Reader's Digest a "stooge" of China

Readers Digest was once a staunch anticommunist publication. As recently as 2012, its editors spoke of its churchy conservatism in response to claims of ideological decline. Today, however, its website is a bland BuzzFeed clone and it agrees to censor international publications at the behest of its Chinese printers. If the irony is only as deep as Beijing's vestigial socialist pretenses, perhaps a new maxim is needed to embody the power of the printing press—one less about who buys ink by the barrel and more about who sells it.

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  1. In the more naive days of International Communism, good old Lenin is alleged to have said that "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

    While Communists ended up having difficulty scrounging up enough cash to afford the rope, it is true that there has never been a shortage of sellers (see ITAR; violations of).

    It looks like the 'Communism with Chinese Characteristics' chaps have done him one better.

    Also, does it come to a surprise to anybody else that Readers Digest had/has any material worth censoring? I thought that they'd been catering to the 'people who find Time and Newsweek to be too intimidating to keep in the house' market for decades...

  2. That last sentence. The one about irony and maxims. I didn't understand it at all.

    I'll try to help.

    If the irony is only as deep as Beijing's vestigial socialist pretenses...

    China still calls itself communist, but that isn't even close to true: it's more of a state-capitalist kleptocracy. The Chinese dictatorship cloaks itself in the old pro-communist rhetoric to legitimize itself, to disguise the greedy truth of how it really does business.

    Thus, if accused of a contradiction between their anti-communist rhetoric and their actions, Reader's Digest could say that they're not actually supporting communism, they're just selling out free speech rights to other capitalists for money, which isn't the same thing.

    ...perhaps a new maxim is needed to embody the power of the printing
    press—one less about who buys ink by the barrel and more about who sells
    it.

    Whereas in the old maxim, "buys ink by the barrel" was used literally to describe the printing process, "sells ink" is here used figuratively to mean "sells out its principles for cash."

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