Masculinity and Far-Right Belonging

By Felix Nicol

This week’s readings and videos put into question some of the base assumptions we may have about fascism, as well as exploring the underlying reasons someone might find a sense of belonging in far-right groups. Doctor Miller-Idriss’ presentation gave us a glimpse at the new-age avenues through which youth find themselves involved in different movements. Her explanations of means like clothing providing a somewhat lower barrier of entry helps us understand the increase in younger members of these groups, as was observed in VICE’s video on Spain’s Fascism. It also helps us understand the contradictory nature of a Dutch man’s fanaticism for Spanish rhetoric, as well as the support he receives from his Fascist partners. In this regard, to me, the modern need for brotherhood exhibited by far-right movements seems reminiscent of the camaraderie underlined by Kühne in Nazi Germany. We see that despite ideals of the hardened man, Fascist movements had room for gentler sides of the man, shared with partners (and in the past particularly, fellow soldiers.) Especially in the story of Lieutenant Fritz Farnbacher and Peter, we see the tenderness that could be displayed and went hand in hand with the toughness expected by the regime. 

In the end, the sense of community displayed in these modern far-right groups seem particularly reminiscent of Kühne’s description, one where the revoking of “feminine” traits was felt necessary to distance oneself from homosexuality. In this regard, these groups offer a space where men can show “femininity” under the protection of camaraderie and male toughness.

Reflections on internationalism and historical legacy

Felix Nicol

Though Fascism and far-right Nationalism are often clumped together for their similar ideologies, this week’s readings provided us with nuanced views on the common hypocrisies generated by different regimes. In both his New York Times and Journal articles, David Motadel underlines two sides of the same coin: much as the modern nationalist groups look towards internationalism to offer support for their cause, so too did anti-imperial movements of the 20th century. This offers us a significant insight in the reality of these regimes: their success is dependent on something they fundamentally oppose. Hitler’s remarks vis-à-vis cooperation with other anticolonialists provide us with more proof that even if these movements are inherently national, their success is largely dependent on international support. After all, if one makes an enemy of the whole world outside of the nation, the number of enemies grows exponentially faster than that of allies.

On another note, Hanebrink’s book on Judeo-Bolshevism provides us with a historical similarity to the manipulative use of the Middle Ages by modern far-right nationalists. We see a striking resemblance in the methods used, anecdotal evidence tied with historical legacies of a nation or region used as validation of one’s ideals. Succinctly, Hanebrink explains the key aspect of these mental gymnastics, stating that “Although sometimes they were ­ completely wrong, the stubborn fact remained: Some Jews were ­ Communists” (p. 20). Through this understanding, we need to consider the actions of modern nationalist movements as parts of history, with their methods rooted in their historical legacy. This especially when considering the effects of social media in the matters of propagation of misinformation.

Fighting with definitions of Fascism and Populism

In each of the readings this week, analysis was mostly focused on understanding Fascism and Populism, especially in regards to differentiating the two. As underlined in Finchelstein’s From Fascism to Populism in History, though the terms are both used in a colloquial sense to label others as “evil,” they do not share the same ideology, often even having clashing ideals. Though the work offers a good framework for discerning between the two, the categories lead to questioning regarding the gray area between Populism and Fascism. In Paxton’s work, he points out the “fascist minimum” as a concept which would hope to tidy up problems in separating the two. However, his further explanation that Fascist regimes were different from one another, primarily due to their inherently nationalistic ideology.

Facing these different ideas in the readings, a few questions arose in my mind. Though I don’t doubt the usefulness of these categories, are they entirely beneficial in analyzing different movements? Could they be detrimental to better understanding of the similarities and differences that appear? Where do we define the line between the two? Though Finchelstein gives his own interpretation, can it really be said that each of the stated elements is absolutely necessary to call a movement Fascist?

I believe these considerations are especially pertinent in observing new movements which may not fit into either category. Trying to force them into our own categories could lead to a false sense of understanding, where our own biases may cloud our judgment on history.


Hey everyone!

I’m Felix, a fourth-year student in EURUS. Though the program of course covers Europe and Russia as a whole, my focus has been mostly on Germany. In that same vein, I’m very passionate in regards to languages, especially German and Hungarian. I usually find myself dabbling in other languages every once in a while though…

Outside of school, I usually find myself gaming or climbing. I usually try to find a few occasions throughout the year to escape outdoors and climb in the rocks, though I’m usually confined to the gym. 

Looking forward to getting to know you all better throughout this course!