I wrote a book on Marxism that was published in 1968: Marx's Religion of Revolution. Download a PDF of the 1989 update here.
Marxism is dead. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who claims to be a Marxist, and even if you find one, the person has not read Marx, does not understand Marx, and could not tell you the essence of Marxism. I will do this for you. Anyone who does not believe these things is not a Marxist. He has no conception of what Marxism taught.
1. A stage theory of historical development: feudalism, capitalism, revolutionary socialism, and communism.
2. The economic mode of production shapes society: philosophy, religion, and culture.
3. Capitalism is urban and industrial.
4. Capitalism creates the proletariat class: industrial workers.
5. The proletarians are the engines of revolution.
6. The proletarian class will revolt violently against capitalism.
7. Communism will come after the socialist era.
In The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Marx and Engels wrote this.
We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy.
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.
These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.
Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.
Some of these platforms have been applied in the West, but not by Communists. The policies have been applied by conventional voters. The tenth plank, free education for all children in public schools, has been a goal of American reformers since the 1850's. Almost all Americans believe in this platform. This doesn't make them Marxists or Communists.
The heavy progressive income tax began in the United States in 1917. Voters favored it. They still do. Loopholes have eliminated it.
The West still has private property in land. It has inheritance protection. The property of emigrants is not confiscated. There is no national bank with state capital as the exclusive monopoly. The means of communication are not in the hands of the state.
If we don't count Cuba, there are no Marxist societies in the West. Not even Venezuela is Marxist under the terms described by Marx and Engels. The only country in Western Europe that came close to this was Albania -- tiny, poverty-stricken, and irrelevant to the west.
In any case, the ten points were to be applied only after a successful revolution by the proletariat. If there was no violent revolution by the proletariat, the ten points didn't count. Marxism was always a religion of revolution. The whole Marxist system pointed to the inevitable revolution of the proletariat against capitalism. It had to be violent. It could not be peaceful. It could not be inaugurated through democratic reform. Marx was adamant on this. He spent much of his career arguing against socialists who did not call for violent revolution by the proletariat against capitalist society.
IF THERE IS NO REVOLUTION, IT ISN'T MARXISM
Until you understand this fundamental principle, you will be easily beguiled by people who go around chanting a mantra: "Marxism, Marxism, Marxism." The mantra is nonsense if it is applied to modern Western society, the continent of Africa, India, and especially China.
Anyone who uses the word Marxism with respect to any movement that does not call for proletarian revolution is exposing his complete and utter ignorance of the writings of Marx and Engels. I don't care who he is. I don't care if he is your personal guru. If he says Marxism is on the rise, he doesn't know what he is talking about.
The biggest nonsense of all is something called cultural Marxism. There is no such thing as cultural Marxism. That idea was an invention of Antonio Gramsci in the 1930's. He was a self-professed Italian Communist who was fed up with Stalinism. He was convinced that there would never be a proletarian revolution in the West until Christianity and its cultural manifestations are wiped out. Then there can be a proletarian revolution. This is anti-Marxism. This is Hegelianism. This is what Marx spent decades writing against. It is a denial of the fundamental Marxist tenet, namely, that the mode of production is the basis of the superstructure of philosophy, culture, art, and what we call social institutions. Marxism places the mode of production at the center of social, economic, and historical analysis. If the mode of production is not central, then the philosophy is not Marxism. I have written against the idea of cultural Marxism here: "Cultural Marxism Is an Oxymoron".
Back in my adolescent years, the late 1950's, liberals had a slogan: "Conservatives see a Communist under every bed." The slogan was close to the truth. Today, conservatives still see Marxists under every bed. Every Left-wing movement, no matter who is behind it, is seen as Marxist. The fact of the matter is this: no modern movement is Marxist. Would-be Marxists may have done a little reading of Marx, and then they try to implement whatever their hobbyhorse reform is. This isn't Marxism. If it is not based on the rising up of industrial workers against the capitalist system, it isn't Marxism.
There are hardly any industrial workers left. They have become white-collar workers. The few industrial workers who are left on factory floors are being replaced by robots. The robots are not going to rise up against the capitalist class.
Marx was completely wrong about everything that he wrote about industrial workers. He didn't get anything right. He was wrong from start to finish. There was no proletarian revolution in the West after World War I. It didn't happen in the Great Depression. It surely didn't happen after World War II. The proletarians as a class have steadily disappeared. Capitalism is no longer primarily industrial. Anyway, that has been the case in the West. On mainland China, the economy is industrial. But the revolution came in China in 1949 when Mao's army defeated Chiang Kai-shek's army. China was a rural, feudal society. It never did get to the capitalist stage of production before the revolution. Neither did czarist Russia.
It is important that conservatives understand their enemy. The enemy is not Marxism. Marxism is dead. Conservatives who think they are fighting the good fight are in fact beating a dead horse. "Marxism, Marxism, Marxism," they cry. It's nonsense. You know you're dealing with somebody who has never read Marx and has never read a book analyzing Marxism who tells you that we are facing Marxism today. We are not.
It is important that you get your definitions right. If you don't get you definitions right, you will be easily misled. When you think Marxism, you had better think of these terms: the mode of production, class warfare, stages of historical development, proletarians as the vanguard of the future, the inevitable revolution of proletarians against the capitalist industrial class, ideas as the superstructure of society, and capitalism as urban.
The threat to Western society today is not proletarian revolution. The threat is what Gramsci hoped it would be in the 1920's and 1930's: the slow erosion of Christianity and the social and cultural manifestations of Christianity in the West. He would rejoice at this if he were still alive. He would see this as a victory. But his analysis was not based on Marx. It was anti-Marxism to the core.
Even the socialists are wimps. They are not calling for the nationalization of every major industry. They are not calling for state banks as monopolistic sources of capital. Just because Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist for old time's sake doesn't mean that he is a socialist. He's a welfare statist. His big program was Medicare for all. He did not call for the government ownership of every hospital, clinic, and physician's office. He would've been laughed off the stage if he had called for anything like this. He just wants tax money to go for healthcare benefits. That is not socialism. That is welfare statism.
I realize the conservatives mean well. But they don't do primary source research. They write brief articles and give speeches. They have not done their homework. In academic affairs, almost nobody does his homework. Everybody takes shortcuts in most of the areas of his life. We cannot all become specialists. I am a specialist in Marxism, and I have been for over half a century. I am telling you that there isn't any Marxism left. It's gone. There isn't a Communist under every bed, and there isn't a Marxist behind every Left-wing movement.
The New World order isn't Marxist. It's fascist. It's the alliance between government and business. It's crony capitalism. It's state capitalism. It's government bailouts funded by counterfeit digital money.
Nobody expects a proletarian revolution. That's because nobody can find any proletarians. They have been missing in action in the West since at least 1950. How many blue-collar workers do you know?
Marx had it wrong.
Marxism died. Let the dead bury the dead.