Religion Vs Tocqueville Religion

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Tocqueville observes that America’s recent birth creates the only natural experiment in world history, allowing ‘political scientists’ like himself to “watch the natural quiet growth of society” . Holding the societal characteristics of Americans and Europeans equal, Tocqueville can isolate the exact causal mechanism – religion – that defined America’s national character since its historical inception. Religion also primed America for a divergent fate from Europe , along a comparatively rapid path toward democracy. Conversely, Marx asserts that we cannot examine change by reasoning forward and rationalising why things had to be. Marx attributes his contemporaries’ failure to recognise the real basis for change to the Hegelian tendency to hark…show more content…
Social change stems from conflicts between the relations and forces of production . However, as an “ideological form” , religion only arises when the ruling classes – those in control of the mode of production – represent their interest as the common interest. Ideas that served these interests also became “the only rational, universally valid ones” . Therefore, while Marx would agree with Tocqueville that religion promotes the incumbent social order, he notes that religion traces its origins and growth from the mode of production . Religion thus serves to solidify the unjust status of the ruling class , rather than pave the way for the stadial progress of history. Instead, the basis of historical progress and change, by Marx’s world-historical view, is the spread of capitalism when “actuated solely by the spirit of gain” to enslave more and more individuals . In India, where the ancient religion is one of “self-torturing asceticism” , the misery inflicted by capitalism is a necessary driver of social change, inspiring the “Hindoos” to “throw off the English yoke” . Similarly, Marx notes that the “medium of England” ended the isolation of “Old China” by tilting the balance of trade in England’s favour and subsequently by winning the Opium War . Marx hoped for the de-legitimation of the Chinese state to lead to its dissolution and subsequently spark revolutions in England and Europe when their economic markets are affected . In both India and China, religion plays no part in advancing social change, and may even have stagnated the stadial progress of history. Instead, Marx attributes the dynamism throughout history to the desire for endless capital accumulation, which will motivate the development of the world market, facilitate
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