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Introduction | Types of Fascism
Introduction Back to Top

Fascism is an authoritarian Nationalist political ideology that exalts nation (and often race) above the individual, and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. It often claims to be concerned with notions of cultural decline or decadence, and seeks to achieve a national rebirth by suppressing the interests of the individual, and instead promoting cults of unity, energy and purity.

In economics, Fascism sees itself as a third way between laissez-faire Capitalism on the one hand and Communism or Socialism on the other. It acknowledges the roles of private property and the profit motive as legitimate incentives for productivity, but only insofar as they do not conflict with the interests of the state. Fascist governments tend to nationalize key industries, closely manage their currencies and make massive state investments. They also tend to introduce price controls, wage controls and other types of economic planning measures (such as state-regulated allocation of resources, especially in the financial and raw materials sectors).

The term "fascismo" was coined by the Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (1883 - 1945) and the self-described "philosopher of Fascism" Giovanni Gentile (1875 - 1944). It is derived from the Latin word "fasces", an ancient Roman symbol consisting of a bundle of rods tied around an axe, used to suggest "strength through unity". It was originally used to refer specifically to Mussolini's political movement that ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943, but has subsequently also been used to describe other regimes.

Fascism usually involves some degree of some or all of the following elements:

  • Nationalism (based on the cultural, racial and/or religious attributes of a region).
  • Totalitarianism (state regulation of nearly every aspect of public and private sectors).
  • Statism (state intervention in personal, social or economic matters).
  • Patriotism (positive and supportive attitudes to a "fatherland").
  • Autocracy (political power in the hands of a single self-appointed ruler).
  • Militarism (maintaining of a strong military capability and being prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests).
  • Corporatism (encouragement of unelected bodies which exert control over the social and economic life of their respective areas).
  • Populism (direct appeals to the masses, usually by a charismatic leader).
  • Collectivism (stress on human interdependence rather than on the importance of separate individuals).

It usually also expresses opposition to the following:

  • Liberalism (policies of minimal interference by government, both politically and economically)
  • Communism (specifically Marxism, but generally any communal social organization).
  • Democracy (majority rule and competitive elections with freedom of speech, freedom of the press and some degree of rule of law).
  • Individualism (stress on human independence and the importance of individual self-reliance and liberty)
Types of Fascism Back to Top
  • Italian Fascism (in Italian, Fascismo) is the authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini (1883 - 1945). It is the original model which inspired other Fascist ideologies, and is generally referred to simply as Fascism. It grew out of Mussolini's desire to re-affirm Italian national identity and pride after so many centuries of disunity leading up to the unification of 1870. Similar movements appeared throughout the world (including Europe, Japan, and Latin America) between World War I and World War II.

  • Nazism (or National Socialism) refers to the ideology and practices of the German Nazi Party (or National Socialist German Workers' Party) under Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945) between 1933 and 1945. It was a strongly nationalist, totalitarian, racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Communist movement, which grew up in the aftermath of German humiliation after World War I, which was partly blamed on Germany's Jews. Hitler published his political beliefs in "Mein Kampf" in 1925 and, inspired by the Italian Fascism of Mussolini, assumed dictatorial powers as Chancellor in 1933. His belief in the superiority of an Aryan race and the possibilities of eugenics (racial purification), his fierce anti-Semitism and anti-Communism, combined with his militaristic and expansionist ambitions led to World War II, with its atrocities and genocide, eventual military defeat and the subsequent abandonment of Nazism as a viable ideology.

  • Clerical Fascism is an ideology that combines the political and economic doctrines of Fascism with theology or religious tradition. The term originally emerged in the 1920s referring to Catholic support for the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, but has since been applied to various regimes and movements, particularly in Europe and South America.

  • Neo-Fascism is any post-World War II ideology that includes significant elements of Fascism, or that expresses specific admiration for Benito Mussolini and Italian Fascism, again particularly in Europe and South America. It includes various Neo-Nazi movements, which can be found almost worldwide.

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