“Escape from Freedom” by Erich Fromm

“The inner compulsion was more effective in harnessing all energies to work than any outer compulsion can ever be. Against external compulsion there is always a certain amount of rebelliousness which hampers the effectiveness of work or makes people unfit for any differentiated task requiring intelligence, initiative, and responsibility”.

“We believe, for instance, that freedom of worship constitutes one of the final victories for freedom. We do not sufficiently recognize that while it is a victory against those powers of Church and State which did not allow man to worship according to his own conscience, the modern individual has lost to a great extent the inner capacity to have faith in anything which is not provable by the methods of the natural sciences. Or, to choose another example, we feel that freedom of speech is the last step in the march of victory of freedom. We forget that, although freedom of speech constitutes an important victory in the battle against old restraints, modern man is in a position where much of what “he” thinks and says are the things that everybody else thinks and says; that he has not acquired the ability to think originally—that is, for himself—which alone gives meaning to his claim that nobody can interfere with the expression of his thoughts”.


“The rulership of conscience can be even harsher than that of external authorities, since the individual feels its orders to be his own; how can he rebel against himself?”


“…the truth that modern man lives under the illusion that he knows what he wants, while he is supposed to want”.