Review: Fromm’s Escape from Freedom

This review, and the scores of others I’ve been posting, was written in 2007 for a now long defunct livejournal account. 

Escape from Freedom

Erich Fromm

I blew through this in a week for a political theory class at my undergrad. The class was horrible, and frankly, I remember next to nothing about Fromm. What I do remember is that this was written to in some way try to explain the appeal of totalitarianism, and Nazism in particular, because of its claim to remove some of the burdens of freedom. By freedom, I think Fromm means both a freedom to do, and a freedom from having to do. This can, of course, create both positive and negative situations (i.e. a freedom from caring for your ailing grandmother, but also a freedom from the close connections to your family). And these “freedoms” and the choices associated with them can be terrifying and in some cases, even debilitating. There is, then, great appeal in being to give over power for security. For Fromm, this explains much of the appeal of totalitarianism.


I don’t know. I mean, of course there is something here. But totalitarianism is more than just a reaction to social isolation and newly discovered freedoms. Fromm seems like he may offer a piece to the puzzle, but not really a very big one.


If I am misrepresenting the guy, I’d appreciate hearing so from any of you theory nerds out there. Remember I read this thing in a week for a class that wasn’t even any good.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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