Erich Fromm – The Sane Society (Answers)

Erich Fromm (1900-1980)

In The Sane Society from 1954 German-American social psychologist and psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm, poses the question whether modern society offers man the best opportunities to live in harmony with himself and his surroundings. And if not, what modern society fails to offer and how we may address our shortcomings. 

This presentation of his thoughts will land in two articles; the former article where Erich Fromm highlights some central ways modern society alienates man and what this means for his mental health. Then in the current article I will present some ways for man and society to move in a direction that Erich Fromm argues will help man to develop into full maturity.

Authoritarian Idolatry 

Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism are the culmination of alienation. The individual is made to feel powerless and insignificant, but taught to project all his human powers into the figure of the leader or the state to whom he has to submit. He escapes from freedom into a new idolatry offering refuge and security. 


Capitalists in USA recognise the alienation and exploitation of the worker but arrive at the complete opposite position of the socialistic critics of capitalism. The CEO of Lincoln Electric Company, for instance, was convinced that “development of the individual can only take place in the fiercely competitive game of life … Selfishness is the driving force that make the human race what it is, for good or evil. Hence, it is the force that we must depend on, and properly guide, if the human race is to progress.”  


The words “socialism” and “Marxism” have been charged with such an emotional impact that it is difficult to discuss them in a calm atmosphere. The irrational response which is evoked by the words is furthered by an astounding ignorance on the part of most of those who become hysterical when they hear the words. Socialism in all its various schools, however, can be understood only as one of the most significant, idealistic and moral movements of our age (and one of the oldest). 

Marx’ and Engels’ basic concern is man. “To be radical”, Marx wrote, “means to go to the root, and the root – is man himself”. The history of the world, he says, is nothing but the creation, the birth of man. But all history is also the story of man’s alienation from himself. Freedom for Marx, then, is not only freedom from political oppressors, but freedom from the domination of man by things and circumstances. Most importantly, the analysis of society and of the historical process must begin, not with an abstraction of man, but with the real, concrete man, in his physiological and psychological qualities. We cannot, like Bentham or Adam Smith, criticise all human actions on a principle of utility or the existence of “hominus economicus” but must first deal with human nature in general, and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch. 

For Marx socialism is an association based on the principle that the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. In the capitalistic mode of production man’s physical energy has become a commodity, hence man has become a thing. This is why the working class, he says, is the most alienated class of the population. In the socialisation of the means of production he sees the condition for the transformation of man into an active and responsible participant in the social and economic process. Marx assumes that if the worker is not “employed” any more, the nature and character of his work process will change. Work will become a meaningful expression of human powers, rather than meaningless drudgery. 

There is no doubt that Marx and Engels believed that the aim of Socialism was not only a classless society, but a stateless society, at least, in the sense that the state would have the function of the administration of things and not that of the government of people. The seizure of the state was, for Marx, the means which was necessary to arrive at the end, its abolition.

On the whole, Marx and Engels believed that the working class had to seize power by a revolution. This idea of political revolution, however, is not a particular Marxist or socialist idea, but the traditional idea of the middle class, bourgeois society in the last three hundred years.

Marx is famous for his theory of historical materialism that postulates that the material conditions of man determine his mode of production and consumption, that in turn determine his socio-political organisation, his practice of life, and eventually his mode of thought and feeling. Marx’ main criticism of Capitalism was that it had crippled man by the preponderance of economic interests, and Socialism for him was a society in which man would be freed from this domination by a more rational and productive form of economic organisation. But Marx underestimated the complexity of human passions and lacked psychological insights. He did not recognise the irrational forces in man which make him afraid of freedom, and which produce his lust for power and destructiveness. The famous statement at the end of the Communist Manifesto that the workers “have nothing to lose but their chains,” contains a profound psychological error.

Marx’ underestimation of the complexity of human passions led to the three most dangerous errors in his thinking. First of all, his neglect of the moral factor in man. Because he assumed that the goodness of man would assert itself automatically when the economic changes bad been achieved, he did not see that a better society could not be brought into life by people who had not undergone a moral change within themselves. The second error was Marx’ grotesque misjudgment of the chances for the realisation of Socialism and his and Engels belief in the immediate advent of the “good society.” The third error was Marx’s concept that the socialisation of the means of production was not only the necessary, but also the sufficient condition for the transformation of the capitalist into a socialist co-operative society. Marx was curiously unrealistic in ignoring the fact that it makes very little difference to the worker whether the enterprise is owned by the “people” or by a private bureaucracy and that the only things that matter are the actual and realistic conditions of work. 

Roads To Sanity

General Considerations

Most critical analyses of Capitalism find that man has been made an instrument for the purposes of economic aims, that he has been estranged from and lost the concrete relatedness to his fellow men and to nature, that he has ceased to have a meaningful life. The same idea can be expressed in the concept of alienation. The causes for this development, however, are widely debated.

If the cause of the illness is economic, or spiritual, or psychological, I must remedy all of them or nothing will change. Confer, for instance, Christianity which has preached spiritual renewal, but neglected the changes in the social order without which spiritual renewal must remain ineffective for the majority of people. Or the Enlightenment that neglected the social-economic organization and left everything to reason. 

On one hand, reform must be radical. It must go to the roots to accomplish its end. On the other hand, so-called “radicalism”, which believes that we can solve problems by force, when observation, patience and continuous activity is required, is as unrealistic and fictitious as reform. The true criterion of reform is not its‘ tempo, but its realism, its’ true “radicalism.”

8 year old boy spent two years growing his hair

What constitutes mental sanity? The mentally healthy person is the productive and un-alienated person; the person who relates himself to the world lovingly and who uses his reason to grasp reality objectively; who experiences himself as a unique individual, yet, feeling one with his fellow man; who is not subject to irrational authority, and who accepts willingly the rational authority of conscience and reason; who is in the process of being born as long as he is alive, and considers the gift of life the most precious chance he has.

Let’s also remember that these goals of mental health are not ideals which have to be forced upon the person. The striving for mental health, for happiness, harmony, love, and productiveness, is inherent in every human being who is not born as a mental or moral idiot. It takes powerful constellations and circumstances to pervert this innate striving for sanity; and indeed, throughout the greater part of known history, the use of man by man has produced such perversion. But to believe that this perversion is inherent in man is like throwing seeds in the soil of the desert and claiming they were not meant to grow.

To donate his hair to chemotherapy patients

What society corresponds to this aim of mental health? First of all, a society in which no man is a means toward another’s ends. A sane society is one in which qualities like greed, exploitativeness, possessiveness, and narcissism, have no chance to be used for personal gain. Where acting according to one’s conscience is looked upon as a fundamental and necessary quality and where opportunism and lack of principles is deemed to be asocial; where the individual is concerned with social matters so that they become personal matters, where his relation to his fellow man is not separated from his relationship in the private sphere. A sane society, furthermore, is one which permits man to operate within manageable and observable dimensions and to be an active and responsible participant in the life of society, as well as the master of his own life. It is one which furthers human solidarity and stimulates its members to relate themselves to each other lovingly; a sane society furthers the productive activity of everybody in his work, stimulates the unfolding of reason and enables man to give expression to his inners needs in collective art and rituals. 

Economic Transformation 

Socialism as a Problem

Socialism aims for all of the above, yet, the results of Socialism have been disappointing. What are the reasons for this failure?

Planned economy in itself is not enough as the terrifying results of Soviet Communism on the one hand, and the disappointing results of Labour Party Socialism on the other have shown. This has led some to crusade against Communism while refraining from any radical criticism of Capitalism, albeit, advocate for minor changes. They act like disappointed lovers who have lost all faith in love. 

This pessimism leads to two errors. One is the assumption that totalitarianism can be “civilised” and the second that pessimism is well-founded. The objections are largely based on pessimism and on a profound lack of faith. It is claimed that the advance of managerial society cannot be checked unless we regress to the spinning wheel, because modern industry needs managers and automatons. But even a fraction of the reason and practical sense used in the natural sciences, applied to human problems, will permit continuation and development of a sane, modern society. 

The principle of communitarian socialism 

Man is everywhere in chains, and his chains will not be broken until he feels that it is degrading to be a bondsman, whether to an individual or to a State.

The disease of civilisation is not so much the material poverty of the many as the decay of the spirit of freedom and self-confidence. The revolt that will change the world will spring from the will to be free. 

Erich Fromm

Thus, wage-slavery will end when the workers learn to set freedom before comfort. The average man will become a socialist not to secure a decent wage but because he feels ashamed of the industrial slavery system that binds him and his fellows. Therefore, the workers must work towards direct management, that is, the task of actually conducting the business must be handed over to the workers engaged in it that must become the accredited agents of the community in the economic sphere. 

Socio-psychological objections 

The main objections to the realisation of communitarian Socialism can be divided in two groups; one based on the idea of the nature of industrial work, the other on the nature of man and the psychological motivations for work. 

The first objection claims that the average worker has neither the skills nor the interests in fully understanding his work. On the contrary, the aim must be to make work more meaningless and more mechanised. Then working man can indulge in daydreams and focus on his leisure hours.

This sounds convincing but evidence shows that people dislike mechanical work and that any concentrated activity is invigorating while any non-concentrated activity is tiring.

But this aside, it will still be many generations before man does not need to work at all. Is man in the meantime supposed to spend most of his energy on meaningless work? Will that not make him more alienated in his leisure hours and in his working time? Is the hope for effortless work not a daydream based on the fantasy of laziness and push-button power, and a rather unhealthy fantasy at that? Is not work such a fundamental part of man’s existence that it should never be reduced to almost complete insignificance?

The second objection claims that modern factory work is by nature not conducive to interest and satisfaction. It is simply necessary, tedious work and active participation of the worker in management would lead to chaos. Moreover, by nature man is lazy and irresponsible; therefore he must be conditioned to function smoothly and without too much initiative and spontaneity. 

It is surprising that the view of man’s natural laziness can still be held by psychologists and laymen alike, when so many observable facts contradict it. Laziness, far from being normal, is a symptom of mental pathology. In fact, one of the worst forms of mental suffering is boredom, the feeling of futility and meaninglessness. Even without a reward man is eager to spend his energy in a meaningful way because he cannot stand the boredom which inactivity produces. Just look at children; they are never lazy and think up games and play just for the fun of playing. 

Nevertheless, there are good reasons for the belief in man’s innate laziness and the main reason is that alienated work is boring and unsatisfactory. Thus, a longing for laziness is not a “natural” state of mind but, in fact, symptom of a pathological condition of life. 

The conventional theory, then, is that money is the main incentive for work. Money certainly plays an important part but the discussion about money incentives would be incomplete if we did not consider the fact that the wish for more money is constantly fostered by the same industry which relies on money as the main incentive for work. Via advertising, instalment plans etc. the individual’s greed to buy more things is stimulated to the point that he can rarely have enough money to satisfy these “needs.” Thus, being artificially stimulated by industry, the monetary incentive plays a greater role than it otherwise would. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the monetary incentive must play a paramount role if it is the only incentive. Many people choose work with less monetary reward because the work is more interesting.

Aside from money, prestige, status and power are the main incentives for work. But there are other motivations: the satisfaction in building an independent economic existence and the performance of skilled work is much more meaningful and attractive than the motivation of money and power. But today the need for skills is less prevalent and a “pleasant personality,” the ability to “sell oneself,” much more important.

If we could use our imagination just a little bit, we could collect a good deal of evidence from our own lives and from observing children that would demonstrate convincingly that we long to spend our energy on something meaningful, that we feel refreshed if we can do so, and that we are quite willing to accept rational authority if what we are doing makes sense. 

But can industrial, mechanised work be meaningful? In order to answer this question we have to discuss two different aspects of work: the difference between the technical and the social aspects of work

Interest and participation as motivation 

Undoubtedly, many a worker would be able to find more joy in a so-called low prestige work than they do in their current work. Even the work of a miner would attract many people were it not for the social and financial disadvantages of this type of work. And even if the work in its technical aspects is the same, it can have an entirely different meaning and satisfaction depending on the context. Consider, for instance, the home-going spouse versus the maid or the self-employed businessman who experiences a rich and stimulating human intercourse vs. the salesgirl in a five-and-ten-cent store that only want to sell to keep her job. 

The Elton Mayo experiment shows that including workers in organising the work led to an increase in productivity, more satisfied and less sick employees and the experience of doing something meaningful, even if the tasks technically were the same. By having the worker participate and giving him a voice, his whole psychological reaction to the work changed. 

From the communitarian movement we have learned that an abolishment between employer and employees necessitates a common basis or common ethics. Among the most remarkable principles are:

1. Make use of all modern industrial techniques.

2. Devise a scheme in which active participation of everyone does not contradict a sufficiently centralised leadership; replace irrational authority by rational authority.

3. Emphasise the practice of life against ideological differences. This enables man to live together without any danger of having to follow the “right opinion” proclaimed by the community.

4. Integrate work, social and cultural activities. Inasmuch as the work is not attractive technically, it is meaningful and attractive in its social aspect. Activity in the arts and sciences is an integral part of the total situation.

5. Overcome alienation and make work a meaningful expression of human energy. 

Most of these communitarian experiments are executed by men with a shrewd intelligence, and an immensely practical sense. They are by no means the dreamers our so-called realists believe them to be; on the contrary, they are mostly more realistic and imaginative than our conventional business leaders appear to be. Undoubtedly there have been many shortcomings in the principles and practice of these experiments, but the glib condescension of these experiments is essentially a symptom of the laziness of the mind and the inherent conviction that what has not been cannot be and will never be. 

Practical suggestions 

The question is whether conditions similar to those created by the communitarians can be created for the whole of our society. The aim then would be to create a work situation in which man gives his lifetime and energy to something which has meaning for him, in which he knows what he is doing, has an influence on what is being done, and feels united with, rather than separated from, his fellow man. This implies that the work situation is made concrete again; that the workers are organised into sufficiently small groups to enable the individual to relate himself to the group as real, concrete human beings, even though the factory as a whole may have many thousands of workers. It means that methods of blending centralisation and decentralisation are found which permit active participation and responsibility for everybody, and at the same time create a unified leadership as far as it is necessary. 

How can this be done?

The first condition is that the worker is well informed. Aside from technical knowledge he must know the economic function of the enterprise and its relationship to the community as a whole. 

But theoretical knowledge is not enough. The worker must also have influence on the decisions which bear upon his work situation and the enterprise as a whole. Likewise, once we accept that the primary purpose of any work is to serve people, and not to make a profit, those who are served, ie. the customers, must have a say in the operation of those who serve them. It may not be easy to find such forms but certainly it is possible. In constitutional law we have solved similar problems with regards to the respective rights of various branches of government, and in the laws concerning corporations we have solved the same problem with regards to the right of various types of stockholders, management etc.

The principle of co-management and co-determination means a serious restriction of property right. The owner or owners of an enterprise would be entitled to a reasonable rate of interest on their capital investment, but not to the unrestricted command over men whom this capital can hire. They would have at least to share this right with those who work in the enterprise.

One important point must be stressed. If the workers and employees of an enterprise were exclusively concerned with their enterprise, the egotistical, alienated attitude would simply be extended from the individual to the “team.” It is therefore an essential part of workers’ participation that they look beyond their own enterprise. Solidarity with mankind is the only one truly social orientation.

Thus, rather than the abstract concept of property there is a need for a socialist vision which is centred around the idea of worker’s participation, co-management and decentralisation. 

But the most important problem is that our industry is built upon the existence of an ever widening market and uses all its power to stimulate consumption and reinforce the receptive orientation which is so detrimental to mental sanity. This craving for new things also has an important psychological effect: it makes the consumer lose respect for work and human effort and what people around him may need. 

No amount of spiritual influence can be successful if our economic system is organised in such a way that a crisis threatens when people consume less. It is the task for economists to devise measures that change alienated into human consumption. That means to direct production into fields where existing real needs have not yet been satisfied, rather than where needs must be created artificially. 

The various parts of the world have been brought together so closely, that peace for the wealthier part of the world is dependent on the economic advancement of the poorer part. If we consider a fifty years world development program that would lift the non-industrialised countries to the level of the industrialised it would not cost much in comparison with other costs and is practically insignificant if we compare it to what it will cost to maintain status quo. 

The advertising and movie industry’s artificial stimulation of the lowest instincts must be regulated or at least competing industries must be created, financed with public funds. 

Note that equality of income has never been a socialist demand, nor is it practical or even desirable for many reasons. What is necessary is an income which will be the basis for a dignified human existence. As far as inequalities of income are concerned, it seems that they must not transcend the point where differences in income lead to differences in the experience of life. 

The system of social security must be retained and extended to a universal subsistence guarantee. Each individual can only act as a free and responsible agent if the economic threat of starvation is abolished. Otherwise, the owner of capital can enforce his will on the man who owns “only” his life, because the latter, being without capital, has no work except what the capitalist offers him. 

Political Transformation 

If democracy means that the individual expresses his conviction and asserts his will, the premise is that he has a conviction, and that he has a will. The facts, however, are that the modern, alienated individual has opinions and prejudices, but no convictions and no will. His likes and dislikes are manipulated in the same way his tastes are by powerful propaganda machines and his whole alienated way of life. 

The average voter is poorly informed too. He may follow the news but the world is so alienated from him that nothing makes real sense or carries real meaning. Facts are like puzzles in a game, not elements on which his life and that of his children depends. He reads off billions of dollars being spent, of millions of people being killed; abstractions, which are in no way interpreted in a concrete, meaningful picture of the world. 

In addition, the very idea of majority vote lends itself to the process of abstractification and alienation. Even if a majority decision is wrong, democracy today means that it is morally superior. 

To further progress of the democratic system it must be recognized that true decisions cannot be made in an atmosphere of mass voting, but only in relatively small groups comprising no more than, say, five hundred people, according to local residence or place of work, and as far as possible with a certain diversification in their social composition. These groups would meet regularly and discuss the main political issues of local and national concern. A politically, independent cultural agency can exercise the function of preparing and publishing factual data. This is only what we do in our school system, where our children are given information which is relatively objective and free from the influence of fluctuating governments. There is no reason why forms of this process could not be established and make political problems in reality a concern for the citizen.  

Cultural Transformation 

The fact that the great religions and ethical systems have so often fought against each other, and emphasized their mutual differences rather than their basic similarities, is due to those who built the churches and the political organisations, not the ideas themselves. In every center of culture, and largely without any mutual influence, the same insights have been discovered, the same ideals preached. Today we are not in need of new knowledge on how to live sanely – but in bitter need of taking seriously what we believe, what we preach and teach. 

Hence our educational system must provide vital information and not mere knowledge on how to function in an industrialised civilisation (promoting ambition and competitiveness). We must further critical thinking and break down the divide between theory and practice. This very split is part of the alienation between work and thinking.  

The fact that we aim primarily at the usefulness of our citizens for the purposes of the social machine, and not at their human development is apparent in that we consider education necessary primarily only for the young. Why should society not feel responsible for the education of all? Moreover, while the early years are the best for learning languages and to calculate, the understanding of history, philosophy, religion, literature, psychology, etc. requires experience. In many instances, the general interest is also greater at a later age rather than at the stormy period of youth. Thus, at this age a person should be free to change his occupation completely – a chance we today permit only our youngsters. 

Man, in order to feel at home in the world, must grasp it not only with his head, but with all his senses. He must act out with his body what he thinks out with his brain. Then he creates philosophy, theology, myth and science. He creates art and ritual, song, dance, drama, painting, sculpture. “Collective art” is ritual we share. It permits man to feel one with others in a meaningful, rich, productive way. It is not an individual “leisure time” occupation, added to life, it is an integral part of life. 

But today we are a culture of consumers. There is no active productive participation, no common unifying experience, no meaningful acting out of significant answers to life. What do we expect from our young generation? What are they to do when they have no opportunity for meaningful, shared artistic activities? What else are they to do but to escape into drinking, movie-daydreaming, crime, neurosis and insanity? Undoubtedly a relatively primitive village in which there are still real feasts, common artistic shared expressions, and no literacy at all – is more advanced culturally and more healthy mentally than our educated, newspaper-reading, radio-listening culture.

Can one speak of a spiritual transformation of society without mentioning religion? The followers of the various religions may differ as to the concept of God, but it was an error of the nonbelievers to focus on attacking the idea of God; their real aim ought to be to challenge religionists to take their religion, and especially the concept of God, seriously; that is, to practice the spirit of brotherly love, truth and justice, the supremacy of spiritual over material values, hence to become the most radical critics of present-day society. 

Religion can, of course, not be invented. It will come into existence with the appearance of a new great teacher, just as they have appeared in previous centuries when the time was ripe. In the meantime, those who believe in God should express their faith by living it; those who do not believe, by living the precepts of love and justice and – waiting. 

Summary – Conclusion

Skeleton Men of the Bugamo Tribe, Chimbu Province, Papua New Guinea

Man first emerged from the animal world as a freak of nature but with a capacity for thought and self-awareness, which was the basis for transforming nature and himself. From identifying himself with animals he began to cultivate the soil and create a new social and religious order. Then some four thousand years ago a decisive turn in man’s history took place. Reason and conscience became the principles which were to guide him in his quest for a new truly human home to take the place of the irretrievably lost home in nature. Then, about five hundred years before Christ, the idea of the unity of mankind and of a unifying spiritual principle underlying all reality assumed new and more developed expressions in India, Greece, Palestine, Persia and China.

Northern Europe seemed to sleep for a long time but around 1500 a new period began. Man discovered nature and the individual, he laid the ground for the natural sciences, which began to transform the face of the earth.  

In the middle of the twentieth century another drastic change is occurring. New techniques replace the use of animals and men; they create means of communication which transform the earth into the size of one continent; they create marvels of devices which permit the best of art, literature and music to be brought to every member of society; they create productive forces which will permit everybody to have a dignified material existence, and reduces work to such dimensions that it will fill only a fraction of man’s day.

And yet, man’s existence is more threatened than ever. How is this possible? 

Man won his freedom from clerical and secular authorities, he stood alone with his reason and his conscience as his only judges, but he was afraid of the newly won freedom. Man had achieved “freedom from” but not yet achieved “freedom to” be himself, to be productive, to be fully awake. Thus he tried to escape from freedom. His very achievement, the mastery over nature, opened up the avenues for his escape.

In building the new industrial machine, man became so absorbed in the new task that it became the paramount goal of his life. He ceased to use production as a means for a better life, but hypostatised it instead to an end in itself. In this man himself became a part of the machine rather than its master. Not having a sense of self except the one which conformity with the majority can give, he is insecure, anxious, depending on approval. He is alienated from himself, worships the products of his own hands and the leaders as if they were above him, rather than made by him. In a sense he is back where he was before the great human evolution began in the second millenium B.C.

The new era started with the idea of individual initiative. And, indeed, the discoverers, statesmen, philosophers and business pioneers of the sixteenth and seventeenth century showed marvellous individual initiative. But with the bureaucratisation and managerialization of Capitalism, it is exactly the individual initiative that is disappearing because there is no place for the idea of the truly human individual initiative. No place for love of your neighbours, of all men, oneself, all of nature; to feel one with all, yet retain one’s sense of individuality and integrity.

So far, we have failed. We have not bridged the gap between a minority which realised these goals and tried to live according to them, and the majority whose mentality is far back, in the Stone Age, in totemism, in idol worship, in feudalism. Will the majority be converted to sanity – or will it use the greatest discoveries of human reason for its own purposes of unreason and insanity. Will we be able to create a vision of the good, sane life, which will stir the life forces of those afraid of marching forward? This time, mankind is at a crossroad where the wrong step could be the last step. 

In the nineteenth century the problem was that God is dead; in the twentieth century the problem is that man is dead. In the nineteenth century inhumanity meant cruelty; in the twentieth century it means schizoid self-alienation. The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man become robots.

Man can protect himself from the consequences of his own madness only by creating a sane society which conforms with the needs of man, needs which are rooted in the very conditions of his existence. A society in which man relates to man lovingly, in which he is rooted in bonds of brotherliness and solidarity, rather than in the ties of blood and soil; a society which gives him the possibility of transcending nature by creating rather than by destroying, in which everyone gains a sense of self by experiencing himself as the subject of his own powers rather than by conformity, in which a system of orientation and devotion exists without man’s needing to distort reality and worship idols. 

Building such a society means taking the next step; it means the end of “humanoid” history, the phase in which man had not become fully human. It does not mean the “end of days,” the “completion,” that state of perfect harmony in which no conflicts or problems confront men. On the contrary, it is man’s fate that his existence is beset by contradictions, which he has to solve without ever solving them. When he has overcome the primitive state of human sacrifice, when he has been able to regulate his relationship with nature reasonably instead of blindly, when things have truly become his servants rather than his idols, he will be confronted with the truly human conflicts and problems; he will have to be adventuresome, courageous, imaginative, capable of suffering and joy, but his powers will be in the service of life, and not in the service of death. The new phase of human history, if it comes to pass, will be a new beginning, not an end.

Man today is confronted with the most fundamental choice; not that between Capitalism or Communism, but that between robotism (of both the capitalist and the communist variety) or Humanistic Communitarian Socialism. Most facts seem to indicate that he is choosing robotism, and that means, in the long run, insanity and destruction. But all these facts are not strong enough to destroy faith in man’s reason, good will and sanity. As long as we can think of other alternatives, we are not lost; as long as we can consult together and plan together, we can hope. But, indeed, the shadows are lengthening; the voices of insanity are becoming louder.

Closing Remarks

I hope this introduction to Erich Fromm has peaked your interest and I invite you to read my earlier article where I present the main challenges with contemporary society as Erich Fromm sees them.

For another interesting perspective on alienation please find here a link to an article on alienation and accelleration by Hartmut Rosa that revolves around a number of the same themes, for instance, workaholism and our never waning hope that work will provide a meaning to our lives. Also if you want to learn another famous writers’ take on alienation you can here find a link to Franz Kafka’s take on the modern.

The Skeleton-Man Show Death: The High Price of Living

In my new show Death: The High Price of Living I introduce the audience to the existential tradition. You can find more information about the show here that is specifically targeted educational institutions and companies, for instance, as a fun and engaging event at the yearly company art club assembly.

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