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Marx and Religion

  1. Jul 30, 2009 #1
    Can someone clarify whether this is right and add any other important/useful information about this subject please:

    Marx believed that religion exists because people cannot understand society and people therefore turn to religion because they are suffering either physically or intellectually.
    Religion is used by those in power to justify their control over the prolateriat.

    According to Marx, do those in power turn to religion for essentially the same reasons as everyone else?
    Also, does Marx really believe that people turn to religion only because they do not understand society, as opposed to the world as a whole, and if that is not the case, how can communism cause religion to become unnecessary?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2009 #2


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    This is totally wrong, stemming from a mistranslation of Marx's dictum of religion as "Opium des Volkes".

    This does NOT mean that religion is provided for the people by the elites, it means that people themselves produce religion as their own comforting device.

    That is to say, Marx's position is that religion is, essentially a GRASS-ROOTS phenomenon, as he put it "the heart in a heartless world".

    Effectively, he thought, that if the WORLD changed into a more loving place, then people would stop producing the love-drug for their own comfort, i.e, religion.

    This, again he thought, would be achieved when the population at large, in their work, drew the same type of satisfaction of fashioning (a part of) the world that would be of use for themselves and others as, say, artists and inventors always have done.

    Thus, as Marx saw it, we are wrong to see the price others would like to pay for our product as the value of our produce; rather, the "real" value of our work lies in the amount of satisfaction I as a worker draw from doing the work in the first place.

    That is, the value of one's own work is essentially a private matter, and Marx meant that the systems of production alienated the workers FROM such pleasures, creating a want in him, that he then chooses to satisfy by imagining a happy dream-world he belongs to, i.e, the promises of religion and salvation.
  4. Jul 30, 2009 #3
    So is the reason those at the top of society turn to religion because they cannot get satisfaction from their lives because they don't work, and the reason those at the bottom can't get satisfaction is they can't work in the way which would give them satisfaction because of the way society is constructed?
  5. Jul 30, 2009 #4


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    That would be correct, yes.
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