Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Religion Essay

Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Religion Essay

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Karl Marx (1818-1883) was the most influential revolutionary socialist thinker of the 19th century. Marx’s key interests were in establishing a revolutionary party for the working classes and analysing capitalist society in order to find its strengths and weaknesses and so plan its demise. With his friend and colleague, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), he created “The Communist Manifesto” in which they described the communist society which would be created as a result of the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalists by the working classes. This essay will discuss the view held by Marx and Engels with regard to religion and consider this perspective in its relevance to contemporary society. Although, in Marx and Engels’ opinion, religion is “the opium of the people” (Marx and Engels 1955:41-2), by this they did not only suggest that religion was an invention of the ruling classes to keep the working classes contented, they also considered the deeper implications of religion and that is the theme of this essay.
Marx and Engels were in agreement with Feuerbach’s critique of Hegel and his belief that inversion and alienation were key concepts in the examination of religion and its power and said “to abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand their real happiness” (Marx, 1844). Marx disagreed with Hegel’s vague, conceptual world and the power which he saw as responsible for world developments. Marx instead believed that people created and recreated social worlds and as such were responsible for their creations. Inversion saw creative and independent humans becoming dependent on an imaginary God. People viewed God as responsible for their hardships, refusing to acknowledge that as God was a synthetic entity, m...


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...48/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm [Accessed 11 November 2011].

Marx, K. and Engels, F. 1845. The German Ideology . [online].
Available from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01a.htm#a2 [Accessed 11 November 2011].
Marx, K. Capital Volume One. 1867. [online] Available from http://www.marxists.org/archive/mar x/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm [Accessed 10 November 2011].

Manifesto of the Communist Party. 1848. [online] Available from
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm [Accessed 9 November 2011].
German Ideology. 1845. [online] Available from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01a.htm#a2 [Accessed 10 November 2011].
Marx, K. 1867.Capital Volume One.[online] Available from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm [Accessed 11 November 2011].

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