Explanation for the Survival of Marxism after the Fall of Communism

I think there’s a lot of confusion among people over the reappearance of Marxism in recent social activism. People are wondering how it has managed to survive and revive now after Communism fell so spectacularly around the world in the ’80s and ’90s. I found this interesting explanation in Simon Tormey’s Anti-Capitalism (London: Oneworld Revised Edition 2014). The answer is that there are any number of competing strands of Marxism and Marxist organisations, and the groups that survived had nothing to do with the official communism of the Soviet bloc. In fact they were opposed to it. Tormey writes

‘It may come as a surprise after all we have said about the death of Marxism or communism in chapter 2 to begin a consideration of the radical wing of anti-capitalism with Marxist groups. If Marxism is ‘dead’, then why are we looking at it? Attentive readers of the relevant chapter will have noted that one of the key distinctions drawn in the exposition was between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ politics, that is between national politics , the politics of electioneering, political parties and voting, and the subterranean politics that began to proliferate after 1968. What we noted there was that official Marxism – the Marxism of the Communist Bloc – went into decline after that point and eventually succumbed in all but a handful of countries after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. China, the most powerful of the remaining communist regimes, appears increasingly embarrassed about its Marxist-Leninist heritage , and rightly so given its enthusiasm for capitalism. On the other hand, unofficial Marxism -the Marxism that vehemently criticised the Soviet Union, the Communist Bloc as well as the West – has never gone away. Indeed as is evident, Marxist groups have been amongst the most important and most visible at anti-capitalist protests, particularly in Europe. Marxist writers such as Alex Callinicos, Slavoj Zizek, David Harvey and John Holloway have offered compelling analysis of contemporary society as well as prescribing programmes and strategies for an anti-capitalist resistance. Many Marxist groups are well organised and well-furnished with the means of making their presence felt, whether it be in the preparation of banners and placards, in the printing of posters, leaflets and newspapers, or in organising carnivals, festivals, summer schools and teach-ins. Marxists have been prominent in organising anti-capitalist protests and initiatives’. (p. 103).

The following passages also explain that Marxism’s survival isn’t just due to these groups’ organisational abilities, but to Marxism’s considerable intellectual power as a system of thought explaining and opposing capitalism.

There seems to be a suspicion on the right that the appearance of radical ideologies, such as that supporting Black Lives Matter and the trans movement, are somehow a foreign plot to weaken the West in preparation for an invasion. The right-wing YouTuber Ex-Army Paz 49 says in one of his videos that the trans ideology is being promoted precisely as such a strategy, but we don’t know by whom. China, as one of the last remaining Communist nations and rising global superpower, is a frequent target of some of these suspicions.

But I doubt this is true for the above reason. The Marxism that has survived would be as opposed to China’s weird mixture of Maoism and capitalism and the other former communist regimes as it is to western capitalism. And while Putin certainly has no qualms about funding and encouraging other political movements, even including domestic Fascists, if it will advance his aims, I doubt he would want to encourage the trans ideology. Post-Communist society in eastern Europe is very traditional regarding gender roles, despite the official insistence on sexual equality under Communism. The problem for anyone like Putin or the Chinese using the trans and gay movement to weaken their enemies’ masculinity and military strength, is that these ideologies cross political borders. And as Putin’s government has for decades been very intolerant towards gays, Hungary has passed increasingly stringent legislation against the teaching of homosexuality and the other week the Chinese government ruled that they didn’t want ‘sissy’ men on television, it would be dangerous for these regimes to encourage it in the West. Quite apart from the fact that gay rights and the transgender ideology can be shown to be homegrown western intellectual products, with no input, as far as I’m aware, from the former Soviet bloc and the regimes which have succeeded it.

The fear about foreign powers conspiring to bring about a Communist revolution or foreign takeover of the West is just Cold War paranoia, persisting long after the Cold War should have gone.

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One Response to “Explanation for the Survival of Marxism after the Fall of Communism”

  1. lawrencesroberts Says:

    Read the book. He could see all of this coming. I had a welsh girlfriend who said Carl Marx was the last romantic. Starting to see what she means.

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