Marxist Alienation

Tyranny Unmasked, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

In the traditional Gospel view, because of the fall of Adam, Man is cutoff and separated from God, has become spiritually “dead” and is thus alienated from God and spiritual things. To liberate man from the fall, an At-One-Ment or reconciliation is needed, to bring us into unity with God and the ability to achieve total freedom. This Atonement is provided for us by a Savior, Jesus Christ.

Marx, on the other hand, has it inverted. He claims that man is cutoff not from God but “reality.” Man, according to Marx, invents God and religion as a substitute for relations with the real world. To Marx, religion was “the fantastic realization of the human being inasmuch as the human being possesses no true reality.” 1 Furthermore, Marx claims that man, in this condition, “has lost himself; been alienated. . . [and] is not a real species being.”

Frederich Engels, an associate of Marx, wrote that man is a highly developed animal which has evolved as a consequence of interaction with his material environment. This interaction has taken the form of labor. Through labor, man has developed the ability to communicate and the capacity to reason. The ape became man through labor, and it is labor which distinguishes man from ape. In Marxian theory then, labor replaces God as the creator of humankind, Engels writing that:

Labor . . . is the prime basic condition for all human existence, and this is to such an extent that, in a sense, we have to say that labor created man himself. 3

Sources: 1. Karl Marx, “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” Works of Karl Marx, 1843.  2. Karl Marx, “On The Jewish Question”, Marx Engels Collected Works, Vol 3, p. 159. 3. Frederick Engels, “The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man,” Works of Frederick Engels, 1876.

Tyranny Unmasked is a project of The Moral Liberal. Copyright © 2012 The Moral Liberal.