On the Amazon battlefield of Ideas (Sort of)...

Posted by WDonway 2 years, 1 month ago to Books
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On the Battleground of Ideas—Sort of…
My new novel, “Retaking College Hill,” has a villain. And because the novel is a thriller, it has a frighteningly unconquerable villain: the academic Mafia that increasingly gains power in the American higher education. It uses that power to preach (let us not say “teach”) the anti-Enlightenment philosophy of Postmodernism.
As in any competent novel, the ideas are dramatized in the personalities, goals, actions, and fates of characters. But the villain is postmodernism in academia. (Sometimes, it is called neo-Marxism and sometimes “political correction and identity politics.”)
Since I am self-published (about 40 literary agents declined to even respond to my proposal), and the only game in town is Amazon (a controversy for another post), my ideas will reach a real readership only if I win on the Amazon battlefield.
Otherwise, the global strategy of the New Left-Liberal, Postmodernism establishment—don’t mention it, don’t acknowledge it, don’t admit it deserves any publicity—will win. Again.
This is not new, of course. Look at the struggle to get the Fountainhead published in 1943. And then, the long press blank-out. And a breakthrough because individual after individual took private action to support the novel’s vision. And, come on, “Retaking College Hill” is NOT some new Fountainhead. There ARE no new Fountainheads. It is a lifelong lover of Ayn Rand trying to use her model—the thriller combined with the novel of ideas—to break through to new generations of students who need to know the score.
Okay. Amazon has an algorithm that places on the same page as my book advertisements for “Products Related to this Item.” Today, these are “Stating the Facts” a novel about making candidates “say what they mean.” Not too bad. And then: “Close to Me: A High School Romance,” “Things I Want to Say: A Darkly Bully Romance,” and “The Closer: A Marriage of Convenience Romantic Comedy.” The last has a cover showing a dark, most naked man peering down his long, contoured torso to a darkened area where something is going on.
The big, featured ad on the page is a New York Times best-seller, The Lincoln Highway.” All I can gather is that a teenager in Nebraska, just released from a prison work farm, makes a “fateful journey” to New York City. Could be great.
Don’t get depressed. At least, not yet. Amazon is not so much a store as a search engine. A search engine now competing with Google. And those searches and purchases and reviews have a certain rough Objectivity. It reminds me of “The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small.”
In the top 20 Amazon bestsellers under free enterprise you will find Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson I was published in 1946 and, it is said, modeled on Frederic Bastiat’s “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” It has sold more than a million copies. After more than 75 years, it is an Amazon bestseller.
In the same top 20 Amazon bestseller under free enterprise, you will see books by Ludwig von Mises (Planned Chaos), Thomas Sowell (The Thomas Sowell Reader and two others), and Murray Rothbard (The Anatomy of the State). Furthermore, the others among the top 20 are contemporary “hot topic,” which come and go.
Advocates of free enterprise—Austrian, traditional, libertarian, anarchist) dominate the Amazon bestseller list for free enterprise. The employees of Amazon may have their views; but the corporation is a profit rocket that goes higher and higher. The Amazon algorithms are about sales and profits. (I know that under crushing pressure from the Leftist-Liberals, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have consented to police “alt-right,” “extremist,” “fake news,” and “foreign interference” sources.)
But we can win a kind of objective (because market-driven) justice from Amazon by our individual choices in the market.
That is my hope for “Retaking College Hill.” The Left-Liberal media, the New York Times magazine covers now mostly featuring only “people of color,” the great Blob of the prime-time news and “specials”: They cannot (yet) control what each of us reads.
And the greatest engine of book search on the planet, Amazon, in the name of profit will respond to what you buy. What I buy. The category may be Kindle eBooks, “Literature and Fiction,” “Genre,” “Erotica,” “BDSM.”
Or it may be “Kindle eBook,” “Politics and Social Science,” “Politics,” “Theory,” “Capitalism.”
The search engine that is Amazon has no loyalties, no politics, no favorites. That is my hope. That “Retaking College Hill,” a novel about a campus revolt against the politically correct—full of violence, the battle of ideas, heroes, passion, and “deliverance”—may prevail and reach a significant audience.
That will result from sales of the book, reviews, and your initiative as individuals to promote the ideas that are most important to you.
I do not feel comfortable with melodrama and hype. My aspiration is to be objective. But I can say, I think, that you will decide to throw “Retaking College Hill” into the faces of the New Left postmodernists. Or to let it die.

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