Understanding Of Marxs Arguments About Religion Sociology Essay

Marx was concerned finally with human freedom, resuscitating the construct of communism, where human existences could carry through their co-existing functions within society without fright of development. He saw the historical phase of capitalist economy as “ the insidious adversary of freedom ” . Capitalism created two viing categories of people ; the labor, who owned nil but the right to sell their labor and, the middle class, who through their power of capital and belongings exploited such labor for excess value. It is in this context that Marx considers faith to be the ‘opium of the people[ two ], ‘ used by oppressors to overshadow the underlying, economic worlds society faces. This paper will critically analyze Marx ‘s analysis of faith.

Marx ‘s review of faith can non be isolated. The basic premiss behind why he believed people needed the opiate of faith stems from his positions of the jobs in capitalist society.

Marx had a materialist position of human history explained in his work Capital[ three ]. Harmonizing to him, economic sciences was the drive force behind society. Peoples were non motivated by expansive thoughts but alternatively by stuff concerns, like the demand to eat and last[ four ]. While worlds developed agribusiness and construct of private belongings, a societal division was besides shaped. This societal division was accelerated by capitalist economy which increased the disparity between the affluent categories and the labor categories, and besides introduced development. Marx believed that private ownership of the agencies of production enriched capitalists at the disbursal of workers and bit by bit the capitalists would roll up of all time more capital and bump the labor to even more inferior positions. In this state of affairs, Marx contended that in modern industrial production under capitalist conditions, the working category will necessarily go alienated from themselves and each other. Workers therefore discontinue to be independent existences in any important sense. This was Marx ‘s theory of disaffection ; his review of how people become separated from merchandises of production, from the procedure of production, from one ‘s ego and from other people[ V ].

Marx believed that disaffection in different signifiers had ever existed, but capitalist economy brought these disaffections to their highest signifier. Under pre-capitalist conditions a blacksmith, would have his ain store, put his ain hours, find his ain on the job conditions, determine his ain merchandise, and have some say in how his merchandise is bartered or sold[ six ]. His relationships with the people with whom he worked and cover had a personal character. By contrast, under the conditions of modern mill production the mean worker is non much more than a replaceable constituent in a monolithic and impersonal production setup. Multitudes of hired secret agents perform humdrum and closely supervised undertakings, workers have basically lost control over the procedure of production, over the merchandises which they produce, and over the relationships they have with each other. As a effect they have become estranged from their very human nature.

As a consequence of these jobs, Marx argues that faith was the response to the hurting of being alive, the response to earthly enduring. The working category was a true radical category, universal in character and acquainted with cosmopolitan enduring. This provided the demand for faith.

Marx on Religion

With respect to faith, Marx to the full accepted Feuerbach ‘s claim in resistance to traditional divinity that human existences had created God in their ain image.[ seven ]Feuerbach ‘s typical part was to reason that idolizing God diverted human existences from basking their ain human powers. While accepting much of Feuerbach ‘s history Marx criticizes Feuerbach on the evidences that he has failed to understand why people fall into spiritual disaffection and so is unable to explicate how it can be transcended.[ eight ]

Marx ‘s account is that faith is a response to disaffection in material life. He contends that, “ aˆ¦man makes faith ; faith does non do adult male,[ nine ]“ reasoning that faith is adult male ‘s consciousness every bit long as adult male is alienated. His positions on faith are captured in this quotation mark:

“ Religious agony is at the same clip an look of existent agony and a protest against existent agony. Religion is the suspiration of the laden animal, the bosom of a hardhearted universe, and the psyche of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people[ x ]. ”

In this citation, Marx is stating that faith ‘s intent is to make illusive phantasies for the hapless. Since economic worlds prevent people from happening true felicity in this life, faith provides an illusive solution ; they will happen true felicity in the following life. Although this is a unfavorable judgment of faith, Marx is non without understanding: people are in hurt and faith provides consolation. As the opium of the people faith is the drug that keeps people unagitated and relieves hurting. He is insinuating that like all analgesics it masks the true status of society. The job is that this impermanent solution fails eradicate the implicit in economic jobs that cause hurting and agony. So how does Marx suggest to ablactate the people off this drug?


Since faith is a response to fortunes in material life, it hence can non be removed until human material life is emancipated and the hurting and agony is rid. Marx ‘s deduction is obvious ; Capitalism must be abolished if a society ‘s emancipation it to be complete.[ xi ]Capitalism is merely as incompatible with self-government as absolute monarchy or any other bossy system. But while an absolute monarchy limits people ‘s liberty by commanding them in the domain of political relations, Capitalism does so by commanding their workplaces and their economic life.

Marx specifically claims that society can be revolutionized merely by alteration from within the domain of production. Politicss is non in bid ; an economic system is. Therefore he grounds that existent autonomy would non be until workers efficaciously control their workplace, the merchandises they produce, and the manner they relate to each other. To carry through this workers have to go the proprietors or accountants of their work topographic points. However, In contrast to earlier times this ownership of the agencies of production can non be single. Since modern industrial production has irrevocably outgrown single production, ownership of production must be communal and corporate. Therefore, communities or societies as a whole have to do all major economic determinations in the manner they make their major political determinations: by agencies of democratically elected legislative assemblies and disposals.

So how does Marx suggest to originate this passage from Capitalism? Marx ‘s the Communist Manifesto reflects an effort to explicate the theory underlying the motion to communism.[ xii ]It argues that category battles, or the development of one category by another, are the actuating force behind all historical developments and category relationships are defined by an epoch ‘s agencies of production. However, these relationships cease to be compatible with the developing forces of productions and at this point, a revolution occurs and a new category emerges as the governing one. In this scenario the labor will take a revolution. However this revolution will be of a different character than all old 1s ; old revolutions merely reallocated belongings in favor of the new opinion category. However, by the nature of their category, the members of the labor have no manner of allowing belongings. Therefore when they obtain control they will hold to destruct all ownership of private belongings, and classes themselves will vanish. This procedure represents the “ the March of modern history[ xiii ]“ as driven by larger economic forces. The Manifesto argues that this development is inevitable, and that capitalist economy is inherently unstable. The riddance of societal categories can non come about through reforms or alterations in authorities ; a revolution will be required.

By traveling from Capitalism to Communism through a revolution the labors will be able to happen true felicity in life without asking faith. It is in this manner that Marx proposed to ablactate them off this drug.

Critique of Marx ‘s analysis of faith

The review of faith is long dated and philosophers have continually sought to scientifically explicate its being. Regardless of this it has prevailed as a critical and important cultural phenomenon. If it were true that faith served every bit merely as a tool used to uphold political orientations and cultural systems which foster oppressive capital society it should hold theoretically withered away in states where communism prevails. This suggests that there are some defects in Marx ‘s statements.

Marx ‘s chief defect in analysis is his over accent of the function of labor in making objects of value. Marx ‘s labour theory of value and construct of excess value as driving development in capitalist economy are the cardinal underpinning upon which all of the remainder of his thoughts are based[ xiv ]. Without them, his moral ailment against capitalist economy hesitations and therefore, his analysis of faith becomes hard to support. If Marx is right, than a labor-intensive industry will bring forth more excess value than an industry trusting less upon human labor and more upon machines. But realistically, at best, the return on investing is the same whether the work is done by people or machines and rather frequently, machines allow for more net income.

Second, common experience is that the value of a produced object lies non with the labor put into it but in the subjective appraisal by a possible buyer. See the state of affairs where a worker could, in theory, takes a beautiful piece of natural wood and, after many hours, produce an abysmal sculpture. If Marx is right that all value comes from labor, so the sculpture should hold more value than the natural wood ; but that is non needfully true. Objects have merely the value of whatever people are finally willing to pay.

In line with the above analysis, a 2nd potency job is his claim that faith is entirely determined by stuff and economic worlds. If Marx were right, capitalist economy would look in states prior to Protestantism since this is the spiritual system created by capitalist economy. However, in Germany reformation occurred in the sixteenth century, whereas Capitalism did non look until the nineteenth Century. This caused Max Weber[ xv ]to speculate that spiritual establishments create new economic worlds. Weber ‘s analysis seems plausible in today ‘s society with the coming of new signifiers of faith such as Scientology. Regardless of his truth we see that one can reason merely the antonym of Marx with clear grounds.

Another factual defect is that Marx fails to see faith beyond Christianity. His remarks hold for other faiths with similar philosophies of a powerful God and happy hereafter, nevertheless, they do non use to radically different faiths. For illustration, in ancient Greece and Rome a happy hereafter was reserved for heroes while common mans could merely look frontward to a mere shadow of their earthly being. Possibly he failed to see other faiths because of the influence of Hegel[ xvi ], who believed Christianity was the highest signifier of faith and all theories applied to all other “ lesser ” faiths.

If one can look past these bugs in Marx ‘s analysis, I believe there is some foundation to his statement that faith serves as a depressant in today ‘s community. Realistically, I believe faith is sought by those who require a solution to their jobs and in this sense it is so a analgesic. But my sentiment differs when Marx considers faith to be gratuitous. Beyond its calming effects, faith is the doctrine of civilization, traditions and imposts every bit good as the ideals involved to do life meaningful. Ideally it paints the image of how an person should take his or her life. It can be considered an establishment that aids society ‘s operation and promotes ethical and moral behavior, and as such is an indispensable foundation of society. Whether it is illusive should non be of concern as it seems to function such an of import function and this is possibly why it has continued to be with such force in visible radiation of unfavorable judgment.


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