I went for Gramsci, Luxemburg, Benjamin, Adorno and Habermas, raising a querymark over whether the last one was allowed, and worrying over whether this list was a little too full of the Frankfurt School.
All in all, a pretty rum set of choices if you ask me. The only one of them who would make my list is Rosa Luxemburg. Gramsci has always struck me as (a) unreadable and (b) uninteresting and— as Chris admits— Habermas wasn’t a Marxist (but then nor were Adorno and Benjamin). Whatever his faults, there’s no question that Leon Trosky should top the poll.
Trotsky should get the award for the creative adaptation of classical Marxism to new and unforseen political and social circumstances on at least three separate occasions (1) the dynamics of revolution in underdeveloped societies and the connection between those events and the world revolution (the theory of permanent revolution) (2) the analysis of the the degeneration and corruption of the Soviet state and (3) the rise of fascism in Germany. In writing of these events he managed a level of analysis coupled with reportage reminiscent of some of Marx’s own best work such as the Class Struggles in France and The 18th Brumaire .
As for the other four: Vladimir Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky and Georg Lukacs get my vote (the last named for History and Class Consciousness rather than for anything later).
[None of these commendations, I should note, implies any kind of moral or political endorsement. But if asked about who the greatest Marxists after Marx were, one should, in my opinion, name those who most creatively developed and applied Marx’s own methods of social analysis. Literary scribblers and misplaced German romantics just don’t cut the mustard.]