The period after 1989
The collapse of “real existing socialism” around 1989 and the final crisis of its legitimising ideological superstructure represented a huge turning point for the parties and movements following Marx. However, despite all of the (generally interest-driven) claims that Marxism was dead and buried, Marx remained on the agenda. This has occurred, because the inner-Marxist discussion and its critique of real socialism has existed for as long as real socialism. Today, tendencies that existed before 1989 are still present, but new approaches have also developed, in the same way that theoretical and political concepts have always been subject to upheavals and further development.
Nevertheless, in many regions of the world, “Marxism” experienced a period of sustained weakness after the collapse of “real existing socialism”. This became particularly apparent in 2007: despite the wave of social protests that broke out after the financial crisis, Marxist positions remained marginal. Even the renaissance of the study of Marx and his work among younger academics has not been able to hide the fact that Marxism and the parties and movements that deal with Marxism are far from constituting a grand narrative that could come together to form a political project.
In recent years, Marx has gained ground especially in circles that are not viewed as “left-wing”: the multiple crises of “real existing capitalism” have led the bourgeois feuilletons, among others, to ask whether Marx “might have been right all along”. At the same time, a view that has long been present within “Marxism” is now being voiced outside of Marxism: the importance of distinguishing between Marx and Marxism. There is not simply “one” Marxism, but very different and at times opposing approaches, parties, currents, etc. and it is essential to differentiate between them.
This section is supplemented and expanded successively.