Volume 12, Issue 1/2, 2009
Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation
Nick Braune, Joan Braune
Erich Fromm’s Socialist Program and Prophetic Messianism, in Two Parts
This paper begins by examining Erich Fromm’s “Manifesto and Program” written for the Socialist Party in 1959 or 1960, and addresses a simple question: Why would Fromm speak of something so apparently arcane as “prophetic messianism,” in his socialist program? When he insists that we have forgotten that
socialism is “rooted in the spiritual tradition which came to us from prophetic messianism, the gospels, humanism, and from the enlightenment philosophers,” is this simply a literary flourish, a concession to liberalism, or religious sentimentality? Part I, written by Nick Braune, answers the question by examining Fromm’s
socialist organizing commitments in the context of the late 1950s. Part II, written by Joan Braune, offers further defense of the term “prophetic messianism,” distinguishes two types of messianism, and suggests that Fromm may be attempting to address a problem in the Frankfurt School.