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.[1][2]


In 2009, many of these advocates contributed to the three-day conference, "The Idea of Communism", in London that drew a substantial paying audience.[3] Journals such as Endnotes, Salvage, Ebb Magazine[4] Kites[5] and Historical Materialism launched with communist outlooks, as well as news outlets such as Novara Media.[6]

Furthermore, internet culture and declining life prospects[7] has led to a general rise amongst Millennials and Gen-Z in support for communism and socialism,[8] in tandem with the rise of left-populism in the US[9] and the UK.[10] Explicitly left-wing contemporary artists, such as filmmakers,[11] musicians,[12] video-game creators[13] and comedians[14][15] have received widespread attention, such as the rapper/producer JPEGMafia,[16] and a whole media-creator ecosystem has developed around the online left, known as BreadTube.[17]

Contemporary communist theorists

Other non-Marxist thinkers who have also had an effect on the 'new communists' include the revolutionaries Subcomandante Marcos[38] and Abdullah Öcalan,[39] abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore,[40] economist Frédéric Lordon,[41] architecture journalist Owen Hatherley[42] and the late anthropologist David Graeber.[19]

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.[43]

Notable works

Empire was a major turning stone in 21st-century Marxist and communist thought.[44]

Theoretical publications, some published by Verso Books, include The Idea of Communism, edited by Costas Douzinas and Žižek;[45][19] 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".[1][45]

In the introduction to The Idea of Communism (2009), Žižek and Douzinas also identified four common premises among the thinkers in attendance:

  1. The idea of communism confronts depoliticization through a return to voluntarism.
  2. Communism as a radical philosophical idea. It must be thought of as taking distance from economism and statism as well as learning from the experiences of the 21st century.
  3. Communism combats neoliberalism by returning to the idea of the "common".
  4. Communism as freedom and equality. Equality cannot exist without freedom and vice versa.[45]

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).[46][47][48] The Communist Horizon,[21] 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.[49]

The Communist Necessity,[50] 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.[51]

2023 saw the publication of two significant books on the topic of communism: Marx in the Anthropocene by Kohei Saito,[52] which developed a notion of a degrowth communism, and Communism and Strategy by Isabelle Garo,[53] which examines contemporary communist theorists in relation to Gramsci and Marx.

See also


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Alan (May–June 2012). "The New Communism: Resurrecting the Utopian Delusion". World Affairs. SAGE Publications, Inc. 175 (1): 62–70. JSTOR 41638993.
  2. ^ Thoburn, Nicholas (2013). "Do Not Be Afraid, Join Us, Come Back? On the "Idea of Communism" in Our Time". Cultural Critique. 84: 1–34. doi:10.5749/culturalcritique.84.2013.0001. ISSN 0882-4371. JSTOR 10.5749/culturalcritique.84.2013.0001. S2CID 142348896.
  3. ^ Campbell, Duncan (12 March 2009). "Move over Jacko, Idea of Communism is hottest ticket in town this weekend". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  4. ^ "About". Ebb. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
  5. ^ "About us". 22 January 2022. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  6. ^ "I met today's communists... and I wasn't convinced". British GQ. 5 September 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  7. ^ Lowrey, Annie (13 April 2020). "Millennials Don't Stand a Chance". The Atlantic. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  8. ^ Gregory, Andy (7 November 2019). "More than a third of millennials approve of communism, YouGov poll indicates". The Independent. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  9. ^ Gray, Briahna Joy (11 May 2020). "The Rise and Fall of Bernie Sanders". Tribune (Interview). Interviewed by Kilpatrick, Connor. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  10. ^ Knight, Sam (16 May 2016). "The Astonishing Rise of Jeremy Corbyn". The New Yorker. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  11. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (13 February 2020). "Bong Joon Ho's Path From Seoul to Oscar Dominance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  12. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer (11 March 2016). "What Kendrick Lamar Has to Say About Capitalism". The Atlantic. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  13. ^ Klepek, Patrick (20 January 2020). "The Radical Politics of 'Disco Elysium' Make For a Potentially Complicated Legacy". Vice News. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  14. ^ Maxwell, Dominic. "From Hannah Gadsby to Sacha Baron Cohen: the 30 best living comedians". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  15. ^ Burrows, Marc (30 March 2023). "Frankie Boyle's "shock" comedy was vile – no wonder he's given himself a makeover". New Statesman. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  16. ^ "L.A. rapper JPEGMAFIA lashes out at the right and the 'fake-woke' left. Just don't call it 'trolling'". Los Angeles Times. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  17. ^ Lee, Alexander Mitchell. "Meet BreadTube, the YouTube activists trying to beat the far-right at their own game". The Conversation. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  18. ^ Balibar, Étienne (15 January 2021). "'Communism is an active and diverse collective subjectivity': An Interview with Etienne Balibar". Verso Books (Interview). Interviewed by Skalski, Jérôme. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  19. ^ a b c Brincat, Shannon (2014). "Introduction - Communism in the 21st Century: Vision and Sublation". In Brincat, Shannon (ed.). Communism in the 21st Century. Vol. 1. Praeger. pp. xxvii–xxviii. ISBN 978-1-4408-0126-6.
  20. ^ George, Nelson (19 October 2020). "Angela Davis Still Believes America Can Change". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  21. ^ a b Dean, Jodi (2012). The Communist Horizon. Verso Books. ISBN 9781844679546. OCLC 1083890228.
  22. ^ "The Idea of Communism". Verso Books. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  23. ^ "Mark Fisher | Acid Communism (Unfinished Introduction)". BLACKOUT ((poetry & politics)). 25 April 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  24. ^ Martínez, Josefina L. (17 July 2022). "Feminism and Communism: A Debate with Silvia Federici". Left Voice. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  25. ^ "Politics, State, Communism". Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  26. ^ Hardt, Michael (3 February 2011). "Reclaim the common in communism". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  27. ^ Holloway, John (20 March 2002). Change the World Without Taking Power. Pluto Press. ISBN 0-7453-1863-0.
  28. ^ Kelley, Robin D. G. (2015). Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-4696-2548-5. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  29. ^ Eaton, George (14 October 2020). "Andreas Malm: "The likely future is escalating catastrophe"". New Statesman. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  30. ^ Miéville, China (2021). A Spectre, Haunting. Haymarket Books. ISBN 9781642598926. OCLC 1346365097. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  31. ^ "Critique of Maoist Reason - J. Moufawad-Paul". Foreign Languages Press (in French). Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  32. ^ Guattari, Félix; Negri, Antonio (9 September 2012). Communists like us. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  33. ^ "Communist Histories". LeftWord.
  34. ^ Scalice, Joseph (2021). ""We are Siding with Filipino Capitalists": Nationalism and the Political Maturation of Jose Ma. Sison, 1959–61". Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. 36 (1): 1–39. doi:10.1355/sj36-1a. ISSN 0217-9520. JSTOR 26996172. S2CID 235717296.
  35. ^ Goodfellow, Maya (28 February 2023). "A greener Marx? Kohei Saito on connecting communism with the climate crisis". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  36. ^ Toscano, Alberto. "Alberto Toscano: Solidarity and Political Work | Historical Materialism". (Interview). Interviewed by Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  37. ^ Weiss, Martin G. (8 November 2018). "Review of Making Communism Hermeneutical: Reading Vattimo and Zabala". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. ISSN 1538-1617.
  38. ^ Self, Andrew. "Mexico's masked Marxists: meet the Zapatistas". The Conversation. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  39. ^ "Interview with Abdullah Öcalan". The Anarchist Library. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  40. ^ Otto, Mark (2 June 2022). "Newsletter #31: Prison Abolition and Communism, with Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Alberto Toscano, and Brenna Bhandar". The Dig Radio. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  41. ^ "In search of luxurious communism". Le Monde diplomatique. 2 November 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  42. ^ Hatherley, Owen (2 June 2016). Landscapes of Communism. Penguin Books.
  43. ^ Bloom, Steve (17 February 2023). "For a 21st Century Marxism". Cosmonaut. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  44. ^ Žižek, Slavoj (September 2001). "Have Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri Rewritten the Communist Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century?". Rethinking Marxism. 13 (3–4): 190–198. doi:10.1080/089356901101241875. ISSN 0893-5696. S2CID 140777766.
  45. ^ a b c Žižek, S. (December 2010). "Introduction". In Douzinas, C.; Žižek, S. (eds.). The idea of communism. London: Verso Books. pp. vii–x. ISBN 978-1-84467-459-6.
  46. ^ Casey, Gerard (2016). "The End of Socialism (Review)". The Review of Austrian Economics. 29 (3). ISSN 0889-3047.
  47. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (4 July 2012). "Why Marxism Is on the Rise Again". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  48. ^ Lamola, M. John (2013). "Marxism as a Science of Interpretation: Beyond Louis Althusser". South African Journal of Philosophy. 32 (2): 187–196. doi:10.1080/02580136.2013.817635. ISSN 0258-0136. S2CID 144299487.
  49. ^ Bastani, Aaron (13 January 2023). "Is This the Most Important Book So Far This Century?". Novara Media. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  50. ^ "The Communist Necessity 2nd Ed". Leftwingbooks. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  51. ^ Merchant, Brian (18 March 2015). "Fully automated luxury communism". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  52. ^ Saito, Kohei (2023). Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-84415-4.
  53. ^ Garo, Isabelle (2023). Communism and Strategy. Verso Books. ISBN 9781839768231. OCLC 1371140528.

Further reading