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Customer Review

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars inspiring, but ultimately contradictory, March 5, 2010
This review is from: Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Marx and Freud (Impacts) (Paperback)
Okay, I have to admit I think Fromm is very inspiring. He does do a great job of critically analyzing Freud, and shows how Marx's social analysis is vastly superior to Freud's(something which I definitely agree with). He goes to great lengths to show how we are chained to our illusions (be they religions or non-theistic ideologies or in the innumerable other ways so that we feel secure), and shows how we create ideologies out of the great ideas.

HOWEVER, it seems to me that he ideologizes towards the end of the book when he uncritically raves about Buddha, Jesus, the Old Testament (and of course Marx throught the entire book). This final contradiction which I found to be so obvious blew me away...how can someone come so far but then so blatantly and uncritically glorify (ideologize?) the 'Masters' and 'Masterworks', shouldn't he try to bring those down to earth by analyzing them and risk trying to break what may be our grandest illusions?:

1. the reincarnation theory of Buddha,
2. the denial we have of the incredible violence of the Old Testament,
3. or even more bravely possibly criticizing, or at least analyzing Jesus' life and ideas,
4. he could even try to take on Marx, by perhaps at least raising the great debate of Bakunin/Marx concerning Marx's possible authoritarianism and the idea of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat'...?

If he could critically analyze those four Masters, then I would have been significantly more impressed.

I suspect that he may be overly careful about offending and he may even be catering to populist sentiments. He wants the Marxists and the religious folk all in one go. The contradiction and the lack of depth is too much for me to say this is a work of genius (5 stars). 4 stars for trying (but ultimately failing)to legitimately bring us out of alienation and separateness.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 15, 2012 11:59:00 AM PST
G says:
I beg to differ. I feel that it is difficult for someone who has not studied these 'masters' in depth -and it takes years to do that, maybe even a lifetime- to make such comments on them. The difference between Marx and Freud and someone like the Buddha is that Buddha fell into a Realisation that brings the human potential to its apex by obliterating the separate mind into the all-encompassing heart. Marx and Freud never did that (neither did Fromm for all I know, but he also doesn't make such claims). True, these are probably hollow phrases for you and I respect this. But if these are hollow phrases to many a modern an obstinate mind -for which I do not blame anybody for it goes with our dark times whereby the Seers and those who believe them are judged ready for the asylum but those who have no Realisation are elevated to superstars- that does not mean that these phrases nor the people they are about are withouth Truth. Fromm was entirely right in his esteem for Jesus and Buddha. The truth is that people who cling to modernity's reductionist atheistic arrogance, thinking that their judgements are worth something simply because they have been granted the freedom to express them, cannot understand nor appreciate the likes of Jesus or Buddha...and you know what? That is precisely part of Fromm's message. I am harsh here because this comment represents somewhat of a blind force typical of our modern society. That does not mean that I intend to be personal against its author. Far from it. Arrogance, as the Buddha observed, is ultimately in all of us and can be said to be somewhat of an impersonal force through people. If you are interested in a good introduction to life as a Buddhist, please read Reginald Ray's 'Touching Enlightenment'.
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