| How the sausage is made|
“”Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal constraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
|—Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism|
“”It is surprising to hear, even today, from some quarters, that fascism had some merits but made two serious mistakes: the racial laws and the entry into the war. Racism and war were not deviations or episodes from its way of thinking, but the direct and inevitable consequence.
|—Italian President Sergio Mattarella in 2018|
Fascism is a term applied to a fairly diverse range of historical regimes but is generally agreed to refer to a brand of far-right totalitarianism characterized by its obsession with the nation and often race, severe regimentation of society and the economy, and extreme levels of political violence aimed at purifying and expanding the state. The first real fascist movement emerged in Italy after World War One, and the ideology was largely defined by the writings of Benito Mussolini and the National Fascist Party who came into power in that nation between 1922 and 1943. After this, the movement diversified and spread across Europe, eventually becoming prominent in regimes such as Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and Francisco Franco's Spain. There were also significant but unsuccessful fascist movements in democratic states as well, such as the the Silver Legion of America in the United States, and Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the United Kingdom. Fascism saw its downfall after World War Two and the subsequent revelation that one of the most prominent fascist states had committed arguably the most horrifying crime in modern history. Unfortunately the ideology still survives in whole or in parts to this day such as for example neo-Nazism.
It's rather difficult to pin down an exact definition of what fascism actually means, as it was originally a very fluid ideology cobbled together by Mussolini based on whatever he thought would be popular in post-1918 Italy. Another difficulty arises from the fact that successful fascist politicians often ignored the promises and documents they made before coming to power. However, fascism has some general characteristics: militaristic and often expansionist nationalism, contempt for the democratic process, contempt for both capitalist democracy and leftist socialism, a belief in a natural social hierarchy, and a desire to subordinate individual interests to the will of the
nation dictator. It also often demands a "cleansing" of "inferior" individuals and ethnic groups who are not seen as contributing to a unified society.
In the 1920s and 1930s, communists came to lump all their radical opponents together under the label of "fascist" (alongside "imperialist"), and conversely to regard their fascist enemies as defenders of capitalism, despite the original fascism being not only anti-socialist, but also anti-capitalist. In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler described both capitalism and socialism as two sides of the same coin (both being allegedly controlled by Jews), and most of fascism's reputation as a right-wing philosophy came from its staunch anti-communism, nationalism, and reactionary social views. Nonetheless, its economic program was broadly populist and called for heavy state-intervention in the economy.
From this line of thinking was born the recent addition to the vernacular of using "fascist" as a snarl word to refer to any opponent, a practice which has proliferated to the point that the word fascist has lost all meaning in the historical sense.
- 1 An attempt at definition
- 2 Ideology
- 3 Fascist regimes and ideologies
- 4 Fascism and conservatism
- 5 Broadness of the term "fascism"
- 6 Fascism and the political spectrum
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
An attempt at definition
As difficult as it may be to pin down what fascism is, historian John McNeill has attempted to arrive at a semi-quantitative assessment for fascism using Mussolini and Hitler as standards, and the following categories using the 'Benito' as the unit of measurement:
- Glorification of violence and readiness to use it in politics
- Fetishization of youth
- Fetishization of masculinity
- Leader cult
- Lost-golden-age syndrome
- Self-definition by opposition
- Mass mobilization and mass party
- Hierarchical party structure and tendency to purge the disloyal
- Chaotic administration
- Information and media policy ("Fascists lied constantly, seeking political advantage. They were privately contemptuous of the intelligence of the public. They undermined independent sources of information — and later banned them.")
- Consolidation of power
- Pecuniary and institutional corruption
- Economic policy ("Fascists had no particular economic doctrine aside from preparing for war. They wanted to build autarkic economies that could withstand blockade and did not rely on foreign trade except for bilateral deals with weaker countries.")
- Foreign policy ("Fascists in power distrusted international agreements, disdained alliances (except with one another) and sought to revise the international order that, they felt, unfairly held them down.")
- Cultural policy ("Mussolini and Hitler took pains to install fascism in the broader culture and to ally with religious authorities.")
- Racial policy ("Hitler believed in the superiority of a (fictional) Aryan race and considered Jews and Slavs inferior.")
Using these categories, McNeill attempted to come up with an assessment of the veracity of the many people who call Donald Trump a fascist. In 2016, shortly before Trump's winning the election election, McNeill assessed Trump as having 26/44 (59%) Benitos, and several weeks before the 2020 election of having 47/76 (62%) Benitos. McNeill's assessment is that Trump is so far "not a genuine fascist" yet, but nonetheless Trump "remains the greatest threat to American democracy since the Civil War."
“”All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.
Fascist ideology centres on national unity behind a single revered dictator and for the idea that citizens must serve the state (as opposed to most forms of liberal democracy, which have an inverse view of this relationship). Fascism is largely remembered for its oppressive treatment of citizens, infringements on personal freedoms and ruthless crushing of opposition. It usually requires a cult of personality around a single central figure, hero worship, and a strong emphasis on a particularly militaristic view of national security. A running theme in fascist regimes is the concept of palingenetic ultranationalism, or that there must be an "organic" revolution that will lead to a national rebirth to a more pure era that will do away with decadence and weakness within the nation. Rarely are there many specifics given on what this may look like or how to reach this "rebirth" but it is nevertheless strongly identified with fascism, to the point where some say it is the primary difference between fascist regimes and other right-wing dictatorships. In this way fascism could be considered an extreme (or just different) take on reactionary political philosophies.
During fascism's "theoretical" phase, fascist thinkers tried to present the ideology as a happy medium between the excesses of capitalism and the hideous persecution seen by the Soviet Union's brand of communism. Fascists argued that a nation's economy could be bettered by allowing the government means of indirect control, such as through domination of cartels and businesses, and requiring capitalists to use their property in the “national interest”. In Italy, Mussolini's economic plans finally manifested themselves as a sort of corporatism; his government grouped businesses and trade unions into government-controlled corporations, which handled everything from labor contracts to production quotas. In the Dictionary of Political Thought, Roger Scruton describes corporatism like this:
“”The economy was divided into associations (called ‘syndicates’) of workers, employers and the professions; only one syndicate was allowed in each branch of industry, and all officials were either fascist politicians or else loyal to the fascist cause. According to law the syndicates were autonomous, but in fact they were run by the state. The ‘corporations’ united the syndicates in a given industry, but made no pretence at autonomy from the state.
In other words, Mussolini's quasi-socialist pretensions were simply another means to achieve totalitarian control over Italy's economy.
This holds true elsewhere for all aspects of fascist economics. Despite some socialistic rhetoric, fascists by and large remained loyal to the traditional class divisions of old; they favored the interests of the rich over the interests of the poor. While Mussolini was by no means a free-market capitalist, he maintained friendly relations with those overseas, especially in the United States by allowing foreign investment ties. As historian John Weiss noted, “Property and income distribution and the traditional class structure remained roughly the same under fascist rule. What changes there were favored the old elites or certain segments of the party leadership.” Referring to Nazi rule in Germany, historian Roger Eatwell said, “If a revolution is understood to mean a significant shift in class relations, including a redistribution of income and wealth, there was no Nazi revolution.” Even Mussolini prior to World War Two allowed business owners to do whatever they wanted, and he also cut business taxes, slackened work conditions laws, and reduced mandatory wages.
“”We observe that nothing creates fascists like the threat of freedom.
Fascists also believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and that the full mobilization under fascism is the only way to prevent national or even civilizational decline. Fascists view their assumption of power as a "course correction" that is needed to prevent the collapse of their way of life. This collapse is usually viewed as being caused by certain undesirable groups of people like liberals, Jews, or leftists. Fascism promotes the regeneration of the nation by purging it of decadence. This is why fascists aestheticized modern technology, especially as it relates to industrial efficiency and wartime violence.
A particularly revealing case study of this phenomenon is Vichy France. During the reign of Philippe Petain, the French government enacted a series of reforms under an ideological program called the "National Revolution" which aimed to reverse a perceived decline of the French nation due to liberal decadence, a perceived disrespect for traditional values, and (of course) the evil Jews. None of this was forced on the French by Nazi Germany; this was the culmination of decades of monarchist and conservative resentment after the French Revolution which came to a head after France's humiliation in the opening campaigns of World War Two.
This is why fascist movements tended to emerge after instances of national suffering. The Nazis wanted to reverse the horrid conditions Germany suffered after the Great War (which they viewed as being caused in large part by the Jews); the Italians wanted much the same. The Spanish Civil War was preceded by decades of social tension between conservative monarchists and the urban working class. In each case, far-right elements of society come into conflict with other groups, who they then blame for causing whatever problems they perceive as affecting society. They then take power and exact retribution, which takes the form of bloody massacres and purges.
Unfortunately, this is perhaps the most enduring aspect of fascism. Far-right wackjobs still like to fearmonger about fading "traditional values" and "morality" and point to what they claim is a civilizational decline being caused by the increasing influence of modern liberalism. It's the same song and dance. It's always been the same song and dance.
Nationalism and racism
“”Of course, I am against fascism with its spread of color prejudice and race hatred and working class oppression. How could any sensible Negro be otherwise?
The logical next step from the fascist concept of a needed national renewal is a general sense of extremist nationalism. The concept of the nation was of central importance to fascists, and Mussolini's break with socialism came about due to the fact that socialists held class in higher regard. Fascists historically viewed the nation as a singular entity that binds people together through shared heritage and culture. Fascists wanted to replace internationalist class conflict with nationalist class cooperation.
Fascists were and are typically racist, usually holding that non-European races are inherently inferior; they historically also almost always promoted some form of imperialism although this seems to be less common in the modern postcolonial era. Nazism meanwhile can be most characterized by its obsession with the concept of race, much of which stems from the strict pseudoscientific racial hierarchy described in Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Nationalism also led fascists to be hostile towards immigrants, particularly left-wing immigrants. This was most noticeable in France when Nazi policies were driving refugees into France; fascist thinkers in France criticized the government for accepting immigrants out of "foolish sentimentality" and for turning France into a "depository for trash." There was also the usual fearmongering over the idea that immigrants were actually infiltrating France to act as spies, an attitude which likely contributed to the antisemitic Dreyfus affair.
Fascism by and large tended to be socially conservative. Fascist Italy, for instance, cracked down on pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, and birth control as degenerate sexual deviancy, although local authorities were sporadic in their enforcement of these laws. Nazi Germany viewed homosexuality as degenerate, and persecuted homosexuals by sending them to concentration camps.
Gender roles were strictly enforced under Mussolini's government, with the man himself saying "War is to the man what maternity is to the woman." The state gave financial incentives to women to birth as many children as they could; this was part of an effort to boost birthrates and expand the Italian population. After all, more babies eventually means more soldiers. The Nazis also encouraged traditional gender roles for women, even going so far as to borrow Mussolini's idea and bestow medals upon women who gave birth to four or more children. The fascists' solution to unemployment was to boot women out of the workplace, with Mussolini saying that working was "incompatible with childbearing."
The Nazis had a complicated relationship with abortion; they were fine with it if the fetus were known to have a genetic defect or was from a non-Aryan parent, but they were unrelentingly opposed to the practice otherwise. In certain cases, abortion was compulsory.
Fascist dictatorships are usually not just content with a silent, obedient population, but expect the people to actively come out and support the regime. A successful fascist dictatorship will rely more on public opinion than on sheer oppression. This is another point where fascism differs from other right-wing dictatorships, which usually rely on little more than oppression and try to shut down public opinion.
This is because fascism emphasizes "direct action" up to and including political violence as a core method of achieving its aims. Fascism exalts the concept of the "endless struggle" for without struggle, they believe society will decay and collapse due to its own decadence. This set of beliefs is a big part of why most fascist parties formed their own private death squads before coming to power; it was their way of committing acts of political violence and of mobilizing the citizenry.
“”Fascism is the cult of organised murder, invented by the arch-enemies of society. It tends to destroy civilization and revert man to his most barbarous state.
Social Darwinism is a core component of fascist belief. Central to their ideology is the concept that nations and races must rid themselves of those individuals rendered weak by disease, mental illness, or political or social "degeneracy" in order to survive in a world defined by constant struggle. Social Darwinism was embraced by fascists because it helped them legitimize their focus on racial identity and the role of organic societal relations.
Naturally, this led to a number of fascist atrocities aimed at ridding society of its weakest members. Most infamous is Aktion T4 run by Nazi Germany, which was an effort to euthanize people with physical and mental disabilities, as well as those afflicted with severe illness or old age. The Holocaust can also be seen as an extension of this, as the Nazis believed that Jews were actively harmful to the functioning of their organic society, thus necessitating mass murder. Meanwhile, the fascist need to create greater numbers of "strong" people led to the population growth programs seen above, where fascists would encourage women of their preferred national race to give birth to as many children as possible.
Social Darwinism was also extended by fascists to the nation-scale as well. "Survival of the fittest" was used to justify fascist imperialism, as strong nations would naturally dominate the weaker as nature dictates. Weaker nations were composed of weaker people, and thus fascists saw no need to accommodate the needs of those they conquered. In fact, those people fascists considered to be weak were often eliminated, most infamously during the Holocaust, but also during the massacres committed by Mussolini in colonial Libya and Ethiopia.
In summary: the balance sheet of fascism
In Introducing Fascism: A Graphic Guide, Stuart Hood provides what he likens to a "balance sheet" of Fascism — which is to say, a non-exhaustive list of traits and attitudes that make out the core of the historical Fascist regimes;
Fascist regimes in Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan were superficially varied, drawing on different histories and traditions. But they had some or all of the following in common;
- A political philosophy which was a compound of radical ideas and mysticism, of left-wing-sounding slogans and conservative policies.
- A strong state with a powerful executive which did not require democratic consultation before acting, combined with a hatred of bourgeois democracy.
- Hatred of Communism and Socialism as political movements based on the idea of class differences and class antagonisms. Against this idea, Fascism aimed to substitute a corporative state that denied a divergence of class interests between capital and labour.
- The formation of a mass party on paramilitary lines which drew its recruits in part from the discontented and disenfranchised working-class.
- Admiration of power and the deed which found expression in the cult of violence. Training for war and violence gave free rein to sadistic and pathological characteristics.
- Authoritarian programmes which emphasized conformity, discipline and submission. Society was militarized and directed by a messianic leader.
- The cultivation of irrationality — the impulse was more important than logical thought. Irrationality led to a cult of death — witness the Spanish Fascist slogan: Arriba la Muerte! — Up with Death!
- Nostalgia for the legendary past. For instance, in Italy's case, the Roman Empire. In Germany, an appeal to primitive myths of the Nibelungen. The initials SS were written in runic letters from Viking times. Japan resurrected the medieval code of the samurai.
- Aversion to intellectuals whom Fascism accused of undermining the old certainties and traditional values.
- Fascism claimed to honour the dignity of labour and the role of the peasantry as providers of the staples of life. With this went an idealized picture of rural life - the healthy countryside versus the decadent city.
- Machismo. Women were relegated to traditional female roles as housewives, servants, nurses, and as breeders of "racially pure" warriors for the state war machine.
- Fascism was frequently subsidized by big industrialists and landowners.
- Fascism's electoral support came overwhelmingly from the middle-class — in particular the lower middle-class affected by economic crisis.
- Fascism needed scapegoat enemies — "the Other" on whom to focus society's aggressions and hates.
“”In truth, we are relativists par excellence, and the moment relativism linked up with Nietzsche, and with his Will to Power, was when Italian Fascism became, as it still is, the most magnificent creation of an individual and a national Will to Power.
It's been effectively argued (originally from Isiah Berlin) that fascism drew upon the "Counter-Enlightenment" movement, a movement he pinned primarily to Continental German philosophy and subjectivism. Opposing the Enlightenment ideal of rationalism and democracy but by post-World War One also opposing a return to older forms of feudalism, this movement came to be heavily influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche and his concept of the Will to Power, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's mysticism and belief in cultures as being organic units that "create" reality, and Johann Gottfried Herder's radical cultural and moral relativism. The movement was characterized by a belief in vitalism (a desire for a spiritual rejuvenation that often opposed both contemporary monotheism and atheism/agnosticism) and anti-rationalism, and a view of liberalism and modern civilization as decadent to the bone.
Fascist regimes and ideologies
“”Mussolini did not have any philosophy: he had only rhetoric. He was a militant atheist at the beginning and later signed the Convention with the Church and welcomed the bishops who blessed the Fascist pennants. In his early anticlerical years, according to a likely legend, he once asked God, in order to prove His existence, to strike him down on the spot. Later, Mussolini always cited the name of God in his speeches, and did not mind being called the Man of Providence.
|—Umberto Eco, Ur-fascism (1995)|
Fascist Italy, since 1922 under Mussolini, is commonly considered the first fascist regime, and his methods of ruling and gaining power became an influence on Adolf Hitler. Fascist Italy is most characterized by its focus on Italian nationalism (particularly on the historical Roman Empire), irredentism towards historical Italian territory, and its corporatist economic and social structure. Mussolini's take on fascism is probably the version best defined by the phrase "third positionism", but his corporatist ideals quickly broke down into the government forcing labor groups to do what the industrialists wanted.
Fascist Italy was also a colonial power in Africa, and some of its worst crimes occurred there. Much of Mussolini's influences took direct inspiration from Ancient Rome; he explicitly wanted to recreate the Roman Empire and believed fascism would bring about a "Third" Rome (after the original ancient Rome and the Holy Roman Empire afterwards). His speeches explicitly echoed the Risorgimento (Italian resurgence or reunification) with his talk of a "Third Rome."  Terza Roma (Third Rome) was also a name for Mussolini's plan to expand Rome towards Ostia and the sea, and his irredentist goals were characterized as reclaiming ancient Roman lands.
“”The common elements of fascism — extreme nationalism, social Darwinism, the leadership principle, elitism, anti-liberalism, anti-egalitarianism, anti-democracy, intolerance, glorification of war, the supremacy of the state and anti-intellectualism — together form a rather loose doctrine. Fascism emphasises action rather than theory, and fascist theoretical writings are always weak. Hitler's Nazism had rather more theory, though its intellectual quality is appalling. This greater theoretical content is mostly concerned with race, and it was Hitler's racial theories that distinguished Nazism from Italian fascism.
|—Ian Adams, Political Ideology Today|
The National Socialist German Workers Party came to power in Germany after Hitler was named chancellor in 1933. From there, the regime consolidated complete control over German society. It became known for the myriad outrages committed against Germany's Jewish population beginning with fearmongering, evolving to political violence, and culminating with the Holocaust.
The Nazi regime was also the most obsessed with race, establishing and implementing a strict racial hierarchy based on Hitler's ideas. This resulted in the passage of the Nuremberg Laws, which criminalized interracial marriages, stripped racial minorities of citizenship rights, and defined Jews and Roma as "enemies of the race-based state". One of Hitler's other cornerstone ideals was the concept of "lebensraum", which was his motivation to expand the German state through conquest, particularly through the fertile lands of Eastern Europe. This policy also played into the annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, as well as the beginning of WWII when he invaded Poland.
Nazism, while a subset of fascism, did have some notable differences from its parent ideology. For example, while Hitler was obsessed with racial purity and racial hierarchies, Mussolini did not support racialism and antisemitism until fairly late in his rule, and seems to have mostly been doing this to help cement his alliance with the Nazis. Mussolini instead saw the nation rather than race as the rallying point for Fascist unity; Hitler saw both concepts as one and the same. That being said, fascists post-WWII do tend to be racist antisemites.
Shōwa Statism (Japan)
Imperial Japan from the 1920s onwards became dominated by the Kōdōha (or "Imperial Way") Faction which established a totalitarian military dictatorship until its forcible dissolution in 1936. This ideology, whilst distinctly Japanese, holds many parallels to fascism, from the glorification of violence to the Social Darwinist survival of the fittest militarism and the "great race" propaganda, where they held themselves above all others. Fascism's machismo cult of personality was even given a distinctly Japanese spin, as they had birthed-from-god emperor worship, itself a longstanding Japanese tradition from centuries of Shogun rule. Although it lost power, the Imperial Way Faction's followers retained great influence over Japanese politics, and Japan remained a military dictatorship throughout the pre-WWII Shōwa period of Japan.
Japan during this time was rabidly expansionist, and it became mired in a war with China from 1937-onwards then invaded most of Southeast Asia for oil reasons. The Japanese people had long resented the Western imperialist powers running roughshod over Asia, and sought to establish their own empire as an Asian counterweight.
While a puppet regime under the Nazis, the Vichy regime used its own initiative to implement many elements of the fascist state. This cannot be entirely handwaved away with the "they needed to please Germany" excuse. Under Philippe Pétain, the French government enacted a social program called the Révolution nationale, which was intended to roll back French social progress made after the original French Revolution. Indeed, Vichy France was built on the longstanding social resentment that had been long held by French conservatives towards their more cosmopolitan countrymen.
Philippe Pétain became the leader of a French personality cult, with a song dedicated to his glory becoming the unofficial national anthem. He led France into becoming a totalitarian dictatorship until the end of his regime in 1944.
Although French complicity in the Holocaust is often excused as being the result of German coercion, French conservatives had long held antisemitic beliefs; this can be seen in incidents such as the Dreyfus affair. The Vel' d'Hiv Roundup is one infamous incident in which French police acted on their own to mass arrest and deport more than 13,000 Jews to the German death camps. The raid was planned and carried out primarily by French citizens, with little to no involvement by occupying German troops.
Falangism was the ideology followed in Francisco Franco's domination of Spain; it emphasized social conservatism and nationalist Catholic identity far more than most other forms of fascism. "Falange" is the Spanish word for "Phalanx", a shieldwall tactic used by the Spartans and Alexander the Great, which required extreme discipline from the soldiers to execute properly.[better source needed]
The Falangist ideological economic system was built on Mussolini's corporatist ideas; their version was called national syndicalism but was intended to work in essentially the same way. However, before and during the Spanish Civil War, it became necessary to accommodate the ideas of their monarchist and conservative allies when the movements merged, so the Falangists largely abandoned their supposedly anti-capitalist beliefs. Thus, in practice, Franco's fascist regime more resembled an ultra-conservative brand of totalitarianism than it did anything created by the Nazis or Mussolini.
Franco's apologists like to claim that he shielded Spain's Jews from the Holocaust. However, it was discovered in 2010 that Franco had ordered the creation of a secret archive of Jewish names which was later handed over to Heinrich Himmler. Franco's regime would have cheerfully cooperated with the Holocaust had the alliance with Nazi Germany been finalized; as it was Franco decided not to join the war due to concerns over his nation's readiness.
Falangism was not a solely Spanish phenomenon, it gained followers throughout the Latin world with varying levels of power and implementation.
Ustaše regime (Croatia)
“”At Crkveni Bok, an unfortunate place, over which about five hundred 15- to 20-year-old thugs descended under the leadership of an Ustasha lieutenant colonel, people were killed everywhere, women were raped and then tortured to death, children were killed. I saw in the Sava River the corpse of a young woman with her eyes dug out and a stake driven into her sexual parts. This woman was at most twenty years old when she fell into the hands of these monsters. All around, pigs devoured unburied human beings. "Fortunate” residents were shipped in terrifying freight cars; many of these involuntary "passengers" cut their veins during transport to the camp [Jasenovac]"
|—General Edmund von Horstanau, Hitler's Plenipotentiary to Croatia, describing the horrifying brutality of the Ustaše on their victims. '|
A particularly cruel strain of fascism was formed in the Balkans, specifically the former Yugoslavia, a fallen country synonymous with ethnic strife and infamous for bloody ethnic clashes for much of its existence. As Serbia was the hegemon of the region and many resented their reach over Croats, Slovenes, and Bosniaks, eventually, in the outset of the second world war, Croatian fascists, the Ustaše, directly inspired by Hitler and Mussolini, rose up through a combination of ultra-nationalism, extreme religious fundamentalism, and pathological disdain for Serbs especially.
Ustaše were utterly bugfuck irrational crackpots, absolutely fanatical even for fascists. The Ustaše believed in Nazi race theory, viewing Serbs, Jews, and Roma as subhumans who deserved little more than outright extermination, thereby making them active participants of Nazi ideology, but towards their fellow Slavs. Even Bosniaks, whom they viewed as "Muslim Croats," not Slavs, and thus did not persecute on the basis of race, were still persecuted on the basis of politics, as many Bosniaks refused to obey the Ustaše. The Ustaše were a uniquely Croatian brand of fascism, combining Nazi eugenics with Roman Catholicism and Croatian nationalism, alongside direct inspiration from and actual training by Mussolini's Italy. 
Ustaše were indescribably heartless, more a roving mob of killers than a party of lawmakers. Under their dictator, Poglavnik Ante Pavelić, they set up death camps for Serbs, Jews, Romani, and dissident Croats and Bosniaks who opposed their rule. Their most infamous death camp was Jasenovac, where one hundred thousand people, mostly Serbs, were murdered in horrifying ways, from removal of hearts and sawing off heads to disembowelment and eye-gouging, and their bodies would be thrown to a nearby river. The Ustaše were so horrifyingly brutal, even the Nazis were disgusted at the barbarity, using words like “slaughter”, “atrocities”, “butchery” and “terror,” cataloguing hundreds of thousands of deaths overall, not just at Jasenovac. German Captain Konopatzki called an Ustaše massacre of Serb civilians in Eastern Bosnia "a new wave of butchery of innocents." Lieutenant Colonel von Wedel wrote that in western Bosnia, Ustaše killed women and children “like cattle” in a series of "bestial executions." Major Walter Kleinenberger, officer with the German 714th division, complained that Ustaše brutality "was in defiance of all laws of civilization. The Ustaše murder without exception men, women and children." 
Before their rise, Yugoslavia was led by autocratic King Alexander, who refused to even entertain autonomy or independence, so the Ustaše took advantage and launched several terrorist attacks at the Yugoslav government, culminating in their assassination of King Alexander. His cousin, Prince Paul, became regent. Paul was pro-democracy, pro-peace, and pro-western, but felt compelled to appease fascism even though he was deeply suspicious and distrustful of them. He was overthrown by the military after he signed the Tripartite Act, prompting Germany and Italy to invade Yugoslavia, who surrendered unconditionally. From there, the Ustaše were appointed by the Nazis to establish a puppet regime called the Independent State of Croatia, led by dictator Ante Pavelić who adopted the title of "Poglavnik," echoing Mussolini adopting "Duce" and Hitler adopting "Fuhrer." Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy never really cared much about Yugoslavia beyond needing the Ustaše to clamp down on all dissent and maintain order within the Independent State of Croatia, thereby giving the Ustaše free reign to do whatever else they want. The Nazis felt Slavs of all stripes were inferior, so the Ustaše were just a bunch of inferior savages who barely deserved much attention. The Ustaše leaders tried to raise their political standing within the Axis by creating a theory of a pseudo-Gothic origin story about the Croats, intending to make themselves seem more Aryan, even though it wasn't true. According to Ustaše theory, Orthodox Serbians were public enemy number one, worthy only to die by their hands. It was entirely the Ustaše's decision to set up death camps, without prompt from the Nazis.
It was against the Ustaše that communist revolutionary Josip Broz Tito rose up as a guerrilla fighter and helped overthrow the Ustaše regime, later becoming the Prime Minister of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Most of the Ustaše leaders were killed or arrested or went into exile, including Pavelić who died two years after having a bullet lodged in his spine. When Yugoslavia collapsed after Tito's death, the Croatian Defence Forces, the military arm of the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP), from 1991 to 1992, wore black uniforms with Ustaše symbols and slogans, and their units were named after Ustaše officials Rafael Boban and Jure Francetić, before being absorbed by the Croatian Army after the January 1992 ceasefire. This despite Croatian president Franjo Tuđman publicly and directly comparing them to the Nazi SS. The Yugoslav Wars ended with the final balkanization of Yugoslavia, and the legacy of the Ustaše and Serbia's own conduct remain contentious topics to this day.
Red fascism (Soviet Union)
“”"Stalinism [took on] a regressive course, generating a species of red fascism identical in its superstructural and choreographic features [with its Fascist model]".
|—Bruno Rizzi, founder of the Communist Party of Italy (PCI), in 1938|
Although many adherents of socialism and communism would reject labeling the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) as fascist, such as British communist and pro-Soviet apologist Seumas Milne, many opponents would certainly make comparisons between the regime and ideology of that state with fascism. Among them: bloodsheds and genocides perpetrated under Lenin and Stalin, gulags (Russian word for concentration and labor camps), the silencing of any opposition, the lack of any democratic representation, expansionism and imperialism, discrimination against minorities, cult of personality (especially under Stalin) and totalitarianism. One of the greatest crimes of humanity, the Holodomor, was committed by the Soviet state.
The Soviet Union is many times credited with defeating Nazi Germany under Hitler, but it is very important to note that before Hitler's invasion of the USSR, the partitioning of Poland and the Baltic States happened as part of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, a treaty of non-aggression between Adolf Hitler and Stalin. In essence, Stalin enabled and cooperated with the Nazis in order to expand the influence of communism. Interestingly enough, Neo-nazis today use an anti-semitic dog-whistle that was originally founded in the USSR: "rootless cosmopolitan", an anti-semitic accusation levied against Jews in the USSR accused of being capitalists and traitors of socialism, inspired by the conspiracy of the (non-existent) Doctors' plot. It is worth noting that the term "red fascism" may also be used by anarchists and democratic socialists to distance themselves from the horrors of the Soviet past.
“”"Greece since the 4th of August became an anticommunist State, an antiparliamentary State, a totalitarian State. A State based on its farmers and workers, and so antiplutocratic. There is not, of course, a particular party to govern. This party is all the People, except of the incorrigible communists and the reactionary old parties politicians."
|—Ioannis Metaxas, bragging about establishing his 4th of August Regime.|
A less talked about but still relevant form and regime of Fascism, Metaxism is the hellenic flavor of this reactionary ideology. It is also the proclaimed ideology of the existing far-right Neo-nazi party Golden Dawn and its splinter parties. Metaxism advocates for hellenic racial purity, cultural homogeneity and dominance in the Balkans, removal of immigrants and minorities from Greece and the usual reactionary shit. The person after which the ideology is named after, military officer and Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas, declared that his regime was the "Third Greek Civilization", a common theme among fascists to reference the nostalgia of a distant but glorious past (like Hitler did with the Third Reich — German for "Third Realm"). Like his German and Italian contemporaries, Metaxas adopted the title of Archigos, Greek for "leader" or "chief."
Key to their ideology is its classical influences. Metaxas thought Hellenic nationalism would galvanize "the heathen values of ancient Greece, specifically those of Sparta, along with the Christian values of the Medieval empire of Byzantium." Ancient Macedonia was glorified as the first political union of the Hellenes. As its main symbol, the youth organization of the regime chose the labrys/pelekys, the symbol of ancient Minoan Crete.
Traditional Greek values of "Country, Loyalty, Family and Religion", which Metaxas praised repeatedly, were deliberately reminiscent of ancient Spartans, whose violent and blood-soaked warrior culture modern popular culture glorifies and Metaxas damn-near deifies. The regime promoted the perceived Spartan ideals of self-discipline, militarism and collective sacrifice, while Byzantium was Metaxas' example of his ideal government, emphasizing a centralized state and devotion to the monarchy and Greek Orthodox Church. Propaganda presented him as the "First Peasant" of the people, the "First Worker" of the state, and the "National Father" of the Greeks, bringing to mind Ancient Rome's early emperors using "Princeps" or "First Citizen" rather than emperor as their preferred titles. Metaxas claimed that his "Third Hellenic Civilization" combined the best of ancient Greece and the Greek Byzantine Empire of the Middle Ages.
Although it is common that fascists help each other to gain power, like how Hitler and Mussolini helped Franco to win the civil war in Spain, there was fascist infighting in the Second World War: Mussolini occupied Albania and invaded the northwest of Greece, in a bid to expand his power, which was in conflict with Metaxas and the Greek fascists. With great irony, because of the Italian invasion, Metaxas felt he had no choice but to align with the Allies against the Axis, but he died of illness on January 1941, shortly before the German invasion and subsequent fall of Greece, which went under military occupation by Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria. The Greek government went into exile and was replaced by the Hellenic State, an Axis collaborationist puppet government, which collapsed after the occupation ended. Deeply unpopular among Greeks, the Hellenic State had three prime ministers in four years: Georgios Tsolakoglou, the general who signed the unconditional surrender of the Hellenic Army to the Germans; medical doctor Konstantinos Logothetopoulos, who was himself sacked; and Ioannis Rallis, whose deep experience in politics allowed him to crack down on Greek resistance much more efficiently than his predecessors. All three were arrested alongside hundreds of other Greek collaborators after the fall of the Hellenic State.
After the first World War and following the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Hungary was on its own again — Hungary wasn't sovereign since the defeat of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1526, close to the village of Mohács, inflicted by the Ottomans — ruled by the national-conservative Miklós Horthy, a former vice admiral of the Habsburg navy. In order to not fall in the sphere of Soviet influence, he reluctantly allied with Nazi Germany during the first years of the second World War and his government, establishing the "Government of National Unity", a Hungarian puppet-state. After failing to support the Nazis in the war effort against the USSR, he was deposed by the Nazis in 1944 in the Operation Margarethe. The now head of state of Hungary Ferenc Szálasi was a long-time leader of the Hungarian Fascist organization Arrow Cross Party (NYKP), previously banned under Horthy. The flag of the NYKP is inspired by the racial purity of the Nazis, referencing the Arrow Cross (an ancient symbol of Magyar tribes that settled in the Pannonian basin) as an analogue to the Nazis using the swastika (Hakenkreuz). Szálasi cooperated with the Nazis and deported Jews, Romanis and other political captives to Hitler in order to be exterminated.
Viktor Orban, authoritarian prime minister of Hungary, has an uncomfortable fondness towards this disgraceful past, as his government has dabbled in Holocaust revisionism by minimizing Hungary's role in the genocide and eagerly rehabilitated wartime figures as anti-communist icons.
American fascism (United States)
“”"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross".
|—Quote often wrongly attributed to Sinclair Lewis|
Fascism is like a metastasizing cancer, growing tumor after tumor until the entire body is ravaged by an incurable illness. How it grows, festers, and becomes popular is as important if not more so than analyzing what it does after it becomes a power onto itself. There was always an undercurrent of fascistic behavior and ideological leanings within the United States, as the Ku Klux Klan and Know Nothing Party both embraced ultra-reactionary beliefs that foreshadowed the rise of Mussolini and Hitler later in the 20th century.
Hitler was himself directly inspired by American racism, eugenics, white supremacy, and the system of apartheid even among whites if certain groups were not thought of as white enough. As admirers of Jim Crow's segregation of blacks from whites, America's models that designated Native Americans, Filipinos, Latin Americans, and other groups as non-citizens outright influenced the citizenship portion of the Nuremberg Laws, which "stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and classified them as nationals." Anti-miscegenation laws, which prohibited interracial marriages in 30 of 48 states, was adopted by the Nazis to legislate against interracial marriage with Jews, precisely because the United States was the harshest against interracial marriage, with some states threatening "severe criminal punishment," again something the Nazis were "very eager" to emulate. The Nazis especially were intrigued by "American jurisprudence on how to classify who belonged to which race," on account of the one-drop rule where "anyone with any black ancestry was legally black and could not marry a white person." Laws also "defined what made a person Asian or Native American," to "prevent these groups from marrying whites." The Nazis felt this was too extreme, so their Nuremberg Laws, taking its cues from America, "came up with a system of determining who belonged to what group, allowing the Nazis to criminalize marriage and sex between Jewish and Aryan people." Rather than adopting a “one-drop rule,” the Nazis decreed that "a Jewish person was anyone who had three or more Jewish grandparents." It bears repeating: American racial classification law "was much harsher than anything the Nazis themselves were willing to introduce in Germany." American apartheid had it so that various legislation outlined "rules governing American Indians, citizenship criteria for Filipinos and Puerto Ricans as well as African Americans, immigration regulations, and prohibitions against miscegenation in some 30 states." No other country, "not even South Africa, possessed a comparably developed set of relevant laws."
In Mein Kampf, Hitler himself called America the "one state" making progress toward "the creation of the kind of order he wanted for Germany," specifically progress toward a primarily racial conception of citizenship, by “excluding certain races from naturalization.” In 1935, the National Socialist Handbook on Law and Legislation, a basic guide for Nazis as they built their new society, would declare that "the United States had achieved the “fundamental recognition” of the need for a race state." Hitler was particularly fascinated by manifest destiny, even saying “One thing the Americans have and which we lack is the sense of vast open spaces," echoing how America's manifest destiny called for and actually succeeded in stealing as much land as possible for white settlers from everyone else. He wrote approvingly of how white settlers in America "gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand." This was not unique to Hitler, as a German general who carried out genocidal policies against the Herero population outright said "The natives must give way. Look at America." The German governor of the region "compared Southwest Africa to Nevada, Wyoming, and Colorado." The civilian head of the German colonial office directly said "The history of the colonization of the United States, clearly the biggest colonial endeavor the world has ever known, had as its first act the complete annihilation of its native peoples," a doctrine of "annihilation operation" that he approved of. German lawyer Heinrich Krieger, an exchange student in at the University of Arkansas School of Law, became “the single most important figure in the Nazi assimilation of American race law,” as he sought to "deploy historical and legal knowledge" in the service of "Aryan racial purity." The Nazis saw the United States as ultimately a kindred spirit in the thrall of white supremacy and the weaponization of race against undesirables.
Fascism by definition is parasitic, wrapping itself around the flag and bathing in the language of its host country. Actual out-and-out fascists found form within the United States, such as the Silver Shirt Legion, founded in 1933 by William Dudley Pelley, the Black Legion, a white supremacist militia offshoot of the KKK, and the German American Bund, which emerged the same year from a number of older groups, including the Friends of New Germany and the Free Society of Teutonia. The Silver Shirts and German American Bund directly took inspiration from Nazism, while the Black Legion agitated for a violent revolution to establish their brand of American white supremacist fascism in America. These groups were largely on the fringe, basically nobodies in the grand scheme of things, but fascist supporters and Nazi sympathizers, such as Henry Ford, Bayer, and Monsanto, all made business deals with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy as American entrepreneurs even helped fund or create the German war machine and gas chambers. This is because, according to philosopher Jason Stanley, white supremacy in the United States is an example of the fascist politics of hierarchy, in that it "demands and implies a perpetual hierarchy" in which "whites dominate and control non-whites."
The white supremacist Know Nothings were so-called because, having started as a secret society, if asked their political allegiance, they were to say: "I know nothing." They called themselves the Native American Party, and then the American Party, because they were staunchly ultra-nationalist American exceptionalists with intense anti-Catholic sentiment and obsessive anti-immigrant stances, a pre-civil war incarnation of the wingnut Tea Party movement. Just like fascists, the Know Nothings had a massive persecution complex, floated conspiracy theories over how immigrants were infecting the national psyche, and genuinely believed in an alleged "Romanist" conspiracy where Catholics were planning to subvert civil and religious liberty in the United States, and sought to politically organize native-born Protestants in what they described as a defense of their traditional religious and political values. In their brief twenty year history as a major force, they were incredibly destructive bigots, having "torched churches, instigated riots and even elected 100 members of Congress" all on the basis of their hatred of immigrants. A particularly infamous moment came in August 1855, when the election for Kentucky governor turned violent. Fearful that Catholics were flooding the polls with non-citizens (sound familiar?), Know Nothings started rioting in Louisville, Kentucky, which caused twenty-two deaths and dozens more injuries, known now as "Bloody Monday." In Baltimore, Maryland, the mayoral elections of 1856, 1857, and 1858 were all marred by violence and well-founded accusations of ballot-rigging by the Know Nothings. In the coastal town of Ellsworth, Maine in 1854, Know Nothings were associated with the tarring and feathering of a Catholic priest, Jesuit Johannes Bapst, and they also burned down a Catholic church in Bath, Maine. Know Nothings stopped being relevant as a distinct force on the outset of the American Civil War, but their wingnut xenophobia outlasted them for centuries later.
The Ku Klux Klan was even more explicit and extreme than the Know Nothings, to the point of being called proto-fascist by modern day scholars and historians. They were made up of ex-Confederates who absolutely refused to accept a reality and world where blacks were freedmen, and explicitly sought not only to return to the "good old days" of blacks being lesser, but actively enacted a campaign of mass terror, brutality, and violence against blacks, as they carried out hundreds if not thousands of anti-black lynchings all over the nation. Klansmen found common cause with Mussolini, as Klan-aligned newspaper Imperial Night Hawk asserted that Mussolini’s fight to crush “communism and anarchy” was “an entirely worthy cause.” The Klan, Nazism, and Italian fascism all were movements that emerged from the crucible of war in times of "economic difficulty, class polarization, and political impasse." Each mobilized men and women from a broad spectrum of the population "but had particular attraction for the petite bourgeoisie." Each of these movements also "enlisted the active backing or toleration of important members of the established elite and gained strength from the legitimacy thus bestowed." They also "exerted particular appeal for members of the police and armed forces," who in turn provided aid and cover for the movements’ extralegal terror. All three exploited working class anxieties to their advantage against their scapegoats while pretending to be a friend to labor and the workers. Finally, all three movements had similar organizational styles in their "conscious emphasis on the irrational," on "liturgical rituals," and on "public displays of power." There were many differences, from the Klan's reverence to Protestanism, lack of a true personality cult, disregard for dictatorship (at least rhetorically), fading sense of economic hardship by the mid-1920s (thereby depriving it of "resentment politics"), and equal fading of its sense of urgency as labor's power declined amid the Red Scares. "Without extreme conditions, extreme measures enjoyed less legitimacy."
As we turn the page over to modern times, fascism becoming more prominent in the United States by the 21st century has become an increasingly common fear among American voters, journalists, philosophers, historians, scholars, researchers, and even lawmakers themselves, not because of explicit Neo-Nazis winning elections, but because of an already-existing undercurrent of reactionary thought that had always been there and outright inspired some of the most infamous and murderous adherents to this ideology. Today a "politics of resentment" rooted in authentic American piety and nativism sometimes leads to violence against some of the very same "internal enemies" once targeted by the Nazis, "such as homosexuals and defenders of abortion rights." Explicitly "foreign" examples of fascism and Nazism never truly won over popular support among Americans, but proto-fascist and neofascist movements with a distinctly American flavor, such as the alt right evoke far more appeal. The alt right best shows how someone could be manipulated and groomed into becoming a Neo Nazi, as their whole basis is to take male grievances, real or fake, and weaponize it against minorities, immigrants, refugees, feminists, Muslims, liberals, socialists, so-called "SJWs," and so on, sometimes even using actual Nazi era slogans (ala "Cultural Marxist" came from the antisemitic "Cultural Bolshevism" insult) against their targets.
Fears of fascism have grown particularly during Donald Trump's presidency, as his habit of scapegoating entire groups, glorification and direct incitement of violence, imagined grievances, anti-intellectualism, appeals to a false golden age, authoritarian crackdown on protesters and activists, dehumanizing language towards minorities, and machismo personality cult all parallel that of Mussolini. But this also includes policies such as concentration camps on the border, kidnapping peaceful demonstrators, teargassing protesters, issuing hysterectomies to immigrant detainee women (a borderline genocidal act), and employing Homeland Security as an unaccountable paramilitary secret police force. It's not for nothing that actual Neo-Nazis love Trump. Trump's attempted self-coup on January 6, 2021 on the backs of Neo-Nazi mob violence has made it clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it really can happen here, and it must be confronted and annihilated before it ever has a chance at power ever again.
Fascism and conservatism
“”Fascism begins the moment a ruling class, fearing the people may use their political democracy to gain economic democracy, begins to destroy political democracy in order to retain its power of exploitation and special privilege.
|—Tommy Douglas, Canadian politician.|
It is clear that fascists received some support from conservatives who saw them as allies in opposing communism. In a climate of increased polarization and instability, in which a communist takeover was viewed as a serious threat, conservatives formed coalitions expecting that the fascists would eventually be co-opted or abandon their radicalism. Hence, Hitler was allowed to form a government by Paul von Hindenburg on the advice of Franz von Papen (who were both conservatives), Mussolini was appointed prime minister by the conservative Italian king, and Spain's monarchists supported the Falange during the Civil War. In Italy, conservatives were somewhat successful at moderating the more radical elements of fascism, with the original corporativist economic policy being scrapped in favor of a more economically liberal policy; in Spain, the conservatives in the coalition eventually won out with Franco being succeeded by the hereditary King Juan Carlos I, who led Spain to democracy following Franco's death (a fascist coup attempt failed to stop it). In Germany, by contrast, Hitler elbowed the conservatives aside quickly after the death of Hindenburg, creating a much more totalitarian government.
Many political philosophies called fascism in retrospect (Austrofascism, Spanish National Catholicism, etc.) were just radicalized, populist spins on conservatism. There were two exceptions to this: Italian fascism and Nazism. Conservatism does not share the revolutionary or radical nature of fascism, and does not in general make populist appeals as fascism does.[Note 1] Also, the original fascist program sought restructuring of the economy along corporatist lines, which is not generally supported by conservatives.
There was also the problem of the "public" versus the "private" spheres of society. Conservatives (pre-Moral Majority conservatives, at least) usually want the government to respect the private sphere: family and religious life were places conservatives did not want the government interfering. Fascism and Nazism, however, tried to place all social life under the influence and control of the State, causing some within the Catholic Church to go against them.
Fascism and the Church
“”Your Excellency! The priests of Italy invoke over your person, your work as the restorer of Italy and the founder of the Reich and the Fascist government the blessing of the Lord and an eternal halo of Roman wisdom and virtue, today and forever! Duce! The servants of Christ, the fathers of the peasantry honor you loyally. They bless you. They swear loyalty to you. With pious enthusiasm, with the voice and heart of the people we call: hail the Duce!
|—Father Menossi, January 12, 1938, Palazzo Venezia, to which seventy-two bishops and 2,340 priests broke out into shouting: "Duce! Duce! Duce!"|
So why was the Catholic Church ever involved in this? Well, during the early 20th century, there were two major ideologies of various flavours floating around; Liberalism and Communism. Liberalism and the ideas of freethought were very much against the structured order that an organized religion requires to thrive in, especially with ideas such as freedom of speech and all the "immorality" provided, so that was right out. Communism, despite (or because of) its similarities to a religion,[Note 2] mandates atheism, which is something the Church would have difficulty compromising on (there have been religious forms of communism, but they didn't catch on). So along comes a third ideology, Fascism, with the ideas that we should return to the glory days of thousands of years past, we should have a very ordered and rigid society, authority should be adhered to without question, and dissenters should be forced into line or "dealt with"; this worked perfectly for the Church. The Catholic Church endorsed Fascism for a time, until it became clear that the Fascist leaders never had any intention of becoming subservient to the Church. So the Church has always been opposed to
East Asia Fascism.
The Catholic church and European Fascism
“”We shall always remember with gratitude that which has happened for the benefit of religion in Italy, even if the good deeds performed by the party and the regime were not smaller — indeed, they may even have been greater.
|—Pope Pius XI, 1931|
The late, great Christopher Hitchens relates the dreadfully close and well-documented eager collaboration between the faithful members of the Catholic church and the openly fascist right-wing extremist parties of Europe, writing;
Fascism — the precursor and model of National Socialism — was a movement that believed in an organic and corporate society, presided over by a leader or guide. (The "fasces"—symbol of the "lictors" or enforcers of ancient Rome—were a bundle of rods, tied around an axe, that stood for unity and authority.)
Arising out of the misery and humiliation of the First World War, fascist movements were in favor of the defense of traditional values against Bolshevism, and upheld nationalism and piety. It is probably not a coincidence that they arose first and most excitedly in Catholic countries, and it is certainly not a coincidence that the Catholic Church was generally sympathetic to fascism as an idea. Not only did the church regard Communism as a lethal foe, but it also saw its old Jewish enemy in the most senior ranks of Lenin's party.
Benito Mussolini had barely seized power in Italy before the Vatican made an official treaty with him, known as the Lateran Pact of 1929. Under the terms of this deal, Catholicism became the only recognized religion in Italy, with monopoly powers over matters such as birth, marriage, death, and education, and in return urged its followers to vote for Mussolini's party. Pope Pius XI described II Duce ("the leader") as "a man sent by providence." Elections were not to be a feature of Italian life for very long, but the church nonetheless brought about the dissolution of lay Catholic centrist parties and helped sponsor a pseudoparty called "Catholic Action" which was emulated in several countries.
Across southern Europe, the church was a reliable ally in the instatement of fascist regimes in Spain, Portugal, and Croatia. General Franco in Spain was allowed to call his invasion of the country, and his destruction of its elected republic, by the honorific title La Crujada, or "the crusade." The Vatican either supported or refused to criticize Mussolini's operatic attempt to re-create a pastiche of the Roman Empire by his invasions of Libya, Abyssinia (today's Ethiopia), and Albania: these territories being populated either by non-Christians or by the wrong kind of Eastern Christian. Mussolini even gave, as one of his justifications for the use of poison gas and other gruesome measures in Abyssinia, the persistence of its inhabitants in the heresy of Monophysitism: an incorrect dogma of the Incarnation that had been condemned by Pope Leo and the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451.
In central and eastern Europe the picture was hardly better. The extreme right-wing military coup in Hungary, led by Admiral Horthy, was warmly endorsed by the church, as were similar fascistic movements in Slovakia and Austria. (The Nazi puppet regime in Slovakia was actually led by a man in holy orders named Father Tiso.) The cardinal of Austria proclaimed his enthusiasm at Hitler's takeover of his country at the time of the Anschluss. In France, the extreme right adopted the slogan of "Meilleur Hitler Que Blum"—in other words, better to have a German racist dictator than an elected French socialist Jew.
Catholic fascist organizations such as Charles Maurras's Action Française and the Croix de Feu campaigned violently against French democracy and made no bones about their grievance, which was the way in which France had been going downhill since the acquittal of the Jewish captain Alfred Dreyfus in 1899. When the German conquest of France arrived, these forces eagerly collaborated in the rounding up and murder of French Jews, as well as in the deportation to forced labor of a huge number of other Frenchmen.
The Vichy regime conceded to clericalism by wiping the slogan of 1789 — "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" — off the national currency and replacing it with the Christian ideal motto of "Famille, Travail, Patrie." Even in a country like England, where fascist sympathies were far less prevalent, they still managed to get an audience in respectable circles by the agency of Catholic intellectuals such as T. S. Eliot and Evelyn Waugh.
In neighboring Ireland, the Blue Shirt movement of General O'Duffy (which sent volunteers to fight for Franco in Spain) was little more than a dependency of the Catholic Church. As late as April 1945, on the news of the death of Hitler, President Eamon de Valera put on his top hat, called for the state coach, and went to the German embassy in Dublin to offer his official condolences.
Attitudes like this meant that several Catholic-dominated states, from Ireland to Spain to Portugal, were ineligible to join the United Nations when it was first founded. The church has made efforts to apologize for all this, but its complicity with fascism is an ineffaceable mark on its history, and was not a short-term or a hasty commitment so much as a working alliance which did not break down until after the fascist period had itself passed into history.
Catholics nowadays will point to the many Catholics, lay people and clergy, who resisted the evils of fascism (especially Nazi Germany) and were almost always persecuted thusly. How this lets the higher ups in the Church who were totally cool with Nazism off the hook is a mystery.
Broadness of the term "fascism"
“”It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
|—George Orwell, What is Fascism?|
Hood comments on the apparent definitional wideness of the term "fascism" in contemporary society, writing;
"Fascist" has become an all-purpose word. We often use it to describe people and things we don't like. It is applied indiscriminately to figures of authority, to modes of behaviour, to ways of thinking, to kinds of architecture.
But this catch-all use of the word raises obvious questions. Are all people who could be defined in these terms really "Fascists"? Are all right-wing parties or groups, all conservative right-wing governments, necessarily "Fascist"?
Random yet typical everyday examples he provides of this loosely defined, vernacular usage of the term "fascist" include;
- People who insist that sexual liberation led to AIDS.
- People who, in a broad stroke, would systematically dismiss art as being "crap".
- People who think the educational system is in a liberal mess due to lack of old-fashioned discipline.
- People who think there's "too many darn immigrants" in their country.
- People who think law enforcement is fascist by necessity.[Note 3]
As is apparent, while some of these examples could be recognizable, the point stands that the term has been allowed to slide away from the actual specifics of fascist ideology. In response to this bewilderment of definition, Hood suggests a tentative ballpark definition for the wider term;
What "Fascists" have in common is that they are the enemies of liberal or left-wing thought and attitudes. They can be seen as threatening, aggressive, repressive, narrowly conservative and blindly patriotic.
Umberto Eco's 1995 essay "Eternal Fascism" put forth 14 common features of Fascism which "cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it":
- The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
- The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
- Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
- Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
- Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
- The obsession with a plot. “The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”
- The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
- Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
- Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
- Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
- Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
- Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
- Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”
It is important to note that having one or more of these traits doesn't mean that a society is Fascist but that the odds increase that it will fit the definition of Fascism.
Fascism and the political spectrum
“”Man and fascism cannot co-exist. If fascism conquers, man will cease to exist and there will remain only man-like creatures that have undergone an internal transformation. But if man, man who is endowed with reason and kindness, should conquer, then Fascism must perish, and those who have submitted to it will once again become people.
There is a considerable dispute in some circles over whether fascism is a left- or right-wing idea. This dispute consists mainly of attempts to deny that one's own side of the political spectrum has anything in common with fascism, or alternatively to slime people on the opposite side of the political spectrum by claiming such commonalities. These tactics have been carried pretty far, as mentioned above, with "fascist" becoming a general insult or accusation hurled around loosely, usually inappropriately and often childishly, to criticise anyone or anything we find even slightly overbearing or restrictive.
The first bunch of people to make these sorts of claims were communists attempting to bunch fascists together with supporters of capitalism by claiming that the fascists were merely the hired guns of the Bourgeois Oppressors; completely ignoring that fascism, besides being anti-communist, was also to some extent anti-capitalist, supporting limited welfare programs and other non-laissez-faire economic ideas. In Germany in particular, the right-wing parties had never been on board with extreme capitalism anyway; significant state intervention on behalf of big business had been the norm since the days of Bismarck. In the Nazis' case, Hitler stated that he wished to remove the influence of the "capitalist class," whom he believed to be largely Jewish and/or Jewish-controlled, and partially restore the traditional pre-capitalist ruling system; these ideas were partially implemented when the Nazi officials nicked Jewish-owned property for the enrichment of the German people and/or themselves.
However, in practice, the fascists and Nazis didn't really change much of the economic status quo from before they took power. After all, they had come to power with the support of conservatives who wanted a strong "law and order" regime to keep down the communists, social democrats and trade unions. A large influx of conservatives forced the fascists and the Nazis to moderate or abandon anti-establishment programs — as when the anti-clerical Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with the Catholic Church, or when Hitler appointed the pro-capitalist Hjalmar Schacht as economics minister — and marginalize or eliminate more economically-radical factions within the fascist movements, as when Hitler purged the brothers Strasser during the Night of the Long Knives.
More recently, some conservative luminaries such as Jonah Goldberg (and also some conservative non-luminaries) have been claiming that liberals and everyone else to the left of them are "fascists." This tactic usually relies on taking the straw man broadsides heaved at liberalism by wingnuts and finding commonalities between them and some fascist program; for example, noting that Nazi Germany had large public works projects, and since liberals also favor public works projects while conservatives do not, liberals must also be fascists.[Note 4]
The Political Compass generally rates fascists as in the economic center, well to the left of today's right-wing politicians but well to the right of socialist figures. Generally economics is considered of secondary importance to fascists anyways except as an extension of their nationalistic and reactionary cultural views, hence the populist economics.
The term left-wing fascism (also known as left fascism) denotes real or perceived tendencies in extreme left-wing politics that are otherwise commonly attributed to the supposed polar-opposite ideology of fascism. Conceiving of the extreme left as somehow being completely different to the far right signals that one has not fully grasped the implications of horseshoe theory. In fact, fascism has always been wrapped up in leftist-sounding language — it's "a workers movement", "a populist struggle for justice", et cetera — while much of radical leftism has always endorsed the methods of authoritarian regimes, especially by excepting acts of terror from condemnation as long as they're done in the name of radical leftism.
That being said, however — the term has gained popularity among cranks, who will gleefully settle for complete non-sequiturs while bashing progressivism and feminism. Anything to generate those echo chamber clicks!
Left-wing fascism could be considered a sort of "inverse third positionism". Common qualities taken on by these extreme leftists that could be viewed as having what is essentially "fascist" traits include:
- Vehemently supporting nationalism (e.g. Socialism in One Country, Third World Socialism)
- Hijacking progressive anti-colonial efforts to push for ethnocentric dictatorships taking the place of the former colonial masters
- A reliance on ethnic scapegoating (sometimes delving into pure racialism) and at the most extreme not-so-subtle support for race war
- Celebrating a brutal "will to power" wherein violence is considered an expression of 'just protest' and is seen especially as a tool with which to "rejuvenate" a certain people/culture
- Drawing its inspiration from the same philosophical traditions as fascists — notably Rousseau, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Romanticism generally — in clear opposition to the anti-authoritarian, rationalist, democratic ideals espoused by Enlightenment philosophy
- Rallying a popular movement via "channeling" a specific people/culture, often with pseudohistorical undertones and a focus on the "redemption/rebirth" of said people/culture, all done in direct opposition to more universalist liberal humanist values
- The cultivation of frustration and outright aggression as the prime creative force for constructive change
- Rampant paranoia, whereby the far right's perceived threat of "cultural marxism" is given a different coat of paint and experienced on the far left as an equivalent threat from "scheming by imperialist financiers"
- Wide overlap with numerous far-right conspiracy theories
One clear divergence between "traditional" fascism and modern left-wing fascism is that the authoritarian arm of the New Left draws powerfully from postmodernist thought, which even contemporary fascists do not. The resulting blend thus ultimately motivates goals and methods that rhyme perfectly with those of fascism, but applies and rationalizes them with a social deconstructivist approach to historically dominated cultures/identities — as opposed to "traditional" fascism, which instead argues from a romantic mythologizing of historically dominant cultures/identities. For this reason (and for reasons of horseshoe theory), proponents of left-wing fascism actually end up cheering on the successes of far-right movements within their preferred cultures — one example being narrating the establishment of Iran's theocracy as a true expression of these "purer" cultures against the decadent open societies of the west.
Movements that have been accused of embodying some, or most, traits of left-wing fascism include:
- The Jacobins
- Lyndon LaRouche's movement
- The Italian Red Brigades
- The Red Army Faction
- Leninism, Stalinism, Juche and Maoism[Note 5]
- Third International Theory
- Peronism and other South American regimes
- National communism
- The Nation of Islam
- George Galloway and much of what he touches
- Yuri Kochiyama ended up around here
Countless third-world dictatorships (often drawing on irredentism, tribalism, and millennialist theocracy) have also come to embody this ultimately null difference between the authoritarians on both the far right and far left, including those of:
- The Ba'ath Party in Iraq and Syria.
- Muammar al-Gaddafi
- Idi Amin
- Jean-Bédel Bokassa
- Francisco Macías Nguema
- Robert Mugabe
- Pol Pot
- The Kim family in North Korea
Ecofascism is essentially the mixture of the authoritarian/totalitarian aspects of fascism mixed in with standard green politics wrapped in hard-right politics. The progenitor of ecofascism is Nazi Germany which passed laws protecting animals and promoted Blood and Soil as part of their ideology. This seems to be more prevalent in Europe, where several political parties exist such as the Nouvelle Droite (or European New Right) of Alain de Benoist, "Third Way" in the United Kingdom (a "green" splinter from the neo-fascist National Front), the Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei (Ecological Democratic Party, a right-wing splinter from the German Green Party), and groups espousing third positionism. Another was Savitri Devi, an avowed Neo-Nazi who espoused animal rights, and who thought that animal slaughterhouses were worse than Nazi war crimes. The closest example of this from the U.S. is probably Virginia Abernethy, a Vanderbilt University professor who is both a widely cited expert on population and ecology and a self-avowed white separatist. Another American example would be the Wolves of Vinland, a group of Norse neopagans who have been described both as "eco-punks" and as white nationalist.
One now notorious example of an avowed ecofascist was the Australia-born shooter behind the Christchurch terrorist attacks in New Zealand that killed 51 people and injured 50 more. In his manifesto The Great Replacement (named after the French far-right theory of the same name by writer Renaud Camus) he declared that he was "an Ethno-nationalist, Eco-fascist".
- Third Position
- Police state
- List of forms of government
- Dictator, inevitably the one who runs the show in fascist states.
- "The Strange, Strange Story of the Gay Fascists" -- a 2008 Huffington Post essay on rampant homophobes with fascist beliefs who turn out to be in the closet (at least to outsiders)
- "Ur-Fascism" by Umberto Eco: the first and last word on the qualities of fascism.
- "Against the Fascist Creep (PDF)" by Alexander Reid Ross: A summary of fascist creep in left-wing and right-wing circles during the last century
- In the 20th century. Today, well...
- Karl Marx is the wisest man of all and is never wrong, the Communist Manifesto is the best book ever written and you may not make any criticisms of it, the economics of communism have never been found to be flawed, the global revolution will occur and we will have an eternal worker's paradise, and those who don't advocate for Communism are living in a False consciousness.
- Be they Freemen or lifestyle Anarchists.
- Take WWII, where all the Allies were doing it. (We await the first conservative to call Churchill the spawn of Mussolini.)
- "Tankieism" may be the most common gateway drug to full-blown left-fascism, and vice-versa. In practice the only real difference is that authoritarian commies put more emphasis on class along materialist lines, whereas modern left-fascists drop class almost entirely in favor of revolution along racial/cultural lines via its unhinged postmodernist influences, but transitioning between the two is surprisingly easy.
- Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.
- The surprising reason Mussolini’s home town wants to build a fascism museum by Michael Birnbaum & Stefano Pitrelli (January 31 at 6:39 PM) The Washington Post.
- Fascism Merriam-Webster
- Mussolini, Doctrine of Fascism
- Modern History Sourcebook: Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932
- See the Wikipedia article on Silver Legion of America.
- See the Wikipedia article on British Union of Fascists.
- Is This Fascism? Passmore, Kevin. Slate. 01.20.17
- What Is Fascism? Szalay, Jessie. LiveScience. 01.24.17
- See the Wikipedia article on Social hierarchy.
- .Fascism Britannica.
- See the Wikipedia article on Fascist (insult).
- Nazism and the Rise of Hitler, NCERT
- How fascist is Donald Trump? There’s actually a formula for that. Grading the billionaire on the 11 attributes of fascism. by John McNeill (Oct. 21, 2016 at 3:00 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
- How fascist is President Trump? There’s still a formula for that. Not that much, at least compared to the 20th century’s leading fascists. by John McNeill (August 21, 2020 at 9:07 a.m. PDT) The Washington Post.
- Speech to Chamber of Deputies (9 December 1928), quoted in Propaganda and Dictatorship (2007) by Marx Fritz Morstein, p. 48
- Corporatism Britannica
- Dictionary of Political Thought Scruton, Roger.
- When We Loved Mussolini Tooze, Adam. The New York Review Of Books Aug.18.16
- Conservative economic programs Britannica
- Pleasantville Movie Review RogerEbert.com
- John Horne. State, Society and Mobilization in Europe During the First World War. pp. 237–39.
- Cyprian Blamires. World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2006 p. 168.
- Mark Neocleous. Fascism. University of Minnesota Press, 1997. p. 63.
- See the Wikipedia article on Révolution nationale.
- France: The Dark Years, 1940–1944 Julian Jackson. "Chapter 8: The National Revolution."
- Spanish Civil War Britannica
- (For the love of God, don't click this link. It's just here for illustrative purposes.
- Is modern society in decline?
- America must reverse its moral decline
- America’s Accelerating Decay Dennis Prager. National Review.
- The Black cultural front : black writers and artists of the Depression generation. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
- Anthony James Gregor (1979). Young Mussolini and the Intellectual Origins of Fascism. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520037991. pp. 191–192.
- Oliver Zimmer, Nationalism in Europe, 1890–1940 (London: Palgrave, 2003), chapter 4, pp. 80–107.
- Fascism: extreme nationalism Britannica
- Payne, Stanley G., A History of Fascism, 1914–1945. (Routledge, 1995, 2005), p. 11.
- See the Wikipedia article on Nazism and race.
- Maria Sop Quine. Population Politics in Twentieth Century Europe: Fascist Dictatorships and Liberal Democracies. Routledge, 1995. pp. 46–47.
- Persecution of Homosexuals in the Third Reich US Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Bollas, Christopher, Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self-Experience (Routledge, 1993) ISBN 978-0-415-08815-2, p. 205.
- McDonald, Harmish, Mussolini and Italian Fascism (Nelson Thornes, 1999) p. 27.
- Durham, Martin. Women and Fascism (Routledge, 1998) p. 15.
- Friedlander, Henry (1995). The origins of Nazi genocide: from euthanasia to the final solution. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-8078-4675-9. OCLC 60191622.
- Fascism and Political Theory: Critical Perspectives on Fascist Ideology. Oxon, England; New York: Routledge, 2010. p. 106.
- Marcus Garvey quotes
- Payne, Stanley G. A History of Fascism, 1914–1945. Routledge, 1996. pp. 485–86.
- Griffin, Roger (ed.). Fascism. Oxford University Press, 1995. p. 59.
- Fascism Ch. 27 The Interwar Period Lumen Learning.
- Introducing Facism: A Graphic Guide, Icon Books, 2013, ISBN: 978-184831-612-6, page 88-89
- Wolin, Richard. The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (p. 27). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
- Ian Kershaw. Hitler, 1889–1936: hubris. New York; London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000. p. 182.
- Mussolini’s Battle For The Roman Past: The Ancient Redesigned
- Martin Clark, Mussolini: Profiles in Power (London: Pearson Longman, 2005), 136
- Discorso pronunciato in Campidoglio per l'insediamento del primo Governatore di Roma il 31 dicembre 1925, Internet Archive copy of a page with a Mussolini speech.
- See the Wikipedia article on Imperial Way Faction.
- See the Wikipedia article on February 26 Incident.
- Japan's Territorial Expansion 1931-1942 Stratfor
- See the Wikipedia article on Maréchal, nous voilà !.
- France Reflects on Its Role in Wartime Fate of Jews New York Times
- Martin Blinkhorn. Fascists and Conservatives: The Radical Right and the Establishment in Twentieth-Century Europe. Reprinted edition. Oxon, England, UK: Routledge, 1990, 2001. Pp. 10
- Falange Britannica
- General Franco gave list of Spanish Jews to Nazis The Guardian
- See the Wikipedia article on Falangism in Latin America.
- Horstenau, Edmund Glaise von; Broucek, Peter (1988). Ein General im Zwielicht: die Erinnerungen Edmund Glaises von Horstenau.
- Fischer, Bernd J., ed. (2007). Balkan Strongmen: Dictators and Authoritarian Rulers of South-Eastern Europe.
- Meier, Viktor. Yugoslavia: A History of Its Demise (English), London, UK: Routledge, 1999, p. 125.
- Gumz, Jonathan E. (2001). "Wehrmacht Perceptions of Mass Violence in Croatia, 1941-1942".
- James, Gregor. The Fascist Persuasion in Radical Politics. p. 193.
- Metaxas' diary p.553.
- Clogg (1992)
- Hamilakis, Y. (2007) The nation and its ruins: antiquity, archaeology, and national imagination in Greece.
- Hamilakis (2007), pp. 177-178
- Markos Vallianatos, The untold history of Greek collaboration with Nazi Germany (1941-1944).
- Did Sinclair Lewis Say This About Fascism in America?
- "How the Nazis Were Inspired by Jim Crow," Becky Little, History.com
- "Why the Nazis Loved America," James Whitman, Time.
- "What America Taught the Nazis," Ira Katznelson, The Atlantic
- "How American Racism Influenced Hitler," Alex Ross, The New Yorker
- "Hitler’s American Dream," Timothy Snyder, Slate
- Stanley, Jason (2018) How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them.
- "Trump is Reviving the Nativist 19th Century Political Party," Dallas News
- Charles E. Deusner. "The Know Nothing Riots in Louisville", Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 61 (1963), pp. 122–47.
- "America’s Brush With Fascism," Nancy K. MacLean, Slate
- "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Right to Warn of Fascism in the United States," by fascism scholars Federico Finchelstein, Pablo Piccato, and Jason Stanley, New Republic
- "Fascism in America? Recalling the Know-Nothings and Individual Responsibility," Justin Humphreys, PublicSeminar.org
- Tommy Douglas Wikiquote.
- God and the Fascists - The Vatican alliance with Mussolini, Franco, Hitler and Pavelić, Karlheinz Deschner, Prometheus Books, 2013, ISBN: 978-1-61614-837-9, p. 23
- Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (p. 235-237)
- "George Orwell: What is Fascism?".
- Life and Fate (1959).
- For a detailed study of this phenomenon with specific regard to fine art, see the book and film, The Rape of Europa.
- See the Wikipedia article on Left-wing fascism.
- Warning: Direct link to Return of Kings
- Wallace, R.A. and A. Wolf, Contemporary Sociological Theory: Continuing the Classical Tradition, 3rd ed. (1991) p. 116.
- Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick. Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared. New York, New York, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. 33-37.
- Really. She's even on the board of the American Third Position party and everything. Even the Federation for American Immigration Reform, no stranger to accusations of racism itself, has denounced her.