Time and again we see the importance of personal interests in following an ideology; interests that run deeper than an individuals political or societal beliefs. As Miller-Idris alludes to the reality that the individuals who make up the contemporary fascist movements are filled with people who are seeking a sense of purpose that they feel is missing from their lives.1 They are driven to these movements from a distinct lacking in their own lives, in particular, a lack of community. They view themselves as compatriots with one another, more-so than simple patriots in a common ideological cause. This in itself is an echo of the historical context of fascism in Spain in the case of Nationalist women; as Lopez and Sanchez describe, “The Auxilio Azul Maria Paz recruited individuals based on kinship and friendship. They only helped or worked with people whom they already knew… Most participants of the network ignored that they belonged to an organization and thought that they were part of a group of like minded friends.”2 The cause itself does not matter in this case, it is the communal angle that provides the leverage over the members of these groups. With the social relationships binding these groups together, they maintain a stronger and larger presence in their societies.
The value of these social connections for these people cannot be underestimated. For the outcasts, for the forgotten, and for those who simply find it difficult to find companionship in this world; a strong communal identity can be incredibly appealing, and effortless to fall into. In words dripping with fear, Tom De Groot describes that, “Democracy is shit. There’s a lot of decadence, uncontrolled immigration, invasion.”3 These are not the words of someone who is a fascist, they are the words of someone who is scared that the world they new and fought for is simply slipping away from them. Even taking the words at face value, they are unsurprising to come from an ex-serviceman; the shocking aspect is his veneration Franco, but even that seems to maintain be a facade. De Groot views his interviewer Carla Parmenter in the light that, “We’re against each other ideologically, but I think we’re friends, right?”4 If he were following in the bloody footsteps of Franco, he should not be able to see an ideological opponent in such a positive light. De Groot’s relationship and friendly candour with Parmenter should challenge his worldview, it should run in stark contrast to the teachings of Franco and the Spanish Fascists. That would be the case, if it weren’t for Parmenter pointing out that, “It seemed like Tom was more into the social side of fascism and the celebrity status he’d garnered in Spain by turning his home into a shrine to Franco.”5 De Groot was an outcast until he found a group that welcomed him in open arms. All of this leads to the very open questions that is suggested through Miller-Idris research: just how many of these individuals are simply societal outcasts craving basic human companionship and can they be reconciled back into the fold?
1 Cynthia Miller-Idris, “The Extreme Gone Mainstream” IIITMedia lecture, May 2018.
2 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.
3 Carla Parmenter, “Dutch Franquista” VICE FRINGES, https://video.vice.com/en_uk/video/vice-dutch-franquista/5f5b98a20c4ad6583d018ee6.