Author of The Conservative Revolution, Cory Bernardi, may initially have been chuffed when he learned that his new title had earned over two hundred Amazon reviews a mere day after its launch. However, when the majority of these are one star and negative, it is not such good news. Amazon allows reviewers to post comments whether they have bought, and read, the book or not, and it would appear that the flurry of critics of Bernardi’s new tome, have done neither.
The smattering of five-star reviews take a sarcastic tone, so they are not much consolation. One reads, “I was beginning to think there were no wealthy white males left to tell us how we should live our lives.”
The Liberal Senator has attracted this troll storm, in light of some of his opinions, expressed in the book, which are to the extreme of the right-wing. Indeed, it has been said of him that he is more “Tea Party” than a “crate of Liptons.” The controversial conservative Cory though, says he is not right-wing at all and that his values are “enduring and traditional.” He has called abortion the “death industry,” and an “abhorrent form of birth control” and he blames what he calls “non-traditional families” for “promiscuity among girls” as well as “criminality among boys.” He includes step families in the spectrum of “non-traditional” as well as same-sex and single parent families. This latter model draws his especial ire.
Somewhat confusingly, the Liberal party in Australia is the right-wing conservative party, while Labor are the left. Therefore, it is possible to be a Liberal and despise “liberal” politics. Cory Bernardi is a fine example of that paradox.
The Opposition Leader in the Australian parliament, Bill Shorten, is a step-parent and he has said he finds Bernardi’s conservative opinions offensive and out-of-date. Although Bernardi was formerly parliamentary secretary to Tony Abbott, now the Prime Minister, Abbott has distanced himself from the senator’s views, which are also anti-trade unions. He has said the back bencher has his own views which do not represent the government’s. Bernardi was stripped of his previous role when he made a link between same-sex marriage and a “slippery slide” into bestiality and polygamy.
One one star review said his book was useful as a lining for a parrot cage as “I love seeing my rainbow parakeets taking a dump on his head.” Comedian Pauline Pantsdown led the charge by encouraging people not to read the book but to review it on Amazon. In her own parody she wrote from the point of view of a dachshund, advising “Corgi” Bernardi to consider a career in infomercials if there are any products out there that need”angry, stupid people in them.”
Having an open forum where many who have been enraged by his remarks are free to post is clearly venting a lot of indignation. He is of course a climate-change denier, and an Islamophobe as well. His publishers call him “an unapologetic advocate for mainstream values” but the public call him rather worse names than that.
Another reviewer does the cost comparison with the 178 page book at $27 against the price of toilet paper and concludes that its better to stick to Kleenex. Comparisons to Mein Kampf are common, and there is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor at Bernardi’s expense. “Why should everybody be happy when just a few can feel superior?”, “Is it a crime to merely want a life in which everyone thinks, acts and looks like you?” and “After catching me reading this, my dog divorced me.”
Green Party acting leader, Richard Di Natale, said that the politician turned author was “continuing his form as an ideological warrior” yet lacking any “intellectual rigour, insight or common decency.”
Whether all this backlash will help sales remains to be seen. The publishers are obviously hoping that no publicity is bad publicity.
The Conservative Revolution could prove an interesting test case as to whether the power of citizen reviewing on Amazon is enough to damn a book’s chances of success. Certainly to be caught reading it in Australia would be inviting a challenging discourse.
By Kate Henderson