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Opium, Prozac

July 31, 2010

Marx suggested (ambivalently, as it is not often noted), that religion was the opiate of the masses.

In Selling Spirituality, Jeremy Carrette and Richard King suggest—in the spirit of Marx—that contemporary spirituality is the prozac of the masses.

Or, in their own words:

Privatised spirituality emerges here as the new cultural prozac bringing transitory feelings of ecstatic happiness and thoughts of self-affirmation, but never addressing sufficiently the underlying problem of social isolation and injustice. (77)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2010 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the pointer to this book, which I have not yet read.

    Do you agree with their assessment? I certainly do.

    You might find this post interesting, not only for the link to Lisa Aldred’s fun and depressing article on “shake and bake shamans,” but also for my reading of the underlying causes:

  2. July 31, 2010 3:45 pm

    Actually, I want to limit my agreement to the selling of what might loosely be called “new age” spirituality, though the evangelical promotion of the “prosperity gospel” fits the paradigm.

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    July 31, 2010 4:10 pm

    They have an overall argument to the effect that modern individualism creates social isolation and the yearning for something to compensate, and that “spirituality” fulfills that yearning.

    They also argue that modern individualism assigns responsibility to individuals rather than social conditions for poverty, and that “spirituality” contributes to the mystification of those social conditions.

    I’m more inclined toward the latter argument than the former; I don’t much agree with the sorts of arguments that allege we’re in some sort of age of disenchantment.

  4. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    July 31, 2010 4:11 pm

    Selling Spirituality is a great book overall; you’d like it, I’m sure.

  5. fuzzytheory permalink
    August 1, 2010 1:51 pm

    It is a good book. I suggest it to anyone.

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