The use of Tourism and Symbols as a way to Propagandize the Romanticized Version of Far Right Extremism, and Why it’s Appealing

Written by Emma Bronsema

In the 1960s, tourism was used as a way to propagandize political agendas. Film and souvenirs in this industry showed the supposed developments and improvements of the Spanish nation under Franco. They were used as a way to justify his rule and ideology. Appearance and perception was everything. The usage of symbolism and actions found within material objects, film and music was, and continues to be, a way to advertise identity traits to which one should aspire to. It congregates like-minded people, and fosters a sense of community and meaning. Not only are these objects reflections of identity, but have the power to shape it, and frame the way people think and act. 

In the context of right wing extremism, the symbols found on material goods brings together people who share a romanticized version of fascism. Rather than focusing on the marginalization and lack in certain civic rights, people yearn for a patriotized, nationalistic version of the past – for a society that painted itself to be full of opportunity, freedom, prosperity, and ran efficiently.  Although there are different fascist groups, they can work in tandem with one another. This includes participation in protests and movements to which the members have close ties and similarities to those in the other group. 

For some, these extremist groups provide people with a sense of community, a home where they are surrounded with people with similar ideologies. There is a social side of fascism. Some tourists even travel to interact and develop relationships with these people who have similar views. For others, it is a way for some to climb a social ladder, a way for them to become popular and almost a celebrity within their world. Often it has to do with memorabilia they have, or shrines with specific pictures and symbols they displayed. Lastly, these groups provide a way to justify and express their disagreement with the current state of their nation. It validates their seemingly unpopular opinion, as it goes against mainstream thought and politics.

Works Cited

Shelley Baranowski, Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 1-10, pp. 162-98 

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. 

Cynthia Miller-Idris, “The Extreme Gone Mainstream” IIITMedia lecture, May 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHYcakSDUCE 

Inside Spain’s Fascism Fandom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqKSXPiGe7U

Leisure and Tourism in Nazi Germany

By: Andreea Gustin

This week’s sources provided a look at fascism from a perspective I had never considered. When thinking of fascism and what made people go along with it, my mind always instantly went to things like force, brutality, harsh restrictions etc. Never did I really consider how tourism or leisure could act as a form of propaganda to appeal to the masses and gain popular consent. Obviously, it is not to say that most people supported fascist regimes during this time, however, as can be seen in sources like Shelly Baranowski’s Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich, the Third Reich and the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) were able to weaponize leisure and tourism in order to persuade citizens to think that the regime had improved their lives and to further the narrative of German superiority. 

This source showcases how leisure activities and tourism were used to create this idealistic image of leadership under the Nazi regime and internally as well as externally create a sense of German nationalism. Hitler’s regime wanted to give German travellers and those travelling from other countries a look at “Aryan superiority”. However, in reality this was an illusion to make it appear as through their living conditions and lifestyles were of a higher level. After having read this week’s sources, it becomes easier to understand why to some, there may have been some sort of appeal in regards to fascism that went beyond ideology. Leisure and travel were instrumentalized to achieve wider Nazi goals and to create a sense of normality in a way to manufacture and maintain popular consent.