Marx’s Views on Religion vs. My Own Karl Marx wrote that religion was, “an opiate of the people.” Although those words were not published in The German Ideology, they best describe his various views on religion. Marx wrote that there was a social relationship between the upper class or bourgeoisie and religion. The upper class that owned the means of production used religion as a tool to keep the working class or proletariat, oppressed and poor.
Marx criticized that religion had so many ulterior motives that there was no actual spiritual meaning. He argued that religion existed because of the state of society and its class struggles. The existence of religion also helped limit or avoid change in society. Marx also believed that religion stripped us of our true humanity. “It is self-evident, moreover, that ‘specters’, ‘bonds’, ‘the higher being’, ‘concept’, ‘scruple’, are merely the idealistic, spiritual expression, the conception apparently of the isolated individual, the image of very empirical fetters and limitations, within which the mode of production of life and the form of intercourse coupled with it move (51).” God or any higher power was something invented to deposit fear into. God was something to blame for our own inefficiencies and failures.
He also wrote that humans give too much credit to God for their own accomplishments. Marx viewed everything as a human invention. The struggle between the working class and ruling class along with capitalism is what spawned religion. Marx believed history was economics in action. Religion, therefore, played a minimal part in history. Protestantism, and the Protestant work ethic played a huge role in the Industrial Revolution.
Darwinism and Positivism highly impacted the world from the mid 19 th century through to the early 20 th century. It is primary to look at how these thoughts are evident within society by viewing the ideas of Auguste Comte (1798-1857), Charles Darwin (1809-1882), and Karl Marx (1818-1883). Because theatre can be depicted as a representation of life and society as we see it, playwrights from the ...
If not for religion, capitalism would have not played such large role in European society, in Marx’s time. Protestants looked at what they could accomplish, rather than Marx’s view of religion as a way of showing limitations. The Roman Catholic Church, particularly in Ireland, kept historical records throughout the middle ages. If not for this accomplishment society would be very under developed. The Church was the only educator, society as a whole was uneducated.
The only literate people were priests and monks. Many scientific advances before Marx were made by Catholic monks. These educated people and there accomplishments played a role in bringing about the Industrial Revolution. Marx’s class struggle grew out of this event. Religion’s role in bringing about these social changes was far greater than what Marx gave it credit for. Capitalism did not create religion.
My views on religion are very different than Marx’s. I went on a great religious retreat in high school called Kairos, or the Lord’s time. On the retreat I learned how close of a relationship I have with God and my friends. It was an unbelievable experience. I heard some of the darkest experiences of other people’s lives, and how believing in God can change everything. I doubt that religion is a grand illusion used to make the lower classes comfortable.
I witnessed that religion can actually change people on Kairos. I rearranged my priorities after that, and had much closer relationships with my friends, family, and God. Capitalism had absolutely nothing to do with it.