There will be no mass proletarian revolution. At least not as the phrase is commonly understood or not unless things get really, really bad first. (A development we should all strive to avoid.)
This is not to say there will be no struggle. We must still defend our vision of a better society against reactionary forces. But the battle should be seen as falling-out along ideological and legal lines rather than as a call to violence.
Thankfully, we won’t need a violent expropriation of the expropriators.We waste time fomenting one. The capitalist class is already in the process of destroying itself. The revolution which overthrows the capitalist order comes as the result of the natural development of the capitalist system. Capitalism indeed produces its own gravediggers. But these “gravediggers” are not revolutionary workers, they are revolutionary machines.
If we understand this process correctly we see that this results in a thoroughly Marxian revolution anyway. Marx and Engels summed the whole thing up nicely in one sentence in the Communist Manifesto:
The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.
The very engine of capitalism itself — creative destruction — and the coercive power of competition conspire to drive capitalist productivity and efficiency to a point where the instruments of production — the technological capabilities of the system — conflict with the relatively static relations of production which have been at work to develop those forces. These old relations no longer serve their proper purpose; the are no longer productive. Advanced robotics and artificial intelligences displace vast swaths of the labor pool. The revolution begins. The capitalist order must be altered.
The evolutionary development of the capitalist system is the motive force which assures drastic social change in the coming decades. As Joseph Schumpeter explained:
This should also solve the problem that has divided the disciples: revolution or evolution? If I have caught Marx’s meaning the answer is not hard to give. Evolution was for him the parent of socialism. He was much too strongly imbued with a sense of the inherent logic of things social to believe that revolution can replace any part of the work of evolution. The revolution comes in nevertheless. But it only comes in order to write the conclusion under a complete set of premises. The Marxian revolution therefore differs entirely, in nature and in function, from the revolutions both of the bourgeois radical and of the socialist conspirator. It is essentially a revolution in the fullness of time. (italics mine)
A revolution in the fullness of time — this is precisely what Friedrich Engels described in his essay Socialism: Utopian and Scientific:
Since the historical appearance of the capitalist mode of production, the appropriation by society of all of the means of production has often been dreamed of, more or less vaguely, by individuals, as well as by sects, as the ideal of the future. But it could become possible, could become a historical necessity, only when the actual conditions for its realization were there. Like every other social advance, it becomes practicable, not by men understanding that the existence of classes is in contradiction to justice, equality, etc., not by the mere willingness to abolish these classes, but by virtue of certain new economic conditions.
Thus the emergence of a higher social order could only be possible, could only become a historical necessity, when certain economic conditions have had time to develop. When the means of production reach such a stage in their development that they come into conflict with the existing relations of production an epoch of social revolution begins. This is such a time. This is the revolution.