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The Opium of the People (A Revolutionary Poem)

May 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 102

Judaism, Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism,Christianity and Islam

True revelation

Or only a means to tranquilize our pain and fear?

This short poem, albeit a waggish one, "The Opium of the People" was named after the famous phrase written by Karl Marx in "A Contribution to Critque Hegel's Philosophy of Right". This text appeared in a journal edited by Marx in 1843. It is arguably one of the most famous statements uttered by the legendary philosopher.

Disciples of Marx are often eager to point out that his statement was part of a larger framework that included his "Theory of Alienation". The "Theory of Alienation" was a core concept in what came to be Marxist theory as it describes individuals who feel alienated from society as they are considered only a means by which capital owners maintain and increase their wealth.

Marx believed that religion was a means by which workers would fill a spiritual void in a system that was essentially exploitative and dehumanizing. As a harsh critic of religion and its impact upon the individual and society, Marx coined a phrase that suggests that many traditional forms of religion often worked to anaesthetize basic human emotions.

Marx believed that these forms would often placate the individual and prevent him or her from attempting to realize their goals which would ultimately be the attainment of human liberty. We can also assume that Marx also used this term to describe the addictive nature of both religion and opium.

In many modern societies it is quite easy to witness many examples that would appear to support this claim. As we consider this phrase in the twenty-first century it might be quite easy to see numerous examples in which it might be rightly applied. At the same time we can see many religious people who are anything but peaceful and calm.

Perhaps it is possible to say that such people in both ancient and modern times are victims of a religion that has undoubtedly run amok. Yet this is certainly no reason to discard the content upon which the phrase is based. Invariably, the essence of the phrase may be based upon the great fragility of human existence and the incapacity of individuals to create rational responses to the unavoidable realities of humankind.This of course is exacerbated by economic inequality and special vulnerabilities that are accentuated by class divisions creating tremendous strife in modern industrialized societies. Each of these ideas that illustrate this condition are no doubt the product of Marxist theory and underly the basic sentiments that exist within the phrase at hand.

Gerald Marchewka is an American freelance writer currently living in Lviv, Ukraine. Gerald's most recent book, "Straight from the Heaven's: Li Bai's Poetry in Retrospect" featuring the illustrations of Seb Fowler is now for sale on Lulu.com Questions about Gerald's other projects may be referred to geraldmarchewka@yahoo.com

Source: EzineArticles
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