He cautions that the growth of social freedom and individual in the contemporary period could heighten individuals’ need to be ruled, except if the person becomes skilled at avoiding a psychological seclusion from other people. People will make an attempt to free themselves from freedom if freedom requires weakening emotional and psychological bond to their fellow people and society. Fromm argues (Fromm 252): Because we have freed ourselves of the older overt forms of authority, we do not see that we have become the prey of a new kind of authority. We have become automatons who live under the illusion of being self-willing individuals.
This illusion helps the individual to remain unaware of his insecurity, but this is all the help such an illusion can give. Basically the self of the individual is weakened, so that he feels powerless and extremely insecure. Per se, Fromm sees a dialectical aspect in the course of expanding individualism. While there is an increase in independence or ‘self-reliance’, there is attendant rise in feelings of isolation that results in anxiety. Fromm argues that when the person was in harmony with the natural world, s/he does not have to be anxious about it.
Nevertheless, when a person becomes conscious of his/her strong qualities and obligation in that world, s/he is left with no choice but to be on his/her own in the presence of the tremendous outer force or authority that now threatens it. The dialectical aspect takes place so long as a person has greater freedom to grow as an individual, but a person also has greater freeedom from that world that previously provided the guarantee and safety that a decent human life needs (Fromm 254).
It is such conflict between these negative and positive encounters of freedom that leads, according to Fromm, to the intolerable feelings of helplessness or subordination that push the individual to pursue ways to escape or be free. To push his argument further, he mentions in his book The Fear of Freedom (2001) the biblical story of the eviction of humanity from the Garden of Eden. In this paradise there was no freedom, and hence no reflecting on how they should behave, decide, or think.
What was existent though was a full harmony with nature and hence a sense of security and order. In disobeying the rules of God, in making a willful decision, humanity brought in the origin of human freedom. But once evicted from paradise, humanity has to chance of going back. Every move in the path of increasing individualism has prospered in endangering the person with new and increasingly severe uncertainties.
Crawford, Margaret. “The World in a Shopping Mall.” Variations on a Theme Park. Ed. Michael Sorkin. New York: Hill & Wang, 1992, 3-30. Print.
Dines, Gail. “Porn and the Industrialization of Sex.” Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality. New York: Beacon Press, 2010. Print.
Fromm, Erich. Escape from Freedom. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1941. Print.