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 criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.
You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there is neither honor nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom.Marquis de Sade
Their so-called religion acts merely as an opiate: irritating, numbing, calming their pain out of weakness.Novalis
Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.
And now for something closer to today's American politics, a recent article from the New York Times:
WHO is happier about life — liberals or conservatives?... Scholars on both the left and right have studied this question extensively, and have reached a consensus that it is conservatives who possess the happiness edge. Many data sets show this. For example, the Pew Research Center in 2006 reported that conservative Republicans were 68 percent more likely than liberal Democrats to say they were “very happy” about their lives. This pattern has persisted for decades.
The article then goes into a long explanation of why conservatives are happier than liberals - but I propose a different point of view. Maybe the cause-n-effect equation is reversed. How about this hypothesis - unhappy people need the opium to dull their pain - and they turn to liberalism as a result.
Re-read the quotes I provided above, and substitute the word "religion" for "liberalism", and you will see an alternative explanation, an explanation which rings true to many.
Everyone knows the stories of the children of rich people, who without any talents or skills turn to political activism. This happens so often, that the people invented the terms to diagnose this condition: "limousine liberals", "champagne liberals" and "trust-fund liberals". Also, one should not forget the second (and much more numerous class) of liberals - the so-called "victims" of perceived "racism", "sexism", "lookism", "agism" and all other types of discrimination.
In truth, it's undeniable that liberalism often acts as an opiate to many people, a meaning to otherwise useless creatures like Ted Kennedy, and an excuse for millions of failed human beings in the ghettos and projects. If we want our society to progress, we need to rid ourselves of the liberal illusions that cloud our minds. This is the only way to revive our nation.
P.S. In my post the term "liberalism" is used exclusively to describe a bizarre American left-wing ideology also known as "progressivism". There is no doubt that true liberalism, the ideology that was birthed in Britain by Adam Smith, Hume and others has very little in common with American "liberalism". In fact, I consider myself a classical European liberal - following the footsteps of Adam Smith, Frederich Hayek and Milton Friedman.