Marxist Analysis of Religion

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Karl Marx is fundamentally important within sociology. He is considered to be one of the key thinkers of sociological thought. Despite his death in 1883, Marxist analysis still has considerable significance and credibility within the study of society. His basic assumptions are still widely used and referred to, even in the understanding of modern phenomenon. Despite his large body of work, Marx actually wrote very little about religion. However, within some of his publications he provided the basis of his sociological analysis and interpretation of religion within society. Both Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (1954/1844) and Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 are fundamentally important for understanding understanding Marx's view in application to religious ideology, and furthermore, will be examined within the context of this essay. Karl Marx and his analysis of society is seen as been a fundamental contribution to the advancement of social theory. Marx saw society as being characterised by conflict, especially in regards to the economic system. Moreover, Marx saw society as being divided by two distinct social classes; those who own the means of production, and those who do not. The social class who own the means of production are referred to as the bourgeois, and the workers are know of as the proletariat. He states that in both pre-modern and modern society, society is characterised by the exploitation of labour of one group by another. Within his sociological analysis, Marx saw the economy as being centre around such exploitation. Furthermore, in Feudal societies, peasants were exploited by the aristocratic lords, and in modern capitalist society, workers are exploited by capitalists. (Inglis ... ... middle of paper ... ...terministic in his analysis of social phenomenon. He places too much emphasis on exploitiation within society. Despite large volumes of criticism placed upon Marx and Engels analysis of religion, there is some weight of evidence to emphasis their contributions. For example, Marx stated that ideology of the religion derivved from the interests of the ruling class serves to justify inequalities and ------------ Caste system in India is justified by Hindu religious beliefs. Louis Althusser, a influential Marxist philosopher criticises Marx and furthermore, he rejects the concept of alientation. He does so on the basis as he seen the notion of alientation as being unscientific and based on romantic ideas. Furthermore, he states the religion does not necessarily function effectively as an ideology which serves to control the population and protect the 'status-quo'.