Karl Mark, the infamous exponent of socialism/communism/collectivism, writes in his “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, “Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”
Marx realized that religion was a solace for the hard realities of life, and he (and Friedrich Engels) codified a system of propaganda, economics and totalitarian government which is intended to substitute for religion. They dreamed up an all powerful, pervasive government as solace for the people.
Marx and Engels devised socialism as college students in the mid 1800s, before the U.S. Civil War. Marx and Engels were envious of the power of religion to meet a real need of the people, more than they were critical of religion. They wanted their socialism to become the opium of the people, and it does so. Of course, opium solves immediate pain, but opium is also addictive and leads to counter-productive changes in behavior. Thus, Marx’s opium metaphor is illusory and false; the solace of socialism is illusory and false. It may treat an immediate symptom, but in the end its repeated use creates worse problems than before. Their sophomoric ideas of economics and government, their illusions, are quickly gone after the revolution, and replaced by painful, deadly and soul-less tyranny anytime and everywhere it is tried. It cannot be done differently this time or next time. The damage is done. When you run out of other people’s opium, you soon suffer a painful death.