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Myth and respectability in Swedish and Dutch fascism, 1931-40



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Kunkeler, Nathaniël David Benjamin  ORCID logo


The focus of this thesis is on the process of myth-making (mythopoeia) in the Dutch National Socialist Movement (NSB) and the Swedish National Socialist Workers’ Party (NSAP), using a cultural pragmatic approach to analyse the practicalities and implementation of mythopoeia comparatively. A variety of fascist performances, scripted and unscripted, are considered as having mythopoeic potential, and understood as performative in character, i.e. constituting the thing they claimed to represent.

Multiple parts of this mythopoeic process are analysed: the resources, organisation, and technologies required to implement it, and the nature of the process, the events, performances, in other words the actual implementation, and reception by audiences. Secondly, it uses respectability as a means of seeing how in a national context this process was limited, inhibited, or otherwise defined by the standards of the public and media, to which fascists ultimately tried to appeal, thus providing an external perspective on fascist activities to contextualise them.

The thesis is divided into four chapters, which deal with the party apparatus, leader myth, political uniforms, and the role of aesthetics and spectacle respectively. Together these chapters explore the relationship between mythopoeia and respectability as refracted through party organisation and administration, as embodied by the ‘charismatic’ fascist Leader, in the day-to-day behaviour and appearance of the rank-and-file, and ultimately the holistic experience of fascist aesthetics, i.e. the fully scripted and organised spectacles of party congresses.

Ultimately it is shown that the fascist movements of Sweden and the Netherlands were highly innovative organisations. Mythopoeia had a powerful mobilising capacity, which could make up for the diminutive financial power and low membership figures of fascist parties. Finally it appears that the relationship between myth and respectability was not a straightforward dialectical one, but multivalent, and highly dynamic.





Pinto, Pedro Ramos
Pollard, John Francis


fascism, nazism, national socialism, sweden, netherlands, NSB, NSAP, SSS, Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging, Nationalsocialistiska Arbetarepartiet, Svensk-Socialistisk Samling, Sven Olov Lindholm, Anton Mussert, interwar europe, myth, respectability, performativity, party organisation, far-right, political culture


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge