By Ali Yasin
The overarching focus of this week’s readings was the appeal of fascism to its common supporters. While there is a tendency to focus on the motivations of major political and ideological figures when studying the history of fascist regimes, it is impossible to develop a complete understanding of their accession to power and subsequent forms of governance, without understanding how their far-right rhetoric seemingly connected with multitudes of ordinary people whose lives were otherwise dominated by mundane rather than ideological concerns.
As described by both Cynthia Miller Idriss and Justin Crumbaugh in their analysis the far-right in modern Germany and Franco era Spain respectively, it is often the cultural and emotional dimensions of far-right rather than the strictly political, which proves to be the most compelling to its average supporters. Although many scholars typically regard the modes of cultural representation and dissemination in fascist regimes as being antithetical to those found in their liberal counterparts, they both share a deep reliance on consumerism as a vehicle for the individual internalization of hegemonic mindsets. The tourist industry as an “art of governance” in Franco era Spain, presented the fascist state as a facilitator for entrepreneurial and social progress both personally and nationally, with many ordinary citizens associating their own individual success with that of the regime. Likewise, contemporary European far-right clothing brands often act as an initial introduction to far-right political discourses. More specifically, far-right apparel offers the wearer access to a largely undisclosed cultural space where feelings of personal and social alienation are validated and channeled into far-right narratives.
Cynthia Miller-Idris, “The Extreme Gone Mainstream” IIITMedia lecture, May 2018
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.