Re: Fromm and Foucault

On Fri, 20 Oct 1995, Sam Vagenas wrote:

> The other day I was reading pyschologist Erich Fromm (who I haven't read
> much) and was struck by the similarities of his tone with Foucault. The
> following quote is indicative of the tone:
> "Our economic system must create men who fit its needs; men who cooperate
> smoothly; men who want to consume more and more. Our system must create men
> whose tastes are standardized, men who can be easily influenced, men whose
> needs can be anticipated. Our system needs men who feel free and
> independent but who are nevertheless willing to do what is expected of them,
> men who will fit into the social machine without friction, who can be guided
> without force, who can be led without leaders, and who can be directed
> without any aim except the one to 'make good.' It is not that authority has
> disappeared, nor even that it has lost in strength, but that it has been
> transformed from the overt authority of force to the anonymous authority of
> persuasion and suggestion. In other words to be adaptable, modern man is
> obliged to nourish the illusion that everything is done with his consent,
> even though such consent be extracted from him by subtle manipulation. His
> consent is obtained, as it were, behind his back, or behind his consciousness."
> Does anybody have any references or thoughts about Foucault/Fromm?
One main (perhaps obvious) difference would be the way Fromm would
suggest an enlightenment-based solution--"the truth shall set you free"
type stuff. Right? Foucault would of course be suspicious of this and
would offer other forms of resistance.

After paging through Foucault's Two Lectures in _Power/Knowledge_ I think
that the quotation from Fromm suggests that he and Foucault similarly see
power not only as that which says "no." But I wonder if Fromm shares
Foucault's notion that "Power must be analyzed as something which
circulates, or rather as something which only functions in the form of a
chain. It is never localised here or there, never in anybody's hands,
never appropriated as a commodity or a piece of wealth. Pwer is employed
and exercised through a net-like organization."

What do your readings of Fromm suggest? Its true, isn't it, that
Foucault's critique of the repressive hypothesis has Marcuse in mind?
How far are Marcuse and Fromm from each other?


Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


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