February 22, 2016

Carly Fiorina’s name linked, indelibly, with classic Karl Marx book



Carly Fiorina signs a book during a campaign stop in August. Image via San Francisco Chronicle.

One of the many risks of running for president is being accused of reading the wrong books. Take it from Hillary Clinton, who may have soaked up Ivan Karamazov’s line of thinking to justify her political actions, and Donald Trump, who once responded to a Vanity Fair report that he owned a book of Hitler’s speeches by—you guessed it—threatening to sue.

Now Hewlett-Packard CEO and ex-Republican-presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s name has been linked with Karl Marx’s landmark 1867 critique of the capitalist means of production. Salon’s Ben Norton reports the surprising story of a socialist activist who managed to get Fiorina to sign a copy of Marx’s Capital, Volume I in 2007, with the eerie insight that such a signature appended on such a book might come to good use one day.

Norton reports:

“[Paul] Hogness, who now lives in Brooklyn, went to high school with Fiorina in Palo Alto, California. The two knew each other at the time, and even had a piano teacher in common.

In 2007, Fiorina went on a book tour to promote her memoir Tough Choices. Hogness thought it would be interesting to see his former peer speak. He showed up at the bookstore and, while attendees were standing in line hoping to have their books signed, had a spur-of-the-moment idea: What if Fiorina instead signed a copy of another book?”

Hogness, a longtime activist who is part of the group Socialists for Bernie Sanders, told Norton that Fiorina agreed to sign the volume for him, saying that “while she clearly opposed Marx’s analysis, she had read a bit of Capital for a class when she studied history at Stanford.”

Over the years, Hogness has held onto the signed copy of Capital, quietly relishing the lovely contradiction of seeing Fiorina’s signature sprawled across a book antithetical to the business and political strategies she espouses. But as Sanders, a self-professed democratic socialist, has met with surprising success, Hogness decided to auction the book on Ebay to raise money for his campaign—and perhaps even generate some publicity from the stunt.

In a clever press release he devised to promote the auction, Hogness writes:

“The use-value of this particular copy of Capital’s first volume is the same as any other: you can read it to find out what Marx had to say…By signing this copy of Capital’s Volume I, Carly Fiorina has increased its exchange-value. And I can’t think of a better use for that exchange-value than to help to elect Bernie Sanders as our next president.”

Bidding for the Fiorina-signed copy of Capital closed yesterday at $700.



Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.