The Opiate of Intellectuals

Scholars have debated the centrality of his rejection of religion to the Marxist scheme.

I propose atheism is fundamental to Marxism, but it is an odd form of atheism, for it follows the form of Gnostic heresy. Marxism, in other words, is an atheist religion.

In  the Introduction his A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right [First published in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, February 1844] in the opening sentence, Karl Marx states: “For Germany, the criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism.” (italics in the original)

With these words, Marx himself defines the atheist rejection of religion as a prerequisite to all criticism.

“All criticism” here means all further effort of his grandiose scheme of remaking the suffering world of man into utopia.

More to the point, overlooked by scholars, these words also adumbrate that religion is absolutely central to the Marxist scheme because it is a religious scheme.

The world-revolution of Marx is an ersatz Armageddon or Gotterdammerung. His utopia is an ersatz New Jerusalem.

Marx is not a political reformer, but a heretic.

He is not proposing a new form of government, but a new god.

The heresy is a atheist form of Gnosticism, for it bears several earmarks unique to Gnosticism, here expressed as secular parallels.

Gnosticism, briefly put, is the proposition that man is secretly god, and that God is a demiurge or devilish jailor, who incarcerated the souls of the enlightened into amnesia, trapped them in the vulgar degradation of flesh and fleshly desires, and inflicted boundless misery on us all. Only via a secret and esoteric enlightenment, called gnosis, can the inner light of the soul flame to brightness, shatter his chains, and overthrow the false world of matter, escaping into a higher realm of boundless freedom.

Gnostic account differ widely, but five common elements are seen in all: (1) the demiurge is the architect of the world who created it to benefit himself at the expense of all other souls; (2) The world is false, a deception and a prison cell, meant only to enslave, with no beneficial aspect; (3) Only the enlightened see the world’s falsehood; (4) Through this enlightenment, the enlightened will escape the world, overthrow the demiurge, and return to their rightful seats as gods; (5) God is the devil and Man is God.

Instead of the whole cosmos, in Marx, (1) the world is the human world, that is, human social order. It was created by the ruling class for its own benefit at the expense of all others. (2) The human social order is a deception and a prison. (3) Only the “woke” can perceive this prison for what it is: all others are deceived by class consciousness, self-interest, or false consciousness. (4) World revolution will overthrow the social order, establish utopia, and return the downtrodden to their rightful sovereignty. (5) Religion is manmade, for man is the master and father and maker of man. Man is the only god of Man.

Or to put it even more briefly, Marxism is the proposition that man is destined by history to usurp the throne of god, and to create a new world: Man creating Man in Man’s own image.

If it strikes the reader as odd, or even insane, to propose that an atheist god should rule over a secular version of heaven of earth, or that Man shall create Man, self-fathering and self-creating, the oddity is in the original.

By dressing up his heresy in secular language, Marx avoids drawing attention to the paradox inherent in his utopian effort.

The central weapon of that effort is “criticism”, a term that, for Marxists, has nothing to do with criticism, but means the opposite. In honest vocabulary, the word “criticism” means impartial judgment, uncovering flaws and perhaps offering constructive suggestions to correct them.

In the Orwellian jargon of Marxists, however, “criticism” means to unmask and thereby destroy an “ideology”.

In Marxist jargon “Ideology” refers to beliefs justifying the false world-system, that is, the false system of laws, customs, institutions ruling man’s world and sustaining all the social institutions, marketplaces, denominations, nations. All such beliefs are self-serving deceptions promoted by the architects and beneficiaries of institutional and systemic injustices that control, exploit, and incarcerate the whole world. Currently, the preferred term for “ideology” is “narrative.”

For Marx, unmasking a narrative will end it, and the oppression it supports.

For Marx, those deceived by the narrative of the world-system are benighted, possessed by false consciousness, hence benighted, brainwashed, and bedeviled into supporting their own exploiters. Those rejecting the world-system are enlightened. The currently preferred term for this enlightenment is the “woke” or “wokeness”. (Note the Orwellian ungrammaticality; the term should be “awakened” or “wakefulness”.)

To unmask a narrative, all any accusation need do is level an accusation of bad faith. The accusation is always of having a sinister ulterior motive to benefit oneself or one’s own class by oppressing others: as when anti-abortionists are accused, not of opposing child-murder, but opposing women’s liberation; or as when “Build the Wall” partisans are accused, not of opposing open borders, but of promoting white supremacy.

Not even the slightest scintilla of evidence is ever proffered for any accusation, because, for Marx, the mere act of levelling the accusation destroys the false narrative, frees the oppressed, and saves the day. The accuser is the savior.

This is not the accusation as the prosecutor in a court of law might make, reciting the elements of a crime, each one of which he must prove to get a conviction. It is the voice of the rooster calling the dawn and rousing the sleeper.

The reason why no argument need be made is that, for the Marxist, all his dogmatic assertions are self-evident to the enlightened, and are incommunicable to the benighted. All truth is internal, simple, self-evident. He need observe no proof, nor confirm conclusions with chains of reasoning. He need only consult his inner sense of certainty. Feelings trump facts.

“Criticism” in Marxist jargon means rejection, abnegation, abolition of the false beliefs of the false world-system.

There is no impartiality, no examination of evidence, no actual criticism of the false world. One need not prove it false.  It is false by definition. It is condemned without trial, without discussion, without reflection.

This utter lack of intellectual integrity, this insolently obvious deception and self-deception is not the unfortunate error of a few fringe zealots misapplying Marxist doctrine. Deception is the doctrine. Self-deception is the core of the mission of Marx, and the point of the effort.

Hence, translated out of its jargon, this opening sentence reads, “For Germany, the unmasking hence the abolition of religion as self-serving falsehood has been completed, and unmasking religion is a prerequisite to unmasking all the other falsehoods supporting the current laws, customs, institutions, nations, and markets, which will abolish them.”

In other words, the abolition of religion is absolutely central to Marxist thought. Anti-religion is  axiomatic.

Following the time of Constantine, the laws, customs, institutions of Europe and her colonies have been founded on Christian principles and aimed at Christian ends. Common Law and Continental Law is ultimately founded on Canon Law and New Testament teachings. Those who wish to trace the genealogy of Western thought to Roman and Greek roots can only do so via many generations of Roman Christianity. The Gospels are a product of mingled classical and Jewish culture, as were the Apostles themselves, as was the land of their birth in the day they lived.

Hence, Marx in his indirect and Orwellian way, is uttering a simple truth: Christendom cannot be undermined without undermining Christ.

Marx continues: “The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man.”

Rarely has any one epigram contained so much silliness, untruth, and hubris in so few words.

Marx is not here talking about men like L Ron Hubbard or Mohammed who make a cult of their own contrivance, out of their own convictions or to serve their own convenience.

He continues in a dithering of word salad:

“Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.”

No, Marx here is speaking of religion as the psychological reflection of the mass mind of mankind, where this selfsame mass mind is shaped and informed by his surrounding social order.  Marx is speaking of man not as individual, but as a marionette whose strings are pulled by social order to set him in motion: Man is a miniature reflection or microcosm of his culture.

Marx is rejecting religion as false because the cultural institutions it creates are false.

Interpreted and unpacked, here he is saying man makes the psychological reflection of the social order which in turn makes man. Reforming the social order will reform man.


The epigram is silly because, by claiming man makes religion, and by claiming religion is no more than the false attribution to a supernatural source the moral sense, laws and customs arising from the manmade social order, Marx is here claiming man makes the social order that makes him.

As if one were to proclaim “chickens do not come from eggs, but eggs from chickens.” Read the sentence backward and forward, or read it how you will, and it still makes no sense. The sentence does not identify the origin of chickenhood itself. It not say identify the source of whatever property it is that makes a chicken and not a duck or goose. To say birds hatch is merely to say that they are birds rather than mammals.

Likewise, to say that one generation of man passes along cultural legacies to the next is merely to say such men lives as men do, in tribes and towns, rather than as beasts.

No chicken decided in his chicken-brain to make chickens have the properties of chickenhood, and then took steps to bring about that result.

Also, the epigram, by speaking of mankind as a single body, grants the race credit for all things manmade, which surely includes all the tools and institutions of civilization. But the universal facts of human life, including basic problems those tools are meant to solve, are not manmade.

Marx holds man to be his own father. We create ourselves from the social order we ourselves create.

To the contrary, current culture arises from prior culture, which arises from nature and nature’s God. Human nature is something we inherit and pass on, not something we invent. We invent the institutions for dealing with human nature.

We invent farming; we did not invent hunger. Hunger is natural. We solemnize marriage; we did not invent mammalian reproduction, sexual dimorphism, nor the need to care for the young. Sex is natural. We invent jokes; we did not grant Man the power to laugh. Laughter is natural.

The eternal verity of man’s nature, including the hunger and satiety, love and loss, laughter and woe, poverty and plenty, peace and war, and all things endemic to mortal life, is precisely what man does not and cannot invent.


The epigram is hubris because it implies the ability to change human nature, not in heaven with Christ, nor after endless reincarnations with Buddha, but here and now, by unaided human effort alone.

The epigram is hubris because holds religious belief and practice to be by product of the social order. Men do not arrange their laws and customs for the sake of obeying the commandments of God; instead men invent gods and counterfeit His commandments for the sake of tricking the victim-groups exploited by the social order into obedience.

This is not merely the secular theory of religion, which says religion is manmade. This says religion is manmade only by evil men, and solely for evil reasons.

We may dub this the ” Sarapisist ” theory of religion, after the famous idol of Alexandria, allegedly of solid gold, which, when pulled down by Christians, proved hollow. The rat-infested cavity within was equipped with a speaking tube used by crafty priests to mimic oracles issuing from the idol’s mouth.

The magnitude of the hubris in the epigram of Marx is not seen until the sentence is put in context.

By saying man makes religion, Marx is saying the religion of Christ, and hence all Christendom, must be overthrown and replaced by a worldview he himself has devised or discerned, from which Utopia will arise.

In other words,  Marx ( and each Marxist following him) arrogates to himself the rights and privileges of God Almighty, to say what commandments of morality and law shall be established and obeyed.

Marx is proposing destroying the civilized world in the deluded conviction of remaking all anew, perfect and without flaw, a new heaven and a new earth.

No madman could make a claim more megalomaniacal.


That the epigram is untrue is too obvious to dwell on: but the magnitude of the untruth is astonishing.

Please note that not just the whole edifice of religion, all the rites, sacrifices, and dogmas of mankind, every acolyte and apostle and temple and fane, every baptism and burial, is here being dismissed, but all parts of the social order as well, all laws, customs, and institutions, from marketplace to marriage to military orders, monasteries, monarchy, language, courtesies, art, entertainment, everything.

In this one sentence, Man makes religion, Marx condemns the whole world as false.

Marx proposes the world to be a false and sinister trap, designed to insnare the unwary into lifelong incarceration and exploitation. To free them, the whole world must be smashed, every law, custom and institution. Marx is the God of Noah, for he sees the wickedness of man is great in the earth.

What you and I see is private property, free trade, and economic progress saving children from starvation, democracies recognizing and protecting the rights of pauper and plutocrat alike, loving households bonded in lifelong marriage, civilization conquering barbarians, laws deterring crime.

What he sees, looking at the self same world, is capitalists exploiting serfs, despots exploiting proles, patriarchy exploiting women, colonialism exploiting native, police states exploiting dispossessed. Marx looks at prosperity, growth, happiness and civilization and sees that every imagination of the thoughts of the heart of man is only evil continually.

Every human relationship, no matter how innocent or mutually beneficial, Marx sees as malign.

Like Gulliver returning from Houyhnhnmland, Marx see no humans, only yahoos.

Marx as the solution to a purely imaginary problem proposes Gotterdammerung. That is the magnitude of the error here.

The problem is not poverty. The problem is not injustice and suffering, or man’s sense of alienation from nature. Nothing in Marx alleges any cure to those problems nor even addresses them.

For example, Marx quite naively asserts that efficiencies of scale make inevitable ever-growing world-monopolies controlled an ever-shrinking circle of plutocrats, as marketplace forces drive wages down to starvation levels. He also predicts a violent world-revolution to abolish private property and usher in utopia, where, after a short transitional midwife of proletarian dictatorship, all property would be generated spontaneously by the able, working for no reward, and distributed on the basis of need. Then  said dictatorship would softly and silently vanish away, as no laws and no law enforcement will be needed thereafter.

Marx says not a single word to explain why, in utopia, the efficiencies of scale no longer make monopoly inevitable, or why the marketplace forces no longer reduce wages.

In other words, he does not say how the twin problems of the inevitability of monopoly and the progressive immiseration of the masses are to be solved.

If anything, the proposed solutions of abolishing all private property and reducing all laws to the will of a mass dictatorship would expand, not shrink, the problems.

The abolition of private property would abolish all wages, including the starvation wages on which the starving live. Likewise, if monopolies were created by solely efficiencies of scale (they are not, but let us say they were) then abolishing private property would abolish not just large scale efficiency, but all efficiency. The benefit of specialization of labor would be lost. Each man would have only what his own labor could gain, except, of course,  with private property is outlawed, labor gains him nothing.

And how depriving a starving man of his last bowl of gruel somehow solves problems of injustice, suffering, alienation, and so on is likewise never addressed, never adumbrated.

It is merely asserted that man will become godlike, and the conditions of gods living in utopia are unimaginable to mortals, so the matter may never be discussed. The socialist cannot discuss how the socialist commonwealth will operate. Topic closed.

So, to reiterate, the problem of poverty, injustice, suffering, alienation, is never addressed by Marx. That is not the problem he seeks to cure.

The problem Marx seeks to cure is the overthrow of the architects and beneficiaries of the world-system who are the sole and malign authors of the poverty, injustice, suffering and alienation afflicting man. These sadistic architects impose these evils solely in order to rob, humiliate, and otherwise exploit the oppressed.

Since these architects are imaginary, and the exploitation is imagination, the problem is imaginary.

The solution of Gotterdammerung would not reduce man to cave-man levels. Cave-men own caves. Paleolithic tribesmen own the spearheads painstakingly knapped from flint, or the bearskin loincloth girding him. But if no man has spear nor loincloth to call his own, he will run on the ground as naked as a beast, empty-handed, and with no cleft in the rock to crouch in fear of wind and rain. Man would be reduced to the level of a beast.

Even if the problem were real, and the solution were Gotterdammerung, there is not a word in Marx, not a syllable, not an iota, explaining why, once utopia restored us to this primordial condition of bestial equality, the same type of clever evildoers who created the curse of poverty and injustice to benefit themselves in the days of prehistory, would not do the same and for the same reasons in the days of posthistory, and deceive their fellows into erecting a false world-system again.

Marx is not suggesting the abolition of one or two social institutions, laws, or customs, nor only those pertaining to Western civilization since the Bronze Age. He would abolish everything human. Such is the magnitude of error packed into this one short sentence of nonsense.


And the blasphemy atop the error is that by saying religion does not make man, he not only condemns all humanity (aside from his inerrant and enlightened self, of course) to be hypocrites if they know their faith is false, or fools if they do not; he also asserts that no god aside from man creates the world and all things found within, including man.

He is saying, in effect, that man is god, and the creator of reality. Of course, “reality”, in Marxist jargon, does not mean reality, but means the perception of reality, our consciousness of it.

His words: “Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.”

Idiotic. He is here saying that religion is a false consciousness, a false account of the world, which makes a man adopt a false account of himself. When man knows the true world, he finds his true self (for man is the microcosm of his culture) and “wins through” to this true self.

The idea that an inner and hidden self, a divine self, lurks behind one’s false self-identity comes from the esoteric tradition of Gnosticism. It is a hermetic belief.

In his next sentence, Marx writes:

“But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world.”

Here he combines two idiotic ideas.

First, collectivism is the idea that man has no identity aside from the that imposed on him by the social order, i.e. the world of man, his nation and society. This is the idea mentioned above that man is a marionette of the social order, and a microcosm of his culture.

Man is the word of man. Man is the social order writ small.

Second, secularism holds that man invents gods. What I have dubbed “Sarapisism” is the version of the secularist theory that hold that man invents gods for sinister and self-serving reasons, as a deception of priestcraft, meant to awe underlings into obedience to the social order, which, in this theory, is parasitical rather than symbiotic.

A secularist might entertain the notion that some religious institutions are mutually beneficial to all involved. A sarapisist holds no benefit accrues to the deceived: Only the architects of the social order benefit from it, and always at the expense of their victims. Religion is entirely deceitful, offers no comfort, forgives no sins, explains no mysteries

These two idiotic ideas are combined by Marx. If man is a marionette of the social order, and if man invents gods, then it is the social order that invents the gods.

Marx presses on, ending in what is perhaps his most famous epigram of all:

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

In effect, he is saying because the social order is heartless and soulless, that is, a system of cruel and malign exploitation, the simple folk turn to religion as escapism, as a benumbing drug and hallucination. The suffering is real but the escape is delusion.

Even a cursory examination of non-Christian cultures or post-Christian cults puts an end to this outrageous libel: see, for example, infanticide, slavery, polygamy, sodomy, human sacrifice. There are no societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals outside Christian origin.

To call the sole source of human moral progress in all history an opiate is perhaps the single most outrageously false statement of all history. To the contrary, Christianity is the sole pharmaceutical which ever introduced a permanent progress from worse to better in all of time.

The only accusations of evil cast as a curse in the face of the Mother Church are, first, accusations all other men do and moreso, such as slavery; or, second, accusations which would not exist had it not been for her, as when the Church is accused of hindering scientific progress despite that scientific progress was invented by the Church, or as when the Church is accused of insufficiently helping the poor, despite that no pagan religion proposes helping the poor.

The lie told by the serpent to Eve in Eden was not more false than this, for they are the same lie, cast in different words.

Marx is calling religion false because Christians do not worship the god of Marx, which is an imaginary New Man or Superman fated to spring out of utopia, once he, by creating utopia, creates himself.

In truth, Marxism is the opium, and not one craved by the poor, the downtrodden, and the dispossessed. Only the children of privilege and wealth flock to Marxism, half-educated students with half-baked ideas, or malign malcontents seeking to blame society for their own shortcomings, or to find a shortcut to moral self-congratulation.

Marxism is a mental drug for those afraid to seek God, an opium to benumb the enflamed conscience, to inflate the lapsed sense of self-worth, the flattery of a neurotic ego. It gives a sense of pride and purpose to boys who otherwise have nothing to be proud of, and can accomplishing nothing purposeful.

It is an hallucination. If Marxism were real, it would be rational and self-consistent, as all real things are.