America and Communism has historically been an unfavorable combination, leading to a string of controversial anti-communism actions during the beginning of the Cold War. So when MIT Press picked up the US rights to the German book Communism for Kids, by author and social theorist Bini Adamczak, the attention it received was far different from that of Germany, where it got almost no public attention at all.
Shortly after its 2003 release, Communism for Kids was presented at the “Indeterminate! Communism” conference in Frankfurt, in front of an audience looking to answer the question of whether or not Communism could be viewed in a non-Orthodox way. Adamczak’s book immediately received some criticism mostly by riding the coattails of the conference’s bad press after outsiders called Germany’s financial involvement into question. And while the book continued to receive negative remarks inside certain political circles and more surprisingly, Marxist Leninists, Communism for Kids never really saw a response from the general public.
Almost 15 years have gone by since Adamczak first published the book, but when MIT Press editor Marc Lowenthal stumbled upon it, he was captured by its charm and humor, and moved forward with getting it translated and released for the American audience.
“I thought it made a heartfelt effort toward imagining and embracing the possibility for a different political and social future,” Lowenthal told DW in a recent interview. “a different one from the dystopias currently capturing the popular imagination.”
Adamczak had doubts about releasing his book in the US and questioned Lowenthal on the potential misinterpretation of its title, and while he was told such a reaction would be ridiculous, Lowenthal’s belief couldn’t be further from the truth.
Upon its US release in March, the initial coverage fell in line with the author’s earlier concerns. Prominent right-wing figures spoke out against the book, including coverage by Breitbart, The National Review and The American Conservative. Though whether or not the ones criticizing the book have actually read it has come into debate.
Some have even called for the book to be banned, while others are looking to take a more aggressive approach of book burnings. Again, it is hard to say whether the reaction is from the title alone or from actually reading the message inside.
While I myself cannot yet form an opinion, I will be reading the book in hopes to find this charm and humor that Lowenthal saw when he read Communism for Kids for the first time. Stay tuned for the review!