Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, December 4, 2015

Karl Marx Third Installment- Rushdi Al-Hasan

Karl Marx's religious views have been the subject of much interpretation. He famously stated in Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right
"Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. 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. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun. Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself."
According to Howard Zinn, "He [Marx] saw religion, not just negatively as 'the opium of the people,' but positively as the 'sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions.' This helps us understand the mass appeal of the religious charlatans of the television screen, as well as the work of Liberation Theology in joining the soulfulness of religion to the energy of revolutionary movements in miserably poor countries.". Some recent scholarship has suggested that 'opium of the people' is itself a dialectical metaphor, a 'protest' and an 'expression' of suffering


1 comment:

  1. I think you're right, Marx's infamous "opium" statement can be interpreted as a compassionate recognition of suffering that in HIS view is due to economic arrangements that distort the relations between people, and that cause people to accept "chains" they might throw off if they recognized the earthly source of the distortion. On the other hand, the sincerely religious tend not to accept the claim that their religiosity is entirely due to human oppression. The debate continues.