Sunday, February 12, 2012

Was Karl Marx Anti-Religion?

Marx: Just say 'no' to the 'opium' of religion
Yes, Marx was anti-religion. He wanted it destroyed absolutely. Marx is remembered by many for  saying, “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” but actually said something a bit different. What he meant was that religion kept people happy. Too happy, really, for only unhappy people can be moved to revolt.

Karl Marx "never used that exact phrase," says a post at UFO Shock. He said something close, it turns out. As he referred to religion, he wrote "It is the opium of the people."

Why did he say that? Marx was trying to say that religion stands in the way of socialism and communism. I'm paraphrasing, but UFO Shock has some supporting links and quotes to support this.

UFO Shock cites the introduction to Marx's "Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right," published as an essay in "Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher" in 1844. Some highlighted excerpts:
  • "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
  • "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions."
  • "Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself."
Karl Marx made it abundantly clear that he felt religion needed to be stomped out.  It stood in the way, he said, of what he considered to be true social progress. Atheism, then, was a necessary component of Marx's vision of a new social order. He called religion it a "chain" on people, and advocated replacing the worship of God with the worship of mankind ("man is the highest essence for man"). Read the full post about Karl Marx and his hatred of religion at UFO Shock.
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