One of fascism’s primary methods of gaining support is by evoking the glory and historical prestige of the nation. Fascist regimes dedicate much energy to crafting a certain aesthetic and cultural image, one that emphasizes the triumph of the strong over the weak.
This week’s readings highlighted several examples of how fascist regimes used cultural tools to strengthen their authority at home and project a desirable image abroad. As mentioned in the Baranowski article, the Strength Through Joy program in Nazi Germany provided leisure and travel opportunities to working-class Germans. Fascism ultimately aims to create a single nation united by race, which could only be accomplished if class conflict were eliminated. This explains why the program was designed to allow lower-class Germans to indulge in activities previously reserved for the upper and middle classes. Not only did the program offer generous perks to citizens, it strategically showed them the poverty of other countries, in the hopes that they would view Germany in a more positive light. The Nazi leadership understood that in order to preserve their authority, it was crucial to give citizens the illusion of freedom and Strength Through Joy was a prime example of this.
Drawing from Crumbaugh’s book, the government of Francoist Spain used similar techniques to ingratiate its brand of fascism to the world. The postwar era saw new economic and cultural developments, so the regime needed to adjust to these changes. This was manifest primarily in the government’s focus on shaping Spain to be a desirable tourist destination. In doing so, they wished to increase their exercise of soft power around the world. Put simply, if visitors had a positive impression of the country, then fascism would seem palatable and even progressive.