Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Erich Fromm: On America's Consumer Society

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The truism of this adage is abundantly clear when one views this 1958 interview that Mike Wallace conducted with the great psychoanalyst and social critic, Erich Fromm. Particularly in his criticism of materialism as an ends rather than a means to happiness and meaning, Fromm's observations on American society - an America before civil rights, before the 1960s, before the Internet, an America under the threat of nuclear war - presage contemporary criticisms of our consumer society.

"Because in our enthusiasm to dominate nature and produce more material goods, we have transformed means into ends," Fromm notes. "We wanted to produce more in the 19th century and the 20th century in order to give man the possibility of a more dignified life. But actually what has happened is that production and consumption have ceased to be means and have become ends. And we are production crazy and consumption crazy."

"(Man's) work is to a large extent meaningless because he is not related to it," Fromm points out. "He is increasingly part of a big social machinery governed by a big bureaucracy, and I think (that) unconsciously he hates his work very often because he feels trapped (and) imprisoned by it. He feels that he is spending most of his energy for something that has no meaning in itself."

"Men, today, being concerned with production and consumption as ends in themselves have very little energy (or) time to devote themselves to true religious experience."

1 comment:

Evelyn said...

Thanks for uploading this interview. I am a fan of Erich Fromm and will link to this interview on my blog: Have a wonderful holiday and a fabulous new year.