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DailyAtheist's avatar

Religion opium of the people

Religion is the opium of the people. [link]

I'm not a fan of Marx, but this is a slogan you can't beat. I am a fan of propaganda though, and the slogan fits perfectly to a blunt and, to be fair, a slightly vicious poster. :)

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Opium at Wikipedia:
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Touch-Not-This-Cat's avatar
Communism is the Methanphetamine of the Masses.
RollerTrack3's avatar
Is that all you can say?
StudioStone's avatar
I just wanted to make a statement to all the Chris Hitchens/Amazing Atheist wannabes out there.

Plus, I'm working on other things instead of resurrecting other people's drama.
Robguil4774's avatar
The religion itself is not a good or a bad thing.
This depends of how people interpret it.
Of course, this is obvious that religious fanatism leads to opression and violence, but religion also can inspire people to feats of charity, mercy, altruistic care about poor, weak and sick.

In my personal opinion every human being must have a choise. And no one must be allowed to violate this choise. This is immoral to force people to practice a religion. Anyway burning churches is not a good idea, too.
deadcrowes's avatar
religion only works for those who believe it does, otherwise there's no point. It's not the opiate of the masses, it's actually a placebo.
SovietNickie's avatar
As most Cristians should think, The lord did not put us on the world to fight one another or to be opressed but to work together. Thats what I think.
BorogoveLM's avatar
Considering that Marx used opium, what he actually meant by that is unclear.
The-Laughing-Rabbit's avatar
This is one of the things I disagree with Marx on. Organized religion, is often a tool of the bourgeoisie. However, Religions have lead many to be very active socialists and anarchists. I myself became an anarcho-socialist out of christian ideals and working class frustration. In fact, the Catholic Workers movement was started by a socialist and an anarchist, and one of their locations, is Joe Hill House, named after the wobblie folk singer, Joe Hill.
NurIzin's avatar
But we shouldn't forget the "historical" context either: Germany was (and still is somehow) a very religious country, and as consequent, conservative; and we shall not forget that the main message (the dominant one I mean) of Christianity was : "accept the suffering in this life, as this life isn't the most important one, and will be better in afterlife", during all Middle-Age until 20th century. That's what Humanists, enlighted philosophers and marxists criticized (as well as Nietzsche) : because of religion, people reject their present life, and don't try to create their happiness here and now.
However, Marx in that quote isn't as agressive as what people think : the full quote describes religion as a solace for the oppressed, the testimony of its misery. He is actually more neutral than what says the common interpretation.
And of course some interpretated their religion with a much more leftist filter, such as you and others. We find the same division in a lot of religions, I know a Flemish gay pious muslim who uses islam to promote communist ideals. Same can be said about neo-paganism, some are far-rightist, and some others leftist (in USA the most famous example is Wicca, but here is a song that illustrates it nicely as well, even if a bit cheesy : [link]) (Dutch neopagan folk band)
The-Laughing-Rabbit's avatar
You also have the churches in Latin America, who often take a strong stance against capitalism and the state, many clergy in those churches were actually assassinated by the local regimes, and these countries are often very christian nations. That message "accept the suffering in this life, as this life isn't the most important one, and will be better in afterlife" is often only along with organized Christianity. Bishop Óscar Romero, in his pastoral letters, said that the Kingdom of heaven manifests itself when people gather for some altruistic goal, and sin is anything that opposes that, so Capitalism and the state were "Structural Sin" and "Institutionalized Violence," and we must make an effort to dismantle such things. The message I was taught, is to do what ever you can to help your fellow man.

Off topic, But I would like to one day visit the Churches in Chiapas, which operate very differently than they do in the rest of the world. Not only are the Clergy subject to the same "lead by following" philosophy that Store tenders and teachers are (if your unfamiliar, every leader has to sit down every once in a while, and listen to the concerns of the population on their particular job, and if they fail to "lead by following" they're out), but the services aren't that of a normal sermon from the pulpit, but instead, prayer circles develop rather spontaneously through out the day, and the clergy join in. there are no pews, instead, accommodation are made for those prayer circles. In this way, the Clergy are just as influenced by the people as they people are by them, and as a result, many are radical Marxists, revolutionary communists, and even anarchists.
Touch-Not-This-Cat's avatar
Pope Leo 13th and on have tried dozens of ways to drive home third way economics, and for every question they answer, both friends and enemies create new, stupid misunderstandings. Whoever advised Francis the other day to twitter about inequality should be fired. His holiness may as well said a million different things at once for all anyone knows what he is talking about, left right or zigzag. The last grate attempt to revive the natural guild economy was attempted by King Maximillian of Habsburg in Mexico, and it would have worked! There is no culture better suited for it, even today. Mexico would have been one of the most prosperous nations by now, if his dynasty had survived. It's a two party world, really, not just America. Most countries that claim 3 or more, really are just showing off different flavors of the same left-right partisanship. And not one iota of it is natural. Organic politics as well as economics seem to have died with Max, and nothing short of a disaster comparable to A Cantical for Liebowitz, or Pixar's Wal-E are likely to get nature going again.
ComradeLither's avatar
I found this funny that it turned up in my feed right next to a Christian Communism slogan.
My teenage son actually came home from school a while back and said his teacher had commented something on this slogan. These words are true if people use drugs to escape reality (and really, it's understandable that people do that.) These words are true when religion seduces people into a kind of stupor, unable to think and feel for themselves, either out of apathy, disappointment, shame or fear. These words are true because religion as we have known it throughout the entire history of mankind has generally produced hatred, nationalism, prejudice, discrimination, intolerance, war, genocide, etc. These things are all sadly true. But could we be missing a far more important truth here?
Kaoyux's avatar
The biggest truth you'll never hear :D
Love this man's phrase. There also are a lot of things I don't support from him, but his phrase, OF COURSE YES!
Thanku very much for sharing, I love the concept in this composition.
Dave-Yerushalaim's avatar
Drug in correct case, in correct size; is medicine. :lmao:
Master-of-the-Boot's avatar
I always thought of religion as being more similar to adrenaline. It lowers intelligence and increases agression
AvatarKiba's avatar
One little problem, though: opium wears off relatively quickly.
DailyAtheist's avatar
That's true. Marx should have thought of that. :)
Neko244's avatar
:music: Give me drugs in my veins, keep me tripping... :music: :sing:
AurorsX's avatar
People surely enjoy religion. =p
Excalibur-T005's avatar
This is actually a rather interesting study in historical context, if you look closely. When Marx wrote that, opiates were considered wonder-drugs, because they appeared to have a very soothing effect. Opiates were even included in children's medicine, and the inclusion of heroin in cough syrup was considered a major selling-point. Marx's meaning, then, was to highlight some of the good points of religion - how believing in something, regardless of what it is, often has a positive psychological effect on the believers. If I recall correctly, Marx then went on to highlight the fact that religion is also a regrettably effective form of social control (see: medieval Europe), but in the absence of fanaticism or an oppressive church, the benefits remain.

Taken out of historical context, then, we see this quote take on very nearly the opposite of its intended meaning. Opiates - with the possible exception of morphine - are now seen as a great poison, a cancer upon society, and generally one of the greatest evils known to mankind today. In the context of the early 21st century and not the year in which Karl Marx said this, then, this quote has precisely the meaning you interpreted it as having, but Marx did not live now, he lived then.

Now, as for the artistic merits of the piece itself, well-done. It has almost exactly the same dramatic feel as the propaganda posters of the 1940s warning that every person of Japanese descent wanted to kill America, or perhaps the overblown paranoia of the posters and PSAs from Nixon's War on Drugs.
DailyAtheist's avatar
Thank you for your input! I am well aware of the historical context (I included the Wikipedia link to Opium of the masses for this reason)and thought about writing about it myself. However, after having finished the piece I was more eager to get it displayed rather than to go into an in depth analysis of Marx.
But as I said in the beginning, I'm no fan of Marx and just wanted to explore the possibilities of the quote itself within, as you rightly pointed out, a 1940s framework. :)
Excalibur-T005's avatar
Well, since you didn't give a dissertation on the historical context of the quote (and since I missed the quote), I decided I might as well do it.

By the way, is that face in your avatar the Pope? Terribly unfortunate-looking fellow, but somehow the crop makes him look less creepy.
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