Marx's Philosophy of Man, Erich Fromm 1961


1. It is a sad comment, yet one which cannot be avoided, that this ignorance and distortion of Marx are to be found more in the United States than in any other Western country. It must be mentioned especially that in the last fifteen years there has been an extraordinary renaissance of discussions on Marx in Germany and France, centered especially around the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts published in this volume. In Germany the participants in this discussion are mainly Protestant theologians. I mention first the extraordinary Marxismusstudien, ed. by I. Fetscher, 2 vols. J.C.B. Mohr ( Tübingen, 1954 and 1957). Further, the excellent introduction by Landshut to the Kroener edition of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. Then, the works of Lukacs, Bloch, Popitz and others, quoted later. In the United States a slowly increasing interest in Marx's work has been observed recently. Unfortunately, it is in some part expressed in a number of biased and falsifying books like Schwarzschild The Red Prussian, or in oversimplified and misleading books like the Overstreets' The Meaning of Communism. In contrast, Joseph A. Schumpeter, in his Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy ( Harper & Bros., 1947) offers an excellent presentation of Marxism. Cf. further on the problem of historical naturalism, John C. Bennett Christianity and Communism Today ( Association Press, New York). See also the excellent anthologies (and introductions) by Feuer ( Anchor Books) and by Bottomore and Rubel, ( Watts and Co., London). Specifically, on Marx's view of human nature I want to mention Venable Human Nature: The Marxist View, which, although knowledgeable and objective, suffers severely from the fact that the author could not make use of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. Cf. also, for the philosophical basis of Marx's thought, H. Marcuse brilliant and penetrating book, Reason and Revolution ( Oxford University Press, New York, 1941), and the same author's discussion of Marx's theories vs. Soviet Marxism in Soviet Marxismk ( Columbia University Press, New York, 1958). Cf. also my discussion of Marx in The Sane Society ( Rinehart & Co. Inc., New York, 1955) and my earlier discussion of Marx's theory in Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, Vol. I ( Hirschfeld, Leipzig, 1932). In France, the discussion has been led partly by Catholic priests and partly by philosophers, most of them socialists. Among the former I refer especially to J. Y. Calvez' La Pensée de Karl Marx, ed. du Seuil, Paris 1956; among the latter, A. Kojcve, Sartre, and especially the various works of H. Lefèbvre.

2. The first English version was published in 1959 in Great Britain by Lawrence and Wishart, Ltd., using a recently published translation by the Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow. The translation by T. B. Bottomore included in this volume is the first by any Western scholar.

3. Capital I, K. Marx, Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago 1906, p. 406.

4. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, p. 181.

5. German Ideology, K. Marx and F. Engels, ed. with an introduction by R. Pascal, New York, International Publishers, Inc., 1939, p. 14. [My italics -- E.F.]

6. K. Marx and F. Engels, Die Heilige Familie (The Holy Family), 1845. [My translation -- E.F. ]

7. German Ideology, l.c. p. 7.

8. Theses on Feuerbach, German Ideology, 1.c. p. 197.

9. "While the capitalist of the classical type brands individual consumption as a vice against his function, of abstinence from accumulating, the modernized capitalist is capable of looking upon accumulation as abstinence from pleasure." ( Capital I, 1.c. p. 650).

10. I have tried to clarify this problem in a paper Über Aufgabe und Methode einer Analytischen Sozialpsychologie (On the Method and Aim of Analytic Social Psychology), Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, Vol. I, C.L. Hirschfeld, Leipzig, 1932, p. 28-54.

11. Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe, Marx-Engels Verlag, ed. D. Rjazanow, Berlin, 1932. I., 6, p. 179. The abbreviation MEGA will be used in all following references.

12. While revising this manuscript I came across an excellent interpretation of Marx, characterized both by thorough knowledge and genuine penetration, by Leonard Krieger, The Uses of Marx for History in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. XXXV, 3. "For Marx," Krieger writes, "the common substance of history was the activity of men -- 'men as simultaneously the authors and actors of their own history' -and this activity extended equally to all levels: modes of production, social relations and categories." (p. 362). As to the alleged "materialistic" character of Marx, Krieger writes: "What intrigues us about Marx is his capacity to find an essentially ethical rationale running within and across the centuries at the very same time that he perceives the diversity and complexity of historical existence." (p. 362) [My italics -- E.F.] Or later (p. 368): "There is no more characteristic feature of Marx's philosophical framework than his categorical reprobation of economic interest as a distortion vis-à-vis the whole moral man."

13. Cf. MEGA V, p. 596.

14. German Ideology, 1.c. p. 7.

15. Capital I, 1.c. p. 406.

16. Capital I, 1.c. p. 91-2.

17. Preface to a Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, Marx, Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1955, p. 362-4.

*. An instrument perfected in the late Middle Ages, to throw, by means of mirrors, an image of a scene on a plane surface. It was widely used by artists to establish the correct proportions of a natural object or scene. The image appeared on the paper inverted, though the later use of a lens corrected this.

18. German Ideology, 1.c. p. 13-4.

19. Cf. my article in Suzuki, Fromm, de Martino, Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1960. Cf. also Marx's statement: "Language is as old as consciousness, language is practical consciousness, as it exists for other men, and for that reason is really beginning to exist for me personally as well; for language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity of intercourse with other men. Where there exists a relationship, it exists for me: the animal has no 'relations' with anything, cannot have any. For the animal, its relation to others does not exist as a relation. Consciousness is therefore from the very beginning a social product, and remains so as long as men exist at all. Consciousness is at first, of course, merely consciousness concerning the immediate sensuous environment and consciousness of the limited connection with other persons and things outside the individual who is growing self-conscious. At the same time it is consciousness of nature, which first appears to men as a completely alien, all-powerful and unassailable force, with which men's relations are purely animal and by which they are overawed like beasts; it is thus a purely animal consciousness of nature (natural religion)." -- German Ideology, 1.c. p. 19.

20. German Ideology, 1.c. p. 197-8 [My italics -- E.F.] Cf. also Engels' famous letter to Mehring ( July 14, 1893) in which he states that Marx and he "had neglected [by emphasizing the formal aspects of the relationship between the socioeconomic structure and ideology to study] the manner and mode of how ideas come into being."

21. Capital I, 1.c., p. 824.

22. Capital I, 1.c., p. 668.

23. German Ideology, 1.c., p. 198.

24. Heilige Familie, MEGA V, p. 359. [My translation -E. F. ]

25. E.P. MSS., p. 141.

26. E.P. MSS. p. 139

27. H. Marcuse, Reason and Revolution, Oxford University Press, New York, 1941, p. 146.

28. Marcuse, 1.c., p. 113.

29. Marcuse, 1.c., p. 142. Cf. Hegel, Science and Logic, Vol. I, p. 404

30. Marcuse, 1.c., p. 149

31. Marcuse, 1.c. p. 152.

32. Cf. Goethe's conversation with Eckermann, January 29, 1826.

33. Goethe, conversation with Eckermann on January 29, 1826. [My italics, and translation -- E.F. ]

34. Quoted by K. Löwith, Von Hegel zu Nietzsche, W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart, 1941, p. 24. [My translation -E.F. ]

35. Cf. the detailed description of the productive character orientation in E. Fromm, Man for Himself, Rinehart & Co., New York, 1947.

36. Cf. H. Popitz, Der entfremdete Mensch" (The Alienated Man) Verlag für Recht und Gesellschaft, A.G., Basel, p. 119.

37. E.P. MSS., p. 168.

38. E.P. MSS., pp. 126-7.

39. E.P. MSS., p. 134.

40. E.P. MSS., p. 134.

41. E.P. MSS., p. 133.

42. MEGA, Vol. III, p. 191.

43. E.P. MSS., p. 132. This last statement is one which is almost literally the same as has been made in Zen Buddhist thinking, as well as by Goethe. In fact, the thinking of Goethe, Hegel and Marx is closely related to the thinking of Zen. What is common to them is the idea that man overcomes the subject-object split; the object is an object, yet it ceases to be an object, and in this new approach man becomes one with the object, although he and it remain two. Man, in relating himself to the objective world humanly, overcomes self-alienation.

44. By "private property" as used here and in other statements, Marx never refers to the private property of things for use (such as a house, a table, etc.) Marx refers to the property of the "propertied classes," that is, of the capitalist who, because he owns the means of production, can hire the property-less individual to work for him, under conditions the latter is forced to accept. "Private property" in Marx's usage, then, always refers to private property within capitalist class society and thus is a social and historical category; the term does not refer to things for use, as for instance, in a socialist society.

45. E.P. MSS., p. 127.

46. E.P. MSS., p. 101.

47. E.P. MSS., pp. 137-8. This dialectic concept of the wealthy man as being the poor man in need of others is, in many ways, similar to the concept of poverty expressed by Meister Eckhart, in his sermon "Blessed Are the Poor," ( Meister Eckhart, transl. by R. B. Blakney, Harper and Bros., New York, 1941)

48. MEGA I, i a p. 184.

49. E.P. MSS., pp. 134-5.

50. E.P. MSS., p. 132.

51. E.P. MSS., pp. 144-5.

52. E.P. MSS., p. 145.

53. E.P. MSS., p. 138.

54. Marx refers here to speculations among certain eccentric communist thinkers of his time who thought that if everything is common property women should be too.

55. E.P. MSS., pp. 124 - 6.

56. Capital I, l.c. p. 197-8.

57. German Ideology, l.c. p. 22.

58. E.P. MSS., p. 107.

59. The connection between alienation and idolatry has also been emphasized by Paul Tillich in Der Mensch im Christentum und im Marxismus, Düsseldorf, 1953, p. 14. Tillich also points out in another lecture, "Protestantische Vision," that the concept of alienation in substance is to be found also in Augustine's thinking. Löwith also has pointed out that what Marx fights against are not the gods, but the idols, [cf. Von Hegel zu Nietzsche, l.c. p. 378 ].

60. This is, incidentally, also the psychology of the fanatic. He is empty, dead, depressed, but in order to compensate for the state of depression and inner deadness, he chooses an idol, be it the state, a party, an idea, the church, or God. He makes this idol into the absolute, and submits to it in an absolute way. In doing so his life attains meaning, and he finds excitement in the submission to the chosen idol. His excitement, however, does not stem from joy in productive relatedness; it is intense, yet cold excitement built upon inner deadness or, if one would want to put it symbolically, it is "burning ice."

61. Eckermann's conversation with Goethe, February 18, 1829, published in Leipzig, 1894, page 47. [My translation -- E.F. ]

62. 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

63. The Philosophy of History, translated by J. Sibree, The Colonial Press, New York, 1899.

64. E.P. MSS., p. 95.

65. Capital I, l.c. p. 536.

66. E.P. MSS., p. 98.

67. E.P. MSS., p. 99.

68. E.P. MSS., p. 99.

69. E.P. MSS., pp. 102-3.

70. E.P. MSS., p. 107.

71. Capital I, 1.c. p. 396.

72. Capital I, 1.c. p. 680-1.

73. E.P. MSS., p. 143.

74. Capital I, 1.c. p. 461-2.

75. E.P. MSS., p. 95.

76. Capital I, 1.c. p. 708.

77. E.P. MSS., pp. 105-6

78. German Ideology, 1.c. p. 23.

79. E.P. MSS., p. 103

80. E.P. MSS., p. 103.

81. E.P. MSS., p. 146.

82. E.P. MSS., p. 146.

83. E.P. MSS., p. 146

84. E.P. MSS., p. 140.

85. E.P. MSS., pp. 140-2

86. E.P. MSS., p. 111.

87. E.P. MSS., p. 144.

88. E.P. MSS., p. 111.

89. Capital I, 1.c. p. 689.

90. Protestantische Vision, Ring Verlag, Stuttgart, 1952, p. 6. [My translation -- E. F. ]

91. Capital III, translated by Ernest Untermann, Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago 1909, p. 954

92. Quoted by R. Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, with a preface by H. Marcuse, Bookman Associates, New York, 1958, p. 19.

93. MEGA I, 1 a, p. 184.

94. Cf. my Man for Himself, Rinehart & Co., Inc., New York, 1947.

95. A. Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1944, p. 93.

96. Cf. Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of the EighteenthCentury Philosophers, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1932 and 1959; A. P. d'Entrèves, The Medieval Contribution to Political Thought, Oxford University Press, 1939; Baron Hans , Fifteenth-Century Civilization and the Renaissance, in Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 8; Harold J. Laski, Political Theory in the Later Middle Ages, The New Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I.

97. I shall deal with this development in detail in a forthcoming book in the World Perspective Religious Series, ed. by Ruth Nanda Anshen, Harper & Brothers, New York.

98. E.P. MSS., p. 127.

99. The idea of the relation between Messianic prophetism and Marx's socialism has been stressed by a number of authors. The following may be mentioned here: Karl Löwith, Meaning in History, Chicago University Press, 1949; Paul Tillich in writings quoted here. Lukacs, in Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein speaks of Marx as of an eschatological thinker. Cf. also statements by Alfred Weber, J.A. Schumpeter, and a number of other authors, quoted in Marxismusstudien.

100. Ernst Bloch, Das Prinzip Hoffnung, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1959, 2 volumes.

101. This and all following quotations from D. Bell are from his paper "The Meaning of Alienation" in Thought, 1959.

102. In Marx-Engels Archiv I, ed. by Rjazanow

103. C.B. Mohr, Tübingen, Vol. I and II, 1954, 1957.

104. The main work on this theme is by a Jesuit priest, Jean- Yves Calvez , La Pensée de Karl Marx, Editions du Seui Paris, 1956.

105. I will mention only the works of H. Lefèbvre, Navill, Goldmann, and of A. Kojève, J.-P. Sartre, M. Merlean-Ponty. Cf. the excellent paper Der Marxismus im Spiegel der FranzLösischen Philosophie by I. Fetscher, in Marxismusstudien, 1.c. Vol. I, p. 173 ff.

106. Oxford University Press, New York, 1941.

107. Bookman Associates, New York, 1958.

108. When outside circumstances made the publication of this work (German Ideology) impossible, "we abandoned the manuscript to the gnawing criticism of the mice all the more willingly as we had achieved our main purpose-selfclarification."

109. German Ideology, 1.c. p. 22.

110. German Ideology, 1.c. p. 22.

111. German Ideology, 1.c. p. 22-3.

112. It is significant that Marx corrected Engel's expression "self-activity" into "activity" when Engels used it with reference to previous history. It shows how important it was for Marx to keep the term "self-activity" for a non-alienated society. See MEGA I, Vol. V, p. 61.

113. Cf. the brilliant article by Th. Ramm, "Die Künftige Gesellschaftsordnung nach der Theorie von Marx und Engels," Marxissmusstudien II, 1.c. p. 77 ff.

114. Cf. Capital III, 1.c. p. 945-6 [My italics -- E.F.]

115. Cf. Capital I, 1.c. p. 529-30.

116. Capital I, p. 554-5.

117. Capital I, p. 563.

118. Capital I, 1.c. p. 708.

119. Marx and Engels, German Ideology, 1.c. p. 198-9 [partly my italics -- E.F.]

120. Reminiscences of Marx and Engels, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, p. 127.

121. Reminiscences of Marx and Engels, 1.c. p. 252.