Friday, May 28, 2010

Consumerism is the new opium of the masses

Religion, as Karl Marx once claimed, was the opiate of the people.

What he was trying to say is that religion fills a void in people's lives when they become disaffected and disillusioned - unhappy - and creates an "illusion" of happiness.

Of course, Marx, being a revolutionary atheist, didn't understand that what religion - or, specifically, Christianity - actually did was provide the comfort and contentment through which people attain real happiness rather than an illusion of it.

However, in our modern world where Christianity has been all but abolished by secular atheist militancy, it is no surprise that people turned to other things to try and fill the voids in their lives and provide the contentment and comfort which leads to happiness. And, as is the way of the modern world, the people didn't turn to something which requires thought, discipline and time but turned instead for quick fixes.

For a lot of people that means real drugs - hard drugs - but for many millions more they use something else. They use the quick fix of consumerism. Go out and buy something and, for a brief, fleeting moment you will attain happiness. What else explains the reaction to the launch of Apple's iPad - with people queueing up overnight to buy one and describing themselves as "elated"?

It's a quick fix to a problem that won't go away. The "high" induced by buying something new will quickly wash away and the consumer junkie will be compelled to go out and find their next "fix" as they search for that elusive peace and contentment which so many people find is missing from their lives.

Consumerism has become the new opium for the masses - but unlike religion which really can provide comfort and contentment, consumerism creates a truly illusory delusion of happiness and one which requires ever higher dosages to fill the void. It is also certain, ultimately, to fail.

As a nation we've turned to consumerism as a quick fix to the problem of attaining happiness. We build our temples in the form of out of town shopping malls - ever larger, ever more grand - and worship at the altar of our new gods - Ikea, Next, Sony and so on - every Saturday and Sunday. We give generously of our wealth in return for a shiny, new possession which we will display and worship at home.

Welcome to the new secular atheist religion - the new opium for the people. Unlike Christianity, it won't help you achieve happiness and you'll end up deep in debt, but at least you'll be able to be miserable comfortably. For a while, anyway.


Antisthenes said...

"What he was trying to say is that religion fills a void in people's lives when they become disaffected and disillusioned - unhappy - and creates an "illusion" of happiness."

I do not think Marx's meant that at all I believe he saw religion as a way of controlling the masses. The idea being if the masses thought there was a better life waiting them in the afterlife the masses were more prepared to put up with the poor conditions of this life.

Stan said...

If that had been the case, Antisthenes, then why was he so keen to see it abolished? He would have seen it as a tool for rather than a barrier to communism.

Antisthenes said...

No he saw it religion as a tool being used by ruling elite to control the masses, which it was and therefore a barrier to communism. Besides his aim was to free the proles not to control them. It is only later under rulers like Stalin that communism was perverted and moved in a direction that Marx never advocated. However communism failed because Marx's theories were flawed and his assumptions wrong.

Richard Matthews said...

It always irritates me when somebody purchases the latest gadget (say iPhone) they boast about it as if they'd invented the thing. No, you didn't invent it, you just bought it. I could do that but I don't want to.

On Karl Marx: did he not state that for his system to work there would have to be a fundamental change in human nature? In other words, it would never work.