Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 11 Share on Twitter 3 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/17/12

Escape From Freedom

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   6 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rick Staggenborg, MD
Become a Fan
  (44 fans)
In 1941, German-born sociologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm explored the roots of fascism in the seminal Escape From Freedom. He concluded that fascism could arise in any nation whose people allow themselves to submit to authoritarian government. Sinclair Lewis had written in his 1939 novel It Can't Happen Here that fascism could arise in America if the collective consciousness of its people became one in which populist demagogues promising relief from the Depression were seen as the answer to economic suffering.

As events have proven, fascism can indeed arise in America. The citizens of the United States grew fat and complacent after WW II, believing that it was their manifest destiny to prosper, never questioning where the source of much of that wealth and American power. As the military-industrial complex grew and became a threat to the rest of the world, Americans were willfully ignorant of the suffering that our profligate consumer-oriented society was based on. The Vietnam War was supported by a majority of Americans who did not have to fight it for years, while 58,000 men and women gave their lives for corporate Empire. 

Fromm's thesis was that there are two kinds of freedom: freedom from and freedom to. He argued that as children we are free of much of the decision-making that adults have to engage in. As we grow older and are forced to make more decisions for ourselves, anxiety and uncertainty result. Many therefore escape from the freedom to make choices about their own lives by accepting what they are told by the corporate media, politicians and their peers. They refuse to grow up and accept responsibility for making their own informed decisions about political questions or their role in a society that increasingly functions to benefit the rich.  

Freedom to is the freedom to make our own choices according to our own values and beliefs. This requires questioning the prevailing ideas of our society. If we are unwilling to do so, we surrender the freedom to have a role in determining our individual and collective destinies in exchange for relief from the anxieties that come from challenging orthodox beliefs that often do not reflect our own values. This is what we have done in giving up on a broken political system that is the result of our willful ignorance, complacency and lack of sense of social responsibility. We have allowed fascism to emerge in the cradle of democracy.  

It is not too late to save ourselves from being enslaved in a fascist New World Order. If we examine our deepest beliefs we will find that most of us do possess a sense of social responsibility. That means that we have a responsibility to work together to mold a new society in which the needs of the least among us are as important as our own. 

We must give up on the naïve belief that in a fascist system all have an equal chance to live the American dream, which is quickly becoming the American nightmare. Those of us who have shirked their responsibility to think for themselves and of their responsibility to each other must realize that in a society governed by a wealthy few, we do not have the power to control our individual destiny unless we work together to assure that our collective destiny is to become a society in which we are all free from want, free from oppression and free from the threat of endless war.  

Once upon a time there was a truly United States. It took the misery of the Great Depression to make us realize that a system designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many would inevitably become oppressive and that only together could we take back the reins of government. Were it not for the social safety net that is now under attack, we would be in the midst of an even greater Depression. 

Those who accept the myth of the corporate media and politicians that it is creeping "socialism" that is bankrupting the nation are living in an artificial reality divorced from that of most Americans. When we seek to escape our responsibilities as sovereign citizens by letting an economic elite make the decisions that affect all of us, we are submitting to the authoritarian mindset that is at the root of fascism in every place that it has taken hold. 

If those who claim that rugged individuality is the defining characteristic of Americanism truly believe that, they must learn to think for themselves and quit choosing to think only of themselves.
Well Said 4   Must Read 3   Supported 3  
Rate It | View Ratings

Rick Staggenborg, MD Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am a former Army and VA psychiatrist who ran for the US Senate in 2010 on a campaign based on a pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and regulate campaign finance. A constitutional amendment banning (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The real meaning of D-Day

Clinton's record on free trade: national and global implications

Turkey's turn to Russia could spell doom for NATO

VA privatization continues with MISSION Act

The road to WWIII is paved with good intentions

Controlling the masses by manipulating conspiracy theories

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend