Escape from Freedom

by Erich Fromm

Paperback, 1994

Publication

Holt Paperbacks (1994), Edition: 1st Edition, 301 pages

Description

Erich Fromm sees right to the heart of our contradictory needs for community and for freedom like no other writer before or since. In Fear of Freedom, Fromm warns that the price of community is indeed high, and it is the individual who pays. Fascism and authoritarianism may seem like receding shadows for some, but are cruel realities for many. Erich Fromm leaves a valuable and original legacy to his readers - a vastly increased understanding of the human character in relation to society. At the beginning of the 21st century, it is more important than ever to be aware of his powerful message. Listen, and take heed.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Princesca
Fantastic analysis, I love Fromm. "..by conforming with the expectations of other...the price paid is high. Giving up spontaneity and individuality results in a thwarting of life. Psychologically the automaton, while being alive biologically, is dead emotionally and mentally". "One kind of
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smokescreen is the assertion that the problems are too complicated for the average individual to grasp. On the contrary it would seem that many of the basic issues of individual and social life are very simple, so simple in fact that everyone should be expected to understand them"..."Cynicism and naiveté are very typical of the modern individual. Its essential result is to discourage from thinking and deciding".
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LibraryThing member csweder
Here is a book that was recommended to me early in my grad school career, and for some reason I have put off reading it until now. (Studying for comps has pushed me to "get my reading on"...) I read this book in hopes of just reviewing some theory and getting Fromm's perspective. I did not expect
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to read it and be so engrossed (definitely didn't expect to read it in 2.5 days...).

Fromm puts it out there that as humans, our desire for individual freedom is one that at the same time makes us free, also makes us alone. He states that the desire to be free and an individual thus makes us isolate and alone--which is not really what we want. We must some how reconcile these two forces...which is not easy. What I am taking from that portion of the book is that man must decide what is more individually important to him: The ability to say that he is free, and has his own ideas (but be alone)...or the safety that comes with conforming and working with others.

He goes further to explain the history of personal freedoms, and the influence that religion (especially Luther and Calvin) has on shaping the modern man. The last portion of the book describes how the German people could allow themselves to be followers of a party like the Nazi party. (And yes, how the United States, even though we have a democracy, might be able to be dominated by a strong force like what national socialism did to Germany.)

What impresses me I think the most about this book is when I look at the date it was written: 1941. A *LOT* of what Fromm states to be a problem facing man is the SAME as it is in 2011, 60 years later. Bombardment from advertisements, radio, film, billboards, depersonalization of our daily lives...it's strange to see that this has been underway for so long.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thinking...hopefully you do.
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LibraryThing member jwhenderson
Fromm's book explores over a few short chapters humanity's shifting relationship with freedom, with particular regard to the personal consequences of its absence. Its special emphasis is the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism. Fromm distinguishes between 'freedom from'
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(negative freedom) and 'freedom to' (positive freedom). The former refers to emancipation from restrictions such as social conventions placed on individuals by other people or institutions. This is the kind of freedom typified by the Existentialism of Sartre, and has often been fought for historically, but according to Fromm, on its own it can be a destructive force unless accompanied by a creative element, 'freedom to' the use of freedom to employ spontaneously the total integrated personality in creative acts. This, he argues, necessarily implies a connectedness with others that goes beyond the superficial bonds of conventional social intercourse: "...in the spontaneous realization of the self, man unites himself anew with the world..."
Freedom, argues Fromm, became an important issue in the 20th century, being seen as something to be fought for and defended. As 'freedom from- is not an experience we enjoy in itself, Fromm suggests that many people, rather than utilising it successfully, attempt to minimise its negative effects by developing thoughts and behaviours that provide some form of security. Fromm suggests that Fascism may arise anywhere a people devolve their thinking on authorities rather than doing it themselves: "The right to express our thoughts ... means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own". In this he echoes Alexis de Tocqueville, who in his 1840 book Democracy in America stated "It is vain to summon a people who have been rendered so dependent on the central power to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity."
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LibraryThing member csweder
Here is a book that was recommended to me early in my grad school career, and for some reason I have put off reading it until now. (Studying for comps has pushed me to "get my reading on"...) I read this book in hopes of just reviewing some theory and getting Fromm's perspective. I did not expect
Show More
to read it and be so engrossed (definitely didn't expect to read it in 2.5 days...).

Fromm puts it out there that as humans, our desire for individual freedom is one that at the same time makes us free, also makes us alone. He states that the desire to be free and an individual thus makes us isolate and alone--which is not really what we want. We must some how reconcile these two forces...which is not easy. What I am taking from that portion of the book is that man must decide what is more individually important to him: The ability to say that he is free, and has his own ideas (but be alone)...or the safety that comes with conforming and working with others.

He goes further to explain the history of personal freedoms, and the influence that religion (especially Luther and Calvin) has on shaping the modern man. The last portion of the book describes how the German people could allow themselves to be followers of a party like the Nazi party. (And yes, how the United States, even though we have a democracy, might be able to be dominated by a strong force like what national socialism did to Germany.)

What impresses me I think the most about this book is when I look at the date it was written: 1941. A *LOT* of what Fromm states to be a problem facing man is the SAME as it is in 2011, 60 years later. Bombardment from advertisements, radio, film, billboards, depersonalization of our daily lives...it's strange to see that this has been underway for so long.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thinking...hopefully you do.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Allovertheboard
A barely comprehensible, and thinnly disguised, justification for tyranny and communism, one built upon fear of trying. Utter, utter nonsense.
LibraryThing member sfisk
Great Fromm, also read "the art of being" and "the art of loving"
LibraryThing member luzestrella
Some good points on definition of individual sense of freedom, the sociological aspect of feudalism, democracy and tyranny but not always well founded or developed. I still enjoyed reading this book but a lot of what you see here is mere personal opinion of the author and some of them are plain
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wrong.
As I said, still a thought provoking book. worth reading. I still haven't found a Fromm book better than The art of Loving.
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LibraryThing member RajivC
This is an outstanding book. It took me a while to finish reading it, because it is incredibly deep. There is, it seems, a relationship between our need for freedom and our need to belong.

We have always wanted a place in society, ever since we are born. The trick is to balance the demands that
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society makes on us - in terms of our thinking - and our need for original thought.

Eric Fromm traces this conflict from the process of individuation, to ancient societies (where things were ordered) to modern society where we seem to be a cog in a giant wheel.

He believes that - for the Western world at least - Lutheranism and Calvinism played a deep role in preparing society for the onslaught of fascism. He also spoke of the relationship between authoritarianism and sado-masochism.
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LibraryThing member DrT
Escape From Freedom by Erich Fromm
This book, seems to address freedom and belongingness. It does a good job exploring deeply humanity's shifting relationship with freedom, freedom from, and freedom to & its absence. This book does a good job addressing the psychosocial and developmental
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progression, a good religious view with focus on Calvin and Luther using view of God and humans free will/determinism and Arminian perspectives and economic aspects like capitalism in ways I have never considered how it relates to God so that was fun to consider and Nazism and Hitler’s National socialism.

He also talks about both sadistic/sarism (which I have never really understood how that is pleasurable which I still don't and masochistic aspects
Conformity: This process is seen when people unconsciously incorporate the normative usual beliefsI society vs our own beliefs.
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Original publication date

1941

Pages

301

ISBN

0805031499 / 9780805031492
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