Fascism is a big government, totalitarian, economic, and political ideology that arose in early twentieth century Europe and came to dominate the social and political systems of Italy under Benito Mussolini and Germany under Adolf Hitler. Fascism is statist in nature, relying on big government solutions and "crony capitalism" while being openly hostile towards conventional religion.
Conservatives are opposed to Fascism, favoring the individual over the state. Mussolini described Fascism this way:
- Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity. It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual.
Conservatives are inherently anti-Fascist because these terms stated above are unequivocally insufferable.
- 1 Background
- 2 Beliefs
- 3 Examples
- 4 Inspiration for the New Deal
- 5 World War II Era
- 6 Modern Times
- 7 See also
- 8 Further reading
- 9 References
Fascism was influential in Portugal as well, and had followers in most European countries and in Argentina. The last regime that had some fascist elements, that of Francisco Franco in Spain, came to an end in 1975. Fascism was falsely considered "Far-Right" in politics, mostly due to Joseph Stalin denouncing Hitler and the National Socialists as "right-wing" after World War II (and to a lesser extent the Frankfurt School, in particular Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, exploiting the American Jewish Committee's attempt at investigating the cause of fascism to prevent another holocaust to push Marxism.), but it in reality was considered closer to the far-Left. Indeed, in a speech delivered on February 23, 1941 at Rome, Mussolini had stated that "When [World War II] is over, in the world's social revolution that will be followed by a more equitable distribution of the earth's riches, due account must be kept of the sacrifices and of the discipline maintained by the Italian workers. The Fascist revolution will make another decisive step to shorten social distances.", which made very clear that even by that point, fascism was far closer to socialism than to true conservativism.
Largely because of the ill-defining of Fascism as being on the right instead of truly being on the left, several leftists often offer a false dichotomy between what they called freedom and fascism, with their definition of freedom generally coming closer to socialism or communism, or anarchism. A notable example of this is George Lucas with his Star Wars films, who makes clear he tries to paint it as people giving up freedom for fascism.
The name "fascism" derives from an ancient Roman symbol, the fasces, a group of birch rods bundled together with an axe. It symbolizes strength in unity; the rods are weak by themselves but strong when bundled together. Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. has stated,
|“||The Fascists were not conservative in any very meaningful sense. They did not wish to preserve the existing order, or even to turn back the clock to some more stable century. They purposefully planned to transform the existing order into a new and all-absorbing authoritarianism, based upon the energies and frustrations of modern industrialism. The Fascists, in a meaningful sense, were revolutionaries.||”|
Fascists believe that all actions should be done for the good of the state; they reject classical liberalism, which upholds the rights of the individual. Fascism ignores or rejects Christianity, though some fascist leaders such as Hitler attempted to manipulate organized religion for political gain. This definition extends to economic policy as well, with government and business made to work together for this end. This is called "corporatism."
Characteristics of fascism include a belief that the state is more important than the individual; a leaning towards authoritarian government and violence; preference for centralized economic planning; an emphasis on nationalism and national traditions; militarism; information control and censorship; media propagation of the Great Leader which demonizes and trivializes his critics; and a rejection of both free enterprise and Socialism in favor of corporatist economic policies. Despite the name, however, the name "corporatism" had nothing to do with corporations as generally understood, but was derived from "Corporazi", which was an Italian term that was derived from Medieval guilds, which were closer in analogue to socialist labor unions.
Fascist regimes have pushed their agendas by concentrating on a "scapegoat"—typically a group that is deemed to be foreign in origin or beliefs or both. Examples include the vehement Nazi attack on the Jews and Gypsies and the campaigns waged by several fascist regimes against Freemasonry. The characteristics of fascism also include rampant cronyism and corruption, as well as rigged elections and a general disdain for human rights.
The prototypical fascist regime was that of Benito Mussolini, who ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943. German Nazism referred to government mandated corporatist entities as industrial cartels and added an obsession with race. Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek observed in the final stages of World War II, "the rise of fascism and Marxism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies. Yet it is significant that many of the leaders of these movements, from Mussolini down (and including Vichy French prime minister Pierre Laval and Norwegian puppet ruler Vidkun Quisling) began as socialists and ended as fascists or Nazis.
While not considered fascist by most scholars, some conservative authoritarian regimes cooperated with fascist groups and included some corporatist elements of fascism. These include those of Francisco Franco in Spain (1936–1975) and Antonio Salazar in Portugal (1932–1968). Similarly, various authoritarian regimes who were anti-Communist were often falsely conflated with fascism by leftists, with examples including Muhammad Suharto of Indonesia and Augusto Pinochet of Chile.
Inspiration for the New Deal
- For a more detailed treatment, see Fascism and the New Deal.
Italian Premier Benito Mussolini was convinced that the New Deal was copying Fascist economic policies. Nazi Minister of Economics Hjalmar Schacht declared that President Franklin Roosevelt had the same economic idea as Hitler and Mussolini; the official Nazi Party organ, Völkischer Beobachter, applauded “Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies.” Hitler expressed admiration for FDR's approach, saying, “I have  sympathy with President Roosevelt because he marches straight toward his objective over Congress, over lobbies, over stubborn bureaucracies.” FDR's Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes conceded that “what we were doing in this country were some of the things that were being done in Russia and even some of the things that were being  in Germany. But we were doing them in an orderly way.”
The Italian Fascist Party program, first promulgated in 1919, demanded “Suppression of incorporated joint-stock companies, industrial or financial. Suppression of all speculation by banks and stock exchanges,” and “Control and taxation of private wealth. Confiscation of unproductive income.” The Fascists called this economic system corporativismo (corporativism). As UCLA international relations and political science professor Herbert Steiner observed in 1938, “So substantial are the limitations under which private property and capital are exercised in Italy, that the conception of ‘capitalism’ is avowedly destroyed and replaced by corporativismo.”
In addition, during that time, there were also Nuremberg-style rallies occurring in New York, with one such rally occurring in 1939 right before World War II at Madison Square Garden which spoke out against Jewish supremacy in the United States and advocated for it to be ruled by "white gentiles."
National Recovery Administration
- For a more detailed treatment, see National Recovery Administration.
The centerpiece of the New Deal was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933, which was “similar to experiments being carried out by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Italy and by the Nazis in Adolf Hitler's Germany,” according to John A. Garraty, of the Society of American Historians. NIRA established the National Recovery Administration (NRA), “the New Deal’s attempt to bring to America the substance of Mussolini’s corporativism.” As one NRA study concluded, “The Fascist principles are very similar to those which have been evolving in America and so are of particular interest at this time.”
Just as Mussolini “organized each trade or industrial group or professional group into a state supervised trade association” that “operated under state supervision and could plan production, quality, prices, distribution, labor standards, etc.,” the NRA “forced virtually all American industry, manufacturing, and retail business into cartels possessing the power to set prices and wages, and to  dictate the levels of production.”
U.S. Ambassador to Italy Breckinridge Long wrote to Roosevelt's economic advisor Rexford Tugwell, “Your mind runs along these lines [corporativism]… It may have some bearing on the code work under N.R.A.” Tugwell, the “most prominent of the Brain Trusters and the man often considered the chief ideologist of the ‘first New Deal’ (roughly, 1933–34),” said, “I find Italy doing many of the things which seem to me necessary…. Mussolini certainly has the same people opposed to him as FDR has. But he has the press controlled so that they cannot scream lies at him daily.”
As head of the NRA and thus “FDR’s leading bureaucrat,” the President appointed General Hugh Johnson, who was granted “almost unlimited powers over industry.”  According to economist Thayer Watkins (who teaches economic history at California's San José State University), Johnson was “an admirer of Mussolini’s National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal.” Walker F. Todd, research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, agrees that Johnson “did admire greatly what Mussolini appeared to have done,” and identifies the NRA as a “thoroughly corporativist”  idea.
Johnson was said to carry around with him a copy of Raffaello Viglione's pro-Mussolini book, The Corporate State, even presenting a copy to Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. In his 1934 retirement speech, he invoked what he called the “shining name” of Mussolini. According to Jonah Goldberg, Johnson displayed a portrait of ‘’Il Duce’’ in his NRA office and actually “distributed a memo at the Democratic Convention proposing that FDR become a Mussolini-like dictator.”
Agricultrual Adjustment Administration
- Main article : Agricultural Adjustment Administration
Roosevelt appointed Johnson's former business partner George Peek to head the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). Both men had “worked with the War Industries Board, the agency that regulated American production during World War I, and they believed their experience of managing an economy almost totally sealed off from the world market would suit the country now.” They had long advocated a policy of expanding tariffs to keep foreign agricultural products out of the United States, a policy that would have again rendered the U.S. economy “almost totally sealed off from the world market”—a fair approximation of “ autarky,” an economic policy particularly but not exclusively “associated with Nazi economic organization.” 
Admiration for Mussolini and Hitler
The New York Times reported that the mood in Washington in 1933 was “strangely reminiscent of Rome in the first weeks after the march of the Blackshirts, of Moscow at the beginning of the Five-Year Plan... America today literally asks for orders.” The Roosevelt administration, reported the Times, “envisages a federation of industry, labor and government after the fashion of the corporative State as it exists in Italy.”
Roosevelt privately found Mussolini "admirable," writing to his personal friend John Lawrence, "I don't mind telling you in confidence, that I am keeping in fairly close touch with that admirable Italian gentleman."  FDR also wrote to U.S. Ambassador to Italy Breckinridge Long about Mussolini, "I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy and seeking to prevent general European trouble." 
Hitler likewise expressed "admiration" for Roosevelt's economic policies, and said he was in accord with" Roosevelt's "moral demand," which he identified as the "quintessence of German philosophy of the State," as he wrote in a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Germany William Dodd.
Fascist means to liberal ends
George Soule, editor of the pro-Roosevelt New Republic magazine, wrote in his 1934 book The Coming American Revolution, "We are trying out the economics of Fascism without having suffered all its social or political ravages." In the North American Review in 1934, the progressive writer Roger Shaw described the New Deal as “Fascist means to gain liberal ends.”
World War II Era
"Fascist" is today frequently used as a term of abuse both on the left and on the right against one's political opponents. While few people are willing to describe themselves as fascists or endorse the fascist regimes of the past, fascist parties and parties descended from fascist parties (such as the Alleanza Nazionale in Italy) continue to be a minor force in European politics. Fascism seems not to flourish in countries with an Anglo-centric heritage: America, Australia and Canada have never had significant fascist movements. The British Union of Fascists was never an important force in British politics, although it was significant enough for the government to consider its leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, dangerous enough to intern during the war.
In addition, since at least the 1960s, the term "Fascist" was used incorrectly to describe nations that go to war and have significant military buildup, the implication being that building up the military means that freedom is at risk. In some cases, this was also applied to countries that even had a military at all. This usage of the term was generally done by anti-war groups.
In large part because of the false notion that fascism belonged to the right-wing of politics instead of the left-wing, several leftists have falsely referred to President Donald Trump and his plans to make America great again as "fascist." On a similar note, the left-wing anarchist group Antifa (which was short for "anti-fascist"), despite its name, was closer in overall ideology and actions to fascism in reality.
Fascism misdefined as "far-right"
As noted above, Fascism has largely been falsely identified as being part of the far-right since World War II. This ultimately came to a head around 2003 when a literature professor by the name of Dr. Lawrence Britt, under the claims that he had studied Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, Muhammad Suharto, and Augusto Pinochet (even though only Hitler and Mussolini were actual adherents to fascism), made 14 points about Socialism in the various countries, claiming that the fourteen points were the following:
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
However, key flaws in the analysis are made apparent from various elements. In particular, the 1919 Fascist Manifesto listed as its very first point under politics that it will present "Universal suffrage polled on a regional basis, with proportional representation and voting and electoral office eligibility for women", contradicting point 5 of Brett's analysis which indicated that rampant sexism in favor of males was prevalent. In addition, both the Fascist Manifesto as well as both the 1920 and 1925 versions of the Nazi Platform specifically indicated that they are to disband the military and replacing it with a national militia under the military problems, with the latter sources also condemning the concept of making "war profits", even calling for a revision of military contracts and confiscating profits from them, which conflicts with point four about the supremacy of the military. Likewise, regarding labor unions, both the 1919 Fascist Manifesto and both versions of the Nazi Platform make clear that they if anything considered labor unions their allies, conflicting with point 11. Similarly, Point 10 is conflicted with the same sources, which if anything voiced the corporate power as being the enemy. In fact, a few readings into these sources make clear that most of the elements of fascism are closer in nature to socialism. In addition, point 1 implies that showing any form of patriotism is considered fascist, which ignores that Joseph Goebbels when describing the beliefs of the Nazis, stated that "[the NSDAP] hates Bougeoise Nationalism".
- Eatwell, Roger. Fascism: A History. (1996). 432 pp.
- Laqueur, Walter. Fascism: Past, Present, Future. (1996). 245 pp.
- Payne, Stanley G. A History of Fascism, 1914-1945. U. of Wisconsin Press, 1995. 613 pp. the standard history, by a leading conservative historian
- The Economic Leadership Secrets of Benito Mussolini
- How Fascism Became the Political Boogeyman
- Not Right, Not Left, But a Vital Center, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., New York Times Magazine, April 4, 1948.
- Dr. Lawrence Britt "Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20
- Friedrich A. Hayek, Road to Serfdom, Reader's Digest Condensed Version, April 1945, pg. 31 - 32.
- Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914-1945’’ (University of Wisconsin Press, 1996) ISBN 0299148742, p. 230
- William E. Leuchtenburg, ‘’Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal’’ (Harper & Row, 1963), p. 203
- Wolfgang Schivelbusch, ‘’Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939’’ (Macmillan, 2006) ISBN 080507452X, p. 19
- done under Hitler
- Count Carlo Sforza,’’Contemporary Italy - Its Intellectual and Moral Origins (Read Books, 2007, ISBN 1406760307), pp. 295-296
- H. Arthur Steiner, ‘’Government in Fascist Italy’’ (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1938), p. 92
- past president
- John Arthur Garraty, ‘’The American Nation’’, 4th ed., vol. 2 (Harper & Row, 1979) ISBN 0060422696, p. 656
- Leonard Peikoff, ‘’The Ominous Parallels’’ (Stein and Day, 1982) ISBN 081282850X, p. 293
- Janet C. Wright, "Capital and Labor Under Fascism," National Archives, Record Group 9, Records of the National Recovery Administration,Special Research and Planning Reports and Memoranda, 1933-35, Entry 31, Box 3
- John T. Flynn, ‘’The Roosevelt Myth’’ (The Devin-Adair Company, 1948) pp. 42-43
- Long to Tugwell, May 16, 1934, Breckinridge Long Papers, Box 111, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress)
- FDR — The Man, the Leader, the Legacy, Part 11 by Ralph Raico, Future of Freedom Foundation, February 2001.
- Jonah Goldberg, ‘’Liberal Fascism: the Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Random House, Inc., 2008) ISBN 0385511841, p.156
- Hugh Samuel Johnson, Arlington National Cemetery Website.
- General Hugh Johnson, Vanity Fair.
- NEW LAW IS ANTICIPATED; President Telephones Associate of Baruch of His Selection. ANSWER AWAITS PASSAGE As Administrator, He Would Have Under Roosevelt Vast Powers Over Business. LEADER IN DRAFTING BILL Plans Made to Put Measure in Operation Within Week After It Is Enacted. JOHNSON CHOSEN INDUSTRY CHIEF, The Associated Press, May 19, 1933.
- Thayer Watkins, Ph.D, San Jose State University.
- The Economic System of Corporatism, Thayer Watkins, San José State University.
- The Federal Reserve Board and the Rise of the Corporate State, 1931-1934, Walter F. Todd, Economic Education Bulletin, Great Barrington, Massachusetts (ISSN 0424–2769) (USPS 167–360),
- Frances Perkins, ‘’The Roosevelt I Knew’’ (The Viking press, 1946) p. 206. Socialist (Kent Worcester, ‘’C.L.R. James: A Political Biography’’ [SUNY Press, 1995] ISBN 079142751X, p. 175) George Rawich wrote that Perkins told him Johnson gave each member of the Cabinet a book by Fascist theoretician Giovanni Gentile, “and we all read it with great care.” Schivelbusch suggests the book was actually Mussolini advisor Fausto Pitigliani’s ‘’The Italian Corporativist State.’’ (‘’Three New Deals’’, p. 203, n. 28)
- Arthur Meier Schlesinger, ‘’The coming of the New Deal, 1933-1935’’ (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003) ISBN 0618340866, p. 153
- Eric Rauchway, ‘’The Great Depression & the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction’’ (Oxford University Press, 2008) ISBN 0195326342, p. 76
- William J. Barber , ‘’From New Era to New Deal: Herbert Hoover, the Economists, and American Economic Policy, 1921-1933’’ (Cambridge University Press, 1989) ISBN 0521367379, p. 50
- Neil Vousden, ‘’The Economics of Trade Protection’’ (Cambridge University Press, 1990) ISBN 052134669X, p. 91
- David F. Schmitz, The United States and fascist Italy, 1922-1940 (University of North Carolina Press, 1988 ISBN 080781766X, p. 139)
- F.D.R., His Personal Letters, Vol. 3 [Ed. Elliott Roosevelt] [Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1947], p. 352.
- George Soule, The Coming American Revolution, p. 294.
- Der Angriff, Dec 6th, 1931