Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.
Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war. The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.
Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky (national economic self-sufficiency) through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far-right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th-century fascist movements.
The Italian term fascismo is derived from fascio meaning "a bundle of sticks", ultimately from the Latin word fasces. This was the name given to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates. According to Mussolini's own account, the Fascist Revolutionary Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario or PFR) was founded in Italy in 1915. In 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in Milan, which became the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) two years later. The Fascists came to associate the term with the ancient Roman fasces or fascio littorio—a bundle of rods tied around an axe, an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate carried by his lictors, which could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command.
The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break. Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements: for example, the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.
Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism. Each group described as fascist has at least some unique elements, and many definitions of fascism have been criticized as either too wide or narrow.
One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts:
According to many scholars, fascism—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism, and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far-right.
Historian Stanley Payne identifies three main strands in fascism. His typology is regularly cited by reliable sources as a standard definition. First, Payne's "fascist negations" refers to such typical policies as anti-communism and anti-liberalism. Second, "fascist goals" include a nationalist dictatorship and an expanded empire. Third, "fascist style" is seen in its emphasis on violence and authoritarianism and its exultation of men above women and young against old.
Roger Griffin describes fascism as "a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism". Griffin describes the ideology as having three core components: "(i) the rebirth myth, (ii) populist ultra-nationalism, and (iii) the myth of decadence". 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.
Robert Paxton says that fascism is "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion".
Racism was a key feature of German fascism, for which the Holocaust was a high priority. According to the historiography of genocide, "In dealing with the Holocaust, it is the consensus of historians that Nazi Germany targeted Jews as a race, not as a religious group." Umberto Eco, Kevin Passmore, John Weiss, Ian Adams, and Moyra Grant stress racism as a characteristic component of German fascism. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, "Hitler envisioned the ideal German society as a Volksgemeinschaft, a racially unified and hierarchically organized body in which the interests of individuals would be strictly subordinate to those of the nation, or Volk." Fascist philosophies vary by application, but remain distinct by one theoretic commonality. All traditionally fall into the far-right sector of any political spectrum, catalyzed by afflicted class identities over conventional social inequities
Historian John Lukacs argues that there is no such thing as generic fascism. He claims that National Socialism and communism are essentially manifestations of populism and that states such as National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy are more different than similar.
Most scholars place fascism on the far right of the political spectrum. Such scholarship focuses on its social conservatism and its authoritarian means of opposing egalitarianism. Roderick Stackelberg places fascism—including Nazism, which he says is "a radical variant of fascism"—on the political right by explaining: "The more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be".
Fascism's origins, however, are complex and include many seemingly contradictory viewpoints, ultimately centered around a myth of national rebirth from decadence. Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists who drew upon both left-wing organizational tactics and right-wing political views.
Italian Fascism gravitated to the right in the early 1920s. A major element of fascist ideology that has been deemed to be far-right is its stated goal to promote the right of a supposedly superior people to dominate, while purging society of supposedly inferior elements.
In the 1920s, the Italian Fascists described their ideology as right-wing in the political program The Doctrine of Fascism, stating: "We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right,' a fascist century". Mussolini stated that fascism's position on the political spectrum was not a serious issue for fascists: "Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center ... These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don't give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words".
Major Italian groups politically on the right, especially rich landowners and big business, feared an uprising by groups on the left such as sharecroppers and labour unions. They welcomed Fascism and supported its violent suppression of opponents on the left. The accommodation of the political right into the Italian Fascist movement in the early 1920s created internal factions within the movement. The "Fascist left" included Michele Bianchi, Giuseppe Bottai, 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 common people. The "Fascist right" included members of the paramilitary Squadristi and former members of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI). The Squadristi wanted to establish Fascism as a complete dictatorship, while the former ANI members, including Alfredo Rocco, sought to institute an authoritarian corporatist state to replace the liberal state in Italy while retaining the existing elites. Upon accommodating the political right, there arose a group of monarchist fascists who sought to use fascism to create an absolute monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
After King Victor Emmanuel III forced Mussolini to resign as head of government and placed him under arrest in 1943, Mussolini was rescued by German forces. While continuing to rely on Germany for support, Mussolini and the remaining loyal Fascists founded the Italian Social Republic with Mussolini as head of state. Mussolini sought to re-radicalize Italian Fascism, declaring that the Fascist state had been overthrown because Italian Fascism had been subverted by Italian conservatives and the bourgeoisie. Then the new Fascist government proposed the creation of workers' councils and profit-sharing in industry, although the German authorities, who effectively controlled northern Italy at this point, ignored these measures and did not seek to enforce them.
A number of post-World War II fascist movements described themselves as a "third position" outside the traditional political spectrum. Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera said: "[B]asically 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".
The term "fascist" has been used as a pejorative, regarding varying movements across the far right of the political spectrum. 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'".
Communist states have sometimes been referred to as "fascist", typically as an insult. For example, it has been applied to Marxist regimes in Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. Chinese Marxists used the term to denounce the Soviet Union during the Sino-Soviet Split, and likewise the Soviets used the term to denounce Chinese Marxists and social democracy (coining a new term in "social fascism").
In the United States, Herbert Matthews of The New York Times asked in 1946: "Should we now place Stalinist Russia in the same category as Hitlerite Germany? Should we say that she is Fascist?". J. Edgar Hoover, longtime FBI director and ardent anti-communist, wrote extensively of "Red Fascism". The Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s was sometimes called "fascist". Historian Peter Amann states that, "Undeniably, the Klan had some traits in common with European fascism—chauvinism, racism, a mystique of violence, an affirmation of a certain kind of archaic traditionalism—yet their differences were fundamental....[the KKK] never envisioned a change of political or economic system."
Professor Richard Griffiths of the University of Wales wrote in 2005 that "fascism" is the "most misused, and over-used word, of our times". "Fascist" is sometimes applied to post-World War II organizations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term "neo-fascist".
According to Encyclopædia Britannica the roots of fascism are either tied to the Jacobin movement or a 19th-century backlash against the Enlightenment. Historians such as Irene Collins and Howard C Payne see Napoleon III, who ran a 'police state' and suppressed the media, as a forerunner of fascism. According to David Thomson, the Italian Risorgimento of 1871 led to the 'nemesis of fascism'. William L Shirer sees a continuity from the views of Fichte and Hegel, through Bismarck, to Hitler; Robert Gerwarth speaks of a 'direct line' from Bismarck to Hitler. Julian Dierkes sees fascism as a 'particularly violent form of Imperialism'.
The historian Zeev Sternhell has traced the ideological roots of fascism back to the 1880s and in particular to the fin de siècle theme of that time. The theme was based on a revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society and democracy. The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism and vitalism. The fin-de-siècle mindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution. The fin-de-siècle intellectual school considered the individual only one part of the larger collectivity, which should not be viewed as an atomized numerical sum of individuals. They condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society.
The fin-de-siècle outlook was influenced by various intellectual developments, including Darwinian biology; Wagnerian aesthetics; Arthur de Gobineau's racialism; Gustave Le Bon's psychology; and the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Henri Bergson. Social Darwinism, which gained widespread acceptance, made no distinction between physical and social life, and viewed the human condition as being an unceasing struggle to achieve the survival of the fittest. Social Darwinism challenged positivism's claim of deliberate and rational choice as the determining behaviour of humans, with social Darwinism focusing on heredity, race, and environment. Social Darwinism's emphasis on biogroup identity and the role of organic relations within societies fostered legitimacy and appeal for nationalism. New theories of social and political psychology also rejected the notion of human behaviour being governed by rational choice and instead claimed that emotion was more influential in political issues than reason. Nietzsche's argument that "God is dead" coincided with his attack on the "herd mentality" of Christianity, democracy and modern collectivism; his concept of the übermensch; and his advocacy of the will to power as a primordial instinct, were major influences upon many of the fin-de-siècle generation. Bergson's claim of the existence of an "élan vital" or vital instinct centred upon free choice and rejected the processes of materialism and determinism; this challenged Marxism.
Gaetano Mosca in his work The Ruling Class (1896) developed the theory that claims that in all societies an "organized minority" will dominate and rule over the "disorganized majority". Mosca claims that there are only two classes in society, "the governing" (the organized minority) and "the governed" (the disorganized majority). He claims that the organized nature of the organized minority makes it irresistible to any individual of the disorganized majority.
French nationalist and reactionary monarchist Charles Maurras influenced fascism. Maurras promoted what he called integral nationalism, which called for the organic unity of a nation and Maurras insisted that a powerful monarch was an ideal leader of a nation. Maurras distrusted what he considered the democratic mystification of the popular will that created an impersonal collective subject. He claimed that a powerful monarch was a personified sovereign who could exercise authority to unite a nation's people. Maurras' integral nationalism was idealized by fascists, but modified into a modernized revolutionary form that was devoid of Maurras' monarchism.
French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel promoted the legitimacy of political violence in his work Reflections on Violence (1908) and other works in which he advocated radical syndicalist action to achieve a revolution to overthrow capitalism and the bourgeoisie through a general strike. In Reflections on Violence, Sorel emphasized need for a revolutionary political religion. Also in his work The Illusions of Progress, Sorel denounced democracy as reactionary, saying "nothing is more aristocratic than democracy". By 1909 after the failure of a syndicalist general strike in France, Sorel and his supporters left the radical left and went to the radical right, where they sought to merge militant Catholicism and French patriotism with their views—advocating anti-republican Christian French patriots as ideal revolutionaries. Initially Sorel had officially been a revisionist of Marxism, but by 1910 announced his abandonment of socialist literature and claimed in 1914, using an aphorism of Benedetto Croce that "socialism is dead" because of the "decomposition of Marxism". Sorel became a supporter of reactionary Maurrassian nationalism beginning in 1909 that influenced his works. Maurras held interest in merging his nationalist ideals with Sorelian syndicalism as a means to confront democracy. Maurras stated "a socialism liberated from the democratic and cosmopolitan element fits nationalism well as a well made glove fits a beautiful hand".
The fusion of Maurrassian nationalism and Sorelian syndicalism influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini. 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. Corradini spoke of Italy as being a "proletarian nation" that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the "plutocratic" French and British. 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 in its political class, liberalism, and division caused by "ignoble socialism". The ANI held ties and influence among conservatives, Catholics and the business community. 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. 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, in which only the strongest could survive.
Futurism was both an artistic-cultural movement and initially a political movement in Italy led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who founded the Futurist Manifesto (1908), that championed the causes of modernism, action, and political violence as necessary elements of politics while denouncing liberalism and parliamentary politics. Marinetti rejected conventional democracy based on majority rule and egalitarianism, for a new form of democracy, promoting what he described in his work "The Futurist Conception of Democracy" as the following: "We are therefore able to give the directions to create and to dismantle to numbers, to quantity, to the mass, for with us number, quantity and mass will never be—as they are in Germany and Russia—the number, quantity and mass of mediocre men, incapable and indecisive".
Futurism influenced fascism in its emphasis on recognizing the virile nature of violent action and war as being necessities of modern civilization. Marinetti promoted the need of physical training of young men, saying that in male education, gymnastics should take precedence over books, and he advocated segregation of the genders on this matter, in that womanly sensibility must not enter men's education whom Marinetti claimed must be "lively, bellicose, muscular and violently dynamic".
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Italian political left became severely split over its position on the war. The Italian Socialist Party (PSI) opposed the war but a number of Italian revolutionary syndicalists supported war against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the grounds that their reactionary regimes had to be defeated to ensure the success of socialism. Angelo Oliviero Olivetti formed a pro-interventionist fascio called the Fasci of International Action in October 1914. Benito Mussolini upon being expelled from his position as chief editor of the PSI's newspaper Avanti! for his anti-German stance, joined the interventionist cause in a separate fascio. The term "Fascism" was first used in 1915 by members of Mussolini's movement, the Fasci of Revolutionary Action.
The first meeting of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action was held on 24 January 1915 when Mussolini declared that it was necessary for Europe to resolve its national problems—including national borders—of Italy and elsewhere "for the ideals of justice and liberty for which oppressed peoples must acquire the right to belong to those national communities from which they descended". Attempts to hold mass meetings were ineffective and the organization was regularly harassed by government authorities and socialists.
Similar political ideas arose in Germany after the outbreak of the war. German sociologist Johann Plenge spoke of the rise of a "National Socialism" in Germany within what he termed the "ideas of 1914" that were a declaration of war against the "ideas of 1789" (the French Revolution). According to Plenge, the "ideas of 1789" that included rights of man, democracy, individualism and liberalism were being rejected in favor of "the ideas of 1914" that included "German values" of duty, discipline, law and order. Plenge believed that racial solidarity (Volksgemeinschaft) would replace class division and that "racial comrades" would unite to create a socialist society in the struggle of "proletarian" Germany against "capitalist" Britain. He believed that the "Spirit of 1914" manifested itself in the concept of the "People's League of National Socialism". This National Socialism was a form of state socialism that rejected the "idea of boundless freedom" and promoted an economy that would serve the whole of Germany under the leadership of the state. This National Socialism was opposed to capitalism because of the components that were against "the national interest" of Germany, but insisted that National Socialism would strive for greater efficiency in the economy. Plenge advocated an authoritarian rational ruling elite to develop National Socialism through a hierarchical technocratic state.
Fascists viewed World War I as bringing revolutionary changes in the nature of war, society, the state and technology, as the advent of total war and mass mobilization had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant, as civilians had become a critical part in economic production for the war effort and thus arose a "military citizenship" in which all citizens were involved to the military in some manner during the war. World War I had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines or provide economic production and logistics to support those on the front lines, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens. Fascists viewed technological developments of weaponry and the state's total mobilization of its population in the war as symbolizing the beginning of a new era fusing state power with mass politics, technology and particularly the mobilizing myth that they contended had triumphed over the myth of progress and the era of liberalism.
The October Revolution of 1917—in which Bolshevik communists led by Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia—greatly influenced the development of fascism. In 1917, Mussolini, as leader of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action, praised the October Revolution, but later he became unimpressed with Lenin, regarding him as merely a new version of Tsar Nicholas. After World War I, fascists have commonly campaigned on anti-Marxist agendas.
Liberal opponents of both fascism and the Bolsheviks argue that there are various similarities between the two, including that they believed in the necessity of a vanguard leadership, had disdain for bourgeois values and it is argued had totalitarian ambitions. In practice, both have commonly emphasized revolutionary action, proletarian nation theories, one-party states and party-armies. However, both draw clear distinctions from each other both in aims and tactics, with the Bolsheviks emphasizing the need for an organized participatory democracy and an egalitarian, internationalist vision for society while the fascists emphasize hyper-nationalism and open hostility towards democracy, envisioning a hierarchical social structure as essential to their aims.
With the antagonism 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 the Marxists. Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement, known as Sansepolcrismo, in 1919 with the founding of the Fasci italiani di combattimento.
In 1919, Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti created The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat (the Fascist Manifesto). The Manifesto was presented on 6 June 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); 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. 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 profits. It also called for the fulfillment of expansionist aims in the Balkans and other parts of the Mediterranean, 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.
The next events that influenced the Fascists in Italy was the raid of Fiume by Italian nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio and the founding of the Charter of Carnaro in 1920. D'Annunzio and De Ambris designed the Charter, which advocated national-syndicalist corporatist productionism alongside D'Annunzio's political views. Many Fascists saw the Charter of Carnaro as an ideal constitution for a Fascist Italy. This behaviour of aggression towards Yugoslavia and South Slavs was pursued by Italian Fascists with their persecution of South Slavs—especially Slovenes and Croats.
In 1920, militant strike activity by industrial workers reached its peak in Italy and 1919 and 1920 were known as the "Red Years". 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.
Fascists identified their primary opponents as the majority of socialists on the left who had opposed intervention in World War I. 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. The Fascists assisted the anti-socialist campaign by allying with the other parties and the conservative right in a mutual effort to destroy the Italian Socialist Party and labour organizations committed to class identity above national identity.
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 Catholic Church and the monarchy as institutions in Italy. To appeal to Italian conservatives, Fascism adopted policies such as promoting family values, including promotion policies designed to reduce the number of women in the workforce limiting the woman's role to that of a mother. The fascists banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state. Though Fascism adopted a number of anti-modern positions designed to appeal to people upset with the new trends in sexuality and women's rights—especially those with a reactionary point of view—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". The Fascists supported revolutionary action and committed to secure law and order to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists.
Prior to Fascism's accommodations to the political right, Fascism was a small, urban, northern Italian movement that had about a thousand members. After Fascism's accommodation of the political right, the Fascist movement's membership soared to approximately 250,000 by 1921.
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 several northern Italian cities. The Fascists attacked the headquarters of socialist and Catholic labour unions in Cremona and imposed forced Italianization upon the German-speaking population of Trent and Bolzano. After seizing these cities, the Fascists made plans to take Rome.
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. The Fascists managed to seize control of several 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. 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. Victor Emmanuel III decided to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy and Mussolini arrived in Rome on 30 October to accept the appointment. Fascist propaganda aggrandized this event, known as "March on Rome", as a "seizure" of power because of Fascists' heroic exploits.
Historian Stanley G. Payne says Fascism in Italy was:
A primarily political dictatorship....The Fascist Party itself had become almost completely bureaucratized and subservient to, not dominant over, the state itself. Big business, industry, and finance retained extensive autonomy, particularly in the early years. The armed forces also enjoyed considerable autonomy....The Fascist militia was placed under military control....The judicial system was left largely intact and relatively autonomous as well. The police continued to be directed by state officials and were not taken over by party leaders...nor was a major new police elite created....There was never any question of bringing the Church under overall subservience.... Sizable sectors of Italian cultural life retained extensive autonomy, and no major state propaganda-and-culture ministry existed....The Mussolini regime was neither especially sanguinary nor particularly repressive.
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. Mussolini's coalition government initially pursued economically liberal policies under the direction of liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani, a member of the Center Party, including balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service. Initially, little drastic change in government policy had occurred and repressive police actions were limited.
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. Through considerable Fascist violence and intimidation, the list won a majority of the vote, allowing many seats to go to the Fascists. In the aftermath of the election, a crisis and political scandal erupted after Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteotti was kidnapped and murdered by a Fascist. The liberals and the leftist minority in parliament walked out in protest in what became known as the Aventine Secession. On 3 January 1925, Mussolini addressed the Fascist-dominated Italian parliament and declared that he was personally responsible for what happened, but insisted that he had done nothing wrong. Mussolini proclaimed himself dictator of Italy, assuming full responsibility over the government and announcing the dismissal of parliament. 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.
In 1929, the Fascist regime briefly gained what was in effect a blessing of the 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, but within two years the Church had renounced Fascism in the Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno as a "pagan idolotry of the state" which teaches "hatred, violence and irreverence". Not long after signing the agreement, by Mussolini's own confession the Church had threatened to have him “excommunicated”, in part because of his intractable nature and that he had "confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years”. By the late 1930s, Mussolini became more vocal in his anti-clerical rhetoric, repeatedly denouncing the Catholic Church and discussing ways to depose the pope. He took the position that the “papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must 'be rooted out once and for all,’ because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself". In her 1974 book, Mussolini's widow Rachele stated that her husband had always been an atheist until near the end of his life, writing that her husband was “basically irreligious until the later years of his life”.
The National Socialists of Germany employed similar anti-clerical policies. The Gestapo confiscated hundreds of monasteries in Austria and Germany, evicted clergymen and laymen alike and often replaced crosses with a swastikas. Referring to the swastika as the “Devil’s Cross”, church leaders found their youth organizations banned, their meetings limited and various Catholic periodicals censored or banned. Government officials eventually found it necessary to place “Nazis into editorial positions in the Catholic press”. Up to 2,720 clerics, mostly Catholics, were arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned inside of Germany's Dachau concentration camp, resulting in over 1,000 deaths.
The Fascist regime created 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. This resulted in an aggressive military campaign known as the Pacification of Libya against natives in Libya, including mass killings, the use of concentration camps and the forced starvation of thousands of people. Italian authorities committed ethnic cleansing by forcibly expelling 100,000 Bedouin Cyrenaicans, half the population of Cyrenaica in Libya, from their settlements that was slated to be given to Italian settlers.
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. 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.
The conditions of economic hardship caused by the Great Depression brought about an international surge of social unrest. According to historian Philip Morgan, "the onset of the Great Depression...was the greatest stimulus yet to the diffusion and expansion of fascism outside Italy". Fascist propaganda blamed the problems of the long depression of the 1930s on minorities and scapegoats: “Judeo-Masonic-bolshevik” conspiracies, left-wing internationalism and the presence of immigrants.
In Germany, it contributed to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, which resulted in the demise of the Weimar Republic and the establishment of the fascist regime, 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 several countries. In the 1930s, the Nazis implemented racial laws that deliberately discriminated against, disenfranchised and persecuted Jews and other racial and minority groups.
Fascist movements grew in strength elsewhere in Europe. Hungarian fascist Gyula Gömbös rose to power as Prime Minister of Hungary in 1932 and attempted to entrench his Party of National Unity throughout the country. He 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. 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. During the 6 February 1934 crisis, France faced the greatest domestic political turmoil since the Dreyfus Affair when the fascist Francist Movement and multiple far-right movements rioted en masse in Paris against the French government resulting in major political violence. 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.
In the Americas, 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. 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.
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 because of its alleged decadence, its support for unlimited consumerism and its intention to create the "standardization of humankind". Fascist Italy created the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), a giant state-owned firm and holding company that provided state funding to failing private enterprises. 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. While Hitler's regime only nationalized 500 companies in key industries by the early 1940s, Mussolini declared in 1934 that “[t]hree-fourths of Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state”. Due to the worldwide depression, Mussolini's government was able to take over most of Italy's largest failing banks, who held controlling interest in many Italian businesses. The Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, a state-operated holding company in charge of bankrupt banks and companies, reported in early 1934 that they held assets of “48.5 percent of the share capital of Italy”, which later included the capital of the banks themselves. Political historian Martin Blinkhorn estimated Italy's scope of state intervention and ownership “greatly surpassed that in Nazi Germany, giving Italy a public sector second only to that of Stalin’s Russia”. In the late 1930s, Italy enacted manufacturing cartels, tariff barriers, currency restrictions and massive regulation of the economy to attempt to balance payments. Italy's policy of autarky failed to achieve effective economic autonomy. 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.
In Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, both Mussolini and Hitler pursued territorial expansionist and interventionist foreign policy agendas from the 1930s through the 1940s culminating in World War II. Mussolini called for irredentist Italian claims to be reclaimed, establishing Italian domination of the Mediterranean Sea and securing Italian access to the Atlantic Ocean and the creation of Italian spazio vitale ("vital space") in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions. Hitler called for irredentist German claims to be reclaimed along with the creation of German Lebensraum ("living space") in Eastern Europe, including territories held by the Soviet Union, that would be colonized by Germans.
From 1935 to 1939, Germany and Italy escalated their demands for territorial claims and greater influence in world affairs. Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 resulting in its condemnation by the League of Nations and its widespread diplomatic isolation. In 1936, Germany remilitarized the industrial Rhineland, a region that had been ordered demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938, Germany annexed Austria and Italy assisted Germany in resolving the diplomatic crisis between Germany versus Britain and France over claims on Czechoslovakia by arranging the Munich Agreement that gave Germany the Sudetenland and was perceived at the time to have averted a European war. These hopes faded when Hitler violated the Munich Agreement by ordering the invasion and partition of Czechoslovakia between Germany and a client state of Slovakia in 1939. At the same time from 1938 to 1939, Italy was demanding territorial and colonial concessions from France and Britain. In 1939, Germany prepared for war with Poland, but attempted to gain territorial concessions from Poland through diplomatic means. The Polish government did not trust Hitler's promises and refused to accept Germany's demands.
The invasion of Poland by Germany was deemed unacceptable by Britain, France and their allies, resulting in their mutual declaration of war against Germany that was deemed the aggressor in the war in Poland, resulting in the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity to carry out a long war with France or the United Kingdom and waited until France was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender from the German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940 on the assumption that the war would be short-lived following France's collapse. Mussolini believed that following a brief entry of Italy into war with France, followed by the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain some territorial concessions from France and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. Plans by Germany to invade the United Kingdom in 1940 failed after Germany lost the aerial warfare campaign in the Battle of Britain. In 1941, the Axis campaign spread to the Soviet Union after Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Axis forces at the height of their power controlled almost all of continental Europe. The war became prolonged—contrary to Mussolini's plans—resulting in Italy losing battles on multiple fronts and requiring German assistance.
After 1942, Axis forces began to falter. In 1943, after Italy faced multiple military failures, the complete reliance and subordination of Italy to Germany, the Allied invasion of Italy and the corresponding international humiliation, Mussolini was removed as head of government and arrested on the order of King Victor Emmanuel III, who proceeded to dismantle the Fascist state and declared Italy's switching of allegiance to the Allied side. Mussolini was rescued from arrest by German forces and led the German client state, the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany faced multiple losses and steady Soviet and Western Allied offensives from 1943 to 1945.
On 28 April 1945, Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian communist partisans. On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide. Shortly afterwards, Germany surrendered and the Nazi regime was systematically dismantled by the occupying Allied powers. An International Military Tribunal was subsequently convened in Nuremberg. Beginning in November 1945 and lasting through 1949, numerous Nazi political, military and economic leaders were tried and convicted of war crimes, with many of the worst offenders receiving the death penalty.
The victory of the Allies over the Axis powers in World War II led to the collapse of many fascist regimes in Europe. The Nuremberg Trials convicted several Nazi leaders of crimes against humanity involving the Holocaust. However, there remained several movements and governments that were ideologically related to fascism.
Francisco Franco's Falangist one-party state in Spain was officially neutral during World War II and it survived the collapse of the Axis Powers. Franco's rise to power had been directly assisted by the militaries of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War and Franco had sent volunteers to fight on the side of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union during World War II. The first years were characterized by a repression against the anti-fascist ideologies, a deep censorship and the suppression of democratic institutions (elected Parliament, Constitution of 1931, Regional Statutes of Autonomy). After World War II and a period of international isolation, Franco's regime normalized relations with the Western powers during the Cold War, until Franco's death in 1975 and the transformation of Spain into a liberal democracy.
Historian Robert Paxton observes that one of the main problems in defining fascism is that it was widely mimicked. Paxton says: "In fascism's heyday, in the 1930s, many regimes that were not functionally fascist borrowed elements of fascist decor in order to lend themselves an aura of force, vitality, and mass mobilization". He goes on to observe that Salazar "crushed Portuguese fascism after he had copied some of its techniques of popular mobilization".  Paxton says that: "Where Franco subjected Spain’s fascist party to his personal control, Salazar abolished outright in July 1934 the nearest thing Portugal had to an authentic fascist movement, Rolão Preto’s blue-shirted National Syndicalists […] Salazar preferred to control his population through such “organic” institutions traditionally powerful in Portugal as the Church. Salazar's regime was not only non-fascist, but “voluntarily non-totalitarian,” preferring to let those of its citizens who kept out of politics “live by habit". Historians tend to view the Estado Novo as para-fascist in nature, possessing minimal fascist tendencies. In Argentina, Peronism, associated with the regime of Juan Perón from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974, was influenced by fascism. Between 1939 and 1941, prior to his rise to power, Perón had developed a deep admiration of Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on Italian Fascist policies.
The term neo-fascism refers to fascist movements after World War II. In Italy, the Italian Social Movement led by Giorgio Almirante was a major neo-fascist movement that transformed itself into a self-described "post-fascist" movement called the National Alliance (AN), which has been an ally of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia for a decade. In 2008, AN joined Forza Italia in Berlusconi's new party The People of Freedom, but in 2012 a group of politicians split from The People of Freedom, refounding the party with the name Brothers of Italy. In Germany, various neo-Nazi movements have been formed and banned in accordance with Germany's constitutional law which forbids Nazism. The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) is widely considered a neo-Nazi party, although the party does not publicly identify itself as such.
After the onset of the Great Recession and economic crisis in Greece, a movement known as the Golden Dawn, widely considered a neo-Nazi party, soared in support out of obscurity and won seats in Greece's parliament, espousing a staunch hostility towards minorities, illegal immigrants and refugees. In 2013, after the murder of an anti-fascist musician by a person with links to Golden Dawn, the Greek government ordered the arrest of Golden Dawn's leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other Golden Dawn members on charges related to being associated with a criminal organization.
Robert O. Paxton finds that the transformations undertaken by fascists in power were "profound enough to be called 'revolutionary.'" They "often set fascists into conflict with conservatives rooted in families, churches, social rank, and property." Paxton argues:
[F]ascism redrew the frontiers between private and public, sharply diminishing what had once been untouchably private. It changed the practice of citizenship from the enjoyment of constitutional rights and duties to participation in mass ceremonies of affirmation and conformity. It reconfigured relations between the individual and the collectivity, so that an individual had no rights outside community interest. It expanded the powers of the executive—party and state—in a bid for total control. Finally, it unleashed aggressive emotions hitherto known in Europe only during war or social revolution.
Neither organized socialism nor the Italian liberals championed the democratic demands of the left nationalists. Fascism stepped into this vacuum, constituting itself as an antisocialist and antiliberal civil society movement. It was the failure of this counterhegemonic movement that would lead to the fascist seizure of power. Veterans' organizations are the clearest manifestation of civic mobilization in postwar Italy.
The fascist view of a nation is of a single organic entity that binds people together by their ancestry and is a natural unifying force of people. 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. European fascist movements typically espouse a racist conception of non-Europeans being inferior to Europeans. Beyond this, fascists in Europe have not held a unified set of racial views. Historically, most fascists promoted imperialism, although there have been several fascist movements that were uninterested in the pursuit of new imperial ambitions.
Fascism promotes the establishment of a totalitarian state. It opposes liberal democracy, rejects multi-party systems and supports a one-party state. Mussolini's The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) – partly ghostwritten by philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who Mussolini described as "the philosopher 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". 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".
Fascist states pursued policies of social indoctrination through propaganda in education and the media and regulation of the production of educational and media materials. 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.
Fascism presented itself as a third position, alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism. While fascism opposed mainstream socialism, it sometimes regarded itself as a type of nationalist "socialism" to highlight their commitment to national solidarity and unity. Fascists opposed international free market capitalism, but supported a type of productive capitalism. Economic self-sufficiency, known as autarky, was a major goal of most fascist governments.
Fascist governments advocated resolution of domestic class conflict within a nation in order to secure national solidarity. This would be done through the state mediating relations between the classes (contrary to the views of classical liberal-inspired capitalists). While fascism was opposed to domestic class conflict, it was held that bourgeois-proletarian conflict existed primarily in national conflict between proletarian nations versus bourgeois nations. Fascism condemned what it viewed as widespread character traits that it associated as the typical bourgeois mentality that it opposed, such as materialism, crassness, cowardice, inability to comprehend the heroic ideal of the fascist "warrior"; and associations with liberalism, individualism and parliamentarianism. In 1918, Mussolini defined what he viewed as the proletarian character, defining proletarian as being one and the same with producers, a productivist perspective that associated all people deemed productive, including entrepreneurs, technicians, workers and soldiers as being proletarian. He acknowledged the historical existence of both bourgeois and proletarian producers, but declared the need for bourgeois producers to merge with proletarian producers.
While fascism denounced the mainstream internationalist and Marxist socialisms, it claimed to economically represent a type of nationalist productivist socialism that while condemning parasitical capitalism, it was willing to accommodate productivist capitalism within it. This was derived from Henri de Saint Simon, whose ideas inspired the creation of utopian socialism and influenced other ideologies, that stressed solidarity rather than class war and whose conception of productive people in the economy included both productive workers and productive bosses to challenge the influence of the aristocracy and unproductive financial speculators. Saint Simon's vision combined the traditionalist right-wing criticisms of the French Revolution combined with a left-wing belief in the need for association or collaboration of productive people in society. Whereas Marxism condemned capitalism as a system of exploitative property relations, fascism saw the nature of the control of credit and money in the contemporary capitalist system as abusive. Unlike Marxism, fascism did not see class conflict between the Marxist-defined proletariat and the bourgeoisie as a given or as an engine of historical materialism. Instead, it viewed workers and productive capitalists in common as productive people who were in conflict with parasitic elements in society including: corrupt political parties, corrupt financial capital and feeble people. Fascist leaders such as Mussolini and Hitler spoke of the need to create a new managerial elite led by engineers and captains of industry—but free from the parasitic leadership of industries. Hitler stated that the Nazi Party supported bodenständigen Kapitalismus ("productive capitalism") that was based upon profit earned from one's own labour, but condemned unproductive capitalism or loan capitalism, which derived profit from speculation.
Fascist economics supported a state-controlled economy that accepted a mix of private and public ownership over the means of production. Economic planning was applied to both the public and private sector and the prosperity of private enterprise depended on its acceptance of synchronizing itself with the economic goals of the state. Fascist economic ideology supported the profit motive, but emphasized that industries must uphold the national interest as superior to private profit.
While fascism accepted the importance of material wealth and power, it condemned materialism which identified as being present in both communism and capitalism and criticized materialism for lacking acknowledgement of the role of the spirit. In particular, fascists criticized capitalism not because of its competitive nature nor support of private property, which fascists supported—but due to its materialism, individualism, alleged bourgeois decadence and alleged indifference to the nation. Fascism denounced Marxism for its advocacy of materialist internationalist class identity, which fascists regarded as an attack upon the emotional and spiritual bonds of the nation and a threat to the achievement of genuine national solidarity.
In discussing the spread of fascism beyond Italy, historian Philip Morgan states:
Since the Depression was a crisis of laissez-faire capitalism and its political counterpart, parliamentary democracy, fascism could pose as the 'third-way' alternative between capitalism and Bolshevism, the model of a new European 'civilization'. As Mussolini typically put it in early 1934, "from 1929...fascism has become a universal phenomenon... The dominant forces of the 19th century, democracy, socialism, liberalism have been exhausted...the new political and economic forms of the twentieth-century are fascist'(Mussolini 1935: 32).
Fascists criticized egalitarianism as preserving the weak, and they instead promoted social Darwinist views and policies. They were in principle opposed to the idea of social welfare, arguing that it "encouraged the preservation of the degenerate and the feeble." The Nazi Party condemned the welfare system of the Weimar Republic, as well as private charity and philanthropy, for supporting people whom they regarded as racially inferior and weak, and who should have been weeded out in the process of natural selection. Nevertheless, faced with the mass unemployment and poverty of the Great Depression, the Nazis found it necessary to set up charitable institutions to help racially-pure Germans in order to maintain popular support, while arguing that this represented "racial self-help" and not indiscriminate charity or universal social welfare. Thus, Nazi programs such as the Winter Relief of the German People and the broader National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV) were organized as quasi-private institutions, officially relying on private donations from Germans to help others of their race—although in practice those who refused to donate could face severe consequences. Unlike the social welfare institutions of the Weimar Republic and the Christian charities, the NSV distributed assistance on explicitly racial grounds. It provided support only to those who were "racially sound, capable of and willing to work, politically reliable, and willing and able to reproduce." Non-Aryans were excluded, as well as the "work-shy", "asocials" and the "hereditarily ill." Under these conditions, by 1939, over 17 million Germans had obtained assistance from the NSV, and the agency "projected a powerful image of caring and support" for "those who were judged to have got into difficulties through no fault of their own." Yet the organization was "feared and disliked among society's poorest" because it resorted to intrusive questioning and monitoring to judge who was worthy of support.
Fascism emphasizes direct action, including supporting the legitimacy of political violence, as a core part of its politics. Fascism views violent action as a necessity in politics that fascism identifies as being an "endless struggle". This emphasis on the use of political violence means that most fascist parties have also created their own private militias (e.g. the Nazi Party's Brown shirts and Fascist Italy's Blackshirts).
The basis of fascism's support of violent action in politics is connected to social Darwinism. Fascist movements have commonly held social Darwinist views of nations, races and societies. They say 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.
Fascism emphasizes youth both in a physical sense of age and in a spiritual sense as related to virility and commitment to action. The Italian Fascists' political anthem was called Giovinezza ("The Youth"). Fascism identifies the physical age period of youth as a critical time for the moral development of people who will affect society.
Walter Laqueur argues that:
Italian Fascism pursued what it called "moral hygiene" of youth, particularly regarding sexuality. Fascist Italy promoted what it considered normal sexual behaviour in youth while denouncing what it considered deviant sexual behaviour. It condemned pornography, most forms of birth control and contraceptive devices (with the exception of the condom), homosexuality and prostitution as deviant sexual behaviour, although enforcement of laws opposed to such practices was erratic and authorities often turned a blind eye. Fascist Italy regarded the promotion of male sexual excitation before puberty as the cause of criminality amongst male youth, declared homosexuality a social disease and pursued an aggressive campaign to reduce prostitution of young women.
Mussolini perceived women's primary role as primarily child bearers and men, warriors—once saying: "War is to man what maternity is to the woman". In an effort to increase birthrates, the Italian Fascist government gave financial incentives to women who raised large families and initiated policies intended to reduce the number of women employed. 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. In 1934, Mussolini declared that employment of women was a "major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment" 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".
The German Nazi government strongly encouraged women to stay at home to bear children and keep house. This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more children. 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.
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. For non-Aryans, abortion was often compulsory. Their eugenics program also stemmed from the "progressive biomedical model" of Weimar Germany. In 1935, Nazi Germany expanded the legality of abortion by amending its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women with hereditary disorders. The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission and the fetus was not yet viable and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.
The Nazis said that homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, perverted and undermined masculinity because it did not produce children. 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. Open homosexuals were interned in Nazi concentration camps.
Fascism emphasizes both palingenesis (national rebirth or re-creation) and modernism. In particular, fascism's nationalism has been identified as having a palingenetic character. Fascism promotes the regeneration of the nation and purging it of decadence. Fascism accepts forms of modernism that it deems promotes national regeneration while rejecting forms of modernism that are regarded as antithetical to national regeneration. Fascism aestheticized modern technology and its association with speed, power and violence. Fascism admired advances in the economy in the early 20th century, particularly Fordism and scientific management. Fascist modernism has been recognized as inspired or developed by various figures—such as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Ernst Jünger, Gottfried Benn, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Knut Hamsun, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis.
In Italy, such modernist influence was exemplified by Marinetti who advocated a palingenetic modernist society that condemned liberal-bourgeois values of tradition and psychology, while promoting a technological-martial religion of national renewal that emphasized militant nationalism. In Germany, it was exemplified by Jünger who was influenced by his observation of the technological warfare during World War I and claimed that a new social class had been created that he described as the "warrior-worker". Jünger like Marinetti emphasized the revolutionary capacities of technology and emphasized an "organic construction" between human and machine as a liberating and regenerative force in that challenged liberal democracy, conceptions of individual autonomy, bourgeois nihilism and decadence. He conceived of a society based on a totalitarian concept of "total mobilization" of such disciplined warrior-workers.
Fascism has been widely criticized and condemned in modern times since the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II.
Some critics of Italian fascism have said that much of the ideology was merely a by-product of unprincipled opportunism by Mussolini and that he changed his political stances merely to bolster his personal ambitions while he disguised them as being purposeful to the public. Richard Washburn Child, the American ambassador to Italy who worked with Mussolini and became his friend and admirer, defended Mussolini's opportunistic behaviour by writing: "Opportunist is a term of reproach used to brand men who fit themselves to conditions for the reasons of self-interest. Mussolini, as I have learned to know him, is an opportunist in the sense that he believed that mankind itself must be fitted to changing conditions rather than to fixed theories, no matter how many hopes and prayers have been expended on theories and programmes". Child quoted Mussolini as saying: "The sanctity of an ism is not in the ism; it has no sanctity beyond its power to do, to work, to succeed in practice. It may have succeeded yesterday and fail to-morrow. Failed yesterday and succeed to-morrow. The machine first of all must run!".
Some have criticized Mussolini's actions during the outbreak of World War I as opportunist for seeming to suddenly abandon Marxist egalitarian internationalism for non-egalitarian nationalism and note to that effect that upon Mussolini endorsing Italy's intervention in the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, he and the new fascist movement received financial support from foreign sources, such as Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies as well as the British Security Service MI5. Some, including Mussolini's socialist opponents at the time, have noted that regardless of the financial support he accepted for his pro-interventionist stance, Mussolini was free to write whatever he wished in his newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia without prior sanctioning from his financial backers. Furthermore, the major source of financial support that Mussolini and the fascist movement received in World War I was from France and is widely believed to have been French socialists who supported the French government's war against Germany and who sent support to Italian socialists who wanted Italian intervention on France's side.
Mussolini's transformation away from Marxism into what eventually became fascism began prior to World War I, as Mussolini had grown increasingly pessimistic about Marxism and egalitarianism while becoming increasingly supportive of figures who opposed egalitarianism, such as Friedrich Nietzsche. By 1902, Mussolini was studying Georges Sorel, Nietzsche and Vilfredo Pareto. Sorel's emphasis on the need for overthrowing decadent liberal democracy and capitalism by the use of violence, direct action, general strikes and neo-Machiavellian appeals to emotion impressed Mussolini deeply. Mussolini's use of Nietzsche made him a highly unorthodox socialist, due to Nietzsche's promotion of elitism and anti-egalitarian views. Prior to World War I, Mussolini's writings over time indicated that he had abandoned the Marxism and egalitarianism that he had previously supported in favour of Nietzsche's übermensch concept and anti-egalitarianism. In 1908, Mussolini wrote a short essay called "Philosophy of Strength" based on his Nietzschean influence, in which Mussolini openly spoke fondly of the ramifications of an impending war in Europe in challenging both religion and nihilism: "[A] new kind of free spirit will come, strengthened by the war, ... a spirit equipped with a kind of sublime perversity, ... a new free spirit will triumph over God and over Nothing".
Fascism has been criticized for being ideologically dishonest. Major examples of ideological dishonesty have been identified in Italian fascism's changing relationship with German Nazism. Fascist Italy's official foreign policy positions were known to commonly utilize rhetorical ideological hyperbole to justify its actions, although during Dino Grandi's tenure as Italy's foreign minister the country engaged in realpolitik free of such fascist hyperbole. Italian fascism's stance towards German Nazism fluctuated from support from the late 1920s to 1934, when it celebrated Hitler's rise to power and meeting with Hitler in 1934; to opposition from 1934 to 1936 after the assassination of Italy's allied leader in Austria, Engelbert Dollfuss, by Austrian Nazis; and again back to support after 1936, when Germany was the only significant power that did not denounce Italy's invasion and occupation of Ethiopia.
After antagonism exploded between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy over the assassination of Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss in 1934, Mussolini and Italian fascists denounced and ridiculed Nazism's racial theories, particularly by denouncing its Nordicism, while promoting Mediterraneanism. Mussolini himself responded to Nordicists' claims of Italy being divided into Nordic and Mediterranean racial areas due to Germanic invasions of Northern Italy by claiming that while Germanic tribes such as the Lombards took control of Italy after the fall of Ancient Rome, they arrived in small numbers (about 8,000) and quickly assimilated into Roman culture and spoke the Latin language within fifty years. Italian fascism was influenced by the tradition of Italian nationalists scornfully looking down upon Nordicists' claims and taking pride in comparing the age and sophistication of ancient Roman civilization as well as the classical revival in the Renaissance to that of Nordic societies that Italian nationalists described as "newcomers" to civilization in comparison. At the height of antagonism between the Nazis and Italian fascists over race, Mussolini claimed that the Germans themselves were not a pure race and noted with irony that the Nazi theory of German racial superiority was based on the theories of non-German foreigners, such as Frenchman Arthur de Gobineau. After the tension in German-Italian relations diminished during the late 1930s, Italian fascism sought to harmonize its ideology with German Nazism and combined Nordicist and Mediterranean racial theories, noting that Italians were members of the Aryan Race, composed of a mixed Nordic-Mediterranean subtype.
In 1938, Mussolini declared upon Italy's adoption of antisemitic laws that Italian fascism had always been antisemitic, In fact, Italian fascism did not endorse antisemitism until the late 1930s when Mussolini feared alienating antisemitic Nazi Germany, whose power and influence were growing in Europe. Prior to that period there had been notable Jewish Italians who had been senior Italian fascist officials, including Margherita Sarfatti, who had also been Mussolini's mistress. Also contrary to Mussolini's claim in 1938, only a small number of Italian fascists were staunchly antisemitic (such as Roberto Farinacci and Giuseppe Preziosi), while others such as Italo Balbo, who came from Ferrara which had one of Italy's largest Jewish communities, were disgusted by the antisemitic laws and opposed them. Fascism scholar Mark Neocleous notes that while Italian fascism did not have a clear commitment to antisemitism, there were occasional antisemitic statements issued prior to 1938, such as Mussolini in 1919 declaring that the Jewish bankers in London and New York were connected by race to the Russian Bolsheviks and that eight percent of the Russian Bolsheviks were Jews.
This emendation allowed abortion only if the woman granted permission, and only if the fetus was not old enough to survive outside the womb. It is unclear if either of these qualifications was enforced.
Abortion, in other words, could be allowed if it was in the interest of racial hygiene ... the Nazis did allow (and in some cases even required) abortions for women deemed racially inferior ... On November 10, 1938, a Luneberg court declared abortion legal for Jews.
In 1939, it was announced that Jewish women could seek abortions, but non-Jewish women could not.
Anti-fascism is opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals. The anti-fascist movement began in a few European countries in the 1920s, and eventually spread to other countries around the world. It was at its most significant shortly before and during World War II, where the fascist Axis powers were opposed by many countries forming the Allies of World War II and dozens of resistance movements worldwide. Anti-fascism has been an element of movements holding many different political positions, including social democratic, nationalist, liberal, conservative, communist, Marxist, trade unionist, anarchist, socialist, pacifist and centrist viewpoints.Austrofascism
Austrofascism (German: Austrofaschismus) was the authoritarian system installed in Austria with the May Constitution of 1934, which ceased with the annexation of the newly founded Federal State of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938. It was based on a ruling party, the Fatherland Front (Vaterländische Front) and the Heimwehr (Home Guard) paramilitary militia. Leaders were Engelbert Dollfuss and, after Dollfuss's assassination, Kurt Schuschnigg, who were previously politicians of the Christian Social Party, which was quickly integrated into the new movement.
Austrofascism, which was Catholic and corporatist and espoused Austrian nationalism, must be contrasted with Austrian National Socialism, which was pan-German and anti-semitic in outlook.Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (Italian: [beˈniːto mussoˈliːni]; 29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from his golpe in 1922 to 1943, and Duce of Fascism from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.A journalist and politician, Mussolini had been a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) from 1910 to 1914, but was expelled from the PSI for advocating military intervention in World War I, in opposition to the party's stance on neutrality. Mussolini served in the Royal Italian Army during the war until he was wounded and discharged in 1917. Mussolini denounced the PSI, his views now centering on nationalism instead of socialism and later founded the fascist movement which came to oppose egalitarianism and class conflict, instead advocating "revolutionary nationalism" transcending class lines. Following the March on Rome in October 1922, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history until the appointment of Matteo Renzi in February 2014. After removing all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labor strikes, Mussolini and his followers consolidated their power through a series of laws that transformed the nation into a one-party dictatorship. Within five years, Mussolini had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means and aspired to create a totalitarian state. In 1929, Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the Vatican, ending decades of struggle between the Italian state and the Papacy, and recognized the independence of Vatican City.
Mussolini's foreign policy aimed to expand the sphere of influence of Italian fascism. In 1923, he began the "Pacification of Libya" and ordered the bombing of Corfu in retaliation for the murder of an Italian general. In 1936, Mussolini formed Italian East Africa (AOI) by merging Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia following the Abyssinian crisis and the Second Italo–Ethiopian War. In 1939, Italian forces occupied Albania. Between 1936 and 1939, Mussolini ordered the successful Italian military intervention in Spain in favor of Francisco Franco during the Spanish civil war. At the same time, Mussolini's Italy tried to avoid the outbreak of a second global war and took part in the Stresa front, the Lytton Report, the Treaty of Lausanne, the Four-Power Pact and the Munich Agreement. However, Italy distanced Britain and France by forming the axis powers with Germany and Japan. Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, resulting in declarations of war by France and the UK and the start of World War II.
On 10 June 1940—with the Fall of France imminent—Italy officially entered the war and occupied parts of south-east France, Corsica and Tunisia. Mussolini planned to concentrate Italian forces on a major offensive against the British Empire in Africa and the Middle East, while expecting the collapse of the UK in the European theatre. The Italians invaded Egypt, bombed Mandatory Palestine, and occupied British Somaliland with initial success. However, the British government refused to accept proposals for a peace that would involve accepting Axis victories in Eastern and Western Europe; plans for an invasion of the UK did not proceed and the war continued. In October 1940, Mussolini sent Italian forces into Greece, starting the Greco-Italian War. The British air force prevented the Italian invasion and allowed the Greeks to push the Italians back to Albania.The Balkan campaign was significantly prolonged until the definition of the Axis occupation of Greece and Yugoslavia. Furthermore, the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour forced Mussolini to send an Italian army in Russia and declare war on the United States. Mussolini was aware that Italy, whose resources were reduced by the campaigns of the 1930s, was not ready for a long conflict against three superpowers but opted to remain in the conflict to not abandon the fascist imperial ambitions. In 1943, Italy suffered major disasters: by February the Red Army had completely destroyed the Italian Army in Russia; in May the Axis collapsed in North Africa despite previous Italian resistance at the second battle of El Alamein. On 9 July the Anglo-Americans invaded Sicily; and by the 16th it became clear the German summer offensive in the USSR had failed. As a consequence, early on 25 July, the Grand Council of Fascism passed a motion of no confidence for Mussolini; later that day the King dismissed him as head of government and had him placed in custody, appointing Pietro Badoglio to succeed him as Prime Minister.
After the king agreed the armistice with the allies, on 12 September 1943 Mussolini was rescued from captivity in the Gran Sasso raid by German paratroopers and Waffen-SS commandos led by Major Otto-Harald Mors. Adolf Hitler, after meeting with the rescued former dictator, then put Mussolini in charge of a puppet regime in northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic (Italian: Repubblica Sociale Italiana, RSI), informally known as the Salò Republic. In late April 1945, in the wake of near total defeat, Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci attempted to flee to Switzerland, but both were captured by Italian communist partisans and summarily executed by firing squad on 28 April 1945 near Lake Como. His body was then taken to Milan, where it was hung upside down at a service station to publicly confirm his demise.British Fascism
British Fascism is the form of fascism promoted by some political parties and movements in the UK. It was based on British nationalism with aspects of Italian Fascism and Nazism before and after World War II.Historical examples of fascist movements in Britain include the British Fascists (1923–1934), the Imperial Fascist League (1929–1939), and the British Union of Fascists (1932–1940). More recent examples of British fascist groups include the British Movement (1968–1983), National Front (1967–present), Britain First (2011–present) and National Action (2013–2017).Christofascism
Christofascism is a combination of Christian and fascism coined by Dorothee Sölle in 1970. Sölle, a liberation theology proponent, used the term to describe the Christian church which she characterized as totalitarian and imperialistic.Clerical fascism
Clerical fascism (also clero-fascism or clerico-fascism) is an ideology that combines the political and economic doctrines of fascism with clericalism. The term has been used to describe organizations and movements that combine religious elements with fascism, support by religious organizations for fascism, or fascist regimes in which clergy play a leading role.Corporatism
Corporatism is a political ideology which advocates the organization of society by corporate groups, such as agricultural, labour, military, scientific, or guild associations on the basis of their common interests. The idea is that when each group performs its designated function, society will function harmoniously — like a human body (corpus) from which its name derives.
Corporatist ideas have been expressed since Ancient Greek and Roman societies, with integration into Catholic social teaching and Christian democracy political parties. They have been paired by various advocates and implemented in various societies with a wide variety of political systems, including authoritarianism, absolutism, fascism, liberalism and socialism.Corporatism may also refer to economic tripartism involving negotiations between labour and business interest groups and the government to establish economic policy. This is sometimes also referred to as neo-corporatism and is associated with social democracy.Crypto-fascism
Crypto-fascism is the secret support for, or admiration of, fascism. The term is used to imply that an individual or group keeps this support or admiration hidden to avoid political persecution or political suicide. The common usage is "crypto-fascist", one who practices this support.Definitions of fascism
What constitutes a definition of fascism and fascist governments has been a complicated and highly disputed subject concerning the exact nature of fascism and its core tenets debated amongst historians, political scientists, and other scholars since Benito Mussolini first used the term in 1915.
A significant number of scholars agree that a "fascist regime" is foremost an authoritarian form of government, although not all authoritarian regimes are fascist. Authoritarianism is thus a defining characteristic, but most scholars will say that more distinguishing traits are needed to make an authoritarian regime fascist.Similarly, fascism as an ideology is also hard to define. Originally, it referred to a totalitarian political movement linked with corporatism which existed in Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. Many scholars use the word "fascism" without capitalization in a more general sense, to refer to an ideology (or group of ideologies) which was influential in many countries at many different times. For this purpose, they have sought to identify what Roger Griffin calls a "fascist minimum"—that is, the minimum conditions that a certain political movement must meet in order to be considered "fascist".Scholars have inspected the apocalyptic, millennial and millenarianism aspects of fascism.Falangism
Falangism (Spanish: falangismo) was the political ideology of the Falange Española de las JONS and afterwards, of the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (both known simply as the "Falange") as well as derivatives of it in other countries. Under the leadership of Francisco Franco, it largely became an authoritarian, conservative ideology connected with Francoist Spain.Opponents of Franco's changes to the party included former Falange leader Manuel Hedilla. Falangism places a strong emphasis on Catholic religious identity, though it has held some secular views on the Church's direct influence in society as it believed that the state should have the supreme authority over the nation. Falangism emphasized the need for total authority, hierarchy and order in society. Falangism is anti-communist, anti-democratic and anti-liberal; under Franco, the Falange abandoned its original anti-capitalist tendencies, declaring the ideology to be fully compatible with capitalism.The Falange's original manifesto, the "Twenty-Seven Points", declared Falangism to support the unity of Spain and the elimination of regional separatism, the establishment of a dictatorship led by the Falange, utilizing violence to regenerate Spain, and promoting the revival and development of the Spanish Empire. The manifesto supported a social revolution to create a national syndicalist economy that creates national syndicates of both employees and employers to mutually organize and control the economic activity, agrarian reform, industrial expansion and respect for private property with the exception of nationalizing credit facilities to prevent capitalist usury. It supports criminalization of strikes by employees and lockouts by employers as illegal acts. Falangism supports the state to have jurisdiction of setting wages. The Franco-era Falange supported the development of cooperatives such as the Mondragon Corporation because it bolstered the Francoist claim of the nonexistence of social classes in Spain during his rule.The Spanish Falange and its affiliates in Hispanic states across the world promoted a form of panhispanism known as hispanidad that advocated both cultural and economic union of Hispanic societies around the world.Falangism has attacked both the political left and the right as its "enemies", declaring itself to be neither left nor right, but a syncretic third position. However, scholarly sources reviewing Falangism place it on the far right.Fascism and ideology
The history of Fascist ideology is long and it also involves many sources. Fascists took inspiration from sources as ancient as the Spartans for their focus on racial purity and their emphasis on rule by an elite minority. Fascism has also been connected to the ideals of Plato, though there are key differences between the two. Fascism styled itself as the ideological successor to Rome, particularly the Roman Empire. The Enlightenment-era concept of a "high and noble" Aryan culture as opposed to a "parasitic" Semitic culture was core to Nazi racial views. From the same era, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's view on the absolute authority of the state also strongly influenced Fascist thinking. The French Revolution was a major influence insofar as the Nazis saw themselves as fighting back against many of the ideas which it brought to prominence, especially liberalism, liberal democracy and racial equality, whereas on the other hand Fascism drew heavily on the revolutionary ideal of nationalism. Common themes among fascist movements include; nationalism (including racial nationalism), hierarchy and elitism, militarism, quasi-religion, masculinity and voluntarism. Other aspects of fascism such as its "myth of decadence", anti‐egalitarianism and totalitarianism can be seen to originate from these ideas. These fundamental aspects however, can be attributed to a concept known as "Palingenetic ultranationalism", a theory proposed by Roger Griffin, that fascism is essentially populist ultranationalism sacralized through the myth of national rebirth and regeneration.
Its relationship with other ideologies of its day was complex, often at once adversarial and focused on co-opting their more popular aspects. Fascists supported limited, nominally private property rights and the profit motive of capitalism, but sought to eliminate the autonomy of large-scale capitalism by consolidating power with the state. They shared many of the goals of the conservatives of their day and often allied themselves with them by drawing recruits from disaffected conservative ranks, but presented themselves as holding a more modern ideology, with less focus on things like traditional religion. Fascism opposed the egalitarian (Völkisch equality) and international character of mainstream socialism, but sometimes sought to establish itself as an alternative "national" socialism. It strongly opposed liberalism and capitalism , as well as communism, anarchism, and social democracy.Islamofascism
"Islamic fascism" (first described in 1933), also known since 1990 as "Islamofascism", is a term drawing an analogy between the ideological characteristics of specific Islamist movements and a broad range of European fascist movements of the early 20th century, neofascist movements, or totalitarianism.Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism (Italian: fascismo italiano), also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist ideology as developed in Italy. The ideology is associated with a series of three political parties led by Benito Mussolini, namely the Revolutionary Fascist Party (PFR) founded in 1915, the succeeding National Fascist Party (PNF) which was renamed at the Third Fascist Congress on 7–10 November 1921 and ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943 and the Republican Fascist Party that ruled the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Italian Fascism is also associated with the post-war Italian Social Movement and subsequent Italian neo-fascist movements.
Italian Fascism was rooted in Italian nationalism, national syndicalism, revolutionary nationalism and the desire to restore and expand Italian territories, which Italian Fascists deemed necessary for a nation to assert its superiority and strength and to avoid succumbing to decay. Italian Fascists also claimed that modern Italy is the heir to ancient Rome and its legacy and historically supported the creation of an Italian Empire to provide spazio vitale ("living space") for colonization by Italian settlers and to establish control over the Mediterranean Sea.Italian Fascism promoted a corporatist economic system whereby employer and employee syndicates are linked together in associations to collectively represent the nation's economic producers and work alongside the state to set national economic policy. This economic system intended to resolve class conflict through collaboration between the classes.Italian Fascism opposed liberalism, especially classical liberalism that Mussolini and Fascist leaders denounced as "the debacle of individualism", but rather than seeking a reactionary restoration of the pre-French Revolutionary world which it considered to have been flawed, it had a forward-looking direction. Fascism was opposed to Marxist socialism because of its typical opposition to nationalism, but it was also opposed to the reactionary conservatism developed by Joseph de Maistre. It believed the success of Italian nationalism required respect for tradition and a clear sense of a shared past among the Italian people, alongside a commitment to a modernised Italy.While Fascism in Italy did not initially espouse the explicit Nordicism and antisemitism inherent to Nazi ideology, racist overtones were present in Fascist thought and policies from the beginning of Fascist rule of Italy. As Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany grew politically closer in the latter half of the 1930s, Italian laws and policies became explicitly antisemitic, including the passage of the Italian Racial Laws. When the Fascists were in power, they persecuted the Greek speakers in Italy.List of fascist movements
This article discusses regimes and movements that have described themselves as fascist, or are alleged to have been fascist or sympathetic to fascism.
It is often a matter of dispute whether a certain government is to be characterized as fascist (radical authoritarian nationalism), authoritarian, totalitarian, or a police state. The term "fascism" itself is controversial, and has been defined in various ways by different authors. Many of the regimes and movements discussed in this article can be considered fascist according to some definitions but not according to others. See definitions of fascism for more information on that subject.Nazism
National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), more commonly known as Nazism (), is the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party—officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP)—in Nazi Germany, and of other far-right groups with similar aims.
Nazism is a form of fascism and showed that ideology's disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system, but also incorporated fervent antisemitism, anti-communism, scientific racism, and eugenics into its creed. Its extreme nationalism came from Pan-Germanism and the Völkisch movement prominent in the German nationalism of the time, and it was strongly influenced by the Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged after Germany's defeat in World War I, from which came the party's "cult of violence" which was "at the heart of the movement."Nazism subscribed to pseudo-scientific theories of racial hierarchy and Social Darwinism, identifying the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race. It aimed to overcome social divisions and create a German homogeneous society based on racial purity which represented a people's community (Volksgemeinschaft). The Nazis aimed to unite all Germans living in historically German territory, as well as gain additional lands for German expansion under the doctrine of Lebensraum and exclude those who they deemed either community aliens or "inferior" races.
The term "National Socialism" arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of "socialism", as an alternative to both Marxist international socialism and free market capitalism. Nazism rejected the Marxist concepts of class conflict and universal equality, opposed cosmopolitan internationalism, and sought to convince all parts of the new German society to subordinate their personal interests to the "common good", accepting political interests as the main priority of economic organization.The Nazi Party's precursor, the Pan-German nationalist and antisemitic German Workers' Party, was founded on 5 January 1919. By the early 1920s the party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party—to attract workers away from left-wing parties such as the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Communists (KPD)—and Adolf Hitler assumed control of the organization. The National Socialist Program or "25 Points" was adopted in 1920 and called for a united Greater Germany that would deny citizenship to Jews or those of Jewish descent, while also supporting land reform and the nationalization of some industries. In Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"; 1924–1925), Hitler outlined the anti-Semitism and anti-Communism at the heart of his political philosophy, as well as his disdain for representative democracy and his belief in Germany's right to territorial expansion.The Nazi Party won the greatest share of the popular vote in the two Reichstag general elections of 1932, making them the largest party in the legislature by far, but still short of an outright majority. Because none of the parties were willing or able to put together a coalition government, in 1933 Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul Von Hindenburg, through the support and connivance of traditional conservative nationalists who believed that they could control him and his party. Through the use of emergency presidential decrees by Hindenburg, and a change in the Weimar Constitution which allowed the Cabinet to rule by direct decree, bypassing both Hindenburg and the Reichstag, the Nazis had soon established a one-party state.
The Sturmabteilung (SA) and the Schutzstaffel (SS) functioned as the paramilitary organizations of the Nazi Party. Using the SS for the task, Hitler purged the party's more socially and economically radical factions in the mid-1934 Night of the Long Knives, including the leadership of the SA. After the death of President Hindenburg, political power was concentrated in Hitler's hands and he became Germany's head of state as well as the head of the government, with the title of Führer, meaning "leader". From that point, Hitler was effectively the dictator of Nazi Germany, which was also known as the "Third Reich", under which Jews, political opponents and other "undesirable" elements were marginalized, imprisoned or murdered. Many millions of people were eventually exterminated in a genocide which became known as the Holocaust during World War II, including around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
Following Germany's defeat in World War II and the discovery of the full extent of the Holocaust, Nazi ideology became universally disgraced. It is widely regarded as immoral and evil, with only a few fringe racist groups, usually referred to as neo-Nazis, describing themselves as followers of National Socialism.Neo-fascism
Neo-fascism is a post–World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. Neo-fascism usually includes ultranationalism, racial supremacy, populism, authoritarianism, nativism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration, as well as opposition to liberal democracy, parliamentarianism, capitalism, Marxism, communism and socialism. Allegations that a group is neo-fascist may be hotly contested, especially if the term is used as a political epithet. Some post–World War II regimes have been described as neo-fascist due to their authoritarian nature, and sometimes due to their fascination with and sympathy towards fascist ideology and rituals.Post-fascism is a label that has been applied to several European political parties that espouse a modified form of fascism and which partake in constitutional politics.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, abbreviated as RSS (IAST: Rāṣṭrīya Svayamsevaka Saṅgha, IPA: [rɑːʂˈʈriːj(ə) swəjəmˈseːvək ˈsəŋɡʱ], lit. "National Volunteer Organisation" or "National Patriotic Organisation"), is an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation that is widely regarded as the parent organisation of the ruling party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The RSS is the progenitor and leader of a large body of organisations called the Sangh Parivar (the "family of the RSS"), which pervade all facets of the Indian society. Founded on 27 September 1925, the RSS is the world's largest voluntary organisation. It is the largest NGO in the world while the BJP is the largest political party in the worldThe initial impetus was to provide character training through Hindu discipline and to unite the Hindu community to form a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). The organisation promotes the ideals of upholding Indian culture and the values of a civil society and spreads the ideology of Hindutva, to "strengthen" the Hindu community. It drew initial inspiration from European right-wing groups during World War II. Gradually, RSS grew into a prominent Hindu nationalist umbrella organisation, spawning several affiliated organisations that established numerous schools, charities, and clubs to spread its ideological beliefs.The RSS was banned once during British rule, and then thrice by the post-independence Indian government – first in 1948 when a former RSS member assassinated Mahatma Gandhi; then during the emergency (1975–77); and for a third time after the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.Social fascism
Social fascism was a theory supported by the Communist International (Comintern) during the early 1930s, which held that social democracy was a variant of fascism because — in addition to a shared corporatist economic model — it stood in the way of a dictatorship of the proletariat. At the time, the leaders of the Comintern, such as Joseph Stalin and Rajani Palme Dutt, argued that capitalist society had entered the "Third Period" in which a working class revolution was imminent, but could be prevented by social democrats and other "fascist" forces. The term "social fascist" was used pejoratively to describe social democratic parties, anti-Comintern and progressive socialist parties and dissenters within Comintern affiliates throughout the interwar period.Statism in Shōwa Japan
Shōwa Statism (国家主義, Kokka Shugi) was a political syncretism of Japanese extreme right-wing political ideologies, developed over a period of time from the Meiji Restoration. It is sometimes also referred to as Shōwa nationalism or Japanese fascism.
This statist movement dominated Japanese politics during the first part of the Shōwa period (reign of Hirohito). It was a mixture of ideas such as Japanese ultranationalism, militarism and state capitalism, that were proposed by a number of contemporary political philosophers and thinkers in Japan.