Abstract

Democracy, for Fromm, is the framework within which social freedom could develop, or, rather, it ought to be. Democracy, in his view, is a system that creates “the economic, political, and cultural conditions for the full development of the individual.”1 However, as a democratic socialist he wants to see the deepening of democracy in the political sphere and the extension of the democratic principle to the economic sphere, thereby ensuring that the “secret rule” of those who exert economic power is replaced by a more transparent and responsive form of self-government. Although political democracy is a tremendous step forward in human freedom from authoritarian forms of rule, he is convinced that it needs to be enriched and extended by greater participation. His central criticism of the nature of existing democracy is that it does not live up to its promise of giving real power to people. It is dominated by elites competing for endorsement by a largely uninformed and passive electorate. He wants to recover the potential inherent in the democratic ideal by exploring ways in which democracy can be extended and revivified, making bureaucracy serve people rather than control them. The first section of this chapter concentrates on his criticisms of political democracy, while the second focuses on his suggestions for institutional reform. The third will examines analysis of “old” political movements, which have tried and failed to carry forward the goal of human solidarity, as well as the implications for present-day political practice. The fourth section compares Fromm’s approach to that of Roberto Unger in Democracy Realized (1998), whose ideas for “democratic experimentalism” roll out a radical humanist agenda in a highly sophisticated and imaginative way.

Keywords

Depression Europe Income Expense Posit 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom (New York: Henry Holt, 1994), p. 272.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (New York: Henry Holt, 1990), pp. 186–191.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (New York: Harper and Row), 1962, chapter 21.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    David Truman, The Governmental Process (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1951)Google Scholar
  5. Robert Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1956).Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Erich Fromm, On Being Human (New York: Continuum, 1998), p. 95.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Erich Fromm, The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanised Technology (New York, Evanston and London: Harper and Row, 1968), pp. 99–100.Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    See Theda Skocpol and Jill Ikenberry, “The Political Formation of the American Welfare State: An Historical and Comparative Perspective,” in R. F. Tomasson (ed.), Comparative Social Research, 6 (London: Jai Press, 1983), pp. 87–148.Google Scholar
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    Brandt Commission, North-South: A Programme For Survival (London: Pan Books, 1980). Willy Brandt was President of the Socialist International at the time. At one stage Fromm was a delegate of the American Socialist Party to the Socialist International.Google Scholar
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  11. 26.
    Richard Falk, On Humane Governance: Toward a New Global Politics (Cambridge: Polity, 1995).Google Scholar
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  13. 27.
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    Erich Fromm, To Have or To Be? (New York: Continuum, 2002), pp. 181–182.Google Scholar
  15. 42.
    Michael Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 137–138.Google Scholar
  16. 70.
    See John Dryzek, Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  17. 71.
    John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993); Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (Cambridge, MA and Cambridge: MIT Press and Polity, 1996).Google Scholar
  18. 100.
    John Kenneth Galbraith, The Culture of Contentment (London: Penguin, 1993).Google Scholar
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    Richard Sennett, The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998).Google Scholar
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    Ronald Inglehart, The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles Among Western Publics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977) and Inglehart, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).Google Scholar

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© Lawrence Wilde 2004

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  • Lawrence Wilde

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