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Against the background of Marxist views on Law, State, Class, and Property analyse the critique of 'Religion' and 'The Family'.

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Introduction

Question Against the background of Marxist views on Law, State, Class, and Property analyse the critique of 'Religion' and 'The Family'. Answer Marxism is a social theory whose basic proposition is that social change is driven by class conflict. The class is determined by its relationship to the means of commodity production, distribution and exchange. Within a capitalist society the capitalist class control the means of production and the working class provide the means of labour from which surplus value is expropriated by the capitalist class. The surplus value so expropriated is used to develop and shape the institutions in society to serve the interests of the capitalist class and perpetuate their dominance. In this theory the state and its laws provide the primary control mechanisms for ensuring a subordinated and compliant working class. Religion provides the moral and spiritual edifice to justify the circumstances that the working class find themselves in. The institution of the family provides both a functional role in producing and socialising the labour force required by the capitalist economy. In order to understand how, within the Marxist paradigm, the various institutions of a capitalist society can contribute to the maintenance of the capitalist system, we need to explore the key institutions of the state, law, class, property, religion and the family. Within the history of man we can see that societies have existed without a formally instituted state. This can be seen in societies such as the antipodean aborigines or the American Indians. ...read more.

Middle

Thus as McIntyre says 'in ancient Greek religion, the power of necessity was personified (i.e. need - ananke)'. George Thomas stated 'the gods are personifications of the powers that dominate human life.' With this in mind, once these powers - nature - do not dominate mans life there will be no need for religion. This is how Marx hopes to do away with religion. Marxist sees religion as the explanation of the phenomena that is seen all around us that are alternative to a scientific explanation. Marx, being a materialist, inherited the belief of 'being' precedes consciousness and not vice versa. By 'being' Marx understood it to mean the essence of man - meaning all that is - which is understood as a 'complex organisation of atoms'. Engels relates 'matter in motion' as the formula for this. Since everything can be explained under this formula, religious explanations of phenomena have to be excluded. Marxists also see another side to religion not just as the 'opiate of the masses' or 'a sigh of the oppressed' but as the 'heart of the heartless world' Due to the fact that a completely secular world had 'not emerged among the working class, or progressive intellectuals for that matter' (MacIntyre), Marx viewed religion as having a reactionary role in perpetuating the existing order. However, religion is not a matter of intellect but social needs. If the objective circumstances that produce these needs were removed then religion would become obsolete. Engels thought the English working class was in the ideal state for secularization. ...read more.

Conclusion

Marx believed that under capitalism production within the family has been separated from production organised as wage labour so that the 'economic' functions of the family are obscured. Material production was understood as to be natural prior to capitalism, however economic production under capitalism is understood to be as a 'human' realm outside nature (Mitchell et al). As industrial capitalism developed there was transference of the economic production from the family unit to the large-scale corporate unit. In conclusion we can see that capitalism has inherited the authoritarian family. Capitalism draws from 'the past' and uses the family to 'support its main mechanisms of social control.' But religion is significantly different; both in character and function from Marxism, and this can be said of the authoritarian family. The family and religion do not stand already completed, somehow outside capitalism. They exist as interacting dimensions of capitalist life, helping to shape the same mode of production, which in the last analysis determines their particular forms and functions. Marxist views on the institutions of society derive from, and are the consequences of class conflict. Each social formation will have a dominant class. Under capitalism the capitalist exercise hegemony. However they have inherited social institutions, Law, State, Family and Religion and these will be shaped to form the ideological and real components of social and personal life. This shaping is an expression of the interest of the dominant class as these evolve over time. We have seen how the state and its laws have developed to strengthen the social relations of production that are required to sustain the capitalist mode of production. ...read more.

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