An analysis of the social and political theories of Bertrand Russell and Erich Fromm

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1966

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Abstract

This paper is an analysis of the similarities in the social and political theories of Bortrand Russell and Erich Fromm. Although Fromm is primarily a psychologist and Russell is primarily a philosopher and mathematician, they both have a strong interest in the current problems of modern man. They each have written numerous books on this subject, and it is from these works on worldly issues that their social and political theories have been taken. Both of these writers are humanists who believe that the individual man is of major importance. They each posess a concern for modern man who they see as lost in our modern industrial system, a system which takes little interest in the needs or desires of the individual. They are both searching for a system in which there is room for man, as an individual, to grow and develop to the heights of his potential. As social critics, both Russell and Fromm are particularly critical of the capitalistic system. They take this stand, first of all, because profit, not the individual is the central concern of capitalism. Secondly, they believe that capitalism breeds greed and hatred in those who are a part of it, and such attitudes are not conducive to individual growth and development. And third, they oppose capitalism because of the injustices perpetrated by the system. Thus, both men look to socialism as the alternative to capitalism in our modern world. Then Russell' and Fromm's criticisms of society, their analyss of the nature of man, their vision of the ideal man, and their suggested reforms to the problems of the modern world are compared, they revela striking similarities. This can be partly explained by the fact that they are both products of Western democratic liberal thought. But this does not fully explain their detailed similarities and the fact that their thought patterns seem to follow almost exactly the same patterns. This can only be explained by the fact that they start at the same point, they ask the same questions and then the way they phrase their basic questions precludes their answering them any way but the way they both do. In such times as these, when affluence and contentment have supposedly been achieved by the vast majority of us in the Western world, it is well to avoid smuggness. It is, therefore, of value to take note of our critics, to allow then a voice, and to consider their criticisms objectively.

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Russell, Bertrand, Fromm, Erich

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