Japanese comic book version of Das Kapital, which sold 6,000 copies within a few days of hitting the shelves in December. Additionally, Kanikosen ("The Crab Factory Ship"), a Communist novel from 1929 about a group of workers rebelling against brutal working conditions on their ship, has experienced a resurgence, with sales of over 500,000 copies in 2008, up from an average of around 5,000 in previous years (Telegraph (UK), 11/18/08).
All this is evidence of the growing quest to understand the nature of the economic crisis. The coming years will provide ample opportunities to build the socialist movement as the failures of capitalism lead millions to search for an alternative.
Jan 10, 2009
Dan DiMaggio, CWI USA