Publisher Capitalizes Off Karl Marx

First published in 1867, Karl Marx's treatise, "Das Kapital," is enjoying a comeback in Germany amid the global financial crisis.

With Germany on the brink of recession, some citizens appear to be turning to the classic communist critique of capitalism -- much to the delight of small Berlin-based publishing house Karl Dietz Verlag, which has struggled to sell copies of the book for many years.

They sold 200 copies in September alone, typically what the publishing house sells in a year.

"We've seen a slight increase in sales of "Das Kapital" ever since 2005, but this year it's truly amazing," said Jörn Schütrumpf, head of Karl Dietz Verlag, which specializes in communist literature.

"We've sold 1,500 copies so far this year and the year is not over yet," said the publisher, who is convinced that many readers have turned to the German philosopher and political economist for answers to their financial woes.

"Marx seems more relevant these days. Our readers are usually between 20 and 25 years old, and while some people turn to the Catholic Church for answers to their religious questions, our readers are mainly turning to Karl Marx for answers to the financial crisis.

"We're not going to become millionaires because of Karl Marx, but the book is definitely in vogue. The financial crisis has brought us a huge bump."

Schütrumpf says his publishing house's yearly sales for the works of Marx once barely cracked the double digits, but he has noted a steady upward trend, selling 1,300 copies of "Das Kapital" last year.

He believes that the readers are mainly younger Germans who are disillusioned about their parents' politics and with the direction in which their parents' generation has led the country -- and most of all with the way their political leaders have responded to the global financial troubles of the past few months.

"These young Germans are looking for answers to many issues," Schütrumpf said. "Right now, however, they're looking for ways leading out of the financial gloom. But there's also the 'fashionable' fact that kicks in."

"While I do sense a real trend back toward reading Karl Marx, I do expect that most of our readers who buy the book will not ever be able to finish it, because it's extremely hard and demanding reading."

"Das Kapital," written in German by Marx and his friend Friedrich Engels, was the result of nearly 30 years of work on the part of Marx, who died in 1883. The English translation is simply "Capital."

Published when working conditions for industrial laborers were terrible and the economy was tough all across Europe, it analyzes capitalism and warns that the free-market system is destined to crash.

Marx and Engels also published other articles, such as "The Financial Crisis in Europe" and the "Communist Manifesto," the latter released before "Das Kapital." In the "Communist Manifesto," Marx lists the 10 planks of communism -- the fifth being "centralization of credit in the hands of state."

Marx is not only selling well, he has also been praised most recently by German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück, who recently told the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, "Certain parts of Marx's thinking are really not so bad."