According to the political theorist Alan Johnson, there has been a revival of serious interest in communism in the 21st century led by Slavoj Žižek and Alain Badiou.
In 2009, many of these advocates contributed to the three-day conference, "The Idea of Communism", in London that drew a substantial paying audience. Journals such as Endnotes, Salvage, Ebb Magazine Kites and Historical Materialism launched with communist outlooks, as well as news outlets such as Novara Media.
Furthermore, internet culture and declining life prospects has led to a general rise amongst Millennials and Gen-Z in support for communism and socialism, in tandem with the rise of left-populism in the US and the UK. Explicitly left-wing contemporary artists, such as filmmakers, musicians, video-game creators and comedians have received widespread attention, such as the rapper/producer JPEGMafia, and a whole media-creator ecosystem has developed around the online left, known as BreadTube.
Other non-Marxist thinkers who have also had an effect on the 'new communists' include the revolutionaries Subcomandante Marcos and Abdullah Öcalan, abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore, economist Frédéric Lordon, architecture journalist Owen Hatherley and the late anthropologist David Graeber.
Whilst these theorists come from a broad range of traditions, included but not limited to the Black Radical Tradition, Eco-socialism, Maoism, Neo-Marxism and post-Marxism, what they all tend to have in common is a critique of past socialist experiments, and a re-orientation of the revolutionary subject.
Empire was a major turning stone in 21st-century Marxist and communist thought.
Theoretical publications, some published by Verso Books, include The Idea of Communism, edited by Costas Douzinas and Žižek; Badiou's The Communist Hypothesis; and Bosteels's The Actuality of Communism. The defining common ground is the contention that "the crises of contemporary liberal capitalist societies—ecological degradation, financial turmoil, the loss of trust in the political class, exploding inequality—are systemic; interlinked, not amenable to legislative reform, and requiring 'revolutionary' solutions".
In the introduction to The Idea of Communism (2009), Žižek and Douzinas also identified four common premises among the thinkers in attendance:
A rise in Marxist thought followed the financial crisis of 2007–2008, with the publishing of books including G. A. Cohen's Why Not Socialism? (2009), Paul Paolucci's Marx's Scientific Dialectics (2009), Kieran Allen's Marx and the Alternative to Capitalism (2011), Terry Eagleton's Why Marx Was Right (2011) and Vincent Mosco's Marx is Back (2012). The Communist Horizon, published in 2012 by Jodi Dean, marked the beginning in a series of books from Dean which argue for the necessity of communist and Leninist politics. The most wide-read of these was Mark Fisher's (2009) Capitalist Realism.
The Communist Necessity, published in 2015 by J. Moufawad-Paul, also argues for the necessity of the communist party in radical social change. Fully Automated Luxury Communism, published in 2019, has helped normalise the term 'communist' within public discourse in the anglophone world.
2023 saw the publication of two significant books on the topic of communism: Marx in the Anthropocene by Kohei Saito, which developed a notion of a degrowth communism, and Communism and Strategy by Isabelle Garo, which examines contemporary communist theorists in relation to Gramsci and Marx.