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The Sane Society Paperback – October 15, 1990
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“A distinguished contribution to a growing body of social psychological reflections on modern times.” ―The Washington Post
“One is fascinated page after page by the incisiveness of the analysis, the concreteness of the presentation, and the beauty of the style.” ―Paul Tillich
“A courageous book with a high moral objective...an unflinching indictment of contemporary society.” ―Guide to Psychiatric and Psychological Literature
About the Author
Erich Fromm was a German-born U.S. psychoanalyst and social philosopher who explored the interaction between psychology and society. His works include The Art of Loving, Love, Sexuality, and Matriarchy, and Man for Himself. He died in 1980.
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Fromm spends a lot of time elaborating upon alienation of modern man. For most workers, this alienation is caused by the dissociation of their work from the purpose of that work. This is much more true for manual workers than professionals, though both are plagued by this. I became a school teacher because I'd seen how little education has to do with preparing people for life. "When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder that I can think at all," as Paul Simon sang. Any education which deserves the name should be about teaching people how to think, but that can't be done without threatening people's sense of piety or patriotism. Which are the very things which make people insane.
Fromm states that the messages of Moses, Christ, Muhammad, and Buddha (and perhaps even Marx?) are all essentially the same. This implies that there is an underlying objective Truth in the Universe that everyone should be capable of agreeing upon. That there should be criteria for deciding upon moral truths that all reasonable people could agree upon. If we were not alienated from our "true selves." So the purpose of organized religion is not to help us connect with the core of our being, which was the purpose of the teaching of these men, but to keep us divorced from ourselves. If this was indeed the purpose of our religious founders, (and this was my realization in my epiphanal moment), then it is true that religions are doing the opposite of what their founders had in mind.
On the other hand, I find the argument that Moses and Christ and Buddha had the same message difficult to swallow. Reading about Abraham, Job, Moses, and Samuel and so on was what originally made me hate religion. I see no wisdom, nor even sanity, in their stories. I wish someone could explain how it is possible to disagree with this perception.
Fromm message is a one that should be heard by all human beings: love between neighbors , love in societies , countries and nations, is the only solution.
Top international reviews
The text itself is a classic. In it Fromm explains several ways in which modern, western society operates in a fashion that could be legitimately claimed to be 'insane' (and even, on occasion, 'pathological'). Despite the apparent strength of this claim, this is not, fortunately, another flaming tirade about the corruption and ills of modern society, but rather a careful and considered analysis from a leading psychoanalyst of his day. It is also notable for being one of the rare instances where such a book dares to propose solutions as well as simply identifying problems.
Fromm's style of writing is also praiseworthy. For the general reader this is most definitely an academic book filled with challenging concepts and ideas, but Fromm (most of the time) manages to engage the reader without ever slipping into the light and familiar tone of so many pop-psychology books published today. He treats the reader as neither an expert nor an idiot, but as what his book tells us man should be: a thoughtful and curious creature, engaged with his world and surroundings.
Fromm zeroes in on the bureaucratization which develops in any technological society, whether in the capitalist West or in the Soviet Union. This bureaucratization is the main reason for the alienation that individuals feel. In the West we live in a mass society which requires that we are obedient, yet believe ourselves to be free, that we can be persuaded that we want more of anything and everything that is offered on the almighty Market, yet still believe that we are acting of our own free will and that we are good team players and can conform completely while at the same time believing that we are individuals above all else. Is it any wonder that we feel anxious, stressful, perhaps even a little nuts?
Fromm does offer some solutions and he leaves the door open to various options. He states that he is a socialist and that is the basis for his critique of modern society. He states unequivocally that the Soviet Union should not in any way be considered a socialist society; if anything he believed that the working conditions in Stalinist Russia resembled those of early Western capitalist societies with workers subject to overwork, poverty and ruthless exploitation.
Erich Fromm's solutions were based on a Humanistic approach which was diametrically opposed to the exploitation and mind-numbing tedium which he saw in both East and West. The development of a society on a Human scale was what Fromm wanted, a sane society.
This book is definitely worth reading despite being published in 1955 and I wonder what Fromm would have made of our current hyper-capitalist system that seems even more inhuman and inhumane than the system the West had in the 1950s. Are we progressing? Regressing? Going in circles? Almost sixty years after the publication of "The Sane Society" are we any less insane?
Un monumento !
Recomendable para tod@s l@s que se atreven de profundizar en los problemas sociales , culturales y económicos .