Beyond Ideology

Was there appeal to Fascism beyond the ideology? While typically fascism is associated with anti-modernism, based on the readings for this week that is not entirely true. Rather, it seemed as though a form of modernism was what was appealing to fascism beyond the ideology.

De Grazia points out that in Italy there was a growing popularity of the radio, theatre shows, and mass sport participation. These things are all considered modern, however they were promoted by the fascist government in Italy at the time. Umbach looks at a variety of different photographs and scrapbooks created by amateur photographers. In Spain. While all of these things are not inherently fascist in nature, each author explore the promotion of them through their individual Fascist regimes. Which would make this modernism allowed within these regimes.

However, I do not think that it is fair to say that the participation in these modern activities is solely based on the idea that they were promoted by fascism or because they were the culture of Fascism. In the de Grazia article, she writes the the sport Bocce, which is something that even today is a sport seen in Italy as whole heartedly Italian, was not “approved of” by Mussolini. Rather was later promoted by the his government because of the popularity among people. People in the countryside did not watch movies because they were not accessible to them, and were only accessible to them after they was an alternative given to them by the government. That does not necessarily mean that that is the only reason they watched the films but could also be seen as an opportunity to experience something more modern.  There is agency in these acts, and it shows that these acts were not necessarily performed due to fascism.

This can also be said for the Umbach article, in the article he looks at the leisurely poses that the subjects of the pictures are taken. Ones taken by amateur photographers, and the ones that are taken for propaganda purposes. He also looks at the way in which Germans would hold themselves in picture on their travels, as well as, the pictures of the roads. Which he linked back to these amateur photographs representing more than a relaxing time, and rather exhibiting the culture of the nazi regime. I find it difficult to make any solid assumptions on the acts of citizens based on their photographs. There is no way of knowing or sure the intentions behind the photographs. That is why I do not think that they were taking these photographs in these ways because they were seen promoted by the Nazi regime. But, because they had access to cameras they didn’t and took pictures of comparatively different things on their journey’s, which in my opinion is why you travel to new places. The culture of fascism does not necessarily mean the culture of the country, but the curiosity of modernity that was allowed.

Works Cited

Victoria de Grazia, The Culture of Consent: Mass Organisation of Leisure in Fascist Italy (Cambridge, 1981), pp. 151-86

Maiken Umbach, “Selfhood, Place, and Ideology in German Photo Albums, 1933-1945” Central European History Vol. 48, Special Issue 3 (Photography and Twentieth-Century German History): 335-365.


One Reply to “Beyond Ideology”

  1. This post is very interesting in that it points out the banality of daily actions such as taking pictures and how it might not be useful to read too much into the influence of Fascism on such practices. However, these people did live in a society that raised them to believe in the state’s ideals and goals, so there is value in looking at the way that ideology might have seeped through the public sphere into the private sphere.

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