Marx And Weber: Marxism And Communism

968 Words 4 Pages
Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) was a German philosopher, sociologist, economist, and political theorist, particularly known for his political theories of Marxism and Communism. Max Weber (1864 – 1920), who along with Durkheim was influenced by Karl Marx, was a German philosopher, and sociologist, educated in law, history, theology, and economics. Both were highly influential in the field of sociology, and both commented on the nature of religion. However, their ideas on the subject did differ. This essay will aim to identify and explain the ideas and approaches of Marx and Weber towards religion. Marx believed religion to be an illusion caused by exploitation and suffering due to social and economic circumstance. Weber theorised on the development …show more content…
Marx thought of religion as an ideology, and saw it, as with all ideologies, as being founded and determined by the material circumstance of people’s lives in society (Marx and Caute 1967, p.84). Marx saw religion as very detrimental, as it prevents people from seeing their exploitation and revolting against it, therefore stopping them from reaching their full potential as human beings. For Marx, religion was useful for the exploiters as it could be used to manipulate and control the workers. For example, religion encourages the submission of workers to authority of state institutions by reflecting the need to submit to a divine authority (Marx and Engels 2012, p.37). Another way religion keeps people oppressed is by discouraging critique of beliefs (Herling 2015, p.92), and by extension, the critique of the social structure. However, he also saw religion as being that which expressed the suffering of the oppressed. In order for real happiness to be achieved, the illusory happiness given by religion needed to be abolished. Marx also believed that religion would no longer exist when the idea social system was reached, as he saw religion as having no substance without negative economic circumstance (Riesebrandt and Konieczny 2010, p.147; Herling 2015, …show more content…
One criticism is that Marx restricts his analysis to the sociological perspective, disregarding any other arguments on the nature of religion which may relate to other fields, for example, the arguments of religion being an individual experience from a more theological perspective. Like Feuerbach and Freud, Marx was a reductionist, and he attempted to explain religion as an illusionary response people have due to their social circumstance (Chryssides and Geaves 2014, p.141) without considering any other basis for religious belief than economic factors. Marx was also an atheist, and his negative view towards religion may have influenced his views, giving his beliefs on religion a negative bias. Marx’s observations of his contemporary society and the effects of the system on people may be correct, but his theories may neglect a wider worldview. Similarly, Marx’s idea that the abolition of the illusion of religion is enough to form a perfect society is perhaps too optimistic. Indeed, while many self-proclaimed communist states, such as the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, were influenced by Marx’s ideas and reject religion (Moyser 2010, p.454), they are not without social problems. However, the criticism of these problems may be better placed against Marx’s idea of the success of a classless society. A final argument is

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