From Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascist

Fascism is a radical, authoritarian nationalist political ideology.[1][2] Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy.[3] They advocate the creation of a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation and the creation of an ideal "new man" to form a governing elite through indoctrination, physical education, and family policy including eugenics.[4] Fascists believe that a nation requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong.[5] Fascist governments forbid and suppress opposition to the state.[6]

Fascism was founded by Italian national syndicalists in World War I who combined left-wing and right-wing political views, but it gravitated to the right in the early 1920s.[7][8] Scholars generally consider fascism to be on the far right.[9][10][11][12][13]

Fascists exalt violence, war, and militarism as providing positive transformation in society, in providing spiritual renovation, education, instilling of a will to dominate in people's character, and creating national comradeship through the military service.[14] Fascists view violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality.[15]

Fascism is anti-communist, anti-democratic, anti-individualist, anti-liberal, anti-parliamentary, anti-conservative, anti-bourgeois and anti-proletarian, and in many cases anti-capitalist.[16] Fascism rejects the concepts of egalitarianism, materialism, and rationalism in favour of action, discipline, hierarchy, spirit, and will.[17] In economics, fascists oppose liberalism (as a bourgeois movement) and Marxism (as a proletarian movement) for being exclusive economic class-based movements.[18] Fascists present their ideology as that of an economically trans-class movement that promotes resolving economic class conflict to secure national solidarity.[19] They support a regulated, multi-class, integrated national economic system.[20]


The term fascismo is derived from the Latin word fasces. The fasces, which consisted of a bundle of rods that were tied around an axe, was an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate. They were carried by his lictors and could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command.[21][22] The word fascismo also relates to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates.

The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break.[23] Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements. For example the Falange symbol is a bunch of arrows joined together by a yoke.[24]


Historians, political scientists and other scholars haves long debated the exact nature of fascism.[25] Each form of fascism is distinct, leaving many definitions too wide or narrow.[26][27] Since the 1990s, scholars including Stanley Payne, Roger Eatwell, Roger Griffin and Robert O. Paxton have been gathering a rough consensus on the ideology's core tenets.

For Griffin, fascism is "a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism" built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist "armed party" politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence.[28]

Paxton sees fascism as "obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity". In Paxton's interpretation, fascists are "committed nationalist militants", working uneasily alongside traditional elites and abandoning democratic liberties in pursuit of "internal cleansing" or territorial expansion.[29]

One common definition of fascism focuses on three groups of ideas: the Fascist Negations of anti-liberalism, anti-communism and anti-conservatism; nationalist, authoritarian goals for the creation of a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; a political aesthetic using romantic symbolism, mass mobilisation, a positive view of violence, promotion of masculinity and youth and charismatic leadership.[30][31][32]

Position in the political spectrum

Fascism is normally described as "extreme right",[33] although writers have found placing fascism on a conventional left-right political spectrum difficult.[34] There is a scholarly consensus that fascism was influenced by both left and right, conservative and anti-conservative, national and supranational, rational and anti-rational.[10] A number of historians have regarded fascism either as a revolutionary centrist doctrine, as a doctrine which mixes philosophies of the left and the right, or as both of those things.[11][12][13]

There were factions within Italian Fascism on both the left and the right. The accommodation of the political right into Fascism in the early 1920s led to the creation of a number of internal factions in the Italian Fascist movement. The "Fascist left" included Angelo Oliviero Olivetti, Sergio Panunzio, and Edmondo Rossoni, who were committed to advancing national syndicalism as a replacement for parliamentary liberalism in order to modernize the economy and advance the interests of workers and the common people.[35] The "Fascist right" included members of the Fascist paramilitary "Squadristi" and former members of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI).[35] The Squadristi wanted to establish of Fascism as a complete dictatorship, while the former ANI members, including Alfredo Rocco, sought an authoritarian corporatist state to replace the liberal state in Italy, while retaining existing elites.[35] There were also smaller factions within the Italian Fascist movement, such as the "clerical Fascists" who sought to shift Italian Fascism from its anti-Catholic roots to accepting Catholicism. There were also "monarchist Fascists" who sought to use Fascism to create an absolute monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.[35]

A number of fascist movements described themselves as a "third force" outside of the traditional political spectrum.[36] Mussolini promoted ambiguity about fascism's positions in order to rally as many people to it as possible, saying fascists can be "aristocrats or democrats, revolutionaries and reactionaries, proletarians and anti-proletarians, pacifists and anti-pacifists".[37] Mussolini claimed that Italian Fascism's economic system of corporatism could be identified as either state capitalism or state socialism, which in either case involved "the bureaucratisation of the economic activities of the nation."[38] Mussolini described fascism in any language he found useful.[37][39] Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera was critical of both left-wing and right-wing politics, once saying that "basically the Right stands for the maintenance of an economic structure, albeit an unjust one, while the Left stands for the attempt to subvert that economic structure, even though the subversion thereof would entail the destruction of much that was worthwhile".[40]

Contemporary international views

Initially fascism and the Italian Fascists in particular were popular in the world, until World War II and the defeat of the Axis powers. Winston Churchill supported the Italian Fascist regime as late as 1937, claiming that Mussolini had strong qualities that safeguarded Italy from the threat of communism, which was worth the sacrifice of liberties.[41] Pan-African nationalist Marcus Garvey once claimed that he was the first fascist and declared his respect for the lower-class origins of Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.[42] Franklin D. Roosevelt, prior to the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, said that he was "keeping in touch with the admirable gentleman", referring to Mussolini.[43] Mohandas Gandhi traveled to Italy to meet Mussolini in December 1931 with the intention of attempting to spread the value of peace.[44][45]

Fascist as epithet

Following the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II, the term fascist has been used as a pejorative word,[46] often referring to widely varying movements across the political spectrum.[47] In political discourse, the term "fascist" is commonly used to denote authoritarian tendencies, but is often used as a pejorative epithet by adherents to both left-wing and right-wing politics to denigrate those with opposing viewpoints. George Orwell wrote in 1944 that "the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless ... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'".[48] Richard Griffiths argued in 2005 that "fascism" is the "most misused, and over-used word, of our times".[27] "Fascist" is sometimes applied to post-war organisations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term "neo-fascist".[49]

Used within and against Communism

Poster of the Portuguese MRPP from the 1970s, commemorating a killed party member. Slogan reads 'Neither Fascism, nor Social fascism. Popular Government'

Contrary to the common mainstream academic and popular use of the term, Communist states have sometimes been referred to as "fascist". Marxist interpretations of the term have, for example, been applied in relation to Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh.[50] Herbert Matthews, of the New York Times asked "Should we now place Stalinist Russia in the same category as Hitlerite Germany? Should we say that she is Fascist?".[51] J. Edgar Hoover wrote extensively of "Red Fascism".[52]

Chinese Marxists used the term to denounce the Soviet Union during the Sino-Soviet Split, and likewise, the Soviets used the term to identify Chinese Marxists.[53]

Historical causes and development
Fusion of nationalism and Sorelianism and split in the left (1907–1914)

A key element in the creation of fascism was the fusion of agendas of nationalists on the political right with Sorelian syndicalists on the left, around the outbreak of World War I.[7] Sorelian syndicalism, unlike other ideologies on the left, held an elitist view that the morality of the working-class needed to be raised.[54] The Sorelian concept of the positive nature of social war and its insistence on moral revolution led some syndicalists to believe that war was the ultimate manifestation of social change and moral revolution.[54]

Nationalist and militarist influences that had begun to combine with syndicalism since 1907 created a split in the political left.[7] This split was strong in Italy, where nationalists and syndicalists increasingly influenced each other.[7] Maurassian nationalism, close to Sorelism, influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini.[55] Corradini spoke of the need for a nationalist-syndicalist movement, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democrats who shared a revolutionary syndicalist commitment to direct action and a willingness to fight.[55] Corradini spoke of Italy as being a "proletarian nation" that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the "plutocratic" French and British.[56] Corradini's views were part of a wider set of perceptions within the right-wing Italian Nationalist Association (ANI), which claimed that Italy's economic backwardness was caused by corruption within its political class, liberalism, and division caused by "ignoble socialism".[56] The ANI held ties and influence among conservatives, Catholics, and the business community.[56]

Italian national syndicalists held a common set of principles: the rejection of bourgeois values, democracy, liberalism, Marxism, internationalism, and pacifism and the promotion of heroism, vitalism, and violence.[57]

Radical nationalism in Italy – support for expansionism and cultural revolution to create a "New Man" and a "New State" – began to grow in 1912 during the Italian conquest of Libya and was supported by Italian Futurists and members of the ANI.[58] The ANI claimed that liberal democracy was no longer compatible with the modern world and advocated a strong state and imperialism, claiming that humans are naturally predatory and that nations were in a constant struggle where only the strongest could survive.[59]

However, until 1914, Italian nationalists and revolutionary syndicalists with nationalist leanings remained apart. Such syndicalists opposed the Italo-Turkish War of 1911 as an affair of financial interests and not the nation.[60] World War I was seen by both Italian nationalists and syndicalists as a national affair.[61]

World War I and the founding of Fascism (1914–1920)

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Italian political left became severely split over its position on the war.[60] The Italian Socialist Party opposed the war on the grounds of internationalism, but a number of Italian revolutionary syndicalists supported intervention against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the grounds that their reactionary regimes needed to be defeated to ensure the success of socialism.[62] Corradini presented the same need for Italy as a "proletarian nation" to defeat a reactionary Germany from a nationalist perspective.[63] The beginning of fascism resulted from this split, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti forming the Revolutionary Fascio for International Action in October 1914.[62] At the same time, Benito Mussolini joined the interventionist cause.[64] The Fascists supported nationalism and claimed that proletarian internationalism was a failure.[62]

At this time, the Fascists did not have an integrated set of policies and the movement was very small. Its attempts to hold mass meetings were ineffective and it was regularly harassed by government authorities and orthodox socialists.[65] Antagonism between interventionists, including Fascists, and anti-interventionist orthodox socialists resulted in violence.[66] Attacks on interventionists were so violent that even democratic socialists who opposed the war, such as Anna Kuliscioff, said that the Italian Socialist Party had gone too far in its campaign to silence supporters of the war.[66]

Italy's use of daredevil elite shock troops known as the Arditi, beginning in 1917, was an important influence on Fascism.[67] The Arditi were soldiers who were specifically trained for a life of violence and wore unique blackshirt uniforms and fezzes.[67] The Arditi formed a national organization in November 1918, the Associazione fra gli Arditi d'Italia, which by mid-1919 had about twenty thousand young men within it.[67] Mussolini appealed to the Arditi, and the Fascists' Squadristi, developed after the war, were based upon the Arditi.[67]

With the split between anti-interventionist Marxists and pro-interventionist Fascists complete by the end of the war, the two sides became irreconcilable. The Fascists presented themselves as anti-Marxists and as opposed to Soviet communism.[68] Benito Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement in 1919 with the founding of the Fasci di Combattimento, whose opposition to orthodox socialism he declared:

We declare war against socialism, not because it is socialism, but because it has opposed nationalism. Although we can discuss the question of what socialism is, what is its program, and what are its tactics, one thing is obvious: the official Italian Socialist Party has been reactionary and absolutely conservative. If its views had prevailed, our survival in the world of today would be impossible.[69]

In 1919, Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti created The Manifesto of the Fasci of Combat (a.k.a. the Fascist Manifesto).[70] The Manifesto was presented on June 6, 1919 in the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia. The Manifesto supported the creation of universal suffrage for both men and women (the latter being realized only partly in late 1925, with all opposition parties banned or disbanded[71]); proportional representation on a regional basis; government representation through a corporatist system of "National Councils" of experts, selected from professionals and tradespeople, elected to represent and hold legislative power over their respective areas, including labour, industry, transportation, public health, communications, etc.; and the abolition of the Italian Senate.[72] The Manifesto supported the creation of an eight-hour work day for all workers, a minimum wage, worker representation in industrial management, equal confidence in labour unions as in industrial executives and public servants, reorganization of the transportation sector, revision of the draft law on invalidity insurance, reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55, a strong progressive tax on capital, confiscation of the property of religious institutions and abolishment of bishoprics, and revision of military contracts to allow the government to seize 85% of their[who?] profits.[73] It also called for the creation of a short-service national militia to serve defensive duties, nationalization of the armaments industry, and a foreign policy designed to be peaceful but also competitive.[74]

The next events that influenced the Fascists were the raid of Fiume by Italian nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio and the founding of the Charter of Carnaro in 1920.[75] D'Annunzio and De Ambris designed the Charter, which advocated national-syndicalist corporatist productionism alongside D'Annunzio's political views.[76] Many Fascists saw the Charter of Carnaro as an ideal constitution for a Fascist Italy.[77]

Shift to the right and consolidation of political strength (1920–1922)

Beginning in 1920, Fascism began to make a shift towards the political right.[77] This occurred as militant strike activity by industrial workers reached its peak in Italy, where 1919 and 1920 were known as the "Red Years".[78] Mussolini and the Fascists took advantage of the situation by allying with industrial businesses and attacking workers and peasants in the name of preserving order and internal peace in Italy.[79]

Fascists identified their primary opponents as the majority of socialists on the left who had opposed intervention in World War I.[77] The Fascists and the Italian political right held common ground: both held Marxism in contempt, discounted class consciousness and believed in the rule of elites.[80] The Fascists assisted the anti-socialist campaign of the political right by allying with the right in a mutual effort to destroy the Italian Socialist Party and labour organizations committed to class identity above national identity.[80]

Fascism sought to accommodate Italian conservatives by making major alterations to its political agenda – abandoning its previous populism, republicanism, and anticlericalism, adopting policies in support of free enterprise, and accepting the Roman Catholic Church and the monarchy as institutions in Italy.[81] To appeal to Italian conservatives, Fascism adopted policies such as promoting family values, including promotion of a woman's role as a mother.[82] Though Fascism adopted a number of positions designed to appeal to reactionaries, the Fascists sought to maintain Fascism's revolutionary character, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti saying "Fascism would like to be conservative, but it will [be] by being revolutionary."[83] The Fascists supported revolutionary action and committed to secure law and order to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists.[84]

Prior to its shift to the right, Fascism was a small, urban, northern Italian movement that had about a thousand members.[85] Afterward, the Fascist movement's membership soared to approximately 250,000 by 1921.[86]

Rise to power and initial international spread of fascism (1922–1929)

Beginning in 1922, Fascist paramilitaries escalated their strategy from one of attacking socialist offices and homes of socialist leadership figures to one of violent occupation of cities. The Fascists met little serious resistance from authorities and proceeded to take over multiple cities, including Bologna, Bolzano, Cremona, Ferrara, Fiume, and Trent.[87] The Fascists attacked the headquarters of socialist and Catholic unions in Cremona and imposed forced Italianization upon the German-speaking population of Trent and Bolzano.[87] After seizing these cities, the Fascists made plans to take Rome.[87]

On 24 October 1922, the Fascist party held its annual congress in Naples, where Mussolini ordered Blackshirts to take control of public buildings and trains and to converge on three points around Rome.[87] The march would be led by four prominent Fascist leaders representing its different factions: Italo Balbo, a Blackshirt leader; General Emilio De Bono; Michele Bianchi, an ex-syndicalist; and Cesare Maria De Vecchi, a monarchist Fascist.[87] Mussolini himself remained in Milan to await the results of the actions.[87] The Fascists managed to seize control of multiple post offices and trains in northern Italy while the Italian government, led by a left-wing coalition, was internally divided and unable to respond to the Fascist advances.[88] The Italian government had been in a steady state of turmoil, with multiple governments being created and then being defeated.[88] The Italian government initially took action to prevent the Fascists from entering Rome, but King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy perceived the risk of bloodshed in Rome in response to attempting to disperse the Fascists to be too high.[89] Victor Emmanuel III decided to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy, and Mussolini arrived in Rome on 30 October to accept the appointment.[89] Fascist propaganda aggrandized this event, known as "March on Rome", as a "seizure" of power due to Fascists' heroic exploits.[87]

Upon being appointed Prime Minister of Italy, Mussolini had to form a coalition government, because the Fascists did not have control over the Italian parliament.[90] The coalition government included a cabinet led by Mussolini and thirteen other ministers, only three of whom were Fascists; others included representatives from the army and the navy, two Catholic Popolari members, two democratic liberals, one conservative liberal, one social democrat, one Nationalist member, and the pro-Fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile.[90] Mussolini's coalition government initially pursued economically liberal policies under the direction of liberal finance minister Alberto de Stefani, including balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service.[90] Initially, little drastic change in government policy had occurred and repressive police actions against communist and d'Annunzian rebels were limited.[90] At the same time, however, Mussolini consolidated his control over the National Fascist Party by creating a governing executive for the party, the Grand Council of Fascism, whose agenda he controlled.[90] In addition, the Squadristi blackshirt militia was transformed into the state-run MVSN, led by regular army officers.[90] Militant Squadristi were initially highly dissatisfied with Mussolini's government and demanded a "Fascist revolution".[90]

In this period, to appease the King of Italy, Mussolini formed a close political alliance between the Italian Fascists and Italy's conservative faction in Parliament, which was led by Luigi Federzoni, a conservative monarchist and nationalist who was a member of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI).[91] The ANI joined the National Fascist Party in 1923.[92] Because of the merger of the Nationalists with the Fascists, tensions existed between the conservative nationalist and revolutionary syndicalist factions of the movement.[93] The conservative and syndicalist factions of the Fascist movement sought to reconcile their differences, secure unity, and promote fascism by taking on the views of each other.[94] Conservative nationalist Fascists promoted fascism as a revolutionary movement to appease the revolutionary syndicalists while, to appease conservative nationalist fascists, revolutionary syndicalist Fascists declared they wanted to secure social stability and insure economic productivity.[94]

The Fascists began their attempt to entrench Fascism in Italy with the Acerbo Law, which guaranteed a plurality of the seats in parliament to any party or coalition list in an election that received 25% or more of the vote.[95] The Acerbo Law was passed in spite of numerous abstentions from the vote.[95] In the 1924 election, the Fascists, along with moderates and conservatives, formed a coalition candidate list, and through considerable Fascist violence and intimidation, the list won with 66% of the vote, allowing it to receive 403 seats, most of which went to the Fascists.[95] In the aftermath of the election, a crisis and political scandal erupted after Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteoti was kidnapped and murdered by a Fascist.[95] The liberals and the leftist minority in parliament walked out in protest in what became known as the Aventine Secession.[96] On 3 January 1925, Mussolini addressed the Fascist-dominated Italian parliament and declared that he was personally responsible for what happened, but he insisted that he had done nothing wrong. He proclaimed himself dictator of Italy, assuming full responsibility over the government and announcing the dismissal of parliament.[96] From 1925 to 1929, Fascism steadily became entrenched in power: opposition deputies were denied access to parliament, censorship was introduced, and a December 1925 decree made Mussolini solely responsible to the King. Efforts to Fascistize Italian society accelerated beginning in 1926, with Fascists taking positions in local administration and 30% of all prefects being administered by appointed Fascists by 1929.[97] In 1929, the Fascist regime gained the political support and blessing of the Roman Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century.[98] Though Fascist propaganda had begun to speak of the new regime as an all-encompassing "totalitarian" state beginning in 1925, the Fascist party and regime never gained total control over Italy's institutions; King Victor Emmanuel III remained head of state, the armed forces and the judicial system retained considerable autonomy from the Fascist state, Fascist militias were under military control, and initially the economy had relative autonomy as well.[99]

The Fascist regime began to create a corporatist economic system in 1925 with creation of the Palazzo Vidioni Pact, in which the Italian employers' association Confindustria and Fascist trade unions agreed to recognize each other as the sole representatives of Italy's employers and employees, excluding non-Fascist trade unions.[100] The Fascist regime first created a Ministry of Corporations that organized the Italian economy into 22 sectoral corporations, banned workers' strikes and lock-outs, and in 1927 created the Charter of Labour, which established workers' rights and duties and created labour tribunals to arbitrate employer-employee disputes.[100] In practice, the sectoral corporations exercised little independence and were largely controlled by the regime, and employee organizations were rarely led by employees themselves but instead by appointed Fascist party members.[100]

In the 1920s, Fascist Italy pursued an aggressive foreign policy that included an attack on the Greek island of Corfu, aims to expand Italian territory in the Balkans, plans to wage war against Turkey and Yugoslavia, attempts to bring Yugoslavia into civil war by supporting Croat and Macedonian separatists to legitimize Italian intervention, and making Albania a de facto protectorate of Italy, which was achieved through diplomatic means by 1927.[101] In response to revolt in the Italian colony of Libya, Fascist Italy abandoned previous liberal-era colonial policy of cooperation with local leaders. Instead, claiming that Italians were a superior race to African races and thereby had the right to colonize the "inferior" Africans, it sought to settle 10 to 15 million Italians in Libya.[102] This resulted in an aggressive military campaign against natives in Libya, including mass killings, the use of concentration camps, and the forced starvation of thousands of people.[102]

The March on Rome brought Fascism international attention. One early admirer of the Italian Fascists was Adolf Hitler, who, less than a month after the March, had begun to model himself and the Nazi Party upon Mussolini and the Fascists.[103] The Nazis, led by Hitler and the German war hero Erich Ludendorff, attempted a "March on Berlin" modeled upon the March on Rome, which resulted in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in November 1923, where the Nazis briefly captured Bavarian Minister President Gustav Ritter von Kahr and announced the creation of a new German government to be led by a triumvirate of von Kahr, Hitler, and Ludendorff.[104] The Beer Hall Putsch was crushed by Bavarian police, and Hitler and other leading Nazis were arrested and detained until 1925. Another early admirer of Italian Fascism was Gyula Gömbös, leader of the Hungarian National Defence Association (known by its acronym MOVE) and a self-defined "national socialist" who in 1919 spoke of the need for major changes in property and in 1923 stated the need of a "march on Budapest".[105] Amid a political crisis in Spain involving increased strike activity and rising support for anarchism, Spanish army commander Miguel Primo de Rivera engaged in a successful coup against the Spanish government in 1923 and installed himself as a dictator as head of a conservative military junta that dismantled the established party system of government.[106] Upon achieving power, Primo de Rivera sought to resolve the economic crisis by presenting himself as a compromise arbitrator figure between workers and bosses, and his regime created a corporatist economic system based on the Italian Fascist model.[107]

International surge of fascism and World War II (1929–1945)

The events of the Great Depression resulted in an international surge of fascism and the creation of multiple fascist regimes and regimes that adopted fascist policies. The most important new fascist regime was Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazis to power in 1933, liberal democracy was dissolved in Germany, and the Nazis mobilized the country for war, with expansionist territorial aims against multiple countries. In the 1930s the Nazis implemented racial laws that deliberately discriminated against, disenfranchised, and persecuted Jews, homosexuals and other racial and minority groups. Hungarian fascist Gyula Gömbös rose to power as Prime Minister of Hungary in 1932 and visited Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to consolidate good relations with the two regimes. He attempted to entrench his Party of National Unity throughout the country; created an eight-hour work day, a forty-eight hour work week in industry, and sought to entrench a corporatist economy; and pursued irredentist claims on Hungary's neighbors.[108] The fascist Iron Guard movement in Romania soared in political support after 1933, gaining representation in the Romanian government, and an Iron Guard member assassinated Romanian prime minister Ion Duca.[109] A variety of para-fascist governments that borrowed elements from fascism were formed during the Great Depression, including those of Greece, Lithuania, Poland, and Yugoslavia.[110]

Fascism also expanded influence outside of Europe, especially in East Asia, the Middle East, and South America. In China, Wang Jingwei's Kai-tsu p'ai (Reorganization) faction of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China) supported Nazism in the late 1930s.[111][112] In Japan, the Tōhōkai, a Nazi movement was formed by Seigō Nakano. The Brazilian Integralists led by Plínio Salgado, claimed as many as 200,000 members although following coup attempts it faced a crackdown from the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas in 1937.[113] The Al-Muthanna Club of Iraq was a pan-Arab movement that supported Nazism and exercised influence in Iraqi government through cabinet minister Saib Shawkat who formed a youth paramilitary movement.[114] in the 1930s The National Socialist Movement of Chile gained seats in Chile's parliament and attempted a coup d'état that resulted in the Seguro Obrero massacre of 1938.[115] Peruvian president Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro founded the Revolutionary Union in 1931 as the state party for his dictatorship. Upon the Revolutionary Union being taken over by Raúl Ferrero Rebagliati who sought to mobilise mass support for the group's nationalism in a manner akin to fascism. He even started a Blackshirts paramilitary arm as a copy of the Italian group, although the Union lost heavily in the 1936 elections and faded into obscurity.[116]

During the Great Depression, Mussolini promoted active state intervention in the economy. He denounced the contemporary "supercapitalism" that he claimed began in 1914 as a failure due to its alleged decadence, support for unlimited consumerism and intention to create the "standardization of humankind".[117] However, Mussolini claimed that the industrial developments of earlier "heroic capitalism" were valuable and continued to support private property as long as it was productive.[117] With the onset of the Great Depression, Fascist Italy began large-scale state intervention into the economy, establishing the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale, IRI), a giant state-owned firm and holding company that provided state funding to failing private enterprises.[118] The IRI was made a permanent institution in Fascist Italy in 1937, pursued Fascist policies to create national autarky, and had the power to take over private firms to maximize war production.[118] Nazi Germany similarly pursued an economic agenda with the aims of autarky and rearmament and imposed protectionist policies, including forcing the German steel industry to use lower-quality German iron ore rather than superior-quality imported iron.[119]

Ideological origins

Although fascism is considered to have first emerged in France in the 1880s, its influences have been considered to go back as far as Julius Caesar. Thomas Hobbes, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Hegel have also been considered as influential, as well as contemporary ideas such as the syndicalism of Georges Sorel, the futurism of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the nationalist and authoritarian philosophy of Oswald Spengler and the conservatism and social Darwinism of Enrico Corradini.

Core tenets

Fascists saw the struggle of nation and race as fundamental in society, in opposition to communism's perception of class struggle.[120] The fascist view of a nation is of a single organic entity which binds people together by their ancestry and is a natural unifying force of people.[121] Fascism seeks to solve economic, political, and social problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth, exalting the nation or race above all else, and promoting cults of unity, strength and purity.[29][122][123][124][125] Benito Mussolini stated in 1922, "For us the nation is not just territory but something spiritual... A nation is great when it translates into reality the force of its spirit."[126]

According to Eoin O'Duffy, an Irish national corporatist, "before everything we must give a national lead to our people...The first essential is national unity. We can only have that when the Corporative system is accepted".[127]

Joseph Goebbels described the Nazis as being affiliated with authoritarian nationalism:

It enables us to see at once why democracy and Bolshevism, which in the eyes of the world are irrevocably opposed to one another, meet again and again on common ground in their joint hatred of and attacks on authoritarian nationalist concepts of State and State systems. For the authoritarian nationalist conception of the State represents something essentially new. In it the French Revolution is superseded.[128]

Plínio Salgado, leader of the Brazilian Integralist Action party, emphasized the role of the nation:

The best governments in the world cannot succeed in pulling a country out of the quagmire, out of apathy, if they do not express themselves as national energies...Strong governments cannot result either from conspiracies or from military coups, just as they cannot come out of the machinations of parties or the Machiavellian game of political lobbying. They can only be born from the actual roots of the Nation.[129]

Foreign policy

Italian fascists described expansionist imperialism as a necessity. The 1932 Italian Encyclopedia stated: "For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence."[130] Similarly, the Nazis promoted territorial expansionism to provide "living space" to the German nation.[131] Fascists opposed pacifism and believed that a nation must have a warrior mentality.[132] Benito Mussolini spoke of war idealistically as a source of masculine pride, and spoke negatively of pacifism:

War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it. Fascism carries this anti-pacifist struggle into the lives of individuals. It is education for combat... war is to man what maternity is to the woman. I do not believe in perpetual peace; not only do I not believe in it but I find it depressing and a negation of all the fundamental virtues of a man.[133]


Many fascist movements support the creation of a totalitarian state. Mussolini's Doctrine of Fascism states, "The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people."[134] Some have argued that, in spite of Italian Fascism's attempt at totalitarianism, it became an authoritarian cult of personality around Mussolini.[135]

In The Legal Basis of the Total State, Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt described the Nazi intention to form a "strong state which guarantees a totality of political unity transcending all diversity" in order to avoid a "disastrous pluralism tearing the German people apart"[136]

Japanese fascist Nakano Seigo advocated that Japan follow the Italian and German models, which were "a form of more democratic government going beyond democracy" which itself had "lost its spirit and decayed into a mechanism which insists only on numerical superiority without considering the essence of human beings."[137]

A key authoritarian element of fascism is its endorsement of a prime national leader, who is often known simply as the "Leader" or a similar title, such as Duce in Italian, Führer in German, Caudillo in Spanish, Poglavnik in Croatia, or Conducător in Romanian. Fascist leaders who ruled countries were not always heads of state, but were heads of government, such as Benito Mussolini, who held power under the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III.

Social Darwinism

Fascist movements have commonly held social Darwinist views of nations, races, and societies.[132] They argue that nations and races must purge themselves of socially and biologically weak or degenerate people, while simultaneously promoting the creation of strong people, in order to survive in a world defined by perpetual national and racial conflict.[138]

Italian Fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile in The Origins and Doctrine of Fascism promoted the concept of conflict as an act of progress, stating that "mankind only progresses through division, and progress is achieved through the clash and victory of one side over another".[139] Italian Fascist Alfredo Rocco claimed that conflict was inevitable:

Conflict is in fact the basic law of life in all social organisms, as it is of all biological ones; societies are formed, gain strength, and move forwards through conflict; the healthiest and most vital of them assert themselves against the weakest and less well adapted through conflict; the natural evolution of nations and races takes place through conflict.[139]

In Germany, the Nazis used social Darwinism to promote their racialist concept of the German nation as part of the Aryan race and the need for the Aryan race to be victorious in what the Nazis believed was a race struggle — an ongoing competition and conflict between races.[140] They attempted to strengthen the Aryan race in Germany by killing those they regarded as weak. To this end, Action T4 was introduced in the late 1930s and organized the killing of roughly 275,000 handicapped and elderly German and non-German civilians using carbon monoxide gas.[141]

Social interventionism

Generally, fascist movements endorsed social interventionism dedicated to influencing society to promote the state's interests.[citation needed] According to G.V. Rimlinger, one cannot speak of “fascist social policy” as a single concept with logical and internally consistent ideas and common identifiable goals.[142]

Fascists spoke of creating a "new man" and a "new civilization" as part of their intention to transform society.[143] Mussolini promised a “social revolution” for “remaking” the Italian people.[144] Adolf Hitler promised to purge Germany of non-Aryan influences on society and to create a pure Aryan race through eugenics.


Fascist states pursued policies of social indoctrination through propaganda in education and the media and regulation of the production of educational and media materials.[145][146] Education was designed to glorify the fascist movement and inform students of its historical and political importance to the nation. It attempted to purge ideas that were not consistent with the beliefs of the fascist movement and to teach students to be obedient to the state.[147] Therefore, fascism tends to be anti-intellectual.[148] The Nazis, in particular, despised intellectuals and university professors. Hitler declared them unreliable, useless, and even dangerous.[149] He said: "When I take a look at the intellectual classes we have – unfortunately, I suppose, they are necessary; otherwise one could one day, I don't know, exterminate them or something – but unfortunately they're necessary."[150]

Abortion, eugenics and euthanasia

The Fascist government in Italy banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state.[151] The Nazis decriminalized abortion in cases where fetuses had hereditary defects or were of a race the government disapproved of, while the abortion of healthy "pure" German, "Aryan" fetuses remained strictly forbidden.[152] For non-Aryans, abortion was often compelled. Their eugenics program also stemmed from the "progressive biomedical model" of Weimar Germany.[153]

In 1935 Nazi Germany expanded the legality of abortion by amending its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women with hereditary disorders.[154] The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission and the fetus was not yet viable,[155][156] and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.[157][158]

Culture, gender and sexuality

Fascism promoted principles of masculine heroism, militarism, and discipline and rejected cultural pluralism and multiculturalism.[159]

Italian Fascism stood in favour of expanding voting rights to women. In 1920, Benito Mussolini declared that "Fascists do not belong to the crowd of the vain and skeptical who undervalue women's social and political importance. Who cares about voting? You will vote!".[160] In November 1925, women were given restricted voting rights, juxtaposed to the eliminaton of opposition parties and enabling of the Fascist government to rule with dictatorial powers. Fascist women's organizations, disgruntled at the lukewarm reforms, were then made subordinate to the secretariat of the party, headed by Fascist conservative and misogynist Roberto Farinacci, although gradual women's suffrage was retained.[160][161] In the 1920s, the Italian Fascist government's Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND) allowed working women to attend various entertainment and recreation events, including sports that in the past had traditionally been played by men.[162] The regime was criticized by the Roman Catholic Church, which claimed that these activities were causing "masculinization" of women.[163] The Fascists responded to such criticism by restricting women to only being allowed to take part in "feminine" sports, forbidding them to be part of sports that were played mostly by men.[163]

Mussolini perceived women's primary role as childbearers, while men were warriors; he once said, "war is to man what maternity is to the woman".[164] In an effort to increase birthrates, the Italian Fascist government gave financial incentives to women who raised large families and initiated policies designed to reduce the number of women employed.[165] Italian Fascism called for women to be honoured as "reproducers of the nation", and the Italian Fascist government held ritual ceremonies to honour women's role within the Italian nation.[166] In 1934, Mussolini declared that employment of women was a "major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment" that Italy was facing at the time and that for women, working was "incompatible with childbearing". Mussolini went on to say that the solution to unemployment for men was the "exodus of women from the work force".[167]

Nazi policies toward women strongly encouraged them to stay at home to bear children and keep house.[168] This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more babies. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs. Nazi propaganda sometimes promoted premarital and extramarital sexual relations, unwed motherhood and divorce, but at other times the Nazis opposed such behaviour.[169] The growth of Nazi power, however, was accompanied by a breakdown of traditional sexual morals with regard to extramarital sex and licentiousness.[170]

Fascist movements and governments opposed homosexuality. The Italian Fascist government declared it illegal in Italy in 1931.[171] The Nazis thought homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, perverted, and undermined the masculinity that they promoted, because it did not produce children.[172] They considered homosexuality curable through therapy, citing modern scientism and the study of sexology, which said that homosexuality could be felt by "normal" people and not just an abnormal minority.[173] Critics have claimed that the Nazis' claim of scientific reasons behind their promotion of racism and hostility to homosexuals is pseudoscience,[174][175] Open homosexuals were among those interned in Nazi concentration camps.[176] The British Union of Fascists opposed homosexuality and pejoratively questioned their opponents' heterosexuality.[177] The Romanian Iron Guard opposed homosexuality as undermining society.[178]

Economic policies

Fascists promoted their ideology as a "Third Position" between capitalism and Bolshevism.[179] Italian Fascism involved corporatism, a political system in which the economy is collectively managed by employers, workers, and state officials by formal mechanisms at the national level.[180] Fascists advocated a new national class-based economic system, variously termed "national corporatism", "national socialism" or "national syndicalism".[26] The common aim of all fascist movements was elimination of the autonomy or, in some cases, the existence of large-scale capitalism.[181]

Fascist governments exercised control over private property but did not nationalize it.[182] They pursued economic policies to strengthen state power and spread ideology, such as consolidating trade unions to be state- or party-controlled.[183] Attempts were made by both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to establish "autarky" (self-sufficiency) through significant economic planning, but neither achieved economic self-sufficiency.[184]

National corporatism, socialism and syndicalism

Fascists supported the unifying of proletarian workers to their cause along corporatistic, socialistic, or syndicalistic lines, promoting the creation of a strong proletarian nation, but not a proletarian class.[185] Italian Fascism's economy was based on corporatism, and a number of other fascist movements similarly promoted corporatism. Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists, describing fascist corporatism, said that "it means a nation organized as the human body, with each organ performing its individual function but working in harmony with the whole".[186] Fascists were not hostile to the petit-bourgeoisie or to small businesses, and they promised these groups, alongside the proletariat, protection from the upper-class bourgeoisie, big business, and Marxism. The promotion of these groups is the source of the term "extremism of the centre" to describe fascism.[187]

Fascism blamed capitalist liberal democracies for creating class conflict and communists for exploiting it.[188] In Italy, the Fascist period presided over the creation of the largest number of state-owned enterprises in Western Europe, such as the nationalisation of petroleum companies into a single state enterprise called the Italian General Agency for Petroleum (Azienda Generale Italiani Petroli, AGIP).[189] Fascists made populist appeals to the middle class, especially the lower middle class, by promising to protect small businesses and property owners from communism, and by promising an economy based on competition and profit while pledging to oppose big business.[187]

In 1933, Benito Mussolini declared Italian Fascism's opposition to the "decadent capitalism" that he claimed prevailed in the world at the time, but he did not denounce capitalism entirely. Mussolini claimed that capitalism had degenerated in three stages, starting with dynamic or heroic capitalism (1830–1870), followed by static capitalism (1870–1914), and reaching its final form of decadent capitalism or "supercapitalism" beginning in 1914.[190] Mussolini argued that Italian Fascism was in favour of dynamic and heroic capitalism for its contribution to industrialism and its technical developments, but that it did not favour supercapitalism, which he claimed was incompatible with Italy's agricultural sector.[190]

Thus Mussolini claimed that Italy under Fascist rule was not capitalist in the contemporary use of the term, which referred to supercapitalism.[190] Mussolini denounced supercapitalism for causing the "standardization of humankind" and for causing excessive consumption.[191] Mussolini claimed that at the stage of supercapitalism, "a capitalist enterprise, when difficulties arise, throws itself like a dead weight into the state's arms. It is then that state intervention begins and becomes more necessary. It is then that those who once ignored the state now seek it out anxiously."[192] He saw Fascism as the next logical step to solve the problems of supercapitalism and claimed that this step could be seen as a form of earlier capitalism which involved state intervention, saying "our path would lead inexorably into state capitalism, which is nothing more nor less than state socialism turned on its head. In either event, the result is the bureaucratization of the economic activities of the nation."[38]

Other fascist regimes were indifferent or hostile to corporatism. The Nazis initially attempted to form a corporatist economic system like that of Fascist Italy, creating the National Socialist Institute for Corporatism in May 1933, which included many major economists who argued that corporatism was consistent with National Socialism.[193][194] In Mein Kampf, Hitler spoke enthusiastically about the "National Socialist corporative idea" as one which would eventually "take the place of ruinous class warfare"[195] However, the Nazis later came to view corporatism as detrimental to Germany and institutionalizing and legitimizing social differences within the German nation. Instead, the Nazis began to promote economic organisation that emphasized the biological unity of the German national community.[196]

Hitler continued to refer to corporatism in propaganda, but it was not put into place, even though a number of Nazi officials such as Walther Darré, Gottfried Feder, Alfred Rosenburg, and Gregor Strasser were in favour of a neo-medievalist form of corporatism, since corporations had been influential in German history in the medieval era.[197]

Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera did not believe that corporatism was effective and denounced it as a propaganda ploy, saying "this stuff about the corporative state is another piece of windbaggery".[198]

Economic planning

Fascists opposed the laissez-faire economic policies that were dominant in the era prior to the Great Depression.[199] After the Great Depression began, many people from across the political spectrum blamed laissez-faire capitalism, and fascists promoted their ideology as a "third way" between capitalism and communism.[179]

Fascists declared their opposition to finance capitalism, interest charging, and profiteering.[200] Nazis and other anti-Semitic fascists considered finance capitalism a "parasitic" "Jewish conspiracy".[201] Fascist governments introduced price controls, wage controls and other types of economic interventionist measures.[202]

Fascists thought that private property should be regulated to ensure that "benefit to the community precedes benefit to the individual."[203] Private property rights were supported but were contingent upon service to the state.[204] For example, "an owner of agricultural land may be compelled to raise wheat instead of sheep and employ more labour than he would find profitable."[205] However, they promoted the interests of successful small businesses.[206] Mussolini wrote approvingly of the notion that profits should not be taken away from those who produced them by their own labour, saying "I do not respect — I even hate — those men that leech a tenth of the riches produced by others".[207]

According to historian Tibor Ivan Berend, dirigisme was an inherent aspect of fascist economies.[208] The Labour Charter of 1927, promulgated by the Grand Council of Fascism, stated in article 7: "The corporative State considers private initiative, in the field of production, as the most efficient and useful instrument of the Nation", then continued in article 9: "State intervention in economic production may take place only where private initiative is lacking or is insufficient, or when are at stakes the political interest of the State. This intervention may take the form of control, encouragement or direct management."[209]

Social welfare

Benito Mussolini promised a "social revolution" that would "remake" the Italian people. According to Patricia Knight, this was only achieved in part.[210] The people who primarily benefited from Italian fascist social policies were members of the middle and lower-middle classes, who filled jobs in the vastly expanded government workforce, which grew from about 500,000 to 1,000,000 jobs in 1930 alone.[210] Health and welfare spending grew dramatically under Italian fascism, with welfare rising from 7% of the budget in 1930 to 20% in 1940.[211]

The Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND) or "National After-work Program" was one major social welfare initiative in Fascist Italy. Created in 1925, it was the state's largest recreational organisation for adults.[212] The Dopolavoro was responsible for establishing and maintaining 11,000 sports grounds, over 6,400 libraries, 800 movie houses, 1,200 theatres, and over 2,000 orchestras.[212] Membership of the Dopolavoro was voluntary, but it had high participation because of its nonpolitical nature.[212] It is estimated that, by 1936, the OND had organised 80% of salaried workers[213] and, by 1939, 40% of the industrial workforce. The sports activities proved popular with large numbers of workers. The OND had the largest membership of any of the mass Fascist organisations in Italy.[214]

The enormous success of the Dopolavoro in Fascist Italy was the key factor in Nazi Germany's creation of its own version of the Dopolavoro, the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) or "Strength through Joy" program of the Nazi government's German Labour Front, which became even more successful than the Dopolavoro.[215] KdF provided government-subsidized holidays for German workers.[216] KdF was also responsible for the creation of the original Volkswagen ("People's Car"), a state-manufactured automobile that was meant to be cheap enough to allow all German citizens to be able to own one.

While fascists promoted social welfare to ameliorate economic conditions affecting their nation or race as whole, they did not support social welfare for egalitarian reasons. Fascists criticised egalitarianism as preserving the weak. They instead promoted social Darwinist views.[217][218] Adolf Hitler was opposed to egalitarian and universal social welfare because, in his view, it encouraged the preservation of the degenerate and feeble.[219] While in power, the Nazis created social welfare programs to deal with the large numbers of unemployed. However, those programs were neither egalitarian nor universal, but instead residual, excluding multiple minority groups and certain other people whom they felt were incapable of helping themselves and pose a threat to the future health of the German people.[220]

Racism and racialism

Fascists are not unified on the issues of racism and racialism. Mussolini, in a 1919 speech denouncing Soviet Russia, claimed that Jewish bankers in London and New York City were bound by the chains of race to Moscow and that 80% of the Soviet leaders were Jews.[221] In his 1920 autobiography, he wrote, "Race and soil are strong influences upon us all", and said of World War I, "There were seers who saw in the European conflict not only national advantages but the possibility of a supremacy of race".[222] In a 1921 speech in Bologna, Mussolini stated that "Fascism was born... out of a profound, perennial need of this our Aryan and Mediterranean race".[221] Mussolini was concerned with the low birth rates of the white race in contrast to the African and Asian races. In 1928 he noted the high birth-rate of blacks in the United States, and that they had surpassed the population of whites in certain areas, such as Harlem in New York City. He described their greater racial consciousness in comparison with American whites as contributing to their growing strength.[223] On the issue of the low birth rate of whites, Mussolini said in 1928:

[When the] city dies, the nation — deprived of the young life — blood of new generations — is now made up of people who are old and degenerate and cannot defend itself against a younger people which launches an attack on the now unguarded frontiers[...] This will happen, and not just to cities and nations, but on an infinitely greater scale: the whole White race, the Western race can be submerged by other coloured races which are multiplying at a rate unknown in our race.[224]

During the Great Depression Mussolini again expressed his alarm at the low birth rate among whites, saying "The singular, enormous problem is the destiny of the white race. Europe is truly towards the end of its destiny as the leader of civilization."[223] He went on to say that under the circumstances, "the white race is sickly", "morally and physically in ruin", and that, in combination with the "progress in numbers and in expansion of yellow and black races, the civilization of the white man is destined to perish."[223] According to Mussolini, only through promoting natality and eugenics could this be reversed.[223]

Many Italian fascists held anti-Slavist views, especially against neighbouring Yugoslav nations, whom the Italian fascists saw as being in competition with Italy, which had claims on territories of Yugoslavia, particularly Dalmatia.[225] Mussolini claimed that Yugoslavs posed a threat after Italy failed to receive territory along the Adriatic coast at the end of World War I, as promised by the 1915 Treaty of London. He said: "The danger of seeing the Jugo-Slavians settle along the whole Adriatic shore had caused a bringing together in Rome of the cream of our unhappy regions. Students, professors, workmen, citizens—representative men—were entreating the ministers and the professional politicians.[226] Italian fascists accused Serbs of having "atavistic impulses" and of being part of a "social democratic, masonic Jewish internationalist plot".[227] The fascists accused Yugoslavs of conspiring together on behalf of "Grand Orient masonry and its funds".

In 1933, Mussolini contradicted his earlier statements on race, saying, "Race! It is a feeling, not a reality: ninety-five percent, at least, is a feeling. Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today. ... National pride has no need of the delirium of race."[228]

At the 1934 Fascist International Congress, the issue of anti-Semitism was debated amongst various fascist parties, with some more favourable to it, and others less favourable. Two final compromises were adopted, creating the official stance of the Fascist International:

[T]he Jewish question cannot be converted into a universal campaign of hatred against the Jews [...] Considering that in many places certain groups of Jews are installed in conquered countries, exercising in an open and occult manner an influence injurious to the material and moral interests of the country which harbors them, constituting a sort of state within a state, profiting by all benefits and refusing all duties, considering that they have furnished and are inclined to furnish, elements conducive to international revolution which would be destructive to the idea of patriotism and Christian civilization, the Conference denounces the nefarious action of these elements and is ready to combat them.[229]

Relation to religion

The attitude of fascism toward religion has run the gamut from persecution, to denunciation, to cooperation,[230] to embrace.[231] Stanley Payne notes that fundamental to fascism was the foundation of a purely materialistic "civic religion" that would "displace preceding structures of belief and relegate supernatural religion to a secondary role, or to none at all", and that "though there were specific examples of religious or would-be 'Christian fascists,' fascism presupposed a post-Christian, post-religious, secular, and immanent frame of reference."[232]

According to Payne, such "would-be" religious fascists only gain hold where traditional belief is weakened or absent, since fascism seeks to create new non-rationalist myth structures for those who no longer hold a traditional view.[233] The rise of modern secularism in Europe and Latin America, and the incursion and large-scale adoption of western secular culture in the mid-east, leave a void where this modern secular ideology, sometimes under a religious veneer, can take hold.[233]

Many fascists were anti-clerical in both private and public life.[234] Although both Hitler and Mussolini were anti-clerical, they both understood that it would be rash to begin their Kulturkampfs prematurely; though possibly inevitable in the future, such clashes were put off while they dealt with other enemies.[235] Hitler had a general plan, even before the Nazis' rise to power, to destroy Christianity within the Reich.[236][237][238] Many Italian Fascists were disgusted by Mussolini's decision to abandon Fascism's anti-clericalism in favour of reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church.[239]

The leader of the Hitler Youth stated, "the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist movement" from the start, but "considerations of expedience made it impossible" publicly to express this extreme position.[236] In Mexico, the Red Shirts were vehemently atheist, renounced religion, killed priests, and on one occasion gunned down Catholics as they left Mass.[240][241][242][243][244]

According to a biographer of Mussolini, "Initially, fascism was fiercely anti-Catholic" — the Church being a competitor for dominion over the people's hearts.[245] Mussolini, originally an atheist, published anti-Catholic writings and planned for the confiscation of Church property, but eventually moved to accommodation.[230] Mussolini endorsed the Roman Catholic Church for political legitimacy; during the Lateran Treaty talks, Fascist Party officials engaged in bitter arguments with Vatican officials and pressured them to accept terms that the regime deemed acceptable.[246] Protestantism in Italy was not as significant as Catholicism, and the Protestant minority was persecuted.[247] Mussolini's sub-secretary of Interior, Bufferini-Guidi, issued a memo closing all houses of worship of the Italian Pentecostals and Jehovah's Witnesses and imprisoned their leaders.[248] In some instances, people were killed because of their faith.[249]

The Ustaše in Croatia had strong Catholic overtones, with some clerics in positions of power.[250] The fascist movement in Romania, known as the Iron Guard or the Legion of Archangel Michael, preceded its meetings with a church service, and their demonstrations were usually led by priests carrying icons and religious flags.[citation needed] The Romanian fascist movement promoted a cult of "suffering, sacrifice and martyrdom."[251][252]

In Latin America, the most notable fascist movement was Plinio Salgado's Brazilian Integralism. Built on a network of lay religious associations, its vision was of an integral state that "comes from Christ, is inspired in Christ, acts for Christ, and goes toward Christ."[253][254][255] Salgado criticised the "dangerous pagan tendencies of Hitlerism".[256]

Hitler and the Nazi regime attempted to found their own version of Christianity called Positive Christianity, which made major changes in its interpretation of the Bible, saying that Jesus Christ was the son of God, but was not a Jew. They further claimed that Christ despised Jews, and that the Jews were solely responsible for his death.[citation needed] By 1940, however, it was public knowledge that Hitler had abandoned even the syncretist idea of a positive Christianity.[257]

The Catholic Church was suppressed by Nazis in Poland. In addition to the deaths of some 3 million Polish Jews, 2 million Polish Catholics were killed.[258] Between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 polish clergy (18%) were murdered; of these, 1,992 died in concentration camps.[258] In the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland, churches were systematically closed, and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to the General Government.

The Germans also closed seminaries and convents, persecuting monks and nuns throughout Poland. Eighty percent of the Catholic clergy and five of the bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939; in Chełmno, 48%.[258] Of those murdered by the Nazi regime, 108 are regarded as blessed martyrs.[258] Among them, Maximilian Kolbe was canonized as a saint. Not only in Poland were Christians persecuted by the Nazis. In the Dachau concentration camp alone, 2,600 Catholic priests from 24 different countries were killed.[258]

One theory is that religion and fascism could never have a lasting connection because both are a "holistic weltanschauung" claiming the whole of the person.[230] Along these lines, Yale political scientist, Juan Linz and others have noted that secularization had created a void which could be filled by a total ideology, making totalitarianism possible,[259][260] and Roger Griffin has characterized fascism as a type of anti-religious political religion.[261] Such political religions vie with conventional, actual religions, and try to replace or eradicate them.[260]

Variations and subforms

Movements identified by scholars as fascist hold a variety of views, and what qualifies as fascism is often a hotly contested subject. The first movement to self-identify as Fascist was the National Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini. Strains which emerged after the original fascism, but are often placed under the wider usage of the term, self-identified their parties with different names. Major examples include Falangism, Integralism, Iron Guard, and Nazism.[262]

Para-fascism is a term used to describe authoritarian regimes with aspects that differentiate them from true fascist states or movements.[263] Para-fascists typically eschew radical change, and some view genuine fascists as a threat.[264]


Flag of the Spanish Falange.

Italian Fascism and German Nazism were the two most significant fascist movements in Europe during the 1920s and 30s.

Gyula Gömbös' Hungarian National Defence Association was created in the Hungarian city of Szeged in 1919. Its "Szeged fascism" has been considered a form of proto-fascism in its origins, but consolidated its fascist characteristics in the 1920s and 30s.[35] It came under the control of Miklós Horthy and was merged with Nazi and other far-right Hungarian groupings. Horthy allied with Germany and Italy during World War II but, after his support faltered in 1944, Germany invaded and installed the Arrow Cross Party in government.

The Iron Guard was a fascist movement and political party in Romania from 1927 to 1941.[265] It was briefly in power from September 1940 until January 1941.

Falangism was a form of fascism founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1934 during the Second Spanish Republic.[266] Following the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic, General Francisco Franco, already the leader of the rebel Nationalists, became leader of the Falangists. A merger between the Falange and the Carlists took place in 1937, creating the FET y de las JONS, a more traditionalist, conservative party than the original Falagnists, and one which was considered by some "authentic" Falangists as a move away from the party's original fascist position.[266][267] Franco balanced several different interests of elements in his party in an effort to keep them united, especially in regard to the question of monarchy.[268] The rule of Franco in Spain, which lasted until his death in 1975, is often referred to as parafascist.

"Austrofascism" is a controversial category encompassing various para-fascist and semi-fascist movements in Austria in the 1930s.[269] In particular it refers to the Fatherland Front, which became Austria's sole legal political party in 1934 and promoted corporatism, but not along secular and totalitarian lines.[270]

The Estado Novo ("New State") regime in Portugal from 1933 to 1974 has been described as having close similarities to fascism as well as significant differences. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar rose to power in Portugal as Prime Minister in an army coup in 1932, creating an authoritarian conservative nationalist.[271] Salazar also instituted economic corporatism and substantial state control over the economy,[272] and, like fascist leaders, he denounced democracy as detrimental to nations.[271]

Greece from 1936 to 1941 was a constitutional monarchy whose government was controlled by General Ioannis Metaxas. He created an authoritarian state based loosely on German national socialism.

During World War II, a number of countries that came under Nazi occupation had fascist puppet regimes installed. In France, the French State controlled part of the country from 1940 to 1944. Part of Yugoslavia was ruled by the Ustaše from 1941 to 1945.

Fascist movements emerged in other European countries in the 1920s and 1930s without gaining significant political power. These included the Lapua Movement in Finland, the National Socialist Workers Party in Sweden, the British Union of Fascists in the United Kingdom and the parafascist Blueshirts in the Republic of Ireland. The traditionalist Croix de Feu in France and the Rexists in Belgium are also sometimes regarded as fascist.

East Asia

The Kokuhonsha was a Japanese fascist movement of the late 1920s and early 1930s, led by the prominent politician Kiichirō Hiranuma. Hiranuma ordered it dissolved after the February 26 Incident.

The Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei Yokusankai) was a Japanese coalition of fascist and nationalist political movements, such as the Imperial Way Faction (Kōdōha) and the Society of the East (Tōhōkai), formed in 1940 under the guidance of Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe.[273][274] Konoe's successor, Hideki Tōjō, entrenched the IRAA as the country's ruling political movement and attempted to establish himself as the absolute leader, or Shogun, of Japan. The IRAA created Tonarigumi (Neighbourhood Association) and youth organisations, in which participation was mandatory. After 1942, Japan became a single-party state which promoted Japanese expansionism and imperialism.[275]

The Blue Shirts Society was a secret faction within the Chinese army which existed under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek in the early 1930s. It was heavily influenced by European fascism.

A number of left-wing anti-Communists in China during the late 1930s, including Wang Jingwei, spoke and wrote positively of European fascism.

Latin America

Flag of the Brazilian Integralist Action party.

Brazilian Integralism (Ação Integralista Brasileira) was a form of fascism founded by Plinio Salgado in Brazil in 1932. By 1937 they were one of the most important parties in Latin America, with around one million members. Integralist principles included corporativism and Catholicism, and, like other fascist movements, they exhibited an anti-capitalist and anti-communist agenda. They also formed armed squads, nicknamed Greenshirts. During the later years of the Vargas Era, from 1937 to 1945, Brazil was governed according to principles that drew heavily on fascism.

Falangism, due to its Spanish origins, also composed much of the fascist ideology prevalent in Latin America, particularly South America.

Peronism in Argentina is often characterized as being fascist or at least para-fascist in nature, as encompassed by many of the economic and social policies pursued, encouraged and enacted by Juan Peron, his wife Eva Peron and other leading members. Juan Peron expressed an admiration for the fascist systems of such nations as Italy, openly praising Benito Mussolini following a state visit there. Following WWII, Peron also provided asylum to several Nazis, and habilitated the underground organization ODESSA, composed of former members of the SS.

Tomás Garrido Canabal, the Governor of Tabasco, founded an anti-Catholic fascist organization and paramilitary known as the Red Shirts in the state of Tabasco, Mexico in 1931.

The National Socialist Movement of Chile was established in 1932 and merged into the Popular Freedom Alliance in 1938. There was an attempt to revive it during the 1970s.

Middle East

Phalangism (or Falangism) was a significant influence in Lebanon through the Kataeb Party and its founder Pierre Gemayel,[276] who won national independence in 1943.

In British Mandate Palestine, the Brit HaBirionim was a fascist faction of the Revisionist Zionist Movement, active in the early 1930s. It opposed liberal Zionism and proposed the creation of a fascist Jewish state.

In the late 1930s, the Iraqi and pan-Arab Al-Muthanna Club became a significant pro-fascist force and was linked to the Golden Square, whose failed coup attempt of 1941 provoked the Anglo-Iraqi War. It had a youth wing, the Futuwwa.

The founder of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Antun Saadeh, came under criticism in the 1930s as being influenced by Nazism, which he strongly denied.[277]:43


Fascism has been widely criticized since the end of World War II for a variety of reasons.

Aside from criticism of fascist ideology, there has been debate as to its nature and even whether it is a coherent ideology. One view is that fascism is not a real ideology at all;[278] this view claims that fascism is a form of irrational and opportunistic politics only committed to nihilistic violence that has no logical or rational definition, and that its official ideological components are only tools of propaganda and are often contradictory.[278]

Marxists accuse fascism of being a capitalist tyranny that attempts to make conservative reaction popular to the working class but in practice represses the working class.[50] Marxist-Leninist interpretations condemn fascism as a "political offensive of the [entire] bourgeosie against the working class"; a servant of "big business", "large landowners", and agrarian and industrialist capitalism.[279] Lenin claimed that "Fascism is capitalism in decay."[280]

Hungarian communist Djula Sas in 1923 made a more detailed critique of fascism, in which he noted that, six months after rising to power, Italian Fascists had dismantled working-class organizations, significantly reduced wages in certain areas, abolished taxes on inheritance and war profits, and emphasized the need for "national production".[279] According to Sas, these actions clearly indicated that fascism was in the service of industrial capitalism.[281]

Marxist interpretations of fascism are typically based on a developmental approach.[50] The Marxist developmental perspective on fascism has been criticized for failing to explain why fascism has not appeared in developing countries.[50] Furthermore, Marxist interpretations of fascism have categorized multiple movements with significant differences to fascism as simply "fascist".[50] As a result, even some communist regimes have been declared "fascist" under such interpretations, including those of Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh.[50]

04.13.2011. 18:04

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