The use of Tourism and Symbols as a way to Propagandize the Romanticized Version of Far Right Extremism, and Why it’s Appealing

Written by Emma Bronsema

In the 1960s, tourism was used as a way to propagandize political agendas. Film and souvenirs in this industry showed the supposed developments and improvements of the Spanish nation under Franco. They were used as a way to justify his rule and ideology. Appearance and perception was everything. The usage of symbolism and actions found within material objects, film and music was, and continues to be, a way to advertise identity traits to which one should aspire to. It congregates like-minded people, and fosters a sense of community and meaning. Not only are these objects reflections of identity, but have the power to shape it, and frame the way people think and act. 

In the context of right wing extremism, the symbols found on material goods brings together people who share a romanticized version of fascism. Rather than focusing on the marginalization and lack in certain civic rights, people yearn for a patriotized, nationalistic version of the past – for a society that painted itself to be full of opportunity, freedom, prosperity, and ran efficiently.  Although there are different fascist groups, they can work in tandem with one another. This includes participation in protests and movements to which the members have close ties and similarities to those in the other group. 

For some, these extremist groups provide people with a sense of community, a home where they are surrounded with people with similar ideologies. There is a social side of fascism. Some tourists even travel to interact and develop relationships with these people who have similar views. For others, it is a way for some to climb a social ladder, a way for them to become popular and almost a celebrity within their world. Often it has to do with memorabilia they have, or shrines with specific pictures and symbols they displayed. Lastly, these groups provide a way to justify and express their disagreement with the current state of their nation. It validates their seemingly unpopular opinion, as it goes against mainstream thought and politics.

Works Cited

Shelley Baranowski, Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 1-10, pp. 162-98 

Justin Crumbaugh, “Prosperity and Freedom Under Franco: the Grand Invention of Tourism” in Destination Dictatorship: the Spectacle of Spain’s Tourist Boom and the Reinvention of Difference (SUNY Press, 2009), pp. 15-41. 

Cynthia Miller-Idris, “The Extreme Gone Mainstream” IIITMedia lecture, May 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHYcakSDUCE 

Inside Spain’s Fascism Fandom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqKSXPiGe7U

One Reply to “The use of Tourism and Symbols as a way to Propagandize the Romanticized Version of Far Right Extremism, and Why it’s Appealing”

  1. Hi Emma,

    I found your reflection quite interesting, beginning with the idea of tourism as a propaganda piece, like many others have written about this week. What I was drawn to, and had similar thoughts about, was the idea of consumerism and the buying of far-right material goods as a way of social status. The Dutch Franquista from Vice’s video is an example I recall and I agree that as much as consumerism and tourism was used to create a nationalistic somewhat mythologized narrative, there are indeed those that do it for a jump in the social status. Perhaps, I wonder, if this is the development of 21st century social media and its echo-chambers that allow for this nostalgia to Far-Right romanticism. Thank you for your perspective.

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