All Quotes tagged Trump(97)

During the Second World War, psychologist Erich Fromm asked in Escape From Freedom why, despite an overarching trend toward greater personal freedom, large chunks of the western world had embraced authoritarianism. It was tempting, he argued, to consider this an aberration, the fault of a few madmen who ‘gained power over the vast apparatus of the state through nothing but cunning and trickery,’ and who rendered their constituents ‘the will-less object of betrayal and terror.’ But Fromm argued against this attempt to shift blame. There was something inherent in humanity that feared true freedom, that preferred to be dominated. In other words, Fromm thought this was a feature of human nature, not a bug.
To explain this tendency, Fromm distinguished between two kinds of freedom: negative freedom, casting off the shackles of social, political, and cultural restrictions; and positive freedom, finding a truer expression of self and identity. When the former occurs without the latter, he wrote, ‘the newly won freedom appears as a curse; [mankind] is free from the sweet bondage of paradise, but he is not free to govern himself, to realize his individuality.’
This distinction might sound familiar to students of the Iraq War and the Arab Spring—when dictators, toppled in the name of ‘freedom,’ gave way to chaos, power vacuums and warlordism. It also might help explain Trump’s ascendance. In casting off many of the middlemen, sclerotic corporations, and bureaucracies that throttled human accomplishment, people have achieved negative freedom. But without the tools or power to forge a more meaningful society—a positive freedom—some have plunged back into the comforts of authoritarianism and domination.