Perception plays an essential role in understanding history, especially as it relates to fascism and far-right populism. The readings this week highlighted various elements that have occurred throughout history surrounding how fascism is perceived, interpreted, and supported. In each of the readings, each author/journalist highlights the differing elements from one’s perception of fascism differs.
In Thomas Kühne article, we are presented with the various aspects that formed a masculine Nazi soldier’s identity. shown how the perception of the idealistic masculine Nazi solder influenced and ultimately “allowed different types of soldier-men to establish male identities.”
In “Blue Angels: Female Fascist Resisters, Spies and Intelligence Officials in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–9.”, the article highlighting the key roles that Spanish women played in facilitating espionage rings and helping prisoners escape from Spanish jails. Despite these key contributions, the piece noted that Franco and the Spanish government diminished women’s role during the civil war as “women were not considered as dangerous, and certainly not as intelligent, as men, and they supposedly could not create or run espionage networks.”
Throughout all the listed examples, one lasting impression remains with me, that fascism’s deep routed appeal, critical messaging, and presentation of ideas and beliefs rests within the eyes of the beholder. Perception shapes the connection and potential influence on an individual’s thoughts and sentiments.
Franco in 1966 (Credit to the New York Times)
It is also worth noting that perception can be quite contradictory, differing, and hypocritical. This, I personally find, was best exemplified within Vices’s Fascist Franco’s Foreign Friends. When reporter Carla Parmenter questions Chen, the Chinese-Spanish immigrant, owner of a restaurant that pays homage to Franco, she quickly points out how Franco’s policies and practices would not have allowed immigrants like himself to live a life that he presently does. Chen quickly shuts down this idea that his life would have been any different, stating that “nobody lived badly” during Franco’s rule, with de Groot, the main subject of this piece, furthering this flawed message, saying that immigrants would have been allowed and appreciated by Franco. These two entirely factually incorrect statements by both men illustrate the depths that perceptions of fascist ideals are interpreted, misrepresented, and construed by individuals to support a message that caters to their individual interests and beliefs.
To conclude, the understanding of fascism and fascist beliefs can be interpreted and portrayed in many different manners. Ultimately, the readings illustrate the critical fact that perception and historical reality are distinct, separate entities.
Carla Parmenter, “Dutch Franquista” Vice Fringes, https://video.vice.com/en_uk/video/vice-dutch-franquista/5f5b98a20c4ad6583d018ee6.
Thomas Kühne, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich” Central European History Vol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.
Sofía Rodríguez López and Antonio Cazorla Sánchez. “Blue Angels: Female Fascist Resisters, Spies and Intelligence Officials in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–9.” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 53, no. 4, (Oct. 2018), pp. 692–713.