Fascism is a totalitarian nationalist and corporatist ideology. It is primarily concerned with perceived problems associated with cultural, economic, political, and social decline or decadence, and which seeks to solve such problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth by exalting the nation, as well as promoting cults of unity, strength and purity.

Various scholars attribute different characteristics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism (including national socialism, national syndicalism, economic nationalism, along with collectivism, mysticism and populism based on the nationalist values); corporatism (including class collaboration, economic planning, mixed economy, and third way); totalitarianism (including dictatorship, holism, major social interventionism, and statism); and militarism. Fascism opposes communism, conservatism, liberalism, and international socialism.

Some authors reject broad usage of the term or exclude certain parties and regimes. Following the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II, there have been few self-proclaimed fascist groups and individuals. In contemporary political discourse, the term fascist is often used by adherents of some ideologies as a pejorative description of their opponents.


The term fascismo was brought into popular usage by the Italian founders of Fascism, Benito Mussolini and the Neo-Hegelian philosopher Giovanni Gentile. It is derived from the Italian word fascio, which means "bundle" or "union", and from the Latin word fasces. The fasces, which consisted of a bundle of rods often tied around an axe, were an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrates; they were carried by his Lictors and could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command. Furthermore, the symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break. This is a familiar theme throughout different forms of fascism; for example the Falange symbol is a bunch of arrows joined together by a yoke.


The popular presentation of Fascism in the publications of the Anglosphere have been radically different in the period during and after World War II than in the period 1919—1939, when Mussolini and the Italian Fascists were widely acclaimed. As fascism was associated with the Axis powers who fought and lost the war, and the Anglosphere were mostly among the victorious Allied powers, it was difficult for many years to provide a neutral view of the topic. English-speaking (and other) historians, political scientists, and other scholars have engaged in long and furious debates concerning the exact nature of fascism. However since the 1990s scholars have begun to gather a rough consensus on the system's core tenets. Noted proponents include Stanley Payne, Hamish MacDonald, Roger Griffin, Nicholas Farrell and Robert O. Paxton.

While various attempts to define Fascism have been made, the problem scholars often run into is that each form of fascism is different from any other, leaving many definitions as too wide or too narrow. Below are two examples of attempts to define Fascism, in a concise, to the point form;

Political spectrum

The place of fascism in the political spectrum remains highly debated. Fascist leaders themselves produced different definitions of what part of the political spectrum their movement stood, in 1932, Mussolini professed about the twentieth century saying "This is a century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century". However many Italian Fascists like Benito Mussolini were ex-socialists and ex-syndicalists, and upon the Fascists being ousted and then reinstalled in the German puppet Italian Social Republic, Mussolini and the Fascists professed to be a left-wing movement. In practice, fascism opposed communism, conservatism and liberalism but also laissez faire capitalism and international socialism. Many scholars accept fascism as a search for a Third Way among these fields. Sir Oswald Mosley, for example, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, chose to describe his position as "hard centre" on the political spectrum. Scholar A. James Gregor asserts that the most "uninspired effort to understand fascism" is to simply place it on the right-wing, or the radical right as the common tendency was in the Anglosphere during the post-war period. While Walter Laqueur asserts that historical fascism "did not belong to the extreme Left, yet defining it as part of the extreme Right is not very illuminating either", but that it "was always a coalition between radical, populist ('fascist') elements and others gravitating toward the extreme Right". Since the end of World War II, many fascist movements have become more monolithically right-wing, and became intertwined with the radical right.

The original founders of Fascism in Italy were made up of people who were previously socialists, syndicalists, military men and anarchists but had become angered at the international left's opposition to patriotism and decided to form a new movement; Benito Mussolini, Michele Bianchi and Dino Grandi were all previously socialists. The biggest difference between the movements, is that fascism rejects the idea of class war in favor of class collaboration, while also rejecting socialist internationalism in favor of statist nationalism. Over time however, the Italian Fascists' more leftist social policies and some leftist economic policies were conceded by pressure of elites (of economic, cultural, and political background) and replaced them by more right-leaning policies, such as abandoning the Fascist Manifesto's initial promise of granting the right to vote for women, abandoning early promises to nationalize all property, and abandoning earlier overt militancy against political, cultural, and economic elites, such as the monarchy, aristocracy, clergy, businessmen, and landowners, and adopted a strategy of cooperation with them.

Post-war misusage

The word fascist has become a slur throughout the political spectrum following World War II, and it has been uncommon for political groups to call themselves fascist. Scholar Richard Griffiths asserted in 2005 that the term fascism is the "most misused, and over-used word of our times". In contemporary political discourse, adherents of some political ideologies tend to associate fascism with their enemies, or define it as the opposite of their own views. In the strict sense of the word, Fascism covers movements before WWII, and later movements who some claim have a vague connection to the original form are described as neo-fascist. Furthermore, in the post-war era, fascism has been improperly and commonly associated with white supremacism, anti-Semitism and racism which assumes fascism as being exclusive to caucasian societies when in fact, aside from fascist movements related to Nazism, other fascist movements have existed in non-caucasian societies and racially-mixed societies such as in Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and arguably the former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) under the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko. Some have argued that the term fascist has become hopelessly vague over the years and that it has become little more than a pejorative epithet, for example socialist George Orwell wrote in 1944:

Core tenets


Fascism sees the struggle of nation and race as fundamental in society, in opposition to communism's perception of class struggle and in opposition to capitalism's focus on the value of productivity, materialism, and individualism. The nation is seen in fascism as a single organic entity which bounds people together by their ancestry and is seen as a natural unifying force of people. Fascists promote the unification and expansion of influence, power, and/or territory of and for their nation.

National socialism and national syndicalism

While fascists support the unifying of workers to their cause along socialistic or syndicalistic lines, fascists specify that they advocate national socialism or national syndicalism which promotes the creation of a strong proletarian nation, but not a proletarian class. Also, national-socialistic fascists, unlike international socialists, do not believe in the notion of equality of people across ethnic, cultural, national, or religious lines. Fascists declare either nation or race as the supreme unifying source of a people, and claim that class divisions which they perceive as being imposed by capitalism, communism, and international socialism must be subdued to allow the nation or race to unify.

In the case of Italy, Fascism arose in the 1920s as a mixture of national syndicalist notions with an anti-materialist theory of the state. Many Italian Fascists were former international socialists who abandoned international socialism due to its perceived unpatriotic nature for being unwilling to support Italy's war against Austria-Hungary in World War I as international socialists condemned the conflict as being a "bourgeois war". While others with nationalist sympathies saw the war as necessary to reunite Italian territories in Austria to Italy to end what they perceived as national oppression of Italians in Austria-Hungary. Mussolini and other ex-socialists formed the Fascist movement in 1919 with a left-wing platform combined with nationalism in the Fascist Manifesto of 1919. Over time the Italian Fascists would drift rightward on social and economic policies, such as abandoning previous hostility to the monarchy, the Roman Catholic Church, and businesses in order to attract more support for the Fascist regime while retaining its nationalist agenda. Upon being ousted in 1943 and a new Fascist regime being created in the German puppet state of the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini briefly returned to earlier left-wing promises to attempt to regain support for the Fascist movement, such as advocating major nationalization of property and promoting the Fascist movement as a left-wing movement.

Fascists accused parliamentary democracy of producing division and decline, and wished to renew the nation from decadence. Fascists dismissed the Marxist concept of "class struggle" and oppose international socialists' promotion of internationalism instead of nationalism, by advocating "class collaboration" devoted to unifying the nation.

Nationalist-oriented collectivism, mysticism, and populism

Fascism appealed both to collectivism, mysticism, and populism along a basis that promoted nationalism. Fascism made populist appeals to the middle-class, especially the lower middle-class by promising the protection of the middle-class and small business and small property owners from communism such as by promising the protection of private property and an economy based on competition and profit while pledging to oppose big business. Fascism also has elements of populism that appealed to an Agrarian myth. Fascism also tends to be anti-intellectual. The Nazis in particular despised intellectuals and university professors. Hitler declared them unreliable, useless and even dangerous. Still, Hitler has been quoted as saying "When I take a look at the intellectual classes we have - unfortunately, I suppose, they are necessary; otherwise one could one day, I don't know, exterminate them or something - but unfortunately they're necessary.

Economic nationalism

Fascist regimes have advocated economic nationalism as a means to bolster their economies and economic conditions for society and reduce the country's dependence on other countries. To do this fascists promoted a policy called autarky which was designed to create a fully self-sufficient country which would no longer have any dependence on international trade.


Fascists promote corporatism, an economic system than is in between laissez-faire capitalist and statist economic systems of traditional communist and socialist governments. Corporatism is highly similar to Keynesianism which typically allows a significant degree of freedom from state intervention for private interests that are operating well independently or are outside of national interests, but if areas of the economy vital to national interests are operating poorly, or require direction to operate in accordance to national interest, state intervention is utilized.

Class collaboration

Under fascist corporatism, class collaboration is advocated as a means to solve class strife and create a unified society across class lines. Fascist corporatism opposes class conflict and class-based society as promoted by communism and international socialism and blamed capitalism for exploiting workers and nations. Managers and unions under corporatism were officially under mandated obligation to cooperate to settle disputes. Critics claim that in practice, corporatism in Germany and Italy under fascism typically favoured business and industrial interests over that of workers.

Economic planning

Fascists opposed what they believed to be laissez-faire or quasi-laissez-faire economic policies dominant in the era prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve and the Income Tax, and the subsequent Great Depression. People of many different political stripes blamed laissez-faire capitalism for the Great Depression, and fascists promoted their ideology as a "third way" between capitalism and Marxian socialism. Their policies manifested as a radical extension of government control over the economy without wholesale expropriation of the means of production. Fascist governments nationalized some key industries, managed their currencies and made some massive state investments. They also introduced price controls, wage controls and other types of economic planning measures. Fascist governments instituted state-regulated allocation of resources, especially in the financial and raw materials sectors.

Other than nationalization of certain industries, private property was allowed, but property rights and private initiative were contingent upon service to the state. For example, "an owner of agricultural land may be compelled to raise wheat instead of sheep and employ more labor than he would find profitable." According to historian Tibor Ivan Berend, dirigisme was an inherent aspect of fascist economies. The Labour Charter of 1927, promulgated by the Grand Council of Fascism, stated in article 7:

"The corporative State considers private initiative, in the field of production, as the most efficient and useful instrument of the Nation," then goes on to say in article 9 that: "State intervention in economic production may take place only where private initiative is lacking or is insufficient, or when are at stakes the political interest of the State. This intervention may take the form of control, encouragement or direct management."

Fascists thought that private property should be regulated to ensure that "benefit to the community precedes benefit to the individual. They also introduced price controls and other types of economic planning measures.

Fascism also operated from a Social Darwinist view of human relations. Their aim was to promote "superior" individuals and weed out the weak. In terms of economic practice, this meant promoting the interests of successful businessmen while destroying trade unions and other organizations of the working class. Historian Gaetano Salvemini argued in 1936 that fascism makes taxpayers responsible to private enterprise, because "the State pays for the blunders of private enterprise... Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social.

Fascists were most vocal in their opposition to finance capitalism, interest charging, and profiteering. Some fascists, particularly Nazis, considered finance capitalism a "parasitic" "Jewish conspiracy". Nevertheless, fascists also opposed Marxism and independent trade unions.

According to sociologist Stanislav Andreski, fascist economics "foreshadowed most of the fundamental features of the economic system of Western European countries today: the radical extension of government control over the economy without a wholesale expropriation of the capitalists but with a good dose of nationalisation, price control, incomes policy, managed currency, massive state investment, attempts at overall planning (less effectual than the Fascist because of the weakness of authority)." Politics professor Stephen Haseler credits fascism with providing a model of economic planning for social democracy.

In Nazi economic planning, in place of ordinary profit incentive to guide the economy, investment was guided through regulation to accord to the needs of the State. The profit incentive for business owners was retained, though greatly modified through various profit-fixing schemes: "Fixing of profits, not their suppression, was the official policy of the Nazi party." However the function of profit in automatically guiding allocation of investment and unconsciously directing the course of the economy was replaced with economic planning by Nazi government agencies.

Mixed economy

Fascist corporatism opposed what it deemed the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism and statist socialism. Unlike laissez-faire capitalist systems, fascist corporatism involved significant government intervention such as regulations, objectives, and nationalization of certain enterprises. Unlike statist socialist systems, fascist corporatism for the most part protected the right of private property and allowed significant independence for private free enterprise except in areas deemed vital to the national interest where private enterprise was not able to meet economic expectations of the state, in which such enterprises were nationalized. In Italy, the Fascist period presided over the creation of the largest number of state-owned enterprises in Western Europe such as the nationalization of petroleum companies in Italy into a single state enterprise called the Italian General Agency for Petroleum (Azienda Generale Italiani Petroli, AGIP). Fascists promoted their ideology as a "third way" between capitalism and Marxian socialism.


Fascism explicitly supports the creation of a totalitarian state. Italian Fascists declared the following:


A key element of fascism is its endorsement of the leadership over a country of a dictator, who is often known simply as the "Leader" (Duce in Italian, Führer in German, Caudillo in Spanish, and Conducător in Romanian). Fascist leaders that rule countries are not always heads of state, but heads of government, such as Benito Mussolini who held power under the largely figurehead King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III.


Fascism is typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic, by way of a strong, single-party government for enacting laws and a strong militia or police force for enforcing them through threat of reprisal against dissidents or through political violence directed at opponents. Fascism exalts the nation, state, or group of people as superior to the individuals composing it, and uses explicit populist rhetoric. It calls for a heroic mass effort to restore past greatness, and demands loyalty to a single leader, leading to a cult of personality and unquestioned obedience to orders (see Führerprinzip). Fascism is also considered to be a form of collectivism. Fascism promotes the indoctrination of people into the movement, such as through education, propaganda, and organizations.

Interventionist social policies

On the question of whether one can speak of “fascist social policy” as single concept with logical and internally consistent ideas and common identifiable goals, some scholars say that one cannot, pointing for example to German National Socialism where such policy was mostly opportunistic and pragmatic. Generally all fascist movements endorse social interventionism dedicating to influencing society to promote the state's interests.
Social welfare
Mussolini promised a “social revolution” for “remaking” the Italian people which was only achieved in part. The groups that primarily benefited from Italian Fascist social policy were the middle and lower-middle classes who filled the jobs in the vastly expanding government – the government expanding from about 500,000 to a million jobs in 1930 alone. Health and welfare spending grew dramatically under Italian fascism, welfare rising from 7% of the budget in 1930 to 20% in 1940. The Fascist government advocated a number of policies on improving living standards for labourers such as by establishing the nationwide Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro in 1925, which was a state-sponsored organization that created numerous municipal clubs across Italy that allowed lower-income citizens to attend recreational activities, watch movies, and listen to musical performances, etc.

Hitler was personally opposed to the idea of social welfare because, in his view, it encouraged the preservation of the degenerate and feeble. However, once in power the Nazis created welfare programs to deal with the large numbers of unemployment. Nevertheless, unlike social welfare programs in other countries, Nazi social welfare programs were residual, as they excluded certain people from the system whom they felt were incapable of helping themselves and would only pose a threat to the future health of the German people.

Positions on abortion and birth control
The Fascist government in Italy banned abortion and literature on birth control in 1926 and declared abortion and distribution of birth control literature as crimes against the state. A year later, the Fascist government began the "Battle for Births" in 1927, a social engineering policy aimed at increasing the population of Italians.

Nazi eugenics placed the improvement of the race through eugenics at the center of their concerns and targeted those humans they identified as "life unworthy of life" (German Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to mentally and physically disabled, homosexuals, feeble-minded, insane, and the weak. Adolf Hitler personally decriminalized abortion in case of fetuses having racial or hereditary defects, while the abortion of healthy "pure" German, "Aryan" unborn remained strictly forbidden. In fact, for non-Aryans abortion was not only allowed but often compelled. Like their forbears, the Neo-nazi position on abortion is not about preservation of life but propagation of the race; the Aryan Nation security chief stated: “I’m just against abortion for the pure white race. For blacks and other mongrelized races, abortion is a good idea.” The Nazis based their eugenics program on the United States' programs of forced sterilization. Their eugenics program stemmed also from the “progressive biomedical model” of Weimar Germany.

Positions on culture, gender roles and relations, and sexual orientation
Fascism also tends to promote principles of masculine heroism, militarism, and discipline; and rejects cultural pluralism and multiculturalism.

The Italian Fascist government during the "Battle for Births" gave financial incentives to women who raised large families as well as policies designed to reduce the number of women employed to allow women to give birth to larger numbers of children.

Nazi propaganda sometimes promoted pre- and extramarital sexual relations, unwed motherhood, and divorce and at other times opposed such behaviour. The growth of Nazi power, however, was accompanied by a breakdown of traditional sexual morals with regard to extramarital sex and licentiousness.

The Italian Fascist government declared homosexuality illegal in Italy in 1931.

The Nazis opposition to homosexuality was based on the Nazis view that homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, and perverted and undermined the masculinity which they promoted and because they did not produce children for the master race. Nevertheless the Nazis considered homosexuality curable through therapy. They explained it though modern scientism and the study of sexology which said that homosexuality could be felt by "normal" people and not just an abnormal minority. Critics have claimed that the Nazis' claim of scientific reasons for their promotion of racism, and hostility to homosexuals is pseudoscience, in that scientific findings were selectively picked that promoted their pre-existing views, while scientific findings opposing those views were rejected and not taken into account.

The Romanian Iron Guard opposed homosexuality as undermining society.


Fascists typically advocate a strong military that is capable of both defensive and offensive actions. In Germany and Italy under Hitler and Mussolini, enormous amounts of funding was dedicated to the military. In some fascist regimes, the fascist movement itself has a paramilitary wing which is included in the armed forces of the country, such as the SS in Germany and the MVSN in Italy, which are devoted directly and specifically to the fascist movement. The leaders of fascist movements often identify with the military, often wearing military-appearing uniforms. Fascism commits the state to mobilization for war, actively promoting military service as a position of honour.

Political violence

Fascists support the threat and use of political violence against political opponents or people that fascists deemed enemies of movement itself or their nation. In Italy, Fascists fought on the streets with communists and anarchists. In Germany, Nazis also fought on the streets with communists and anarchists along wtih attacking minority groups such as Jews who were deemed enemies according to Nazi doctrine.

Positions on racism

Initially Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were at odds over the idea of racism. Mussolini in the early 1930s claimed that the concept of a biologically-pure and superior race as believed by Hitler was flawed and impossible and saw racism as a flawed ideology. On the issue of social equality, Mussolini on a number of occasions rejected racism, and rejected the notion of the Nazis of biologically superior races. Hitler believed that race and racism was fundamental and based many of his views and policies on the issue of race and racism. Under pressure from Germany, Mussolini enacted racist policies in the late 1930s, including anti-Semitism which was highly unpopular in Italy and in the Italian Fascist movement itself. Fascists in other countries also had varying positions on racism, Plínio Salgado and his Integralists of Brazil opposed racism, Gyula Gömbös and his M.O.V.E. party in Hungary supported racism, and others were divided on this issue as well. Neofascism has tended to associate with racism.

Positions on religion

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

According to a biographer of Mussolini, "Initially, fascism was fiercely anti-Catholic" - the Church being a competitor for dominion of the people's hearts. Mussolini, originally a socialist internationalist and atheist, published anti-Catholic writings and planned for the confiscation of Church property, but eventually moved to accommodation. Hitler was born a Roman Catholic but renounced his faith at the age of twelve and largely used religious references to attract religious support to the Nazi political agenda. Mussolini largely endorsed the Roman Catholic Church for political legitimacy, as during the Lateran Treaty talks, Fascist officials engaged in bitter arguments with Vatican officials and put pressure on them to accept the terms that the regime deemed acceptable. Nazis arrested and killed thousands of Catholic clergy (18% of the priests in Poland were killed), eventually consigning thousands of them to concentration camps (2600 died in Dachau alone). Although Jews were obviously the greatest and primary target, Hitler also sent Roman Catholics to concentration camps along with the Jews and killed 3 million Catholic Poles along with three million Jewish Poles. The Nazi party had decidedly pagan elements. Although both Hitler and Mussolini were anticlerical, some believe they both understood that it would be rash to begin their Kulturkampfs prematurely, such a clash, possibly inevitable in the future, being put off while they dealt with other enemies.

Relations were close in the likes of the Belgian Rexists (which was eventually denounced by the Church). In addition, many Fascists were anti-clerical in both private and public life. In Mexico the fascist Red Shirts not only renounced religion but were vehemently atheist, killing priests, and on one occasion gunned down Catholics as they left Mass.

Others have argued that there has been a strong connection between some versions of fascism and religion, particularly the Catholic Church. Religion did play a real part in the Ustasha in Croatia which had strong religious (Catholic) overtones and clerics in positions of power. Spain's Falangists emphasized the struggle against the atheism of the left. The nationalist authoritarian movement in the Slovak Republic (the People's Party) was established by a catholic priest (Father Hlinka) and presided over by another (Father Tiso). The fascist movement in Romania known as the Iron Guard or the Legion of Archangel Michael invariably preceded its meetings with a church service and "their demonstrations were usually led by priests carrying icons and religious flags." Similar to Ayatollah Khomeini's Shi'a Islamist movement in Iran, it promoted a cult of "suffering, sacrifice and martyrdom. In Latin America the most important Fascist movement was Plinio Salgado's Brazilian "Integralism." Built on a network of lay religious associations, its vision was of an "integral state," that `comes from Christ, is inspired in Christ, acts for Christ, and goes toward Christ.` Salgado, however, criticised the "dangerous pagan tendencies of Hitlerism" and maintained that his movement differed from European fascism in that it respected the "rights of the human person". According to Payne, such "would be" religious fascist only gain hold where traditional belief is weakened or absent, as fascism seeks to create new nonrationalist myth structures for those who no longer hold a traditional view. Hence, the rise of modern secularism in Europe and Latin America and the incursion and large scale adoption of western secular culture in the mideast leave a void where this modern secular ideology, sometimes under a religious veneer, can take hold.

One theory is that religion and fascism could never have a lasting connection because both are a "holistic wetanshauungen" claiming the whole of the person. Along these lines, Yale political scientist, Juan Linz and others have noted that secularization had created a void which could be filled by a total ideology, making totalitarianism possible, and Roger Griffin has characterized fascism as a type of anti-religious political religion. Such political religions vie with existing religions, and try, if possible, to replace or eradicate them. Hitler and the Nazi regime attempted to found their own version of Christianity called Positive Christianity which made major changes in its interpretation of the Bible which said that Jesus Christ was the son of God, but was not a Jew and claimed that Christ despised Jews, and that the Jews were the ones solely responsible for Christ's death.

Variations and subforms

Movements identified by scholars as fascist hold a variety of views, and what qualifies as fascism is often a hotly contested subject. The original movement which self-identified as Fascist was that of Benito Mussolini and his National Fascist Party. Intellectuals such as Giovanni Gentile produced The Doctrine of Fascism and founded the ideology. The majority of strains which emerged after the original fascism, but are sometimes placed under the wider usage of the term, self-identified their parties with different names. Major examples include; Falangism, Integralism, Iron Guard and Nazism as well as various other designations.

Italian Fascism

Italian Fascism was the first form of fascism to emerge and the originator of the name. Founded by Benito Mussolini, it is considered to be the model for the other fascisms, yet there is no agreement about which aspects of structure, tactics, culture, and ideology represent the "fascist minimum" core.

Fascism was born during a period of social and political unrest following the First World War. The war had seen Italy, born from the Italian unification less than a century earlier begin to appreciate a sense of nationalism, rather than the historic regionalism. Despite the Kingdom of Italy being a fully fledged Allied Power during the war against the Central Powers, Italy was given what nationalists considered an unfair deal at the Treaty of Versailles; which they saw as the other allies "blocking" Italy from progressing to a major power. A significant example of this was when the other allies told Italy to hand over the city of Fiume at the Paris Peace Conference, this saw war veteran Gabriele d'Annunzio declaring the independent state Italian Regency of Carnaro. He positioned himself as Duce of the nation and declared a constitution, the Charter of Carnaro which was highly influential to early Fascism, though he himself never became a fascist.

An important factor in fascism gaining support in its earliest stages was the fact that it opposed discrimination based on social class and was strongly opposed to all forms of class war. Fascism instead supported nationalist sentiments such as a strong unity, regardless of class, in the hopes of raising Italy up to the levels of its great Roman past. This side of fascism endeared itself to the aristocracy and the bourgeois, as it promised to protect their existence; after the Russian Revolution, they had greatly feared the prospect of a bloody class war coming to Italy by the hand of the communists and the socialists. Mussolini did not ignore the plight of the working class, however, and he gained their support with stances such as those in The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle, published in June 1919. In the manifesto he demanded, amongst other things, creation of a minimum wage, showing the same confidence in labor unions (which prove to be technically and morally worthy) as was given to industry executives or public servants, voting rights for women, and the systemisation of public transport such as railways.

Mussolini and the fascists managed to be simultaneously revolutionary and traditionalist; because this was vastly different to anything else in the political climate of the time, it is sometimes described as "The Third Way". The Fascisti, led by one of Mussolini's close confidants, Dino Grandi, formed armed squads of war veterans called Blackshirts (or squadristi) with the goal of restoring order to the streets of Italy with a strong hand. The blackshirts clashed with communists, socialists and anarchists at parades and demonstrations; all of these factions were also involved in clashes against each other. The government rarely interfered with the blackshirts' actions, due in part to a looming threat and widespread fear of a communist revolution. The Fascisti grew so rapidly that within two years, it transformed itself into the National Fascist Party at a congress in Rome. Also in 1921, Mussolini was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time and was later appointed as Prime Minister by the King in 1922. He then went on to install a dictatorship after the 10 June 1924 assassination of Giacomo Matteotti, who had finished writing The Fascist Exposed: A Year of Fascist Domination, by Amerigo Dumini and others agents of the Ceka secret police created by Mussolini.

Influenced by the concepts of the Roman Empire, with Mussolini viewing himself as a modern day Roman Emperor, Italy set out to build the Italian Empire whose colonialism would reach further into Africa in an attempt to compete with British and French colonial empires. Mussolini dreamt of making Italy a nation that was "great, respected and feared" throughout Europe, and indeed the world. An early example was his bombardment of Corfu in 1923. Soon after he succeeded in setting up a puppet regime in Albania and ruthlessly consolidated Italian power in Libya, which had been a colony (loosely) since 1912. It was his dream to make the Mediterranean mare nostrum ("our sea" in Latin), and he established a large naval base on the Greek island of Leros to enforce a strategic hold on the eastern Mediterranean.


Falangism is a form of fascism founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1933, emerging during a complex political time during the Second Spanish Republic. Primo de Rivera was the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera who was appointed Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Spain by Bourbon monarch Alfonso XIII of Spain; José's father would serve as military dictator from 1923—1930. In the Spanish general election, 1931 the winners were socialists and radical republican parties; this saw Alfonso XIII "suspending the exercise of royal power" and going into exile in Rome. Spain had turned from a kingdom into a far-left republic overnight. A liberal Republican Constitution was instated, giving the right of autonomy to regions, stripping the nobility of juristic status and stripping from the Catholic Church its schools.

It was in this environment that José Antonio Primo de Rivera looked at Mussolini's Italy and found inspiration. Primo de Rivera founded the Falange Española party; the name is a reference to the formidable Ancient Greek military formation phalanx. Just a year after foundation Falange Española merged with the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista party of Ramiro Ledesma and Onésimo Redondo. The party and Primo de Rivera revealed the Falange Manifesto in November 1934; it promoted nationalism, unity, glorification of the Spanish Empire and dedication to the national syndicalism economic policy, inspired by integralism in which there is class collaboration. The manifesto supported agrarianism, looking to improve the standard of living for the peasants of the rural areas. It supported anti-capitalism, anti-Marxism, repudiating the latter's divisive class war philosophy, and was directly opposed to the ruling Republican regime. The Falange participated in the Spanish general election, 1936 with low results compared to the far-left Popular Front, but soon after increased in membership rapidly, with a membership of 40,000.

"We reject the capitalist system, which disregards the needs of the people, dehumanizes private property, and transforms the workers into shapeless masses that are prone to misery and despair. Our spiritual and national awareness likewise repudiates Marxism. We shall channel the drive of the working classes, that are nowadays led astray by Marxism, by demanding their direct participation in the formidable task of the national State."|20px|20px|José Antonio Primo de Rivera, Falange Manifesto. 1934.

Primo de Rivera was captured by Republicans on 6 July 1936 and held in captivity at Alicante. The Spanish Civil War broke out on 17 July 1936 between the Republicans and the Nationalists, with the Falangistas fighting for Nationalist cause. Despite his incarceration Primo de Rivera was a strong symbol of the cause, referred to as El Ausente, meaning "the Absent One"; he was summarily executed on 20 November after a trial by socialists. After this, Francisco Franco, who was not as ideological as his predecessor, became leader of the Falangists and continued the nationalist fight, with aid from Italy and Germany against the republicans who were supported by the Soviet Union. A merger between the Falange and the Carlist traditionalists who support a different line of the monarchy to that of exiled Alfonso XIII took place in 1937, creating the FET y de las JONS, essentially a move away from fascism. This is somewhat controversial in Falangist circles because some elements argue that it was a move away from "authentic Falangism". Regardless nationalists won the Civil War, inserting the Spanish State in 1939 and under a single-party system Franco ruled. Franco managed to balance several different interests of elements in his party, in an effort to keep them united, especially in regards to the question of monarchy. The Francoist state was strongly nationalist, anti-communist and anti-separatist throughout with his Movimiento Nacional; he supported traditional values such as Christianity, in contrast to the anti-clerical violence of the republicans. Whether or not Francoist Spain itself constituted a genuine form of fascism is debates, for example scholar Stanley Payne, has asserted: "scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the generalissimo to be a core fascist".

The ideas of Falangism were also exported, mainly to parts of the Hispanosphere, especially in South America. In some countries these movements were obscure, in others they had some impact. The Bolivian Socialist Falange under Óscar Únzaga provided significant competition to the ruling government during the 1950s until the 1970s. Falangism was significant in Lebanon through the Kataeb Party and its founder Pierre Gemayel. The Lebanese Falange fought for the countries independence which was won in 1943; they became significant during the complex and multifaceted Lebanese Civil War which was largely fought between Christians and Muslims.

Nazism (National Socialism)

Nazism, short for National Socialism, is the political ideology of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party that ruled Germany from 1933 until 1945. The term national socialist is also a descriptive term used to refer to the Austrian National Socialism of a similar ideology, as well as several puppet states under Nazi control, including; the Arrow Cross of Hungary, the Ustaše of Croatia (also heavily influenced by Italian Fascism), and Rexism of Belgium. The Nazis came to prominence in Germany's Weimar Republic through democratic elections in 1932; their leader Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany the following year, subsequently putting into place the Enabling Act, which effectively gave him the power of a dictator. Hitler's book detailing the national socialist ideology Mein Kampf, was authored during the mid-1920s. The NSDAP announced a national rebirth, in the form of the Third Reich nicknamed the Thousand Years Empire, promoted as a successor to the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire.

Although the modern consensus sees Nazism as a type of generic fascism, some scholars, such as Gilbert Allardyce, Zeev Sternhell and A.F.K. Organski, argue that Nazism is not fascism either because the differences are too great, or because they believe fascism cannot be generic. A synthesis of these two opinions, states that German Nazism was a form of racially-oriented fascism, while Italian fascism was state-oriented. Nazism differed from Italian fascism in that it had a stronger emphasis on race, especially exhibited as antisemitism, in terms of social and economic policies. Though both ideologies denied the significance of the individual, Italian fascism saw the individual as subservient to the state, whereas Nazism saw the individual, as well as the state, as ultimately subservient to the race. Mussolini's Fascism held that cultural factors existed to serve the state, and that it was not necessarily in the state's interest to interfere in cultural aspects of society. The only purpose of government in Mussolini's fascism was to uphold the state as supreme above all else, a concept which can be described as statolatry. Where fascism talked of state, Nazism spoke of the Volk and of the Volksgemeinschaft Below is a presentation of opposing scholary view on the topic, Griffin is a leading exponent of the "generic fascism" theory, while Sternhell views national socialism as separate to fascism;


Brazilian Integralism is a form of fascism originating in Brazil with Plínio Salgado, he was the movement's figurehead and philosophical leader. The movement was founded in 1932 and was known in its native tongue as Ação Integralista Brasileira; rather than a reaction against the far-left which was not strong in Brazil at the time, the Integralists were initially founded to combat national disunity and the percieved weakness of the liberal state, hoping for national rebirth via a fascist form. Many of the ideas were similar to Italian fascism; it was militarised and favoured the creation of a strong centralised state with a corporatist, government directed economic policy. The party's nationalist element was influenced by the thought of Alberto Torres and was inclusionist, looking to create a strong national unity. While many of the members were Catholics, the group supported freedom of religion so as not to isolate Protestants in Brazil. As an ethnically diverse country due to its colonial history, the Integralists held a non-divisionist and anti-racist stance with the phrase, union of all races and all people; the members were mostly of European background such as Italian and Portuguese but there were also some people of Amerindian and African background. As Brazil was already territorially endowed, the Integralists had no need for an expansionist outlook.

Iron Guard

The Iron Guard was an ultra-nationalist, antisemitic movement and political party in Romania from 1927 to 1941. It was briefly in power from September 14, 1940 until January 21, 1941. The Iron Guard was founded by Corneliu Zelea Codreanu on 24 July 1927 as the "Legion of the Archangel Michael" (Legiunea Arhanghelul Mihail), and it was led by him until his death in 1938. Adherents to the movement continued to be widely referred to as "legionnaires" (sometimes "legionaries"; Romanian: legionarii) and the organization as the "Legion" or the "Legionary Movement" (Mişcarea Legionară), despite various changes of the (intermittently banned) organization's name.

The Iron Guard presented itself as an alternative to corrupt, clientelist political parties, using marches, religious processions and patriotic hymns and anthems, along with volunteer work and charitable campaigns in rural areas. It was strongly anti-Semitic, promoting the idea that "Rabbinical aggression against the Christian world" in "unexpected 'protean forms': Freemasonry, Freudianism, homosexuality, atheism, Marxism, Bolshevism, the civil war in Spain, and social democracy" were undermining society..

The Iron Guard "willingly inserted strong elements of Orthodox Christianity into its political doctrine to the point of becoming one of the rare modern European political movements with a religious ideological structure. The Guard differed from other fascist movements in that it had its mass base among the peasantry and students. However, it shared the fascist penchant for violence, up to and including political assassinations.

Para-fascism and commonly alleged fascist ideologies

A number of states and movements have had various characteristics that are similar to fascism, but which most scholars have denied being affiliated to fascism.

Para-fascism is a term sometimes used to describe authoritarian regimes which appear like fascism on the surface but some scholars claim differ substantially from true fascism when a more than superficial examination is done. Roger Griffin uses the term whereas Stanley Payne uses the term Radical Right. The consensus among scholars rejects these many anti-liberal, anti-communist inter-war movements which lacked fascism's revolutionary goal to create a new national character as fascist. Para-fascists typically eschewed radical change and viewed genuine fascists as a threat. Parafascist states were often unwillingly the home of genuine fascist movements which they eventually suppressed or co-opted.

Besides Parafascism there are also other (not nescessary inter-war) regimes and movements that have had simliaries to fascism.

Austrian Fatherland Front

"Austrofascism" is a controversial category encompassing various para-fascist and semi-fascist movements in Austria in the 1930s. Especially referring to the Fatherland Front which became Austria's sole legal political party in 1934. The Fatherland Front's ideology was partly based on a fusion of Italian fascism, as expounded by Gentile, and Austria's Political Catholicism. It had an ideology of the "community of the people" (Volksgemeinschaft) that was different from that of the Nazis. They were similar in that both served to attack the idea of a class struggle by accusing leftism of destroying individuality, and thus help usher in a totalitarian state. Engelbert Dollfuß claimed he wanted to "over-Hitler" (überhitlern) Nazism.

Unlike the ethnic nationalism promoted by Italian Fascists and Nazis, the Fatherland Front focused entirely on cultural nationalism such as Austrian identity and distinctness from Germany, such as extolling Austria's ties to the Roman Catholic Church. According to this philosophy, Austrians were "better Germans" (by this time, the majority of the German population was Protestant). The monarchy was elevated to the ideal of a powerful and far-reaching state, a status which Austria lost after the Treaty of Saint-Germain. The notion of the Fatherland Front being fascist was claimed due to the regime's support and similar ideology of Fascist Italy.

Estado Novo

The Estado Novo was an authoritarian regime with an integralist orientation, which differed from fascist regimes by its lack of expansionism, lack of a charismatic leader, lack of party structure and more moderate use of state violence. However it incorporated the same principles for its military from Mussolini's system. Its founder in Portugal, António de Oliveira Salazar, was a Catholic traditionalist who believed in the necessity of control over the forces of economic modernisation in order to defend the religious and rural values of the country, which he perceived as being threatened. One of the pillars of the regime was the PIDE, the secret police. Many political dissidents were imprisoned at the Tarrafal prison in the African archipelago of Cape Verde, on the capital island of Santiago, or in local jails. Strict state censorship was in place.

Another authoritarian government, installed in Brazil by President Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, lasted from 1937 to 1945. It was modelled on the Portuguese Estado Novo regime and even took its name.

4th of August Regime

From 1936 to 1941, Greece was ruled by an authoritarian regime under the leadership of General Ioannis Metaxas akin to that of Franco's Spain. Historians of this period in Greek history, such as Richard Clogg, John Hondros, William McNeill, C. M. Woodhouse and others, all strongly contend that the state was not "fascist" but authoritarian with fascist "leanings". The Metaxas regime differed from regimes such as Mussolini's and Hitler's in many notable ways: it was relatively nonviolent, did not pursue an expansionist agenda, it did not institute anti-semitic programs, and it lacked a mass political movement.

Nouvelle Droite

Nouvelle Droite, also called the "New Right", is a school of political thought founded largely on the works of Alain de Benoist and GRECE (Research and Study Group on European Culture). It has been identified as a new or sanitized form of neo-fascism, or an ideology of the extreme right that significantly draws from fascism. Nouvelle Droite arguments can be found in the rhetoric of many major radical right and far-right parties in Europe such as the National Front in France, the Freedom Party in Austria and Vlaams Belang in Flanders (Belgium). This, despite the fact that Alain de Benoist and certain other ideologues of the Nouvelle Droite, since the late 80s, had issued statements against some populist far-right movements.


The rule of Mobutu Sese Seko and the ideology of Mobutism within the Popular Movement of the Revolution (Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution, MPR) political party in the former Zaire has been accused by opponents and critics as being fascist such as former Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba who was deposed by Mobutu, said "...Mobutu is an imperialist, a fascist..." Rosa Coutino who called Mobutu a "black fascist" , United States left-wing black nationalist Huey P. Newton who referred to Mobutu as "Fascist Mobutu of Zaire" and historian Robert Carr who considers Mobutu a "fascist dictator" Mobutism had a totalitaran and revolutionary nationalist nature, radically altering Zairian society, promoting Zairian culture while purging culture of white colonial and western influences such as intiating censorship on western culture , banning Christian names while promoting the use of local names and local language. Mobutism like fascism promoted a single-party state with Mobutu as the country's dictator and the MPR and Mobutist ideology was officially enshrined in the constitution of Zaire; developed a personality cult around Mobutu as the "Father of the Nation" and promoted the indoctrination of society to support the MPR such as creating by youth organizations in the MPR; was militarist; officially opposed both capitalism and communism;supported economic planning and nationalized certain corporations along with attempting to garner support from workers for his regime by solidifying all trade unions into a single trade union loyal to the regime called the National Union of Zairian Workers while banning independent trade unions. Others have claimed that Mobutu's rule of Zaire was largely just a kleptocracy, serving to allow him to amass enormous wealth.




Primary sources

Secondary sources

External links

Search another word or see systemisationon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature