September 12, 2010

Eric Fromm - defined the concept of Humanistic Socialism

Most people have probably never heard of, let alone heard the psychoanalyst, philosopher and prominent Social Humanist Eric Fromm. He was one of the leading Philosophers in Germany prior to the rise of Adolf Hitler. He left Germany in 1934, first settling in Geneva Switzerland and finally moving to the U.S. where his career as a Psychoanalyst flourished.

He was the author of many books dealing with the concept of Political Psychology and emerged as one of the great Philosophers of the 20th Century. He is probably best known in the later 1950's as the author of The Art Of Loving which became a must-read all over the world.

In this address, delivered on May 30, 1960 he talks about Popular Culture and the manipulation of thought:

Eric Fromm: “Today, much more easily than a hundred years ago, any clever ad writer, any clever politician, any clever user and manipulator of symbols can persuade men to believe that the way he lives is good for him. And if one does not have a concept of man as the Western World has had it since the days of the Old Testament on until the nineteenth century, namely a concept of man which is not that of sociological relativism, which does not say everything is good for man which man enjoys but which believes that men can be defined in certain ways, and there are certain things which are objectively damaging to him. Unless one has such a picture, then indeed, one can do anything with man, and if one is successful one claims that man is happy. That is, I believe the danger which we are confronted with. That we create a society of people whom we persuade that they are happy, that they fulfill the best man can fulfill and yet, who deep-down fail to solve the problem of life.”

As a vocal opponent of McCarthyism in the 1950's and the Vietnam War in the 1960's and 1970's, he was also very active in the Peace Movement and a supporter of Eugene McCarthy's bid for election in 1968. After Nixon's rise to power after 1968, Fromm retreated from the political scene and died in 1980.

Considering what's been going on with our political climate, it makes you wonder what he would have to say about our current state of affairs.

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