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Mussolini and Hitler 1940 (retouched)
Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler (right), the leaders of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany respectively, were both fascists.

Fascism is a form of government which is a type of one-party dictatorship. Fascists are against liberal democracy. They work for a totalitarian one-party state. This aims to prepare the nation for armed conflict, and to respond to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government. Fascism is an extreme right-wing political movement. It tends to be militaristic, and racist. In the Third Reich, German society was pictured as a racially unified hierarchy, the Volksgemeinschaft.

Fascist leadership might also be similar to an oligarchy, such as in Italy where the fascist party was ruled by its "grand council" from 1922 until the end of World War II.

Fascism appeared in Italy in the 1920s and developed fully in the 1930s. Its supporters thought that democracy was weak and full of moral perversions, that multiparty capitalism was too materialistic and unfair to the people. Communism, although unifying and fair, did not care about the needs of the nation and hampered business initiative. The two first fascist leaders were Mussolini and Hitler. After World War II, fascism continued in the form of military dictatorships in Portugal, Spain, Latin America and some parts of Asia.

Fascism was supposed to be the answer for that need, with national unity and solidarity instead of the divisions of class struggle and party politics. Liberals and believers in democracy generally consider fascism and communism as two facets of totalitarianism, and that they are unified by the urge to control everything and allow no freedom. But, believers in Marxism-Leninism think that capitalism either creates or uses fascism as a tool to destroy the workers' movements and secure rule by the upper classes if it is challenged. It does so by appealing to the people and to their most primitive needs, while actually pursuing the interests of the already rich.


There is more than one reason why people living in democratic states oppose fascism, but the main reason is that in a fascist dictatorship the individual citizen has no guaranteed rights. If you say the wrong thing or oppose the wrong person, you can be arrested or killed without a fair trial.

Many people believe that fascism would not be a terrible system if you always do your duty and you never oppose the government. However, the problem is that people can be corrupt. Everything looks good in theory, but in real life innocent people can get into serious trouble with the government when there is no guaranteed right to a fair trial.

Fascism versus communism

A fasces

Fascist governments are different from communist ones in that fascists, in theory, support the right of labor representatives and corporate representatives (CEOs, company presidents, etc.) to negotiate - through a system called corporatism. Fascists usually work closely with corporations and economic elites, and use the resources to build up the military and other parts of the fascist state. Fascist states take over schools and other parts of civil society in order to promote nationalism and propaganda. All adults are expected to either join the fascist party or support it as the government. Fascist governments, similar to the Nazis in Germany, pursue racist policies of segregation and/or extermination in opposition to cultural and ethnic pluralism.

Communism, on the other hand is viewed as totalitarian in the sense that it calls for complete economic control and ownership of the economy by the people, in common.

It is always a big crime in fascist countries to speak against the leader or ruling party. Fascist leaders often give themselves a high military rank, or appear in public in an army or navy uniform, because fascist countries consider the army and warfare the most important part of the struggle for survival.

The first fascist government was run by Benito Mussolini in Italy from 1922 until 1943. The governments of Engelbert Dollfuss in Austria and Adolf Hitler in Germany are also iconic examples of fascism. Other examples are Greece under Ioannis Metaxas, Spain under the rule of Francisco Franco, and Portugal when António de Oliveira Salazar was the head of the government. All of these governments were much like Italian fascism, especially before and during World War II.

Fascism is named after the fasces, which is an old Roman name for a group of sticks tied together. It is easy to break one stick in half. It is very hard to break many sticks tied together in half. Fascists think that everyone following rigidly following the same leader and nationalist ideas makes the country strong the same way the sticks are.

In countries led by fascist governments, the government tries to control all areas of life, including work, school, and family life. Fascist ideas were most common around the time of World War II. Many people were killed by fascist governments because the government did not like them or because they opposed fascism. Even more were killed in wars started by fascist governments. However, the fascist governments of Portugal and Spain did not take part in World War II, and stayed in power until the 1970s. Many scholars consider these governments to have been or evolved into traditionalist and conservative rather than fascist. Fascism, while supporting order and stability as conservatism does, wants to transform society in new ways.

After World War II, fascism lost much of its influence, although movements and politicians inspired by fascism have had success in several countries, such as Italy.

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