Erich Fromm’s New Society #111
Can we build a better world?
Hi, and welcome back to our look at alternative ways of living and being happy.
(By the way, I’m sorry that in the last post, some links were not functional. I have now, hopefully, fixed all of them in the archive and you can find the corrected article there. Whenever I find errors, typos or broken links after I sent these emails off, I always fix the errors that I find on the Substack site, so if you find something broken in the email, please have a look there to find a fixed version.)
In the previous posts, we talked about Erich Fromm and Karl Marx, who both believed that our unhappiness is due, to a large extent, to the way our capitalist society is structured. Becoming happier, for them, would require changing society first.
After reading so much about what’s wrong with our societies, today we’ll let Erich Fromm have a last word about how he envisions a happy society — a place in which all people live happy lives in a state of “being” rather than having. And we will see what would be involved in trying to create such a society for ourselves.
Having and being
You remember perhaps that, for Fromm, there is a crucial difference between the two ways of living our lives: in the so-called “mode of having,” we are trying to possess valuable things by incorporating them into our bodies, our homes and our lives. In the “mode of being,” we acquire valuable properties (for example, knowledge or experience) by becoming the kind of person who has these properties.
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