I'm not usually a big fan of the depressing, pessimistic philosopher John Gray, but I do like some of his individual observations from time to time - and I relished this review of a couple of new books by adherents of the secular religion of Marxism.
I haven't read the particular books, so I can't say whether or not Gray is on the money with his opinion of them. But he's certainly right to worry about Marxism making a comeback. As a matter of fact, I think he should be a bit more worried, because his attitude seems to be that no one serious (or with real social support) actually wants a communist revolution, and that such books as those he's reviewing provide an irrelevant spectacle for our amusement, something like a cabaret act. Perhaps ... but, then again, maybe not. Marxism is at best a distraction from the real job of building truly liberal and rational societies - societies in which individual freedom replaces conformity to any conventional template for living our lives. It would be better if Marxism withered away, much like the state is supposed to do in Marxist fantasies about the future.
It's unfortunate that this religion-like belief system, with its in-built apocalypticism, authoritarianism, and allegiance to dogma, and its quasi-God of History, still persists. The need for critique of Marxism (and its various flavours) has been less urgent in recent times than the need for critique of more clearly supernaturalist religions, such as Christianity and Islam ... mainly because the latter are still deferred to in Western countries: for some reason, it's widely imagined that religious leaders are our moral leaders and have something of value to say about how we ought to be governed. By contrast, Marxism is thoroughly discredited in the eyes of most people in the West.
But Marxism is every bit as much an irrational, comprehensive belief system as Christianity or Islam, and its tendencies to totalitarianism and apocalypticism make it especially dangerous. Of course, Marx may well have had some genuine insights (such as the way economic circumstances can shape beliefs and values). In a trivial sense, we are all Marxists now, in that we've absorbed whatever is of lasting value in Marx's writings. But that doesn't justify treating those writings - or those of Lenin or Mao or others of the sick crew - like holy books.
Marxism as we've known it over the past 100 years or so - as a sort of political religion espoused by fanatics such as Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot - has been a disaster. People of reason should regard revolutionary Marxists with the same horror that they feel for fundamentalist Christians, or radical Islamists, or nutjob followers of Ayn Rand. Sure, there are some important distinctions to be made (in favour of the Randians, they are usually not inclined to personal acts of violence; in favour of the fundamentalist Christians, at least some of them are prepared to live within a liberal state side by side with people who disagree with them). But really, they're all pretty much as bad as each other.
If they are sometimes each other's enemies, that doesn't make any of them our friends.