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. 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... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2002, 05). Karl Marx. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 05, 2002, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Karl-Marx-41367.html
"Karl Marx" StudyMode.com. 05 2002. 05 2002 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Karl-Marx-41367.html>.
"Karl Marx." StudyMode.com. 05, 2002. Accessed 05, 2002. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Karl-Marx-41367.html.