Template:Fascism Fascism (in Italian, fascismo), capitalized, was the authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. Similar political movements spread across Europe between World War One and World War Two and took several forms such as Nazism and Clerical fascism. Neofascism is generally used to describe post-WWII movements seen to have fascist attributes.

Fascism was typified by attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life. Many scholars consider "fascism" to be part of, or in coalition with, extreme right politics, however the definitional debates and arguments by academics over the nature of fascism fill entire bookshelves. There are clearly elements of both left and right ideology in the development of Fascism.

Modern colloquial usage of the word has extended the definition of the terms fascism and neofascism to refer to any totalitarian worldview regardless of its political ideology, although scholars frown on this. Sometimes the word "fascist" is used as a hyperbolic political epithet.

The word "fascism" comes from fascio (plural: fasci), which may mean "bundle", as in a political or militant group or a nation, but also from the fasces (rods bundled around an axe), which were an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of magistrates. The Italian 'Fascisti' were also known as Black Shirts for their style of uniform incorporating a black shirt (See Also: political colour).

Italian Fascism is often granted the capital "F", as it is the parent of generic fascism (small "f"). Italian Fascism is considered a model for other forms of fascism, yet there is disagreement over which aspects of structure, tactics, culture, and ideology represent a "fascist minimum" or core.



The term fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that in various combinations:

  • exalts nation and sometimes race above the individual.
  • stresses loyalty to a single leader.
  • uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition.
  • engages in severe economic and social regimentation.
  • engages in corporatism.
  • implements totalitarianism.

As a populist social movement prior to gaining government power, fascism displays different characteristics.

In an article in the 1932 Enciclopedia Italiana, written by Giovanni Gentile and attributed to Benito Mussolini, fascism is described as a system in which "The State not only is authority which governs and molds individual wills with laws and values of spiritual life, but it is also power which makes its will prevail abroad... For the Fascist, everything is within the State and... neither individuals nor groups are outside the State... For Fascism, the State is an absolute, before which individuals or groups are only relative..."

Mussolini, in a speech delivered on October 28, 1925, stated the following maxim that encapsulates the fascist philosophy: "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato." ("Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State".) Therefore, he reasoned, all individuals' business is the state's business, and the state's existence is the sole duty of the individual.

Another key distinguishing feature of fascism is that it uses a mass movement to attack or absorb the organizations of the working class: parties of the left and trade unions. Peter Fritzsche and others have described fascism as a militant form of right-wing populism. This mobilization strategy involves Corporatism, Corporativism, or the Corporative State [1] (http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/bus/A0813636.html), all terms that refer to state action to partner with key business leaders, often in ways chosen to minimize the power of labor unions. Mussolini, for example, capitalized on fear of a Communist revolution [2] (http://www.thecorner.org/hists/total/f-italy.htm), finding ways to unite Labor and Capital, to Labor's ultimate detriment. In 1926 he created the National Council of Corporations, divided into guilds of employers and employees, tasked with managing 22 sectors of the economy. The guilds subsumed both labor unions and management, but were heavily weighted in favor of the corporations and their owners. The moneyed classes in return helped him change the country's laws to raise his stature from a coalition leader to a supreme commander. The movement was supported by small capitalists, low-level bureaucrats, and the middle classes, who had all felt threatened by the rise in power of the Socialists. Fascism also met with great success in rural areas, especially among farmers, peasants, and in the city, the lumpenproletariat.

Unlike the pre-World War II period, when many groups openly and proudly proclaimed themselves fascist, since World War II the term has taken on an extremely pejorative meaning, largely in reaction to the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis, who were allied with Mussolini during the war.

Today, very few groups proclaim themselves as fascist, and the term almost universally is used for groups for whom the speaker has little regard, often with minimal understanding of what the term actually means. The term "fascist" or "Nazi" is often ascribed to individuals or groups who are perceived to behave in an authoritarian manner; by silencing opposition, judging personal behavior, or otherwise attempting to concentrate power. More particularly, "fascist" is sometimes used by members of the Left to characterize some group or persons of the Right. This usage receded much following the 1970s, but has enjoyed a strong resurgence in connection with Anti-globalization activism.

Fascism, in many respects, is an ideology of negativism: anti-liberal, anti-socialist, anti-Communist, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, etc., and in some of its forms anti-religion. As a political and economic system in Italy, it combined elements of corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism, and anti-communism.

The origin and ideology of Fascism

Etymologically, the use of the word Fascism in modern Italian political history stretches back to the 1890s in the form of fasci, which were radical left-wing political factions that proliferated in the decades before World War I. (See Fascio for more on this movement and its evolution.)

One of the first of these groups were the Fasci Siciliani who were part of the first movement that consisted of the Italian working-class peasants that made real progress. The Fasci Siciliani dei lavoratori, were revolutionary socialists that were lead by Giuseppe De Felice Giuffrida.

Italian Fascism

The Doctrine of Fascism was written by Giovanni Gentile, an idealist philosopher who served as the official philosopher of fascism. Mussolini signed the article and it was officially attributed to him. In it, French socialists Georges Sorel, Charles Peguy, and Hubert Lagardelle were invoked as the sources of fascism. Sorel's ideas concerning syndicalism and violence are much in evidence in this document. It also quotes from Ernest Renan who it says had "pre-fascist intuitions". Both Sorel and Peguy were influenced by the Frenchman Henri Bergson. Bergson rejected the scientism, mechanical evolution and materialism of Marxist ideology. Also, Bergson promoted an elan vital as an evolutionary process. Both of these elements of Bergson appear in fascism. Mussolini states that fascism negates the doctrine of scientific and Marxian socialism and the doctrine of historic materialism. Hubert Lagardelle, an authoritative syndicalist writer, was influenced by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon who, in turn, inspired anarchosyndicalism.

There were several strains of tradition influencing Mussolini. Sergio Panunzio, a major theoretician of fascism in the 1920s, had a syndicalist background, but his influence waned as the movement shed its old left wing elements. The fascist concept of corporatism and particularly its theories of class collaboration and economic and social relations are very similar to the model laid out by Pope Leo XIII's 1892 encyclical Rerum Novarum. This encyclical addressed politics as it had been transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and other changes in society that had occurred during the nineteenth century. The document criticized capitalism, complaining of the exploitation of the masses in industry. However, it also sharply criticized the socialist concept of class struggle, and the proposed socialist solution to exploitation (the elimination, or at least the limitation, of private property). Rerum Novarum called for strong governments to undertake a mission to protect their people from exploitation, while continuing to uphold private property and reject socialism. It also asked Catholics to apply principles of social justice in their own lives.

Seeking to find some principle to compete with and replace the Marxist doctrine of class struggle, Rerum Novarum urged social solidarity between the upper and lower classes, and endorsed nationalism as a way of preserving traditional morality, customs, and folkways. In doing so, Rerum Novarum proposed a kind of corporatism, the organization of political societies along industrial lines that resembled mediaeval guilds. A one-person, one-vote democracy was rejected in favor of representation by interest groups. This idea was to counteract the "subversive nature" of the doctrine of Karl Marx.

The themes and ideas developed in Rerum Novarum can also be found in the ideology of fascism as developed by Mussolini.

Fascism also borrowed from Gabriele D'Annunzio's Constitution of Fiume for his ephemeral "regency" in the city of Fiume. Syndicalism had an influence on fascism as well, particularly as some syndicalists intersected with D'Annunzio's ideas. Before the First World War, syndicalism had stood for a militant doctrine of working-class revolution. It distinguished itself from Marxism because it insisted that the best route for the working class to liberate itself was the trade union rather than the party.

The Italian Socialist Party ejected the syndicalists in 1908. The syndicalist movement split between anarcho-syndicalists and a more moderate tendency. Some moderates began to advocate "mixed syndicates" of workers and employers. In this practice, they absorbed the teachings of Catholic theorists and expanded them to accommodate greater power of the state, and diverted them by the influence of D'Annunzio to nationalist ends.

When Henri De Man's Italian translation of Au-dela du marxisme emerged, Mussolini was excited and wrote to the author that his criticism "destroyed any scientific element left in Marxism". Mussolini was appreciative of the idea that a corporative organization and a new relationship between labour and capital would eliminate "the clash of economic interests" and thereby neutralize "the germ of class warfare.'"

Renegade socialist thinkers, Robert Michels, Sergio Panunzio, Ottavio Dinale, Agostino Lanzillo, Angelo Oliviero Olivetti, Michele Bianchi, and Edmondo Rossoni, turning against their former left-wing ideas, played a part in this attempt to find a "third way" that rejected both capitalism and socialism.

Many historians claim that the March 23, 1919 meeting at the Piazza San Sepolcro was the historic “birthplace” of the fascist movement. However, this would imply that the Italian Fascists “came from nowhere” which is simply not true. Mussolini revived his former group, Fasci d'Azione rivoluzionaria, in order to take part in the 1919 elections in response to an increase in Communist activity occurring in Milan. The Fasci di Combattimenti were the result of this continuation (not creation) of the Fascist party. The result of the meeting was that Fascism became an organized political movement. Among the founding members were the revolutionary syndicalist leaders Agostino Lanzillo and Michele Bianchi.

In 1921, the fascists developed a program that called for:

As the movement evolved, several of these initial ideas were abandoned and rejected.

Mussolini's fascist state was established nearly a decade before Hitler's rise to power (1922 and the March on Rome). Both a movement and a historical phenomenon, Italian Fascism was, in many respects, an adverse reaction to both the apparent failure of laissez-faire economics and fear of the Left.

Fascism was, to an extent, a product of a general feeling of anxiety and fear among the middle class of postwar Italy. This fear arose from a convergence of interrelated economic, political, and cultural pressures. Under the banner of this authoritarian and nationalistic ideology, Mussolini was able to exploit fears regarding the survival of capitalism in an era in which postwar depression, the rise of a more militant left, and a feeling of national shame and humiliation stemming from Italy's 'mutilated victory' at the hands of the World War I postwar peace treaties seemed to converge. Such unfulfilled nationalistic aspirations tainted the reputation of liberalism and constitutionalism among many sectors of the Italian population. In addition, such democratic institutions had never grown to become firmly rooted in the young nation-state.

This same postwar depression heightened the allure of Marxism among an urban proletariat who were even more disenfranchised than their continental counterparts. But fear of the growing strength of trade unionism, Communism, and socialism proliferated among the elite and the middle class. In a way, Benito Mussolini filled a political vacuum. Fascism emerged as a "third way" — as Italy's last hope to avoid imminent collapse of the 'weak' Italian liberalism, and Communist revolution.

While failing to outline a coherent program, fascism evolved into a new political and economic system that combined corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism, and anti-Communism in a state designed to bind all classes together under a capitalist system. This was a new capitalist system, however, one in which the state seized control of the organization of vital industries. Under the banners of nationalism and state power, Fascism seemed to synthesize the glorious Roman past with a futuristic utopia.

Despite the themes of social and economic reform in the initial Fascist manifesto of June 1919, the movement came to be supported by sections of the middle class fearful of socialism and communism. Industrialists and landowners supported the movement as a defense against labour militancy. Under threat of a fascist March on Rome, in October 1922, Mussolini assumed the premiership of a right-wing coalition Cabinet initially including members of the pro-church Partito Popolare (People's Party).

The regime's most lasting political achievement was perhaps the Lateran Treaty of February 1929 between the Italian state and the Holy See. Under this treaty, the Papacy was granted temporal sovereignty over the Vatican City and guaranteed the free exercise of Catholicism as the sole state religion throughout Italy in return for its acceptance of Italian sovereignty over the Pope's former dominions. In the 1930s, Italy recovered from the Great Depression, and achieved economic growth in part by developing domestic substitutes for imports (Autarchia). The draining of the malaria-infested Pontine Marshes south of Rome was one of the regime's proudest boasts. But growth was undermined by international sanctions following Italy's October 1935 invasion of Ethiopia (the Abyssinia crisis), and by the government's costly military support for Franco's Nationalists in Spain.

International isolation and their common involvement in Spain brought about increasing diplomatic collaboration between Italy and Nazi Germany. This was reflected also in the Fascist regime's domestic policies as the first anti-semitic laws were passed in 1938.

Italy's intervention (June 10th 1940) as Germany's ally in World War II brought military disaster, and resulted in the loss of her north and east African colonies and the American-British-Canadian invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and southern Italy in September 1943.

Mussolini was dismissed as prime minister by King Victor Emmanuel III on July 25th 1943, and subsequently arrested. He was freed in September by German paratroopers under command of Otto Skorzeny and installed as head of a puppet "Italian Social Republic" at Salo in German-occupied northern Italy. His association with the German occupation regime eroded much of what little support remained to him. His summary execution on April 28th 1945 during the war's violent closing stages by the northern partisans was widely seen as a fitting end to his regime.

After the war, the remnants of Italian fascism largely regrouped under the banner of the neo-Fascist "Italian Social Movement" (MSI). The MSI merged in 1994 with conservative former Christian Democrats to form the "National Alliance" (AN), which proclaims its commitment to constitutionalism, parliamentary government and political pluralism.

Nazism and Fascism

Nazism may be considered either a type of fascism or a notable offshoot of fascism. It differed from Italian Fascism in the emphasis on the state's purpose in serving a racial rather than a national ideal, specifically the social engineering of culture to the ends of the greatest possible prosperity for the so-called "Master Race" at the expense of all else and all others. In contrast, Mussolini's fascism held that cultural factors existed to serve the state, and that it wasn't necessarily in the state's interest to serve or engineer any of these particulars within its sphere. The only purpose of government under fascism proper was to uphold the state as supreme above all else, and for these reasons it can be said to have been a governmental statolatry.

While Nazism was a metapolitical ideology, seeing both party and government as a means to achieve an ideal condition of its people, fascism was a squarely anti-socialist form of statism that existed as an end in and of itself. The Nazi movement, at least in its overt ideology, spoke of class-based society as the enemy, and wanted to unify the racial element above established classes. The Fascist movement, on the other hand, sought to preserve the class system and uphold it as the foundation of established and desirable culture. This underlying theorem made the Fascists and Nazis in the period between the two world wars sometimes see themselves and their respective political labels as at least partially exclusive of one another.

Mussolini's influences

Fascism did not spring forth full-grown, and the writings of Fascist theoreticians cannot be taken as a full description of Mussolini's ideology, let alone how specific situations inevitably resulted in deviations from ideology. Mussolini's policies drew on both the history of the Italian nation and the philosophical ideas of the 19th century. What resulted was neither logical nor well defined, to the extent that Mussolini defined it as "action and mood, not doctrine".

Nonetheless, certain ideas are clearly visible. The most obvious is nationalism. The last time Italy had been a great nation was under the banner of the Roman Empire and Italian nationalists always saw this as a period of glory. Given that even other European nations with imperial ambitions had often invoked ancient Rome in their architecture and vocabulary, it was perhaps inevitable that Mussolini would do the same.

Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Italy had not again been united until its final unification in 1870. Mussolini desired to affirm an Italian national identity and therefore saw the unification as the first step towards returning Italy to greatness and often exploited the unification and the achievements of leading figures such as Garibaldi to induce a sense of Italian national pride.

The Fascist cult of national rebirth through a strong leader has roots in the romantic movement of the 19th century, as does the glorification of war. For example, the loss of the war with Abyssinia had been a great humiliation to Italians and consequently it was the first place targeted for Italian expansion under Mussolini.

Not all ideas of fascism originated from the 19th century; some find their origins in the 20th century; for example, the use of systematic propaganda to pass on simple slogans such as "believe, obey, fight" and Mussolini's use of the radio. Similarly, Mussolini's corporate state was a distinctly 20th-century creation.

Fascism and the Political Spectrum

Early fascists demonstrated a willingness to do whatever was necessary to achieve their ends, and easily shifted from left-wing to right-wing positions as suited their purposes. This inconsistency makes it difficult to strictly categorize fascism on the traditional political spectrum. Some scholars argue that Italian Fascism, unlike some other contemporary movements, did not grow out of a strict theoretical basis. Layton describes Fascism as "not even a rational system of thought", and as "unique but not original".

Fascism tends to be often associated with the political right, but the appropriateness of this association is often contested. In one sense, fascism can be considered to be a new ideological development that transcends the right/left framework. At the same time, it does contain ideological elements usually associated with the right. These two facets can be seen in the following quote from Mussolini himself, writing in The Doctrine of Fascism: "Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century."

Griffin, Eatwell, Laqueuer, and Weber are among the top scholars of fascism, and they are reluctant to call fascism simply a right-wing ideology. Yet in their lengthy discussions they observe that generally fascism and neofascism allies itself with right-wing or conservative forces on the basis of racial nationalism, hatred of the political left, or simple expediency.

Laqueuer: "But historical fascism was always a coalition between radical, populist ('fascist') elements and others gravitating toward the extreme Right" p. 223.

Eatwell talks about the need of fascism for "syncretic legitimation" which sometimes led it to forge alliances with "existing mainstream elites, who often sought to turn fascism to their own more conservative purposes." Eatwell also observes that "in most countries it tended to gather force in countries where the right was weak" p. 39.

Griffin also does not include right ideology in his "fascist minimum," but he has described Fascism as "Revolution from the Right" pp. 185-201.

Weber: "...their most common allies lay on the right, particularly on the radical authoritarian right, and Italian Fascism as a semi-coherent entity was partly defined by its merger with one of the most radical of all right authoritarian movements in Europe, the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI)." p. 8.

Thus according to these scholars, there are both left and right influences on fascism, and right-wing ideology should not be considered part of the "fascist minimum". However, they also show that in actual practice, there is a gravitation of fascism toward the political right.

The adoption of the name by the Italian Fascist Party reflected the previous involvement of a number of ideologues who intersected with radical left politics. While opposing communism and social democracy, fascism was influenced by the theories of Gabriele D'Annunzio (a former anarchist), Alceste de Ambris (influenced by anarcho-syndicalism), and former socialist Benito Mussolini.

Fascists themselves often rejected categorization as left or right-wing, claiming to be a "third force" (see international third position and political spectrum for more information).

Analysts on the left counter that Fascism rejects Marxism and the concept of class struggle in favor of corporatism. Contrary to the practice of socialist states, fascist Italy did not nationalize any industries or capitalist entities. Rather, it established a corporatist structure influenced by the model for class relations put forward by the Catholic Church. (For more on the influence of Catholicism on fascism see links between the clergy and fascist parties.)

Fascism and other totalitarian regimes

Some historians and theorists regard fascism and "Soviet Communism" (or more specifically, Stalinism) as being similar, lumping them together under the term "totalitarianism". Friedrich Hayek argues that the differences between fascism and totalitarian forms of socialism (see Stalinism) are rhetorical rather than actual. Others see them as being so dissimilar as to be utterly incomparable.

According to the libertarian Nolan chart, "fascism" occupies a place on the political spectrum as the capitalist equivalent of communism, wherein a system that supports "economic liberty" is constrained by its social controls such that it becomes totalitarian.

Hannah Arendt and other theorists of totalitarian rule argue that there are similarities between nations under Fascist and Stalinist rule. They condemn both groups as dictatorships and totalitarian police states. For example, both Hitler and Stalin committed the mass murder of millions of their country's civilians who did not fit in with their plans.

In 1947, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises published a short book entitled "Planned Chaos". He asserted that fascism and Nazism were socialist dictatorships and that both had been committed to the Soviet principle of dictatorship and violent oppression of dissenters. He argued that Mussolini's major heresy from Marxist orthodoxy had been his strong endorsement of Italian entry into World War I on the Allied side. (Mussolini aimed to "liberate" Italian-speaking areas under Austrian control in the Alps.) This view contradicts the statements of Mussolini himself (not to mention his socialist opponents), and is generally viewed with skepticism by historians. Critics of von Mises often argue that he was attacking a Straw Man; in other words, that he changed the definition of "socialism" in his book, for the precise purpose of accommodating fascism and Nazism into it.

Critics of this view point out that Mussolini imprisoned Antonio Gramsci from 1926 until 1934, after Gramsci, a leader of the Italian Communist Party and leading Marxist intellectual, tried to create a common front among the political left and the workers, in order to resist and overthrow fascism. Other Italian Communist leaders like Palmiro Togliatti went into exile and fought for the Republic in Spain.

The Marxist concept of dictatorship of the proletariat alluded to by Von Mises is not the same as the dictatorship concept employed by fascists, argue proponents of communism. Dictatorship of the proletariat is supposed to mean workers' democracy, or dictatorship by the working class, rather than dictatorship by the capitalist class. They claim that this concept had been distorted under Stalin to mean dictatorship by the General Secretary over the party and the working class. In this, Stalin deviated from Marx, and therefore it cannot be said that the Stalinist form of government is Marxist. Opponents of Communism, however, argue that the Soviet Union was dictatorial already under Lenin.

The fascist economic model of corporatism promoted class collaboration by attempting to bring classes together under the unity of the state, a concept that is anathema to classic socialism.

The fascist states from the period between the two world wars were police states, as were the ostensibly socialist USSR and the post-WWII Soviet bloc states. Conversely, there have been multi-party socialist states that have not been police states, and non-socialist states that have been police states.

Examples of police states in modern times, outside of the Communist world, include:

Arguments over this issue are lengthy and contentious, and can be reviewed in the articles on Nazism and socialism, and Fascism vs. socialism.


Fascism and Communism are political systems that rose to prominence after World War I. Historians of the period between World War I and World War II such as E.H. Carr and Eric Hobsbawm point out that liberalism was under serious stress in this period and seemed to be a doomed philosophy. The success of the Russian Revolution of 1917 resulted in a revolutionary wave across Europe. The socialist movement worldwide split into separate social democratic and Leninist wings. The subsequent formation of the Third International prompted serious debates within social democratic parties, resulting in supporters of the Russian Revolution splitting to form Communist Parties in most industrialized (and many non-industrialized) countries.

At the end of World War I, there were attempted socialist uprisings or threats of socialist uprisings throughout Europe, most notably in Germany, where the Spartacist uprising, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in January 1919, was eventually crushed. In Bavaria, Communists successfully overthrew the government and established the Munich Soviet Republic that lasted from 1918 to 1919. A short lived Hungarian Soviet Republic was also established under Bla Kun in 1919.

The Russian Revolution also inspired attempted revolutionary movements in Italy with a wave of factory occupations. Most historians view fascism as a response to these developments, as a movement that both tried to appeal to the working class and divert them from Marxism. It also appealed to capitalists as a bulwark against Bolshevism. Italian fascism took power with the blessing of Italy's king after years of leftist-led unrest led many conservatives to fear that a communist revolution was inevitable.

Throughout Europe, numerous aristocrats, conservative intellectuals, capitalists and industrialists lent their support to fascist movements in their countries that emulated Italian fascism. In Germany, numerous right-wing nationalist groups arose, particularly out of the post-war Freikorps, which were used to crush both the Spartacist uprising and the Munich Soviet.

With the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s, it seemed that liberalism and the liberal form of capitalism were doomed, and Communist and fascist movements swelled. These movements were bitterly opposed to each other and fought frequently, the most notable example of this conflict being the Spanish Civil War. This war became a proxy war between the fascist countries and their international supporters — who backed Franco — and the worldwide Communist movement allied uneasily with anarchists and Trotskyists — who backed the Popular Front — and were aided chiefly by the Soviet Union.

Initially, the Soviet Union supported a coalition with the western powers against Nazi Germany and popular fronts in various countries against domestic fascism. This policy was largely unsuccessful due to the distrust shown by the western powers (especially Britain) towards the Soviet Union. The Munich Agreement between Germany, France and Britain heightened Soviet fears that the western powers were endeavoring to force them to bear the brunt of a war against Nazism. The lack of eagerness on the part of the British during diplomatic negotiations with the Soviets served to make the situation even worse. The Soviets changed their policy and negotiated a non-aggression pact known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. Vyacheslav Molotov claims in his memoirs that the Soviets believed this was necessary to buy them time to prepare for an expected war with Germany. Stalin expected the Germans not to attack until 1942, but the pact ended in 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. Fascism and communism reverted to being lethal enemies. The war, in the eyes of both sides, was a war between ideologies.

  • See also: Anti-Communism

Fascism and the Catholic Church

Another controversial topic is the relationship between fascist movements and the Catholic Church. As mentioned above, Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum anticipated much of the doctrine that became known as fascism. Forty years later, the corporatist tendencies of Rerum Novarum were underscored by Pope Pius XI's May 25, 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno which restated the hostility of Rerum Novarum to both unbridled competition and class struggle.

In the early 1920s, the Catholic party in Italy (Partito Popolare) was in the process of forming a coalition with the Reform Party that could have stabilized Italian politics and thwarted Mussolini's projected coup. On October 2, 1922, Pope Pius XI circulated a letter ordering clergy not to identify themselves with the Partito Popolare, but to remain neutral, an act that undercut the party and its alliance against Mussolini. Following Mussolini's rise to power, the Vatican's Secretary of State met Il Duce in early 1923 and agreed to dissolve the Partito Popolare, which Mussolini saw as obstacle to fascist rule. In exchange, the fascists made guarantees regarding Catholic education and institutions.

In 1924, following the murder of the leader of the Socialist Party by fascists, the Partito Popolare joined with the Socialist Party in demanding that the King dismiss Mussolini as Prime Minister, and stated their willingness to form a coalition government. Pius XI responded by warning against any coalition between Catholics and socialists. The Vatican ordered all priests to resign from the Partito Popolare and from any positions they held in it. This led to the party's disintegration in rural areas where it relied on clerical assistance.

The Vatican subsequently established Catholic Action as a non-political lay organization under the direct control of bishops. The organization was forbidden by the Vatican to participate in politics, and thus was not permitted to oppose the fascist regime. Pius XI ordered all Catholics to join Catholic Action. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of Catholics withdrawing from the Partito Popolare, and joining the apolitical Catholic Action. This caused the Catholic Party's final collapse. [3] (http://www.cephas-library.com/catholic/catholic_vatican_in_world_politics_chpt_9.html)

When Mussolini ordered the closure of Catholic Action in May 1931, Pius XI issued an encyclical, Non abbiamo bisogno. This document stated the Catholic Church's opposition to the dissolution, and argued that the order "unmasked the 'pagan' intentions of the Fascist state". Under international pressure, Mussolini decided to compromise, and Catholic Action was saved.

Aside from doctrinal similarities, the relationship between the Church and fascist movements in various countries has been very close. An early example is Austria which developed a quasi-fascist authoritarian Catholic regime some call the "Austro-fascist" Stndestaat between 1934 and 1938. There is little debate over Slovakia, where the fascist dictator was a Catholic monsignor; and Croatia, where the fascist Ustashe identified itself as a Catholic movement. These regimes have been seen as examples of clerical fascism. (see also Involvement of Croatian Catholic clergy with the Ustasa regime)

The Vichy regime in France was also deeply influenced by the reactionary Catholic ideology of the Action Franaise. Conversely, many Catholic priests were persecuted under the Nazi regime, and many Catholic laypeople and clergy played notable roles in sheltering Jews during the Holocaust.

For a further exploration of the relationship between Catholicism and Fascism, see the article Catholicism's links with political authorities and Clerical Fascism.

Practice of fascism

Examples of fascist systems include:

Fascism in practice embodied both political and economic policies, and invites different comparisons. As noted elsewhere in this article, some writers who focus on the politically repressive policies of fascism identify it as one form of totalitarianism, a description they use to characterize not only Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, but also countries such as the Soviet Union, The People's Republic of China or North Korea. It should be noted that "totalitarianism" is a catch-all group which includes many different ideologies that are sworn enemies.

However, some analysts point out that certain fascist governments were arguably more authoritarian than totalitarian. There is almost universal agreement that Nazi Germany was totalitarian. However, many would argue that the governments of Franco's Spain and Salazar's Portugal, while fascistic, were more authoritarian than totalitarian. Spain under the Falange Espaola y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS) Party of Francisco Franco, was a coalition that included fascists.

Those who focus on economic policies and state intervention in the economy, identify fascism as corporatism. In this corporatist model of private management, the various functions of the state were controlling and regulating trade, while maintaining de jure private ownership. This contrasts with state socialism, in which the state controls industry through outright nationalization. Private activity is controlled by the state, so that the state may subsidize or suspend the activities of any entity in accordance with their usefulness and direction. Corporatism was a political outgrowth of Catholic social doctrine from the 1890s. Some highly controversial parallels have been drawn between fascsim and certain parts of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the United States (see Neo-Fascism), and Juan Peron's populism in Argentina.

Prominent proponents of fascism in pre-WWII America included the publisher Seward Collins, whose periodical The American Review (1933-1937) featured essays by Collins and others that praised Mussolini and Hitler. The America First movement, funded by William Regnery, among others, took a pro-German view of the world during the 1930s, and fought to keep America neutral after Britain entered the war in 1939. Father Charles E. Coughlin's Depression-era radio broadcasts extolled the virtues of fascism. Henry Wallace, wrote in 1944 during his term as vice president of the United States, "American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery." [Wallace, 1944]

Fascism as an international phenomenon

It is often a matter of dispute whether a certain government is to be characterized as fascist, authoritarian, totalitarian, or just a plain police state. Regimes that are alleged to have been either fascist or sympathetic to fascism include:

Austria (1933-1938) - Austro-fascism: Dollfu dissolved parliament and established a clerical-fascist dictatorship which lasted until Austria was incorporated into Germany through the Anschluss. Dollfu's idea of a "Stndestaat" was borrowed from Mussolini.

Italy (1922-1943) - The first fascist country, it was ruled by Benito Mussolini (Il Duce) until he was dismissed and arrested on the 25 July 1943. Mussolini was then rescued from prison by German troops, and set up a short lived puppet state named "Repubblica di Sal" in northern Italy under the protection of the German army.

Germany (1933-1945) - Ruled by the Nazi movement of Adolf Hitler (der Fhrer). In the terminology of the Allies, Nazi Germany was as their chief enemy the mightiest and best-known fascist state. See above for a discussion on the differences and similarities between Nazism and fascism.

Spain (1936-1975) - After the 1936 arrest and execution of its founder Jos Antonio Primo de Rivera during the Spanish Civil War, the fascist Falange Espaola Party was allied to and ultimately came to be dominated by Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who became known as El Caudillo, the undisputed leader of the Nationalist side in the war, and, after victory, head of state until his death over 35 years later.

Portugal (1932-1974) - Although less restrictive than the Italian, German and Spanish regimes, the Estado Novo regime of Antnio de Oliveira Salazar was quasi-fascist.

Greece - Joannis Metaxas' 1936 to 1941 dictatorship was not particularly ideological in nature, and might hence be characterized as authoritarian rather than fascist. The same can be argued regarding Colonel George Papadopoulos' 1967 to 1974 military dictatorship, which was supported by the United States.

Brazil (1937-1945) - Many historians have argued that Brazil's Estado Novo under Getlio Vargas was a Brazilian variant of the continental fascist regimes. For a period of time, Vargas' regime was aligned with Plnio Salgado's Integralist Party, Brazil's fascist movement.

Belgium (1939-1945) - The violent Rexist movement and the Vlaamsch-Nationaal Verbond party achieved some electoral success in the 1930s. Many of its members assisted the Nazi occupation during World War II. The Verdinaso movement, too, can be considered fascist. Its leader, Joris Van Severen, was killed before the Nazi occupation. Some of its adepts collaborated, but others joined the resistance.

Slovakia (1939-1944) - The Slovak People's Party was a quasi-fascist nationalist movement associated with the Catholic Church. Founded by Father Andrej Hlinka, his successor Monsignor Jozef Tiso became the Nazis' quisling in a nominally independent Slovakia.

France (1940-1944) - The Vichy regime of Philippe Ptain, established following France's defeat by Germany, collaborated with the Nazis, including in the death of 65,000 French Jews.

Romania (1940-1944) - The violent Iron Guard took power when Ion Antonescu forced King Carol II to abdicate. The fascist regime ended after Soviet troops entered the country.

Croatia (1941-1945) - Poglavnik Ante Pavelić, leader of the infamous Ustaše movement, came to power in 1941 as the Croatian puppet leader under the control of Nazi Germany.

Norway (1943-1945) - Vidkun Quisling had staged a coup d'tat during the German invasion on April 9th, 1940. This first government was replaced by a Nazi puppet government under his leadership from February 1st, 1943. His party had never had any substantial support in Norway.

Hungary (1944-1945) - Ferenc Szlasi headed the extremist Arrow Cross party. In 1944, with German support, he replaced Admiral Mikls Horthy as Head of State; following Horthy's attempt to have Hungary change sides.

Argentina (1946-1955 and 1973-1974) - Juan Pern admired Mussolini and established his own pseudo-fascist regime. After he died, his third wife and vice-president Isabel Pern was deposed by a military junta.

South Africa (1948-1994) - Many scholars have labelled the apartheid system built by Malan and Verwoerd as a type of fascism.

Rhodesia (1965-1978) - The racial segregation system by Ian Smith is similarly considered by some to be a form of fascism.

Lebanon (1982-1988) - The right wing Christian Phalangist Party, backed by its own private army and inspired by the Spanish Falangists, was nominally in power in the country during the 1980s but had limited authority over the highly factionalised state, two-thirds of which was occupied by Israeli and Syrian troops. Phalangists, trained and supported by Israel are alleged to have carried out the Sabra and Shatila Massacre in 1982.

Iran (1950-1953) - During the Iranian National Front leader Mohammad Mossadegh's government, the attacks of extremist groups on the leftist forces, Dariush Forouhar headed the far-right black shirts of Iranian Nation Party, Sumka (The National Socialist Iranian Workers Party) led by Dr. Davud Monshizadeh, and Kabud (Iranian Nazi Party) founded by Habibollah Nobakht, Their focus was to attack the communist meetings.


Contemporary neo-fascism and allegations of neofascism are covered in a number of other articles rather than on this page:

Fascist mottos and sayings

  • Me ne frego, literally "I don't care," closer, in meaning, to "I don't give a damn": the Italian Fascist motto.
  • Libro e moschetto - fascista perfetto, "The book and the musket - make the perfect Fascist."
  • Viva la Morte, "Long live death (sacrifice)."
  • The above mentioned Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato, "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State."

Related topics


General bibliography

  • Hughes, H. Stuart. 1953. The United States and Italy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Payne, Stanley G. 1995. A History of Fascism, 1914-45. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Eatwell, Roger. 1996. Fascism: A History. New York: Allen Lane.

Bibliography on Fascist ideology

  • Laqueur, Walter. 1966. Fascism: Past, Present, Future, New York: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Griffin, Roger. 2000. "Revolution from the Right: Fascism," chapter in David Parker (ed.) Revolutions and the Revolutionary Tradition in the West 1560-1991, Routledge, London.
  • Schapiro, J. Salwyn. 1949. Liberalism and The Challenge of Fascism, Social Forces in England and France (1815-1870). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Laclau, Ernesto. 1977. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism. London: NLB/Atlantic Highlands Humanities Press.
  • Sternhell, Zeev with Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri. [1989] 1994. The Birth of Fascist Ideology, From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution., Trans. David Maisei. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Fritzsche, Peter. 1990. Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195057805

Bibliography on international fascism

  • Coogan, Kevin. 1999. Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Autonomedia.
  • Griffin, Roger. 1991. The Nature of Fascism. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Paxton, Robert O. 2004. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Weber, Eugen. [1964] 1982. Varieties of Fascism: Doctrines of Revolution in the Twentieth Century, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, (Contains chapters on fascist movements in different countries.)

Further reading

  • Seldes, George. 1935. Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism. New York and London: Harper and Brothers.
  • Reich, Wilhelm.1970. "The Mass Psychology of Fascism". New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

External links


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