Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Weekly Fromm: Erich Fromm on the marketing orientation
Introducing a regular new feature on this blog: The Weekly Fromm.
The feature will focus on the work of the great German social philosopher and psychoanalyst Dr Erich Fromm, arguably the most prescient writer of the 20th century.
Fromm has influenced my political thought more than any other writer: if I was allowed just three words of advice for anyone interested in trying to improve the society we live in, I would say 'Read Erich Fromm'. Sadly, it seems all too few people in Britain today do read Erich Fromm, and if we are going to rescue our disintegrating society, that's something that needs to change.
To kick off the series, above is the first part of Fromm's 1958 television interview with Mike Wallace. In it he talks, among other topics, about the marketing orientation.
Modern capitalism Fromm argued, produces a neurotic character type: "the marketing character", who "adapts to the market economy by becoming detached from authentic emotions, truth and conviction".
For the marketing character "everything is transformed into a commodity, not only things, but the person himself, his physical energy, his skills, his knowledge, his opinions, his feelings, even his smiles".
(For a perfect example of a "marketing character", we only need to think of a recent inhabitant of No 10 Downing Street).
The marketing character is deeply insincere, and modern capitalism ensures that we have marketing characters in abundance.
HAT TIP for the You Tube clip- to the Editors at Media Lens.