On October 6, The Bookseller Daily, an online service for the book trade, ran a symposium on the question “Is George W. Bush Good for the Book Business?” The Symposium took place during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the huge international jamboree for the publishing industry that takes place every autumn. The luster attached to Bush-bashing has dimmed significantly since November 2. Still, we think it worth recording some of the responses to the urgent question propounded by some senior publishing spokesmen:
• Carole Blake, Joint Managing Director, Blake Friedmann (UK): “No matter how many books on him are being bought and sold, he’s bad for the planet and mankind.”
• Ian Chapman, Managing Director, Simon and Schuster (UK): “I am deeply indebted to him for the significant amounts of turnover emanating from the absurdity of the man. … Other than that, I wish he would go away. He’s dangerous.”
• Lynette Owen, Copyright Director, Pearson Education (UK): “Obviously, even if he is no good for anything else. Someone told me recently that more than 200 books have been written about Bush in the past three years. Frightening.”
• Pramod Kapoor, Publisher, Roli Books (India): “George W. Bush is good for a book industry. The comic book industry.”
You get the recipe: mock gratitude propelled by contempt, leavened by self-righteousness. Similar responses were offered by the Managing Directors of Harperpress, UK, and Penguin, UK, as well as the Chief Executive of Faber and Faber, the publisher of Bloomsbury, the Publishing Director of Hesperus Press, and the Chief Executive Officer of Macmillan. It was business as usual in the elite publishing world of today: utterly predictable, wholesale, off-the-rack, one-size-fits-all Leftist sentiment. The one refreshingly discordant note came from the American sociologist and publisher Irving Louis Horowitz, whose letter, “A Parochial Symposium,” ran in the TheBookseller.com on 22 October. “The symposium,” Mr. Horowitz wrote, “raises serious questions about the imposition of ideology by British publishing executives, and creates an aura of uniformity that violates the spirit and practice of democratic culture.”
If these senior officials … had reserved even a fraction of the passion dedicated to this screed on George W. Bush for the victims of mass murder by terrorists in Russia, Israel, Spain, Thailand, and a dozen other lands, then one might at least imagine that the conscience of the publishing community was not dedicated to aping the worst instincts of the enemies of free societies.
As matters stand, it would take a brave and hearty soul to dare express approval for current Anglo-American policies in a publishing community that cannot get enough of books denouncing the American colossus, imperium, dictatorship, fascist trends, etc., ad nauseam. A time will come when such posturing in print will be understood to have been itself the problem and not remotely the solution to political, military, and religious despotism the world over.
To which we can only add, Amen.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 4, on page 4
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