Oct 9, 2021

Marx on Law and Religion

2 Min Read

Karl Marx thought that in order to create a perfect society where the state owns everything and takes care of everyone’s needs, two institutions must be toppled: law and religion. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul describes ideas that we see increasingly in our culture today.

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And so, what Karl Marx called for was the ownership of the means of production by the state to get rid of private ownership of the means of production. He believed that by the state’s owning the tools and owning the means of production, there would be a great leveling of benefits to all of the people and that everybody would profit equally from the welfare of the state, from each according to his ability to each according to his need. But for that to happen takes a revolution, because the structures that are in place in capitalistic societies, according to Marx, are established on the basis of economic vested interest. And the whole superstructure of that society is built on these economic forces, and they are designed to safeguard and perpetuate the vested interests of the ruling class. The two institutions that Marx criticized most radically were law and religion. He said that the capitalist societies say that they build their legal structure on the basis of some transcendent concept of justice where lady justice has a blindfold and natural law dominates. And he said, “No, that is not how it really happens. What really happens is that the legal structure of a given society will always reflect the vested interests of the ruling class.” That is, the laws will favor the rich and disenfranchise the poor; they will favor the owner and be harmful to the worker. And so, the idea of a just society based on natural law is a mythological concept that is perpetrated by the fraud of the ruling classes. This is seen all the more forcibly in the presence of religion. You’ve heard the phrase that wasn’t originated by Marx, but was used by Marx and his followers, that religion is “the opiate of the masses.” That is, religion is used by the ruling class to put the working class (which is always in the majority) asleep, to cause them to be dulled and numbed to their pain. We might use the American cotton plantation during the earlier period of our history that used slave labor. The slaves were encouraged to enjoy their religion and to sing their songs which featured a future reward based upon present obedience. “Swing low sweet chariot, you’re coming forth to carry me home.” “I looked over Jordan, and what did I see? A band of angels coming after me.” The idea was to keep your eyes on heaven, because you’re not going to get anything here. But if you behave yourself and be a good slave, then when you die, you’ll go to heaven, and God will reward you there. And so, Marx said that religion is invented by the ruling class to maintain control over the masses and is used as a tool to exploit them. That’s why he wanted to get rid of not only the false judicial structures of capitalistic society but also of the organized religion that was used as a tool by the owners to keep the workers in line.