Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking — and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as those of the majority. The consensus of all serves as a proof for the correctness of ‘their’ ideas. Since there is still a need to feel some individuality, such need is satisfied with regard to minor differences; the initials on the handbag or the sweater, the name plate of the bank teller, the belonging to the Democratic as against the Republican party, to the Elks instead of to the Shriners become the expression of individual differences. The advertising slogan of ‘it is different’ shows up this pathetic need for difference, when in reality there is hardly any left.
Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (1957; repr., London: Thorsons, 1995), p.11