Conservative Force - Marxism

An overview of the marxist theory / perspective on religion and conservative force.

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Conservative Force ­ Marxist Perspective
Religion is a dominant ideology. Belief system used by ruling class shapes peoples
views of the world and reinforces false class consciousness by working class of fact
they are being exploited. ALTHUSSER says religion is an `IDEOLOGICAL STATE
APPARATUS' ­ an institution spreading the dominant ideology. GRAMSCI cites
HEGEMONY which is acceptance by people of their position
1) Acts as `opium of people' cushions pain of oppression
Afterlife ­ Religion promises eventual escape in this life with promises of an
ecstatic future in life after death. Justifies ­ Provides religious justification for
inequality i.e. Hindu caste system. Miracles ­ Offers hope of supernatural
intervention to solve problems on earth i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses/Battle of
Armageddon...this promised future encourages people to accept their position in
2) Legitimises and maintains power of ruling class
Marxists see religion as an instrument of social control/oppression used by the
ruling class to justify their power and material wealth. Wealth and power illustrated as
God-given therefore legitimised and inevitable. So the inequality o rich/poor can't be
challenged without challenging God's authority himself.
Examples: Hindu Caste System ­ protects higher position of higher castes.
Divine Right. Religion has even turned kings into Gods Pharaohs.
Marxists ignore religion as powerful resistance leading to social change.
-Liberation Theology: S America 60s/70s ­ priests fought poverty/political
dictators. Jesus portrayed as revolutionary. Counter- Hegemony.
-Islam: Fundamentalist resists global influence of Western Imperialism and resists
their dominance on world economy and culture.
-Iran: Islamic revolution led to Islamic republic.


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