As the title suggests, Wilde takes as a starting point, and actually as a basis for his whole study, Fromm's idea of solidarity. He examines in depth Fromm's framework for the construction of a humanistic society relying on human solidarity, going over the theory concerning the potential implementation of Fromm's humanistic ethics.
Concepts of great relevance in current society were already on Fromm's agenda, even as early as the 1960's. It could be said, that in this and many other respects, Fromm was a visionary, since he was very much ahead of his time, especially regarding social issues, with which we was deeply concerned. Thus, in his work, he tried to tackle major problems in the world of work, introducing in the American political arena the idea of a guaranteed income. Moreover, he did not put so much stress on the potentiality of ownership of the means of production —like other political theorists did— as on the control of (the process of) production itself, in which, he claimed, workers should play an important part. He was further inclined to think that, if provided with the fulfilment of basic needs, workers would willingly carry out their jobs —a guaranteed income that is already a reality in some European countries, while others (we might say), are still waiting for (or have completely given up on) the welfare state to take on such measures.
One of the elements that prevent us from achieving freedom is consumerism, a key concept in Fromm's work, as Wilde explains. We, our society and economy, need to find a balance between what we acquire (as consumers) and produce (in more general terms, as an economy), on the one hand, and our real needs, i.e. what we really would need to buy and produce, on the other hand. Furthermore, Fromm criticises the aggressive advertising industry, which entices us to purchase as many consumer goods as our standard of living will allow for. In other words, the economic system should shift priorities, from the maximum gain and production towards a more humanistic and environmentally-aware model of production; towards more social-orientated practices with a specific, clearly defined goal, to simply serve the people, as Wilde concludes. These and other considerations dealt with by Fromm have incredibly immediate relevance in present-day society, although they aimed to address socio-political issues at Fromm's time. The magnitude of the problem of consumerism and extensive production has, nonetheless, greatly aggravated in the latest decades. "What can we expect from a society where economy is the prevailing force?" we might ask ourselves; a society in which man is increasingly more dependent on external forces and actual human will and aspirations are completely subjected to economic powers; a society where man is subjected to the "economic machine" that he himself created.
Wilde touches on several other issues tackled by Fromm in his major works, introducing his own critiques and those produced by other academics and critics. He dwells on women emancipation, the work experience and the role of trades unions, as well as on alienation, consumerism and the potential role of consumer movements.
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