On Karl Marx’s super-famous and misused phrase: “Religion is the opium of the people”
Religion, idealism, politicking, nationalism and independencies.
Both, those who reject Marx’s phrase and those who take it as a flag, have not actually read where Marx used it or they have read it wrongly.
It is similar to those who have the Bible or the Koran as a source of wisdom; they know a few verses which they handle in every opportunity even when brushing their teeth, but they have never read those books properly; that is, with the right honesty able to find all the good they have, as well as the inconsistencies and contradictions they also have. They read and interpret what interests them, what they need to read and interpret.
Marx didn’t mean that religion is opium, but that we turn it into opium, into a drug.
Both, the first and the second ones (those who reject the phrase and those who use it as a “flag”) have interpreted it under the idea that religion is bad, that it is used by those with power to deceive the people with the intention of taking them to wherever they want, with deceptive promises that later (after death) they will have a fair compensation for their sufferings, their shortcomings, their frustrations; all of them produced by someone as evil as Satan.
What religious leaders do is simply to prepare and improve our “mixture” and light the cigarette for us. What leaders do is to feed our cowardly need not to recognize reality; that our circumstances are caused by ourselves.
What Marx actually said was:
“Das religiöse Elend ist in einem der Ausdruck des wirklichen Elendes und in einem die Protestation gegen das wirkliche Elend. Die Religion ist der Seufzer der bedrängten Kreatur, das Gemüth einer herzlosen Welt, wie sie der Geist geistloser Zustände ist. Sie ist das Opium des Volks.“
“The misery of religion is not in itself, but in being an expression (consequence) (it is not the cause, but the effect) of the true (existing) (human) misery and is (therefore, in turn) a protest against that miserable reality. Religion is the sigh (breathing) of the tormented (oppressed) creature; it is the soul of a soulless (heartless) world, and also the spirit (the soul) of conditions (situations) devoid of spirit. It is (the religion) the opium of the people.”
As well as the respective believers interpreting Bible, Koran or any other holy book in accordance with their subjective prejudices, Marxists kept just that phrase: “Religion is the opium of the people”, ignoring the true sense of Marx’s words and based just on that, they destroyed religious people, monasteries and temples as much as they wanted, even convinced that they were “cleaning the world up”, obviously, to create their own one, where they should be the leaders with their own new religion. Same way was with many others who are not Marxists.
Today, Karl Marx would have to enlarge his spectrum: the prism has spread much more light and now he would have to say:
“Religion is the opium of the people,” “Nazism is the opium of the people,” “Fascism is the opium of the people,” “Populism is the opium of the people,” “Communism is the opium of the people,” “Castroism, Chavism, Bolivarianism are the opium of the people,” “Nationalism is the opium of the people,” “Separatism is the opium of the people” and many other –isms which, like religion, are (as really Marx meant) the escape valve, the drug, through which people seek new paths not to see the reality of their misery; and not the external misery, but the internal one; That is the one which they don’t want to see, neither the personal, nor the social one.
In all these -isms they need to customize a leader whom to reverence, praise, almost worship (and even pray, embalm, upload to the altars, wear him on t-shirts). A leader they always welcome and applaud, even when he says any stupid thing; stupidities which will never be seen by those who live with that opium.
In all these -isms, their leaders (with personal interests in maintaining that religion) have to invent and point out the wicked one or ones (the other or the others: them) who is the cause of our misfortunes: the priests, the Jews, the workers, those with pedigree, capitalism, the gringoes, the non-Scottish, the non-Catalan; Someone whom we must hate, reject and set aside (and, if possible, eliminate).
The leader and his closest clique will give people a unique version of current and historical facts as suitable as possible to reinforce their religion; because definitively, it is another type of religion (opium of the people). Everything will be twisted where necessary, so that people, drugged (drunk) with their new religion, will be strengthened by that distorted vision of truth. Anything justifying them is alright.
When one is not drugged by any of those harmful “-ism” substances, one feels impressed by the enormous amount of absurdities and ridicule assertions that get to be affirmed, either by ignorance or by a bad and poisonous intention. It is impressive the statements one can listen here and there (or, if you prefer: at right and left wings); but their “parishioners” don’t perceive the falsehood.
Of course, as in every religion, there is a promise of a better future as soon as the “enemy” has been eliminated and the new religion is imposed. A future that, however, when the corresponding religion gets to impose itself, it’s never completely satisfactory or, as minimum, it isn’t as nice as it was displayed when the leaders were preparing us “the mixture”.
But, as long as we don’t learn to find happiness in ourselves and stop looking for it outside and in others’ promises, we will continue in the misery that pushes us to seek religions (ideals, movements, revolutions, etc.) which send us to sleep with fantasies of believing ourselves as the best of all, the possessors of truth, the renovators of the world, wholly floating in false incense of “justice” and “truth” promised to us by all these “opium of the people”, managed by priests or by politicians; no difference.
But, if insane is to convert religion or ideals into opium, into drugs; it is almost worse to turn the drug into religion.
Pablo J.Luis Molinero
Elche, 27th May, 2017