Beyond Capital

Polemics, Critique and Analysis

Charlie Hebdo: Religion is opium, it’s heart of the heartless world too

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True, religion is opium of the masses. And the struggle to abolish the situation that makes such opium necessary in the first place will have to include criticism, even criticism with weapons, of not only the purveyors of such opium but even a section of the opiated masses that refuses to kick the habit. And yet, the bearded chap who discovered the opiate that is religion also saw it as the heart of the heartless world, the soul of the soulless condition and the sigh of the oppressed. So all those Hindu and Muslim liberals and leftists, who can well afford their liberalism and leftism, would now do well to wonder what will come of attempts to take such hearts and souls away even as the heartless world and the soulless condition are left intact, and the oppressed continue to be where they are but only with their sighs suppressed? Those liberals and leftists would, in such circumstances, also do well to consider what good their outraged expressions of solidarity with those who seek to suppress the sighs of the oppressed by taking away from them such hearts and souls is doing. Especially, since those expressions of solidarity are, as far as one can see, contributing in no concerted way to abolish the heartless world and the soulless condition that has made the opium of religion(s) necessary in the first place. Or, is all this sheer grandstanding that has less to do with actually changing the world and more to do with cementing their identities as radicals, secularists, atheists, whatever.

Perhaps it will be more productive, particularly at this juncture, to see religion as a dialecticised and dynamic terrain of politics always internally divided between materiality and mystification. The duality that is integral to the identification and designation of religion in terms of the personal and the organised — or the religion(s) of the majorities and religion(s) of the minorities for that matter — must be grasped as no more than an appearance that in the immediateness of such duality is meant to mediate ones access to religion as that internal dialectic of the material and the mystificatory.

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Written by Pothik Ghosh

January 8, 2015 at 3:21 pm

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