A Tweet about the rejection of George Orwell's Animal Farm by Alfred Knopf, a major New York publisher in the 1940s:
How can we not mark George Orwell's death this day in 1950 by recalling Knopf's priceless rejection of Animal Farm? pic.twitter.com/NdOHN5pWEW— Jonny Geller (@JonnyGeller) January 21, 2015
The text of that says
Stupid and pointless fable in which the animals take over a farm and run it, and their society takes about the course of the Soviet Union as seen by Westbrook Pegler. It all goes to show that a parallel carried out to the last detail is boring and obvious. Even Pegler gets off a few smart lines now and then but this is damn dull. Very very NFK. [Not For Knopf]
The point of this is that Knopf, a major publishing house which had at least one actual Communist editor, Angus Cameron—when a New York Times obituary is headlined "forced out during McCarthy era" (November 23, 2002), that generally means "Communist"—is rejecting Animal Farm because it reflects "Soviet Union as seen by Westbrook Pegler".
If you've forgotten, or never learned, about Westbrook Pegler, he was the 1940s equivalent of Glenn Beck, an anti-Communist, anti-New Deal syndicated columnist who worked for William Randolph Hearst. And in those days the pro-Communist Left (sometimes they would call themselves anti-anti-Communist) was very powerful.
Slate thought it worthwhile to attack Pegler posthumously in 2004, [Dangerous Minds | William F. Buckley soft-pedals the legacy of journalist Westbrook Pegler in The New Yorker, By Diane McWhorter, March 4, 2004] and it was weird to see how when Sarah Palin quoted something innocuous Pegler said (about growing “good people in our small towns”) Leftists went and dug up hateful quotes Pegler said to attack her with.
The point here: Knopf knew, institutionally, that it was supposed to reject books that challenged the Narrative.
Not so long ago, the literature of egregious bigotry was treated like pornography. You had to send for it by mail—from backwoods presses that advertised in the classified sections of conservative magazines—or frequent the political equivalent of dirty bookstores. Today, you just walk into any Barnes & Noble. The Free Press set the precedent last fall with Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein's The Bell Curve, which argued that blacks are genetically less intelligent that whites. Now comes Random House with Peter Brimelow's Alien Nation., another expression of intellectualized white rage that attempts to do for immigrants, and Hispanics in particular, what Murray did for blacks. Odds are it will enrage sensible folk, convince no one, and earn a small fortune. [Links added—the original was on paper.]
Wait: “earn a small fortune”? Don't publishers like a small fortune?
You wouldn't believe how many copies of Animal Farm the people who did publish it sold (20 million Signet paperbacks, and that’s just one edition) and both Alien Nation and The Bell Curve were bestsellers.
I noted this when American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor published his 1992 book Paved With Good Intentions as a Kindle book—now the only format in which it is available. (The original publisher regrets having published it and won’t reprint it.)
In the 90s, there was what we at VDARE.com have called an “interglacial” period in which many books were published that couldn’t be published today, or previously, for that matter, in the 70s and 80s. Animal Farm shows what couldn’t even be published in the 40s. (They could have been published in the 1920s—in fact, they more or less represented the conventional wisdom. See historical examples like Madison Grant, and Lothrop Stoddard.)
Many of them earned small fortunes, as Weisberg suggested, and they did convince people.
And the small fortunes forgone by publishers who’ve refused to publish a Brimelow sequel to Alien Nation, or Jared Taylor’s book White Identity, are nothing to the huge fortunes that could be made in Hollywood by anyone willing to make movies that don’t hate America.
The Passion of The Christ made $600 million in theaters—and Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus, found himself shunned by the industry. [Divine intervention? He claimed playing Jesus in Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ wrecked his career... but Jim Caviezel is a Person of Interest again, By Amelia Proud, Daily Mail, August 14, 2012]
War movies are another case. John Wayne’s The Green Berets was not a very good movie, but it was almost the only pro-American movie made during the Viet Nam War. The screeching paroxysm of hate it inspired from the NYT’s Renata Adler is still on the NYT’s website—a useful historical document.
"THE GREEN BERETS" is a film so unspeakable, so stupid, so rotten and false in every detail that it passes through being fun, through being funny, through being camp, through everything and becomes an invitation to grieve, not for our soldiers or for Vietnam (the film could not be more false or do a greater disservice to either of them) but for what has happened to the fantasy-making apparatus in this country. Simplicities of the right, simplicities of the left, but this one is beyond the possible. It is vile and insane. On top of that, it is dull.
'Green Berets' as Viewed by John Wayne: War Movie Arrives at the Warner Theater, By Renata Adler, June 20, 1968
Ms. Adler thought it suspicious that some of the Special Forces soldiers could speak German—during the Cold War, Special Forces recruited polyglot soldiers to defend West Germany, but to Ms. Adler it spelled “Nazi.”
However, Americans liked the movie—it earned back three times its budget.
American Sniper is the final, obvious example on how much money Hollywood, dominated as it is by Cultural Marxists, is just throwing away by hating America.
The Iraq War has been going on for years—it’s not at all clear that it’s over—and Hollywood has made anti-American movies like Green Zone, Stop-Loss and In the Valley of Elah—all of which had the conventional anti-American spin, and all of which flopped.
But American Sniper is a story about an American hero winning, and here’s tally from Box Office Mojo:
Domestic Total as of Jan. 27, 2015: $209,600,822 (As of January 28, 2015, at 4 in the afternoon.)
And of course, the Left is reacting the same way Renata Adler did in 1968.['American Sniper' smashes box office records, ignites culture war, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, January 27, 2015]
So are the publishers and movie makers going to get the message about the financial aspect of all this (remember, in the movies hundreds of millions are involved) or are they going to react emotionally? I don’t know, but the good news as far as books are concerned is the internet, specifically Amazon.com.
Jacob Weisberg may have been right to think that you could only buy politically incorrect books from “backwoods presses that advertised in the classified sections of conservative magazines.” (“Backwoods” here means anywhere outside New York City.)
But now you can order the following books on your Kindle, iPhone, iPad or computer with a click of the mouse, and no one in New York can stop you:
Remember what I said about Lothrop Stoddard and Madison Grant? Their books are available for free—and so is Paul Buck’s 1937 book The Road To Reunion, another book that couldn’t be published today, because its author failed to hate the South.
I’ve been telling people for years on the internet that if you can read what I’m writing, you can read an e-book.
You know how people keep saying “It’s not your father’s America”? Well, it’s not your father’s New York publishing cartel either.
James Fulford [email him] is a writer and editor for VDARE.com.