The Marxist Religion
The criticism of religion ends with the precept that the Supreme Being for man is man.
-Karl Marx (1844)
Marx is famous for his anti-religious view that “Religion is the opiate of the masses;” the view that religion, specifically Judaism and Christianity (“the Jew being a practical Christian and the practical Christian a Jew”) is like the addictive drug of “money worship” that people take to deaden the pain of their oppression by capitalism. For Marx, these religious superstitions must be replaced by the enlightened science of Marxism that, stating the “laws of [economic] motion” in human history, will liberate human beings from capitalist oppression for a full rewarding human life.
Karl Popper, however, showed that Marxism is not a genuine science because it is not falsifiable. Whenever Marxist predictions fail, which they regularly do, instead of revising their theories to take account of the facts, Marxists employ ad hoc hypotheses to save their theory, e.g., when the socialist revolution did not occur when and where Marxism predicted it would, Marxists just made excuses.
In fact, Marxism is not absolutely opposed to religion. Marx is hostile to traditional religions because it aims to replace traditional religious belief in a transcendent God with a materialist religion that deifies man himself. Marx is hostile to Christianity and Judaism because he sees them as competitors with Marxism’s own materialist religion.
Compare the core Biblical salvation story with Marx’s picture of the journey from capitalist oppression to the liberating socialist/communist revolution.
In the Biblical story, humanity begins in an innocent paradise of union with God in the Garden of Eden until the Fall in which Adam and Eve commit the Original Sin of disobeying God. Consequently, they and their descendents are expelled from paradise and forced to travel a long painful historical journey until the Messiah emerges from the “chosen people,” the Jews, and, in the final confrontation between good and evil in the apocalypse, redeems humanity.
In the Marxist story humanity, begins in a primitive idyllic tribal communism in which everything is shared equally between members of the tribe. Unfortunately, the emergence of private property leads to a lengthy historical class struggle between the capitalists and the workers (the “proletariat”) until, in the penultimate battle, the socialist revolution, the workers free humanity from capitalist oppression and bring about a full-fledged communist Utopia.
Marx has simply replaced the original idyllic Judeo-Christian paradise, the Garden of Eden, with the original idyllic primitive tribal communism. The Judeo-Christian original sin of disobeying God is replaced by Marxism’s original sin of creating and instituting property. The Judeo-Christian struggle between good and evil is replaced by Marx’s class struggle between capitalists and workers. The Bible’s “chosen people,” who are the Jews, are replaced by the proletariat (workers) who are chosen by Marx’s “laws of [economic] motion” to lead the revolution. The Bible’s final apocalyptic battle between good and evil is replaced by the socialist revolution. The Biblical notion of heaven is replaced by Marx’s materialist heaven -- communism -- on earth. The Bible’s ultimate communion with God is replaced by Marx’s communism (communion) with one’s fellow man. In brief, the Marxist account of the historical struggle that begins with the original tribal communism and ends with a return to a more enlightened communism at the end of history is simply the Biblical salvation story translated into Marx’s “materialist” terms. Indeed, Marx would have understood this himself as he was very familiar with Old and New Testament imagery and doctrine as well as patristic literature.
Marx promised his readers a science that reveals the “laws of [economic] motion” of human history (reminiscent of Newton’s laws of motion in the physical universe). In Newton’s case, one gets a set of equations that purport to describe the laws of mechanics in the physical universe. What Marx gave his readers, by contrast, is a drama of human salvation modeled on the Judeo-Christian salvation story. Whereas Newton’s mechanics can be difficult, tedious, and dull, with no drama, Marx’s account is exciting. There are wars and revolution. There are good guys and bad guys, a heroic savior (socialism), an inevitable victory at the end leading to heaven on earth (communism) and universal happiness. Whereas Newton gives one a science, a genuine science with no drama, Marx gives one dramatic story of suffering and ultimate triumph.
This helps explain why it is virtually impossible to have a rational discussion with many Marxists and “liberals” (hereafter, “leftists”) who have been influenced, perhaps unknowingly, by Marxism. Since Marxism is not a science but, rather, a quasi-religious faith (a “materialist” faith to be sure but still a faith), leftists influenced by Marxism no more need to prove their claims than Christians need prove that Christ rose from the dead. For many on the Left it is sufficient to tell the story and gives some anecdotes, often unverified, about various kinds of alleged oppression. Indeed, all the current favorite liberal storylines, the claim that the U.S. is governed by an oppressive patriarchy, that the U.S. exploits and destroys the natural environment, that the police’s job is to defend the capitalist establishment against the workers, etc., originate in the Marxism. To take just one example, the Left already always knows the policeman is guilty before the facts are even reported – except that they are regularly wrong.
For the typical Marxist (or influenced liberal), Marxism is not really a science, but a kind of quasi-moral outlook on the world that gives meaning and purpose to their lives. Engels even says the proletariat will “redeem” mankind. If one believes” the Marxist story, either in its radical or its liberal form, one is a good person on the right side of history. One is playing an important role in a heroic struggle to correct historical injustices and lead long suffering humanity to the promised-land (communism). As a soldier for the forces of light against darkness, one deserves to get one’s way politically. Since one’s political opponents who do not have faith in the One True Materialist Religion are standing in the way of progress towards the promised-land (communism), all standards of decency are suspended. Since these non-believers, including their children, are standing in the way of the promised land they deserve to be cancelled, censored or threatened.
There is, however, one very important difference between the Biblical and the Marxist salvation stories, namely that as Marx stated in 1844, his religion culminates in the view that “the Supreme Being for man is man,” that is, in self-worship (narcissism), which is, fundamentally, the same message the serpent (Satan) gave Adam and Even in Eden:
Ye shall be as gods.
The effects of this pervasive narcissism can be seen everywhere from the serial criminals who proudly walk out of the same stores every day past the staff with their bags of loot, to the “journalists” who never apologized for the series of hoaxes they have shamelessly perpetrated on the American people to the spoiled snarling adolescents at our universities who, apparently, since they already at 19 know everything, went to university, not to learn, but to teach.
It is not difficult to discern that there is going to be an enormous price to pay for all this evil and silliness.
Image: John Jabez Edwin Mayal, via Wikimedia Commons // public domain