Marx and Engels themselves can never be taken simply at their word: the errors of their writings on the past should not be evaded or ignored, but identified and criticized. To do so is not to depart from historical materialism, but to rejoin it. (...) To take 'liberties' with the signature of Marx is in this sense merely to enter into the freedom of Marxism.
Perry Anderson, Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism (Verso, 1996), p. 9.
As I noted earlier, when we look back at the scientific and public climates of discussion 50 years ago, the prevailing mindset was socialist in its underlying presupposition that government offered the solution to social problems. But there was a confusing amalgam of Marxism and ideal political theory involved: Governments, as observed, were modeled and condemned by Marxists as furthering class interests, but governments which might be installed 'after the revolution', so to speak, would become both omniscient and benevolent.
In some of their implicit modeling of political behavior aimed at furthering special group or class interests, the Marxists seemed to be closet associates of public choice, even as they rejected methodological individualism. But how was the basic Marxist critique of politics, as observed, to be transformed into the idealized politics of the benevolent and omniscient superstate? This question was simply left glaringly unanswered. And the debates of the 1930s were considered by confused economists of the time to have been won by the socialists rather than by their opponents, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both sides, to an extent, neglected the relevance of incentives in motivating human action, including political action.
Where mass-mobilizing ‘revolutionary Marxists’ have come to power, and remained in power sufficiently long to create a viable political system, what they have generally succeeded in creating is a reasonable analogue of the Fascist state.
A. James Gregor, The Fascist Persuasion in Radical Politics, Princeton: NJ, Princeton University Press (1974) p. 134
As for their [Marxists'] argument for revolution-the argument that we must do evil now so that good may come of it in the long run-it seems to me to have nothing in it. Not because I am too nice to do evil, but because I don't believe the Communists know what leads to what.
E. M. Forster, "The Long Run" (Review of Studies in a Dying Culture by Christopher Caudwell), The New Statesman and Nation, December 10, 1938. Reprinted in The Prince's Tale and other uncollected writings, London, Andre Deutsch, 1998.
You just tell the German bourgeoisie that I shall be finished with them far quicker than I shall with Marxism... When once the conservative forces in Germany realize that only I and my party can win the German proletariat over to the State and that no parliamentary games can be played with Marxist parties, then Germany will be saved for all time, then we can found a German Peoples State.
Adolf Hitler, interview with Richard Breiting, 1931, published in Edouard Calic, ed., “First Interview with Hitler,4 May 1931,” Secret Conversations with Hitler: The Two Newly-Discovered 1931 Interviews, New York: John Day Co., 1971, pp. 36-37. Also published under the title Unmasked: Two Confidential Interviews with Hitler in 1931 published by Chatto & Windus in 1971
Our adopted term 'Socialist' has nothing to do with Marxian Socialism. Marxism is anti-property; true socialism is not. Marxism places no value on the individual, or individual effort, of efficiency; true Socialism values the individual and encourages him in individual efficiency, at the same time holding that his interests as an individual must be in consonance with those of the community. All great inventions, discoveries, achievements were first the product of an individual brain.
Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.
Complete equality of rights for all nations; the right of nations to self-determination; the unity of the workers of all nations — such is the national programme that Marxism, the experience of the whole world, and the experience of Russia, teach the workers.
Vladimir Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 20, pp. 393–454. Also quoted in Robert P. Barnidge, Jr.Self-Determination, Statehood, and the Law of Negotiation: The Case of Palestine Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016 (p.16).
With the demise of Marxism, the illusion that we can finally dispense with the notion of antagonism has become widespread. This belief is fraught with danger, since it leaves us unprepared in the face of unrecognized manifestations of antagonism.
Obviously, Tony never became a Marxist even when he soon after decided to champion social democracy as his last act. But these comments were a far cry from his former dismissal of Marxism as a delusional politics with theory playing only the role of indefensible apologetics for terror. All the same, Tony did not feel that his standard bearing for social democracy required much more than moralistic rhetoric in its defense. His grudging admission of Marxism’s relevance for social democracy in the past did not lead him to insist on some new theory justifying his politics now. (In fact, Tony feared that given continuing injustice the most likely outcome for the foreseeable future was Marxism’s revival in theoretical debates.) Tony doesn’t appear to have contemplated that his struggle to reinvent the model of the intellectual committed him, if only to ward off Marxism, to some other return to the tradition of social thought that had defined “theory” until postmodern intellectuals gave the word a different meaning and bad name.
Samuel Moyn, "Intellectuals, Reason, and History: In Memory of Tony Judt", H-France Salon (2012)
Marxism, as the formal framework of all contemporary philosophical thought, cannot be superseded.
Jean Paul Sartre, "Marxisme et philosophie de l'existence," cited in A Theology of Liberation (1973), p. 9
It is not the truth of Marxism that explains the willingness of intellectuals to believe it, but the power that it confers on intellectuals, in their attempts to control the world. And since, as Swift says, it is futile to reason someone out of a thing that he was not reasoned into, we can conclude that Marxism owes its remarkable power to survive every criticism to the fact that it is not a truth-directed but a power-directed system of thought.
Roger Scruton, Political Philosophy: Arguments for Conservatism (Continuum International Publishing Group 2006).
First of all I’d like to thank The Struggle and the IMT for giving me a chance to speak last year at their Summer Marxist School in Swat and also for introducing me to Marxism and Socialism. I just want to say that in terms of education, as well as other problems in Pakistan, it is high time that we did something to tackle them ourselves. It’s important to take the initiative. We cannot wait around for any one else to come and do it. Why are we waiting for someone else to come and fix things? Why aren’t we doing it ourselves? I would like to send my heartfelt greetings to the congress. I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.