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Glenn Beck, anarchist bookseller

February 23, 2010 |  7:10 am


When Glenn Beck spoke at the CPAC conference last Saturday, he held up a 1938 pamphlet, "Progress and Democracy: A Program for Rhode Island," and read from its pages in his critique of progressivism. The pamphlet -- which supported the Communist Party -- was not the first piece of leftist literature the conservative commentator has lambasted to his fans.

A book translated from the French, "The Coming Insurrection," published by the intellectual leftist press Semiotext(e), has enjoyed sales peaks when Beck brings it up on his television show. Beck doesn't like the book -- he calls it "quite possibly the most evil thing I've ever read" -- but he's urged people to read it, Publishers Weekly reports:

[w]hen Semiotext(e) launched its Intervention series last August with an English translation of "The Coming Insurrection," it hit #24 at Amazon. After that it settled back to more typical numbers for a book with a 3,000-copy first printing, distributed by an academic press (MIT). Plus it's available for free online in both English and French.

....each time Beck has talked about the book, sales have spiked, according to MIT Press associate publicist Diane Denner. Its latest jump came after Beck devoted an entire segment to "The Coming Insurrection."

The book is now in its sixth printing, which means that it's being sold at volumes that are unexpected for anonymously authored French interventionist-anarchist philosophical statements.

The prospects for "Progress and Democracy" aren't so rosy: It's long out of print.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Glenn Beck at the CPAC conference. Credit: Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press