With my preconceived notions that fascist dictatorships were normally rigid, totalitarian organisms that kept a watchful eye on all state activity, it surprised me how much agency it afforded to citizens that were members of the party. Fascism in this sense is flexible and pragmatic; willing to change the definitions of certain constructs or look the other way if someone’s actions would result in the furthering of their cause. Look at the Nazi approach to the concept of masculinity for example— Walter Hauck’s photos in the Kühne article demonstrate this. Although the Sturmabteilung (SA) banned males from pushing baby carriages, the Nazi government’s approach to this act was less restrictive, as they believed the pride of being a family father nurtured masculinity. Extrapolating from this, the main appeal of fascism (at least to those in charge) was that anyone and anything could be a tool of the state, and if they weren’t they could make them so.
Additionally, this attitude towards the furthering of the nation would extend beyond the Second World War into the Cold War— under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in Spain. Through the usage of propaganda portraying the state as strong and prosperous under fascism, the Spanish economy saw growth via a tourism boom. Although the influx of tourists would undermine his dictatorship and promote the urge for democratization, Franco was able to effectively prolong the existence of fascism through cultural instead of military means. Overall, the appeal to fascism is its malleability to whatever one’s cause may be.
One Reply to “The Appeal to Fascism”
Excellent points! I do find that there is this preconceived notion that fascism allows for “furthering the nation”, was exclusive to the Nazi’s during their rise to power. Of course there have certainly been other examples of this in the 20th century. Though I suppose this notion can be understood as the Nazi’s were the first really well known successful execution of it.