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April 8, 2015

Opiates of the people: from religion and cellphones to voting and political correctness…


THE FAMOUS OVERSIMPLIFIED SOUND BITE:

“Religion...is the opium of the people.”
(“Die Religion...ist das Opium des Volks.”)
       Karl Marx (1818-83)
       German philosopher, historian and “Founding Father” of socialism and communism
       In his Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right (1844)
       The quote above (sometimes translated as “Religion...is the opiate of the people” or “Religion...is the opium of the masses”) is the familiar, condensed sound bite taken from a more nuanced point Marx made
in the introduction to A Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right. Here’s what he actually said: “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. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.” 


THE MODERN ZOMBIE APPLICATION:

“Cellphones are the new opiate of the masses, stifling conversation with friends and strangers alike, even worse than those music-carrying earbuds that keep people looking straight ahead like cattle, showing blank, uncurious faces, totally unaware that we might be approaching the slaughterhouse.”
       Tony Vagneur 
       American rancher and newspaper columnist
       In his March 27, 2015 column in the The Aspen Times


THE COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY COUNTERQUOTE:

“REVOLUTION IS THE OPIUM OF THE INTELLECTUALS.”
       Graffiti on a wall in the film
O Lucky Man! (1973)


AN AMERICAN COMMUNIST’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“I think voting is the opium of the masses in this country. Every four years you deaden the pain.”
       Line spoken
the film Reds (1981) by American Communist leader Emma Goldman (played by actress Maureen Stapleton) 
       It does not appear to be taken from Goldman’s actual written works
 


THE ANTI-PC VARIATION:

“Political correctness is the opium of the liberal…It makes them feel good.”  
       Comment in a
letter to the editor in the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, August 20, 2010


THE HOMOSEXUAL TAUTOLOGIST’S VARIATION:

Gudrun (actress Susanne Sachsse): “Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses.”
Holger (actor Daniel Bätscher): “I thought opiates were the opiate of the masses.”
       In the film
The Raspberry Reich (2004)


THE ECONOMISTS’ VARIATION:

“Popular culture distracts and confuses Americans through distorting perceptions of social issues and existing social institutions. If religion was ‘the opium of the masses’ in the nineteenth century, the electronic media is the ‘opium of the masses’ in the late twentieth century.”
       Economists William E. Halal and Kenneth B. Taylor
       In their book 21st Century Economics (1999)

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