Friday, August 27, 2010

Stupidity Sells


I was at Costco today and was perusing the books and came upon the political section. These were the books I saw ... the only political books I saw:
No books by liberal or even moderate authors to be found. Is this a switch to the dark side by the traditionally progressive company? Probably not. More likely an admission that the Right is more likely to shell out $ for blatantly biased writing. It's why conservative talk radio and FOX News make money. For all the talk about "freedom" and "independence", Republicans don't want to form their own opinion. They want to be told what to think. They don't want an exchange of ideas. They want a chorus of sycophants.

So-called "liberal" authors have never sold a lot of books because most liberals don't want an echo-chamber. The few that have done moderately well did so because they were also humorists (Al Franken and Molly Ivins). But we've lost both of them in one way or another ... Franken, thankfully, to the Senate, and Ivins, unfortunately, passed away a few years ago.

Most liberals are far more likely to read scholarly works analyzing society in general (Jared Diamond, Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Friedman, etc.) than anything partisan. This makes for better rounded people, but it doesn't necessarily help Costco sell more books. So, I guess it doesn't bother me that they sell the books. They are certainly not changing anyone's mind with them. In Arizona, if agreeing philosophically with one's customers was a prerequisite for a transaction, then I would be out of business.

"SYCOPHANT, n. One who approaches Greatness on his belly so that he may not be commanded to turn and be kicked. He is sometimes an editor." -- Ambrose Bierce (American Writer, Journalist)


5 comments:

wunelle said...

I've had a similarly depressing recent trip to the bookstore. I'm beginning to think I should purchase the progressive titles on principle alone.

Though I have never been drawn to conservatism, I keep wondering if we'll ever wake up from this nightmare which holds half of our voting populace in some kind of looking-glass world of spook stories and lies and spin and anti-intellectual garbage. Surely there are core principles--smaller government or reduced foreign aid or cutting of social spending--which could be argued seriously without this constant resort to extremism and hyperbole (e.g. calling a centrist Democrat President a 'socialist' or 'Communist,' or anything that comes out of Glenn Beck's mouth).

I don't know how not to conclude that conservatism in this country is in the thrall of the second- and third-rate minds of people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. And we'll all suffer for this stupidity.

This from a comment on a recent Media Matters video:

"I’m a rodeo clown,” he said in an interview, adding with a coy smile, “It takes great skill."

Mr. Beck’s success “is a product of the collapse of conservatism as an organized political force, and the rise of conservatism as an alienated cultural sensibility.”

“It’s a show for people who feel they belong to an embattled minority that is disenfranchised and cut off,”

--Glenn Beck interview by NY Times 03/29/09

Anonymous said...

And where does michael Moore fit in? I could have sworn his books were of a liberal nature.

dbackdad said...

I find it interesting that every time I have a post that mentions Glenn Beck, I will get an anonymous commenter. Just an observation. Perhaps I should add the footnote, "Glenn Beck is an ass-clown" to the bottom of all of my posts just so that I can drive up traffic.

Anon, I'm not sure what your question is. Most post refers to the fact that most stores carry a larger percentage of conservative books as opposed to liberal ones. My belief is that this is for commercial reasons as opposed to idealogical ones. Yes, Michael Moore books are of a "liberal nature". No, I didn't see any on the shelves. Traditionally, they have sold moderately well as compared to other liberal authors, but not in comparison to conservative ones. Personally, I have read most of Michael Moore's works, but I have also read several Limbaugh, Ralph Reed, P.J. O'Rourke, and Pat Buchanan ones as well. As Sun Tzu said, "If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril."

dbackdad said...

Wunelle said, ... I should purchase the progressive titles on principle alone. -- And I certainly do. Though, I find myself drawn a little more to the wonkish ones by authors like Robert Reich and Krugman.

Conservative writing used to be different. I've read several William F. Buckley and David Brooks books and they talk of those things you spoke of. And I can respect that ... talking about ideas. But these warmed over FM radio shock jock veterans like Beck and buffoons like Ann Coulter left behind that world a long time ago. They are not interested in convincing people of the merits of their ideas. They are interested in herding weak-mind people and appealing to baser instincts and emotions.

wunelle said...

I agree with your comment completely.

Interesting how the trolls are always anonymous (not that I'd be eager to attach my name to folks like Beck and Palin and Coulter).

An honest discussion requires no hiding.

(WV: "comeadi")