Karl Marx: His Unapologetic View on Religion

I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its Churches, has been and still is the principle enemy of moral progress in the world. Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) British philosopher and mathematician.

Why I Am Not a Christian
Marx was open and unsympathetically honest of his contempt for organized religion, for reasons not relevant to list here. Revolutionary at his time, he still has a lasting legacy today; many can’t grow up with knowing who said: “Religion is the opium of the people.” Which, right there could sum up his ideas on religion and this assignment, but luckily I have more thoughts to complement this quote.

Religion, he says is ‘pure Illusion’, which is not in and of itself a negative thing. In the medical sense I see a sugar pill, or placebo as a positive; if the patient sees it as something that can sure him/her, and it does, why not take it? Happy patient, no side effects – success! But if that sugar pill did cause side effects – that would most certainly change my opinion. When reading Marx, I cannot help but nod furiously in agreement with most points, especially when he speaks about the Christian’s being ‘the happy salves’ – seeing their toil and heartache as tokens for addition into the splendour of paradise.
The Bible tells us the poor get into heaven; the rich on the other hand … it is easier for them to get through the eye of a needle.

That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
King James Bible
Matthew 19:23-24

So, if you are poor, and you remain poor until death, you get to bask in the glory of heaven, frolic in the fields of golden laced lilies, and feast on chocolate covered fruits with pearl sticks – all the while not gaining a pound. Brilliant brain-washing; it’s has it’s parallels to The Matrix Movie; ‘plug you in the ‘Matrix’; be what you want to be, eat your steak made of ones and zeros, and take pleasure in knowing that your real body is covered in the liquefied dead, safe and sound’. Would you take the red pill? Hard to say until we see ourselves in the mirrored glasses – Marx certainly would.

Although he did see religion as something to be severed from human life, he didn’t see it as ‘The Enemy’ of the people, as some stringent atheists’ doctrine. He saw it as a by-product of the problem, not the problem itself. Perhaps the people needing something supernatural as God is the problem, not unlike the pharmaceutical industries: creating drugs to combat the symptoms, without regard for the disease, or any preventative measures. We are a civilization with a self-loathing issue, we are too insecure to recognize our own inherent worth and merits – so we pass it off as God’s work. “How great this being is to give us this food, which we must work our fingers raw, sweat and bleed for such substance.”

I give you bitter pills in sugar coating. The pills are harmless, the poison is in the sugar.
Stanislaw Lec (1909 – 1966)
Polish writer.

Although it seems like it is hitting all the nails on the head; it actually isn’t as accurate as is may seem. Putting his economic and socio-political views and/or contradictions aside, I’ll just wade in the pool of religion for now. His take on religion is just Christian Religion; perhaps he saw other religions as not worthy of survey, or maybe he saw them as primitive and eventually leading up to God and etc, as if Christianity and the thought of afterlife rewards were the only options, or like some, and thinking that it’s a linear progress, and eventually we all end up Christians.

Whatever his thoughts and the genesis of those thoughts, we are better for reading him, and as a society we are more conversant because of him. It is people like Marx who make free-speech great, whether we agree or not. We may now fight over study tables, guffaw over martinis, or roll our eyes in scorn because of inventive thoughts, and revolutionary ideas like his, I for one am grateful, even if he is not all together agreeable.