By Sydney Linholm
Shelley Baranowski’s article Strength Through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich investigates the connection between the Nazi regime and mass consumerism, and how this created a controversy surrounding the Hitler movement. The author discusses how the Nazi party was skeptical of the socialist and American routes to raising living standards through consumption, and instead pushed for mass production to ensure Hitler’s vision of material abundance despite the party’s suspicion of consumption. This discriminated against consumer production and curtailed imports of consumer goods. When thinking about the Third Reich as a fascist regime, this is a classic example of its classification as such because of this phenomena that mass production would ensure material abundance and subsequent continental domination, and in doing so, purposefully rejecting the socialist idea of consumption to increase living standards.
Additionally, it is interesting to look at this when also thinking about Germany as a dominant global power in the 20th century because of the way that the idea of mass production influencing material abundance influencing continental domination functions with the idea of hegemony. Maybe I am just too much of a political science student, but this idea that having material power will directly influence having global power is similar to the realist idea of hegemony, which has a tendency to focus on the material component of hegemonic power and less so on the wilful exercise of leadership component of the theory. This is interesting because of realism’s connections with realpolitik, which was not unseen within Hitler’s regime. This is not to say that realism is an inherently fascist ideology: I am simply making a connection between the realist idea of hegemonic power and Hitler’s belief that material abundance will provide him with global power.