Fascism is an authoritarian regime created in Italy. It is a totalitarian political movement, which acts against individual freedoms in the name of the good of the nation.
The word fascism derives from the Italian fascio , which means “bundle” and refers to an “alliance” or “federation”. Already the term fascist initially means the supporters of fascism. They are people who have an authoritarian and anti-democratic political position.
Fascists are in favor of restricting freedoms and suppressing their opposition. The term is used even if they do not have a connection with fascist ideology, but combine one or more characteristics of fascism.
How did fascism arise?
Originally fascism was a political movement founded by Benito Mussolini, on March 23, 1919. At its beginning, it was composed of combat units ( fasci di combattimento ).
Fascism was presented as a political party in 1921. At that time, the word “fascist” was used to mention a political doctrine with authoritarian, anti-communist and anti-parliamentary tendencies , which defends the exclusive self-sufficiency of the State and its reasons.
Characteristics of fascism
Fascism is characterized by being a political system opposed to socialism and also imperialist, authoritarian, anti-liberal and anti-socialist, anti-communist and nationalist. Some general features:
- Totalitarian state : the state controlled all manifestations of the public and private life of the population.
- Authoritarianism : The authority of the leader was indisputable. He would be the most prepared and knew exactly what the population needed.
- Nationalism : the nation is a supreme good, and in its name any sacrifice should be demanded and made by individuals.
- Anti-liberalism : Fascism shared some capitalist ideas, such as private property and the free enterprise of small and medium-sized enterprises. On the other hand, he defended state intervention in the economy, protectionism and, in the case of some fascist currents, the nationalization of large companies.
- Expansionism : expanding the borders was seen as a necessity, as it was necessary to conquer the “vital space” for the nation to develop.
- Militarism : National salvation would come through military organization, struggle, war, and expansionism.
- Anti-Communism : Fascists rejected the idea of the abolition of property, absolute social equality, class struggle.
- Corporatism : Rather than upholding the “one man, one vote” concept, fascists believed that professional corporations should elect political representatives. They also maintained that only cooperation between classes guaranteed the stability of society.
- Hierarchization of society : Fascism valued a vision of the world according to which it was up to the strongest, in the name of the “national will”, to lead the people to security and prosperity.
What is the purpose?
Fascism is characterized by a reaction against the democratic movement that arose thanks to the French Revolution, as well as by furious opposition to liberal and socialist conceptions.
The term fascism came to be used to encompass regimes directly linked to the Rome-Berlin axis and its allies. It was also used as a reference to authoritarian systems in which democratic rights were suspended.
This is the case with references to Spanish, Brazilian, Turkish, Portuguese “fascism”, among others.
In 1945, with the fall of the main fascist states and the dissemination of the atrocities committed, the fascist movement lost possibilities for large mobilizations.
Despite this, some minority groups remained in former fascist states (neo-fascism).
Differences between Fascism and Nazism
Despite often being seen as synonymous, fascism and Nazism have differences.
Nazism is often regarded as a form of fascism, but the Nazi movement identified a master race (the Aryan race), and tried to eliminate other races, to create prosperity for the state.
The similarity between these two regimes is that they enjoyed great popularity among working class elements because they created support measures for them.
Totalitarianism and Fascism
Totalitarianism represents an authoritarian and repressive political system, in which the State controls all citizens, who do not have freedom of expression or political participation.
The interwar period was a time of political radicalization. This is how totalitarian regimes were installed in several European countries, such as Italy, from 1922, and Nazism, in Germany, in 1933.
The expansion of totalitarian regimes was related to the economic and social problems that Europe went through after the First World War. There was also the fear that socialism, implanted in Russia, would expand.
For many countries, a totalitarian dictatorship seemed like a solution, as it promised a strong, prosperous reaction without social unrest. In addition to Italy and Germany, countries such as Poland and Yugoslavia were dominated by totalitarian regimes.
Recently, among specialists who debate the concept, the expression “neo-fascism” has also emerged. This term is used to refer to current political regimes and movements that have characteristics that bring them closer to classic fascism. Again, it is impossible to make a direct relationship between current political movements and fascism, precisely because of the chameleonic character of this movement, which adapts to different circumstances and contexts.
Some characteristics can be mentioned in relation to neo-fascism, such as:
1. Exaggerated patriotism that assumes xenophobic and violent postures;
2. Disdain for liberal democratic values such as individual freedoms;
3. Construction of violent rhetoric against supposed “internal enemies” that contribute to the “moral degradation” of the nation.