Remembering in Order to Resist

 

One of the key components of fascist, totalitarian regimes is the deep-seated element of masculinity. Fascist regimes are rooted in a particular belief about masculinity and male superiority. While some regimes, such as the Nazi regime give women the opportunity to participate, their role is limited and they are still seen as different and lesser because of their femininity.

Weakness and submission were characteristics associated with women, but they could also be applied to men. Male prisoners in war camps were often subjected to the same types of submissive exploitation and humiliation and degradation as women were. As Kaplan’s article points out, this type of degradation was dehumanizing and ripped people out of their usual social statuses and contexts. This is significant because by refusing to back down, by refusing to be reduced to a victim, by refusing to stay silent about the abuse, people are resisting authoritarian power. Simply maintaining your identity and self-worth in the face of horrific authoritarianism is a form of resistance.

        Another form or resistance is the seemingly simple act of remembering and informing. As Meade discusses, providing locals and tourists with the necessary context for sites of memory is crucial to gaining historical understanding. Once that understanding gained, we are able to use the past as a form of resistance against the future. When they acknowledge past wrongs and hold the authoritarian powers accountable, it is a type of resistance.

Authoritarianism is interesting in the way that it can be found on any end of the political spectrum. Populism can also be found on both ends. It is interesting that populism, authoritarianism, and fascism all appear to be very reactionary regimes, chiefly based on some skewed sense of heightened and dangerous nationalism. This misplaced desire to preserve or save their idea of “the nation” often escalated into large scale and inhumane violence, as seen in Stalin’s Russia, the Nazi concentration camps, and the Chilean prison camps.

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