Escape from Freedom, sometimes known as The Fear of Freedom outside North America, is a book by the Frankfurt-born psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, first published in the United States by Farrar & Rinehart in 1941. In the book, Fromm explores humanity's shifting relationship with freedom, with particular regard to the personal consequences of its absence. His special emphasis is the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism.
1.1 Fromm's concept of freedom 1.2 Freedom in history 1.3 Escaping freedom 1.4 Freedom in the 20th century
2 See also 3 References 4 External links
Summary Fromm's concept of freedom Fromm distinguishes between 'freedom from' (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 true 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..." In the process of becoming freed from authority, we are often left with feelings of hopelessness (he likens this process to the individuation of infants in the normal course of child development) that will not abate until we use our 'freedom to' and develop some form of replacement of the old order. However, a common substitute for exercising "freedom to" or authenticity is to submit to an authoritarian system that replaces the old order with another of different external appearance but identical function for the individual: to eliminate uncertainty by prescribing what to think and how to act. Fromm characterises this as a dialectic historical process whereby the original situation is the thesis and the emancipation from it the antithesis. The synthesis is only reached when something has replaced the original order and provided humans with a new security. Fromm does not indicate that the new system will necessarily be an improvement. In fact, Fromm indicates this will only break the never-ending cycle of negative freedom that society submits to. Freedom in history Freedom, argues Fromm, became an important issue in the 20th century, being seen as something to be fought for and defended. However, it has not always occupied such a prominent place in people's thinking and, as an experience, is not necessarily something that is unambiguously enjoyable. A major chapter in the book deals with the development of Protestant theology, with a discussion of the work of Calvin and Luther. The collapse of an old social order and the rise of capital led to a more developed awareness that people could be separate autonomous beings and direct their own future rather than simply fulfilling a socioeconomic role. This in turn fed into a new conception of God that had to account for the new freedom while still providing some moral authority. Luther painted a picture of man's relationship with God that was personal and individuated and free from the influence of the church, while Calvin's doctrine of predestination suggested that people could not work for salvation but have instead been chosen arbitrarily before they could make any difference. Both of these, argues Fromm, are responses to a freer economic situation. The first gives individuals more freedom to find holiness in the world around them without a complex church structure. The second, although superficially giving the appearance of a kind of determinism actually provided a way for people to work towards salvation. While people could not change their destinies, they could discover the extent of their holiness by committing themselves to hard work and frugality, both traits that were considered virtuous. In reality this made people work harder to 'prove' to themselves that they were destined for God's kingdom. Escaping freedom As 'freedom from' is not an experience we enjoy in itself, Fromm suggests that many people, rather than using it successfully, attempt to minimise its negative effects by developing thoughts and behaviours that provide some form of security. These are as follows:
Authoritarianism: Fromm characterises the authoritarian personality as containing both sadistic and masochistic elements. The authoritarian wishes to gain control over other people in a bid to impose some kind of order on the world, but also wishes to submit to the control of some superior force which may come in the guise of a person or an abstract idea. Destructiveness: Although this bears a similarity to sadism, Fromm argues that the sadist wishes to gain control over something. A destructive personality wishes to destroy something it cannot bring under its control. Conformity: This process is seen when people unconsciously incorporate the normative beliefs and thought processes of their society and experience them as their own. This allows them to avoid genuine free thinking, which is likely to provoke anxiety.
Freedom in the 20th century
Fromm analyzes the character of Nazi ideology and suggests that the
psychological conditions of Germany after the first world war fed into
a desire for some form of new order to restore the nation's pride.
This came in the form of
Critical theory Freudo-Marxism Life Against Death Psychohistory
^ "Library Genesis" - use Google Translate ^ Funk, Rainer (2000). Erich Fromm: His Life and Ideas. New York: Continuum. pp. 169, 173. ISBN 0-8264-1224-6.
Escape from Fre