It's important to remember that the political landscape changed after Karl Marx became the most popular philosopher in history. Though political science and economics arguably peaked long before his writings, Marx's sway over the average person is probably greater now than it was before the Russian Revolution of 1917. In a recent poll, Karl Marx was voted the most popular philosopher in the UK.
In the United States, unlike Europe, politicians, pundits, and spokesmen twist words, distorting meanings like the wreckage of the World Trade Center, to avoid the label "socialist." This bastardization of the language has come to the point where the word "liberal" is often disputed by politicians or pundits who are obviously Marxists. In past centuries, "liberal" could be imperfectly analogized to modern libertarianism.
Before someone violates "Beagle's First Corollary to Godwin's Law: substitute McCarthy for Hitler" (a rule I coined years ago at the Straight Dope), I would like to state FOR THE RECORD it would be better if political affiliations and beliefs were honestly depicted as they are in Europe. I don't have subpoena power, police powers, or hold elected office. Abusing my authority is nearly impossible unless I were to hit one of my dogs. There should be a viable socialist party in the United States. The Congressional Black Caucus, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Teddy "never loses at quarters" Kennedy, and John Kerry (the list is endless so I'll stop here) could be the founders of a new, honest "progressive" (read: socialist) party.
Many Democrats, even Republicans, hold Marxist beliefs about the role of government in society and the economy. A substantial number of these people are unaware how many ideas of the original Marxists are not only accepted, but long-standing government policies and programs.
However, in the realm of individual freedoms, democracy, and civil rights, the Marxist-Communist ideals are far from being realized in the United States. In Belgium, where courts can destroy political parties for publishing true statements, publicly available government statistics, the reality is prosecution for Orwell's "thought crime." The next logical step for socialist-totalitarians (the two always converge at some point) is making such statistics unavailable or simply not keeping statistics, as France has chosen to do with regards to the 800+ "no-go zones" in majority Muslim areas. The Soviet Union was virtually "crime-free" if you're old enough to remember such things, excluding "counter-revolutionaries" of course.
As Europe drifts mindlessly towards the end of freedom of expression under the guise of fighting racism, it's important to remember the GREATEST WORK OF NON-FICTION WRITTEN DURING THE 1970's (please imagine "zarathustra" from 2001: A Space Odyssey):
Jean-Francois Revel's WITHOUT MARX OR JESUS, THE NEW AMERICAN REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN, published in 1971.
Revel argued there were five necessary conditions for totalitarian socialism to overcome liberal, constitutional, democracy. I will quote them verbatim from "Chapter 2: The Five Conditions" and let you answer the question I posed in the title for yourself.
1. There must be a critique of the injustice existing in economic, social, and racial relationships.
2. There must be a critique of management, directed against the waste of material and human resources. This is related to the preceding critique, since it demonstrates that injustice results in inefficiency, and thus in counter-productivity and in the ruin of a nation's resources. It also calls into question the orientation of technological progress toward goals that are either useless or harmful to man.
3. There must be a critique of political power, directed against the source and principles as well as against its exercise, the conditons in which it is exercised, distributed, or monopolized, the localization of decision-making powers, the relationship between the consequences of these decisons for the people, and the difficulty (or the impossibility) for the people of participating in these decisions.
4. There must be a critique of the culture: of morality, religion, accepted beliefs, customs, philosophy, literature, art; of the ideological attitudes which underlie these things; of the function of culture and of intellectuals in society; and of the distribution of that culture (education, communication, information).
5. There must be a critique of the old civilization-as-sanction, or a vindication of individual freedom. This critique is aimed at the relations between society and the individual. In it, the individual is considered as as sensitive and original being, rather than as a citizen; and society is regarded as a means either of developing or distorting the proper worth of each individual. Such a critique measures, for example, the failure of a society to deal with poverty and the sterility of the human relations it establishes (brotherhood versus aggressiveness); with the uniformity of the human types it engenders (conformity); in general, with the restraints with which it burdens the people, and the obstacles which it places in the development of individual potential and self-identity. In this context, revolution is seen as the liberation of the creative personality and the awakening of personal initiative, as opposed to the "closed horizons," the climate of frustration and despair, which prevail in repressive societies.
The Five Conditions do not serve as a summary of Without Marx or Jesus. I'd recommend reading the entire book, or some reviews, to understand how the Five Conditions relate to Revel's thesis.
I bring up the Five Conditions for the reader to judge the American Socialist Revolution for herself.