Fromm's book gives a great insight into the 'authoritarian personality,' first developed by Fromm's 'Fascist-scale' or as it is better known the 'F-scale.' This scale later became the center piece for Adorno's book 'The Authoritarian Personality'. Fromm's "main thesis concerns the twofold aspect of freedom: on the one hand freedom means the liberation from those 'primary bonds' which tied man to nature or which, in the clan or in the feudal society, tied him to the authorities of society and to his fellow men from whom he is not yet set apart as an 'individual.' Such 'freedom from' is not as yet a positive freedom ('freedom to'). Positive freedom, according to Fromm, 'is identical with the full realization of the individual's potentialities, together with his ability to live actively and spontaneously'" - Ernest G. Schachtel, Studies in Philosophy and Social Science (vol. 9 - 1941). According to Schachtel, Fromm's 'Escape from Freedom' is perhaps the most important contribution to the description and analysis of automaton conformity. It is a well written book, accessible to all.
There is a lack of freedom in our world, even in the best of democracy.
Unfortunately, the only reason we are not free is because we choose not to be. In fact we are trying very hard to escape from freedom just like the title says and that is a very pessimistic thought. If there was a plot to keep us from reaching our individual freedom like some people think, that would be optimistic - In that case we could have a revolution. But the way things are we need billions of inner revolutions, and that's an implausible scenario.
All essential problems of human situation are thoroughly and clearly described in one place. If you are unhappy with your life, your surroundings, or feel weltschmerz of some kind, you'll find all the answers right here. It is incredible that book which is read so lightly almost like some novel, is so filled with wisdom and deepest understanding of human mind and it's problems.
In my opinion Erich Fromm and his entire opus are by far the most important event in Psychology and Sociology in this century.
Well, take it from someone who has a degree in Philosophy from Harvard, I have to disagree with a large number of reviews. Strangely enough they often start by saying they went to some big shot college which therefore I gather is supposed to make their review more insightful, though this in itself is a basic philosophical fallacy (that of appeal to authority). You needn't agree with Fromm's conclusions to find this an utterly worthwhile read. In fact, puncturing holes in the arguments of political philosophers is an interesting hobby in itself, and Fromm presents some tempting targets for Randian libertarians. As a junior in college, I took a course in political philosophy at the University of Michigan, which boasts a hypothetical pre-civilization 'state of nature' (as have several other imporant philosophers over the centuries). This provide a foundation from which to argue that you must read this book. You will either find ideas that you can use to define your own world-view or you will find the weapons that others will use against your own position. Some language may offend parents, but overall, a must read for those interested in a playful and fun approach to some kind of system that will somehow control human greed and selfishness as soon as possible.
Fromm's main achievement consisted in emphasising the Weberian view of religion in providing capitalism with its major impetus. His analysis of Calvinism and Protestatism is certianly worth considering especially if juxstaposed against other belief systems that stemmed the tide of capitalism in its earliest stages in China and 18th and 19th century Japan. Fromm's psychoanalytic background allowed him to develop further Adorno's conception of the authoritarin personality and middle-class facination with Nazi and Fascist leaders. And although the ideas are complex, fromm's style is highly accessible. His arguments are not always flawless and may sometimes reflect fromm's emotiveness in addressing issues that require objectivity. On the whole, it is a good read and provides a good introduction to anyone wishing to delve further into the thought of the Frankfurt school.
This is probably THE Fromm opus, a productive blend of Hasidism, Marxism, existentialism, Freud, and a host of other thinkers all amalgamated into Fromm's discussion of the problem of freedom in the West.
The thesis of this highly illuminating book is that in order to escape a sense of anomie and its attendant seeming rootlessness many people resort to things in society that superimpose an identity on them, a kind of drive-up window for a world view if you will. Thus you get things like religious cults and Nazis at the extreme and Republicanism and Liberalism more toward the center. The ultimate message of this book is to think for yourself and try not to give in to the comfort of a group and its inherently limiting regulations.
By detailing man's progression from a feudal society to our current status of individual freedom (unconnectedness), Fromm illuminates the motivating factors of man's desire to belong. This book exposes many societally accepted maneuvers we use to rejoin ourselves with nature and details painful consequences of our "freedom" and isolation.
I always vote Republican, but I'm not of the school that capitalism is WONDERFUL and flawless. This book shows the psychological cost of a hyper-competitive economic system. It's better than any other system, but, like human beings and life itself, it is flawed. Fromm is wonderfully insightful, AND accessible, no more than in this tome.
This book analyzes the origins of controlling and submissive personalities, in their being by-products of an alienated existence, and meant to overcome the uncertainty and loneliness that results, through the means of symbiosis with another human being. He shows that people are confronted with the contsant no-win situation of choosing between submission and submersion or aloneness and insecurity. Of course, he DOES pose a SOLUTION to this problem, that of a productive, creative, spontaneous, social personality. Needless to say this personality is incompatible with modern day capitalistic society, despite a possible extreme minority. If we want to be free and secure, the only solution is interconnectedness, and to live in a HUMAN society. THIS is what Fromm teaches us.