Issues in Articulating Ideology

One thing that struck me about the Vice interview “Inside Spain’s Fascist Fandom” and the lecture by Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss were extremist’s groups lack of clear objectives or reasoning behind their involvement. The Vice clip has a reporter, Carla Parmenter, interviewing far-right parties in Madrid as they rally on the date of Franco’s death. Her main subject is a Dutch man, Tom, who has built his home into a shrine to Franco and travels to Madrid on anniversary of his death to rally and celebrate the man. This is a contradiction in and of itself as you have a foreign national celebrating a nationalist in another country with isolationist policies. We also see the reporter interviewing others at the rally. A young man who is part of the Falangists a far-right group that glorifies an earlier dictator, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. When given the chance to articulate his views he simply responds, “take to the streets and change the system”. This offers and reveals nothing, and who knows, maybe he does not even know quite what his ideas would look like in a practical setting. These general and watered-down statements seem common to the far right as there is quite a diversity in levels of commitment and ideology within these groups. Granted, maybe Vice cut out some of the more interesting dialogue in order to make them seem bland and aimless. Regardless these contradictions do seem to be prominent in this movement. So then why is this the case?

Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss offers various explanations through her examining of this alt-right subculture through their commercialization and communities. One I want to highlight is that she notes that in her studies in Berlin that trade-schools/construction were at higher risk for far-right involvement. This could contribute to a lack of more sophisticated approach towards one’s political ideology and the ability to express it as those types of schools do not delve into those fields at all. This is not to say I am saying they are incapable of doing such a thing or inferior in some way. Rather, as we saw in our first class academics use convoluted terminology to define terms such as “fascist”, and they disagree with each other in many ways in using that term in a historical context as well as a modern one. So, if there is a struggle in academia it is not surprising there are many different interpretations that come out of the people involved in these alt-right movements. One thing for sure is that they are not satisfied with the status quo and are seeking to be a part of something bigger than themselves, whether this is misguided or not is a completely different subject.  

3 Replies to “Issues in Articulating Ideology”

  1. There definitely did appear to be a disconnect between the political passions and the political knowledge of some of the subjects – but at the same time, is it that surprising? Even within mainstream politics, few supporters of political parties (even amongst the most educated, to push back a little more on that claim you’ve already tempered) are capable of enumerating every policy their party seeks to implement, much less explain the interactions between each; instead, there’s typically just a broad sense that society would be bettered if things moved in this general direction. I’ve had a course focused specifically on cognitive/behavioral radicalization, and this spectrum between ‘mainstream’ and ‘counterculture’ political awakening was studied many times.

    As explained in the Dr.’s talk, there’s also an important socialization element to political belongings. She cites the example of a son brought into the movement by his father, and also the use of political clothing (otherwise said, the further integration of one’s self into the political movement) as a passkey to certain social circles and events. Belonging to a political movement becomes a way to increase one’s social circle, and remaining within it becomes a way to avoid losing one’s social circle.
    Observing this behavior through the lens of ‘socialization’ rather than deep-rooted and well-elaborated political beliefs might help explain the lack of, precisely, deep-rooted and well-elaborated political beliefs.

  2. The thing to keep in mind about people labeled fascists is that they don’t all necessarily conform to a single ideology or pattern to thought. While some would subscribe to all we expect Fascism to represent, others are reluctant or even opposed to idea’s of pure blood and racist attitudes, but agree with the more extreme members views on other subjects. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to present a coherent case. If they are challenged on their beliefs, they are expected to not only defend their own beliefs, but also those more extreme than their own by association, or else risk being turned away by their own.

  3. I was also intrigued by her finding that those enrolled in trade schools, and even specific trades therin, were more susceptible to alt-right, radicalized ways of thinking. As the above commenter noted, perhaps this is something that can be understood through a socialization perspective. That said, I’d be interested to hear more from her about both those initial findings, as well as why she thinks that correlation exists. And others have noted, perhaps it is less about the ideology and more a sense of belonging, and that in and of itself is why the culture of fascism seems to be such a united, cohesive front, even if there are internal divisions.

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