The Collective Identity as the “New Man”: Soldier Masculinity as a Factor of Fascist Unity

By: Bryce Greer

Valentin Sandulescu’s “Fascism and its Quest for the “New Man”: The Case of the Romanian Legionary Movement” delves deep into the history of the Romanian Legionary Movement as its leader, Codreanu, sought for a redefinition of Romania and the “New Man”. Sandulescu does well to highlight the history, detailing the cultural aspect of appealing to the youthful revolutionaries as a way of creating a united front under this idea of a reformed heroic “man” as a follower. Ultimately, in the end, Sandulescu only briefly talks about the educating of the youth into this idea of “new men” and it is here that the “New Man” theory becomes an idealized collective community. Following the author’s footsteps in using ideal-type concepts like general fascism as an analytical tool, I found myself reflecting the deep workings of the Third Reich’s protean masculinity of comradeship to highlight the true search for the “New Man.” In the ultimate end, it is a wish for a united front, “to tame the revolt” as Sandulescu calls the actions of the Romanian Legionary Movement, that becomes deeply rooted into the hegemonic masculine ideals of fascism.

Following Thomas Kuhne’s examination of soldier masculinity in “Protean Masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich,” the idea of the “New Man” becomes an idea of comradery. “Hard” masculinity was hegemonic, as in one had to be stoic, brave, and other heroic traits that define the Romanian Legionary’s “new man.” Just as important, however, was the soft masculinity when it came to male-bonding at a time of difficult happenstances. For the Third Reich, soft masculinity through a sense of brotherhood was normalized, and for the Romanian Legion, it was giving a sense of belonging to the youth that felt they did not fit in to society. To conclude then, the “new man” was the “new men,” wherein the fascist “new man” was anti-individual that routed together the like mindedness of those that wished to fit into the definition of masculinity. The desire for a hegemonic masculinity saw instances of almost feminine familial traits be enacted to define the man as a group, and most often it was seen in the young militants of fascism. For one, it began through unity of men beyond societal settings. Militaristic masculinity was the New Man.

Works Cited:

Thomas Kühne, “Protean Masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third
Reich” Central European History Vol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.

Valentin Sandulescu, “Fascism and Its Quest for the ‘New Man’: The Case of the
Romanian Legionary Movement.” Studia Hebraica 4 (2004): 349-61.

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