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Monthly Review Pamphlet Series No. 28
Copyright @ 1967 by Monthly Review Press
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 67‑15593

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At the time of his untimely death on July 31, 1964, our good friend Fritz Pappenheim was working on a lecture in Spanish to be delivered at the National University of Mexico on the approaching occasion of the publication in Mexico City of the Spanish translation of his book The Alienation of Modern Man (Monthly Review Press, 1959). This lecture was an adaptation for a Mexican audience of a talk given at the Militant Labor Forum in New York in early March, 1964, and repeated in a somewhat revised form at a student conference on “Socialism in America” which was held at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, March 13-15, 1964. The text published here is the Yale lecture with certain additions from the unfinished Spanish manuscript.

The sketch of Fritz Pappenheim’s life and work which begins on page 7 is by his friend Dirk Struik, retired professor of mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an editor of Science & Society.

We also include, beginning on page 12, the introduction which Fritz Pappenheim wrote especially for the Spanish edition of his book. This has not previously been published in full in English.

The entire manuscript was edited by John Rackliffe whose skill and devotion over the years were an unfailing source of strength for Monthly Review Press. This was the last piece of work he completed before his death on June 6, 1966.



Aufriss einer Sozialgeschichte der Geldentwertungen in Frankreich bis John Law: Untersuchungen über die Einwirkung des Geldwertschwundes auf das Staatsgefühl und den sozialen Frieden. Schmidt, Frankfurt am Main, 1930, 92 + xv pp. (Doctoral thesis, Cologne, 1928.)

“Neue Schriften von Ferdinand Tönnies.” Kö1ner Vierteljahrhefte für Soziologie, Vol. 7 (1928), pp. 81‑92, 208‑216, 344‑358.

“Die Bewertung der geistigen Arbeit in der Wirtschaftslehre von Karl Marx.” Jahrbucher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik, Vol. 139 (1933), pp. 71‑74.

“La Rabassa Morta.” Studies in lease systems of Catalan tenant farmers. Catalonia, Department of Agriculture, Bulletin, Barcelona, 1937.

The Alienation of Modern Man. Monthly Review Press, New York, 1959, 189 pp. Japanese translation by Kenzo Awata: Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo, 1960. Spanish translation by Werner May: La enajenación del hombre moderno. Ediciones ERA, Mexico, 1965.



  FOREWORD by Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy 3
  FRITZ PAPPENHEIM, 1902‑1964 by Dirk J. Struik 7
  THE RETURN OF MAN by Fritz Pappenheim 12


If conditions make the human being, we ought to make the conditions human.

Karl Marx          
The Holy Family



Fritz Pappenheim died suddenly at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 31, 1964. The even tenor of a life dedicated to study, lecturing, teaching, his gentle manners, his sense of humor unmarred by any flavor of bitterness—these hardly betrayed the difficulties of his life, the many hardships he had to overcome to reach the relative serenity and security of his later years. Expelled from his native Germany by the Nazis in Hitler’s first year of power, caught in the turmoil of defeat after the Spanish Civil War and confined in a French internment camp, he struggled for months as a penniless exile to get that precious visa to the United States. After some years in the States he was, inevitably, embroiled in the fight for academic freedom. And throughout he experienced to the full the fate of the socialist intellectual in this period of chronic crisis. His Marxian humanism gave him the strength to overcome all these obstacles, and to start a new and happier life in Cambridge with his wife Yvonne. Yet all these difficulties had their compensations. They offered him the opportunity to study at close quarters several forms of civilization—and of barbarism. And he was able to take his full part in the strivings for a saner world, and in all the comradeship and friendship which he met and so richly knew how to reciprocate.

Fritz Pappenheim was born on May 18, 1902, the son of Leopold Pappenheim, a successful Cologne businessman. Fritz attended the local Realgymnasium but left in 1920 to work for some two and a half years as an apprentice at the Deutsche Bank. He left the bank to enter the university; and from 1922 to 1928, during the heyday of the Weimar Republic, he studied at Cologne, Kiel, and Freiburg—sociology, economics, history, and philosophy. Of major importance for his outlook on life were the lectures at Kiel of the great sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies. Tönnies’ concept of the difference between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (outlined on pages 22‑24 below) profoundly influenced Pappenheim in these formative years, and Tönnies fully appreciated the younger man. When Fritz was compelled to leave Germany after Hitler came to power, Tönnies testified courageously on his behalf.

In 1925‑1926 Fritz entered a prize contest sponsored by the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Cologne on the subject of the influence of monetary inflation on the attitude toward the state and on social peace: it was a topical subject in those days of devastating devaluation of the mark. Young Pappenheim was awarded the prize jointly with the Berlin professor von Ungern Sternberg. This paper served, with minor changes, for his doctoral thesis at Cologne in 1928: its chief aim was to show the influence of inflation on the transition from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft as a result of commodity production. Pappenheim pointed out also the effect of inflation on the attitude of different classes toward the state and toward social peace—while of course recognizing that the fundamental structure of state and social peace have an importance far beyond price changes.

In the same period he wrote a series of articles on the later work of Tönnies. The many-sided, penetrating analysis of the Kiel sociologist appealed strongly to him, but he especially appreciated Tönnies’ concern for human beings and their welfare. At the same time, he compared Tönnies’ work with that of Max Weber. Both sociologists, he wrote, take an affirmative stand in relation to contemporary social development. But Weber’s stand stems from his concern for duty; Tönnies acts from a deep love of life. This deep love of life always found a response in Fritz Pappenheim.

In his high school days he had already taken part in the socialist youth movement and had been interested in teaching working-class groups. His study of the socialist classics enabled him not only to understand the labor movement, but also to apply a Marxian point of view to the work of his teachers. After his graduation he took a job as teacher and assistant director of the Schule der Arbeit, administered by the Leipzig Volkshochschule (people’s university). In 1930 he became co-director of the comparable Volkshochschule in Frankfurt am Main, where he drafted the curriculum and taught subjects in the social sciences. At the same time he served as an advisor and occasional lecturer at the Frankfurt broadcasting station. All this and many personal contacts kept him in touch with trade unions. From time to time he led walks of working class groups.

After Hitler’s coup d'etat, Pappenheim left for Spain, where the Democratic Republic had come to power in 1931. In Barcelona he did free-lance writing and tutoring. He learned fluent Spanish, and was able to serve as an interpreter. In 1936 the International Institute of Social History at the University of Amsterdam gave him an assignment, soon endorsed by the Department of Agriculture of the Catalan government in Barcelona, to study the evolution of the lease system and the social conditions and movements of Catalan tenant wine farmers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some of this research was published under the title of La Rabassa Morta by the Catalan Department of Agriculture in 1937. During the Civil War, Pappenheim continued his work and study under the democratic government of the Republic, and in 1937 made a trip to England to give talks on the significance of the Spanish Civil War.

The war was lost. Franco and his troops occupied Barcelona in February and March of 1939. Fritz Pappenheim had to join the cruel exodus through the Pyrenees of the many thousands of Spanish patriots and international volunteers; he landed in a French internment camp. In June, 1939, the Hitler regime stripped him of his German citizenship, an honor which he shared with Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann. He underwent endless troubles and humiliations in his efforts to obtain a United States visa but was finally successful. With the help of friends at Western Reserve University he was accepted at the School of Applied Social Science there, and in August 1941 he left for the United States.

In Cleveland, he took group work courses and worked in various settlement houses and summer camps. Then in 1944 he accepted an invitation to join the faculty of Talladega College, a Negro college in Alabama under the auspices of the American Missionary Association. In 1945 he became a professor of economics, and also taught German, offered courses in industrial relations and consumer economics, and conducted a seminar on contemporary trends in economic, social, and fiscal policies.

These were among the happy years of Fritz Pappenheim’s life. Liked by his students and his colleagues, he had at last started on a rewarding academic career in his adopted country. He exercised to the full one of his great gifts: he stimulated the students to do their own thinking. This talent was not always relished by certain conservative academic trustees. So, just as he became eligible for tenure, it sort of turned out that perhaps he didn’t quite belong at Talladega. This was in 1950, when the bitter fight for academic freedom was opening up on many campuses. The president and some of the trustees weren’t quite sure they liked Dr. Pappenheim’s European background, and there was even a trend in his teaching which seemed to oppose the system of free enterprise. The faculty and the students in large numbers swung to his support, but in 1952 they lost out. It was some consolation that the “Pappenheim Case” also cost the college president his job.

Dr. Pappenheim. now established himself in Cambridge. In the summers of 1948-1950 he had begun a special study with the help of grants from the Carnegie Foundation, and this he now continued. His main theme was the alienation of man as reflected in contemporary philosophy and sociology. Increasingly he had seen that Tönnies’ ideas of community and society, of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, could be understood only in the light of the teachings of Karl Marx—teachings which could now be better understood, since several works of Marx had recently become available to a wider public. Moreover, alienation had assumed far more monstrous proportions with the steady decline of capitalist society; it had become the world-wide concern of workers in philosophy, sociology, psychology, theology, and the arts. It was a problem about which Fritz Pappenheim felt deeply, and which he interpreted in the light of his own socialist humanism. But the study of alienation in the context of Marx’s work, though pursued in Europe by Marxists and non-Marxists alike, had received little attention in the English-speaking world. More than once Pappenheim discovered that he had to explain the very term “alienation” to interested inquirers.

The chief result of his work was his book, The Alienation of Modern Man, first published in 1959 by Monthly Review Press in New York. The book of course received the usual silent boycott in the columns of the mass review media in this country. But its lucid style and human warmth have done much to make the English-speaking public aware of the problem of alienation and its social aspects. The book also clarified Tönnies’ work by comparing it to that of Marx, and so helped to produce a deeper understanding of the problem. There have been three printings of the book in English. A Spanish edition was published posthumously in Mexico, and the Japanese translation has sold well over 100,000 copies.

Dr. Pappenheim was asked repeatedly to expand his point of view in discussion groups and at public lectures, and before many student and faculty groups. His last such lecture was before the Yale Socialist Student Union in March, 1964. At the time of his death he was preparing a lecture to be delivered at the National University of Mexico. Those of us who had the privilege of listening to him could benefit from the aptness of his examples—as apt as the Goya “Caza de Dientes” that serves as frontispiece to his book—and from his knowledge of the progressive and labor movements of Western Europe and the United States.

In the summer of 1960 he travelled to Cuba and was greatly stirred by the vigorous impact of the young revolution. With several other Massachusetts residents he appealed to his fellow citizens to urge reconsideration of United States policy toward Cuba, in a spirit of understanding. The brilliant Cuban victory at the Bay of Pigs, which amazed and disturbed the Establishment, did not come as a surprise to Pappenheim.

We who knew him, we the survivors, will remember him as a man of gentle and gentlemanly ways, a man of courage and integrity, capable of deep friendship. He was an inspiring teacher who gave generously of himself to those who came to him, a Marxian scholar of profound learning who translated his socialist humanism into thought and action.



A little more than three years have gone by since this book was published in the United States. During this period I have been asked by many people in discussions and in letters how we can, if not overcome, at least reduce the forces of alienation—how man, who is estranged from himself and from other people, can recapture his identity and bridge the gulf which separates him from his fellow man.

I consider this problem to be urgent and grave, and I have little confidence in the facile remedies which are often proposed to meet it. The cure recommended by some specialists in the social sciences seems to me too mild and to be no more than a pseudo-solution. The solution I see and which I have tried to present in the last chapter of my book is somewhat alarming to many of those who have wanted to know my opinion about the problem. It is based on the idea which Marx developed in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, that there is a deep and intimate relationship between the alienation of man from himself and his alienation from other men, and that the two forms of alienation represent merely two different aspects of the same process. If this is true, then it seems to me that one cannot cope with the two forms of alienation separately, that one cannot fight the alienation of man from himself apart from his alienation from other human beings, nor vice versa.

The adolescent boy who deliberately aspires toward the development of his personality, who performs systematic exercises to acquire a unique handwriting or style, who shuns the circle of his contemporaries and withdraws into solitude where he can contemplate himself in the mirror of his soul and become absorbed in the fascinating study of his inner life, will not necessarily succeed in forming a strong individuality. As Goethe showed in Wilhelm Meister, the young man who stops being concerned about a subjective analysis of himself and joins his fellows to help them carry out the pressing work of the everyday world is more likely to develop a strong and positive personality. The man who wants to free himself from alienation is in a similar position: it is not when he tries to attain the heights of introspection and introversion but when he actually participates—not only in thought but through practical action—in the plight of other human beings that he succeeds in returning to himself.

Perhaps I may give an illustration from the American movie, The Defiant Ones. Two prisoners who are chained together—one white, the other Negro—both sentenced to many years at hard labor, escape one evening as their work-gang is returning to prison. Between them there is nothing but the deepest hatred and the chain which links them together in spite of violent fights. After horrible days of hunger, thirst, mutual loathing, and despair they arrive at a farm house where a woman gives them some food and most important—tools with which they succeed in breaking the lock of the hated chain. In order to get rid of the Negro, the woman indicates to him a path which supposedly goes to a railroad bridge where a train with boxcars passes daily. After the Negro has left, the white man realizes that the woman has lied and given directions which do not lead to the railroad but to a swamp from which there is no exit. He knows that there is not a minute to lose and runs out of the house in order to find the Negro and to warn him of the danger. His action does not bring a “happy ending.” Yet it has a deep significance: no one who has seen The Defiant Ones can forget the stirring moment in which one of the escapees runs after the other, trying to reach the very person from whom he has so often attempted to get away. This moment—when he tries to find the other man, when he is linked to him not by an iron chain but by a bond of solidarity and responsibility—is the moment when he who until now seemed as brutal as an animal returns to his human being, returns to himself.

What happens between the two prisoners, it is true, lasts only a few minutes. How can the individual come to grips with the forces of alienation not only when he is escaping, not only in fleeting and extraordinary moments, but in his everyday life? To do this, as Marx says in his work, The Holy Family, we must try not to concentrate primarily on the world of ideas but “to arrange the real world in such a way that man can experience there what is really human, can become used to experiencing himself as Man.”

The importance of this principle has been understood by the masses in Latin American countries, and the effort to implement it is, in my opinion, one of the decisive forces behind the socio-economic transformation which the Cuban people are now carrying out. A few summers ago, when I visited Cuba, many peasants showed me with real pride their cooperatives and their healthy homes which they had built with the help of, their fellow members and in which their children could grow up not with fear of tomorrow but with a deep faith in the future. They assured me that the days of anxiety under tyranny, when they were treated as dogs, were over and that they now knew that their human dignity was respected. These words reflect more than the simple satisfaction of people who at present live more comfortably than before: they reflect the serenity of men who are no longer used as tools to serve the ends of others but who belong to their community as they belong to their homes, who feel a deep identity between their lives and the goals of their society. Their new hope shone in the eyes of these men. As I talked with them I was reminded of Marx’s description of socialist worker groups in France, of whom he said that the brotherhood of man for them was not an empty phrase but a deep truth and that the nobility of mankind lit their work-hardened faces.

The work done by the cooperatives in Cuba has shown me that man can achieve a measure of triumph over the forces of alienation, not just by ideological discussion, not by escaping into esoteric isolation, but by joining his efforts to those of his fellow man in building up the society of the future in which the individual will be part of his community.


This is the author’s introduction to the Spanish edition of his book, The Alienation of Modern Man.

SOURCE: Pappenheim, Fritz. Alienation in American Society, foreword by Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy, biographical introduction by Dirk J. Struik, essential bibliography, and “The Return of Man” by Fritz Pappenheim. New York; London: Monthly Review Press, 1967. 32 pp. (pamphlet)

The title essay (pp. 15-32 in this publication) “Alienation in American Society” appeared also in Monthly Review, Volume 52, Issue 02, June 2000; which see.

See also The Alienation of Modern Man: An Interpretation Based on Marx And Tönnies (1959) by Fritz Pappenheim.

Note that Pappenheim was one of the refugee scholars who taught in HBCU’s in the USA. See:

Edgcomb, Gabrielle Simon. From Swastika to Jim Crow: Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges. Foreword by John Hope Franklin. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company, 1993. Television documentary from Cinema Guild issued in 2000, televised on PBS. See also Dumain’s comment on PBS Talkback.

The Philosophical and Sociological Relevance of Marx’s Concept of Alienation
by Gajo Petrović

Reification by Gajo Petrović

Nonstandard Analysis: A Revolution Under Way?
by Martin Davis: an interview with Lester Talkington,
with quotes by Dirk Struik

African American / Black Autodidacticism, Education, Intellectual Life (Bibliography in Progress)

Black Studies, Music, America vs Europe Study Guide

The Afro-German Connection: Web Guide & Bibliography

Marx and Marxism Web Guide


The Alienation of Modern Man: An Interpretation Based on Marx And Tönnies
by Fritz Pappenheim

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