1930s >> 1930 >> no-309-may-1930

Karl Marx on Christianity

In answer to a “Christian Socialist” who contributed to the German Brussels Journal, Marx wrote the following :—

“The social principles of Christianity have had eighteen centuries in which to develop, and have no need to undergo further development at the hands of Prussian consistorial councillors. The social principles of Christianity justified the slavery of classical days; they glorified mediaeval serfdom; and they are able when needs must to defend the oppression of the proletariat, though with a somewhat crestfallen air. The social principles of Christianity proclaim the need for the existence of a ruling class and a subjugated class, being content to express the pious hope that the former will deal philanthropically with the latter. The social principles of Christianity assume that there will be compensation in heaven for all the infamies committed on earth, and thereby justify the persistence of these infamies here below. The social principles of Christianity explain that the atrocities perpetrated by the oppressors on the oppressed are either just punishments for original and other sins, or else trials which the Lord in His wisdom ordains for the Redeemed. The social principles of Christianity preach cowardice, self-contempt, abasement, submission, humility, in a word, all the qualities of the canaille; and the proletariat which will not allow itself to be treated as canaille, needs courage, self- confidence, pride, a sense of personal dignity and independence, even more than it needs daily bread. The social principles of Christianity are lick-spittle, whereas the proletariat is revolutionary. So much for the social principles of Christianity” !

(Literary Remains, Vol. II., pp. 442-442.)

“The Opium of the People.”

The fact is that religion is the self-consciousness and the self-feeling of the man who has either not yet found himself or, having done so, has lost himself again. . . .  Thus the struggle against Religion is a direct struggle against the world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious poverty is in one, the expression of real poverty, and, in another, a protest against real poverty. Religion is the sigh of a heavy laden creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is a prerequisite for the attainment of real happiness by the people. . . . Thus the criticism of heaven is transformed into a criticism of earth, the criticism of theology into a criticism of politics.”

(Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe, Vol. I., page 607-608. Marx, Zur Kritik der Hegelischen Rechtsphilosophie.)