26 November 2015

Quick Book Review: The Fear of Freedom

The Fear of FreedomThe Fear of Freedom by Erich Fromm

Supplementary Review

It was a comfort while reading this book by Fromm, since what he was addressing on this book is timely even in the present times.

Fromm approached the theme of freedom on a multi-perspective basis, drawing insights from historical events, religious dogmas, economic movements, socio-biological and anthropological relationships, and psychological phenomena in understanding how in humanity's quest for freedom and individuality, the price paid is the burden of isolation and alienation - if he has no genuine end on what to do with his new-found 'freedom'. Which then results in a back-and-forth process of seeking back the lost sense of belongingness through submission to a higher authority exemplified in the sado-masochistic personality - a seemingly contradictory characteristic of individuals who seek domination over others and/or submission to someone/something higher in authority.

What is striking was Fromm's drawing of examples from personalities who exhibited these negative characteristics of sadism and masochism from each of the aforementioned perspectives: Luther and Calvin, Hitler - and examined them on the context of their work and the impact they made on whom they exerted influence to.
The mechanism of the new market seemed to resemble the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, which taught that the individual must make every effort to be good, but that even before his birth, it had been decided whether or not he is to be saved.  


The Scream by Edvard Munch

His view of the phenomena of humanity's alienation and finding ways to escape from the burden of freedom was deeply depressing because he forces the reader to confront the facts, especially on humanity's inability to take responsibility for oneself by either resorting to domination or subjugation.