Karl Marx sits ill among a large percentage of the American population. It’s easy to see why. It lies in the fact that the majority of Americans are Christian and many religious institutions accuse communism for being the devil and therefore accuse Karl Marx of being the father of communism. The fact of the matter is that Karl Marx was probably one of the most influential, intelligent, and objective philosophers to ever walk this planet.
He is largely disregarded to his apparent tie to “worshiping the devil” as I have personally heard religious friends say. They often use the quote “Religion is the opium of the people”. Which just so happens to be one of the greatest and most out of context misquotes to ever come up. Karl Marx was in-fact an atheist… which by definition is somebody who is not a theist… which by definition is somebody who does NOT believe in a higher power, be it a god OR a devil. But, he was raised by a Rabbi and did not by any means find religion to be stupid, pointless or evil.
The real, in context, quotation goes like this:
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about its condition is the demand to give up a condition that needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the value of woe, the halo of which is religion. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not so that man will wear the chain without any fantasy or consolation but so that he will shake off the chain and cull the living flower.
Religion functions as a controlling device of the bourgeoisie. Religion promises the masses a happier existence after death, in the next life, thereby allowing them a better life than their earthy one.
Karl Marx believed religion was necessary in countries and cultures that were oppressed and/or fearful of the next day, whether consciously or subconsciously. He believed that even after oppression had taken place, it would take a long time for people to lose their religiosity as it is rooted in non-provable rewards… but that it was necessary to lose religion for people and culture to be truly happy at the most fundamental level where insecurities are nearly non-existent.
Is Karl Marx a hero of mine? No. Do I aspire to him? Only in the way he thought, I aspire. Was he wrong in foreseeing the implications of a communist society? In areas, yes, but he was very much a capitalistic man. Even he was concerned about what could happen with a society where no greater level of success was achievable. Hopefully I shed light on this horrendous misquotation… usually spit out by religious institutions to solicit fear in atheism. Let me know what you think, and hit the share buttons below if you would like.