A Book Attacking Capitalism Gets Sales Help From a Fox Host

By Noam Cohen
NY Times Published:
March 14, 2010

“Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance,” write the anonymous authors of “The Coming Insurrection,” a call to overthrow capitalism that first appeared in France in 2005 and was recently published in translation in the United States.

Writers, however, do not get to pick how and where their work resonates: Among the first in America to be stirred by the manifesto’s explosive words was a Fox News host, Glenn Beck.

In July, Mr. Beck introduced the book to his three million or so viewers, accompanied by video of burning cars and swarming protesters. “Here is the one thing everyone seems to be missing. The extreme left is actively calling for violence,” he told his audience. “It calls for violent revolution. An anonymous group from France, of all places, called the Invisible Committee, penned it. They want to bring down capitalism and the Western way of life.”

This month, Mr. Beck proclaimed it “the most evil book I’ve read in a long, long time.”

The next day, “The Coming Insurrection,” whose authors call themselves the Invisible Committee, rose to No. 54 on Amazon’s best-seller list. In July, the book briefly reached No. 1. And even this weekend the book remained around No. 240.

Sylvère Lotringer, a professor emeritus of French language and philosophy at Columbia and the general editor of Semiotext(e), which translated and published the book, said there was no doubt that Mr. Beck was feeding what had been “in a short duration, the most books we have ever sold.”

He did not provide a sales number.

As for trying to play to Mr. Beck or the book’s other critics on the right, Mr. Lotringer said he was torn.

“I would be willing to come on the show if he had read the book, but he has never read it,” he said. “Nothing that he has said shows that he read it. He is incapable of reading it.”

Christopher Balfe, a spokesman for Mr. Beck, said, “Glenn read this book because he believes it is important for people to read everything, especially the titles they disagree with, so they can clearly understand all points of view and have open and honest debates.”

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