Erich Fromm (1900–1980) is well known for his essays on social psychology, most of them written after his exile in the United States at the end of the 1930s. But his lesser known early works – from 1922 to 1930 – are very creative, as well as politically radical, and deserve to be discussed. They have some common aspects: a messianic understanding of Judaism; a Freudian-Marxist rejection of capitalism as a socio-economic system; and the revolutionary aspiration for a socialist utopia with religious roots. These elements together shaped an original and subversive thought.
Michael Löwy is a French-Brazilian social scientist and Emeritus Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris. He is author of Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the Concept of History’ (London, Verso, 2005).