What is fascism?

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Fascism (Nationalism+Socialism) is overloaded (and means different things to different people/groups [1]), and the implementations in Germany, Italy and Japan were so brutal/vile, no one wants to be associated with it (especially if they are). So both sides will try to obfuscate their similarities while decrying the other side for theirs. (Playing, "I know you are, but what am I?"). But fascism is more than an ad hominem attack: we can clarify conflicting meanings, for those willing to look at the truths. Just know that while some of us can handle the truth, you're unlikely to find them on most Internet forums or Facebook feeds.


  • When Marx's Communism (revolutionary socialism) failed to deliver on it's promises, the far left ideologies started fracturing: and one branch was this hybrid Socialist system that believed in still allowing private business, as long as it was doing what the authoritarian state dictated. (High regulation, taxes, and central control).
  • They fundamentally believed that Socialism (state planning and control) lead to better organization, output, and was more advanced than western liberalism (individualism), this is often what their long speeches and ceremonies were about: the superiority of their beliefs in their collective, and attacking anyone outside it as inferior (whether based on nation, race, religion, or political beliefs, everyone else was inferior, and needed their wisdom forced upon them, for their own good). (This ties in with the Law of Jante).
  • Their symbol is a bundle of sticks tied together, often with an axe in the middle representing "all of us, are stronger than any of us" and collective power [2].
  • Fascisms roots, origins and leadership, all came from the left: Socialist, pro-worker, populist, secular-progressive intellectuals, haters of existing society (and especially of its most bourgeois aspects: "eat the rich"), nationalistic tendencies of anti-immigrant/anti-competition labor, and they frequently used pseudo-science to rationalize their quest for power (Eugenics, Gini Coefficient, belief in top-down command-economies being governed by a "brain trust", and so on).
  • National Socialism, was a branch of fascism that added in cultural components of Germany (the anti-semitism) and came specifically from a branch of socialism called National syndicalism. [3] (A syndicate is a group of workers/unions unifying an industry, and these groups of syndicates/unions came together to unite the nation). [4] The leadership and followers had branched off and became National Socialists German Workers' Party to better describe their philosophy of collective socialism and nationalistic purity. [5]
  • Fascists despised the status quo and were not attracted by a return to bygone eras (e.g. the opposite of conservatism or right wing movements).
  • Those that call it a "right wing" movement are either intentionally misleading (by being pedantic in a way that they know will be taken wrong), or are blatantly ignorant of what the terms mean or the history of the movement[6].

The 3rd Position

Fascisms view of individuals and property rights:

  • Communism/Socialism is the idea that you have no property rights, (only the state does: e.g. everything is "communal"), and thus it is the states job to redistribute it's property (wealth) fairly amongst the people
  • Capitalism (in the extreme) is the idea that only individuals have property rights. You can pool those rights briefly with government or corporate agencies (and let them be stewards of that private property). But property as a concept, is reserved for individuals.
  • Fascism was the third position [7]: that business (and the individuals) could have property rights, but only as proxies for the state (if they were doing what the state decided was in the public/national good).

Thus everyone was part of the collective (and a ward of it). You could have corporations, businesses and private property, but only if they were putting the states interests first (as defined by the political class). Mussolini described it as a "merger of state and corporate power", over the individual (anti-libertarianism). (The same rhetoric and position as the Occupy Movement). Today we'd call it Crony Capitalism, or a regulatory state -- private business being the proxies of government, along with government subsidies to support them (Solar Power, Electric Cars, subsidies like that).

So capitalism is an individualist (libertarian) ideology, while Communism, Socialism and Fascism are all collectivist (authoritarian) ideologies.

Didn't Fascists and Communists/Socialists fight?

The Socialists/Communists supported Fascism with the cry, "First Brown, then Red"... until the fascists went on to purge those that weren't politially-correct enough to be fascists (including vocal Socialists/Communists). But this is a common theme in Socialism (Communism is just revolutionary socialism) -- they all agree in loose concept to go to socialism... but they disagree on what the final form looks like, who should be in charge, and how to get there. So infighting between the branches and implementations of Socialism is the norm . Especially after they've eradicated the opposition. So some use the example of fighting between Fascism and Communism (or Socialism) as proof they were on opposite sides, but this was much more like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fighting over who better represented the far left view for America.

The Communists of the time, returned the favor or persecution with their Antifa (antifascist) movement. (Both sides were revolutionary radicals that were willing to use violence against the other side).

Ironically, the modern Antifa movement in the U.S. usurped the symbology of the original antifa movement, hopefully without them realizing that makes them communist revolutionaries trying to exterminate fascists and capitalism).

Isn't fascism a right wing ideology?

Fascism is categorized by some as "right wing", because in Europe (historically), left and right isn't liberalism vs. conservatism, it often means individualism (left) vs. authoritarianism or collectivism (right). So by that definition, British and American Liberalism (Libertarianism) was considered left wing, and Fascism was right wing because it was authoritarian and collectivist (not individualist) - but that means Socialism and Communism are right wing well.

While in America, our terms reversed: individualists (libertarians, classical liberals, conservatives) tend to pool on the right, not the left, so the terms/meanings/roles are directly reversed. If Fascism is right wing in Europe, it's left wing in America (or they were using a different dimension to compare it on. The same way in America, Conservatism means go backwards: back when we had less government control, but in many European countries, conservatism can mean going back to when they had Monarchs and more authoritarian control. These terms don't translate as well as some people think.

There's a lot of other ways to look at right versus left wing: none of them show fascism to be a purely right wing belief system, while all show it to be a strongly left wing one (by American definitions).

What they were for and against


The tenets in common across fascist countries were:

  • a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of political elites
  • the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community” / , "we are the 99%") in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation
  • highly controlled (taxed/regulated) collaboration between the state and private businesses

They were against:

  • classical-liberalism (individual rights)
  • conservatism (the establishment and prior traditions/religions) and striving to create a regulated economic structure to transform social relations with a focus on youth and charismatic leadership.
  • slogans like, "Change you can believe in!", "Foreward", "Hope and change", "A political revolution is coming" would all fit well with their ideology and methods.

The only thing that doesn't fit modern western progressivism is militaristic nationalism, and that fit at the time. American progressives in this era were highly supportive of fascist ideology. However, since WWII, the term "fascism" fell out of vogue, progressives replaced national-militarism and racism with multinational-militarism and Social Justice Warrior programs (forced equality) as the premise for why they should have supreme national power. This is not a huge stretch -- instead of having a nations military forcing your agendas on others (national imperialism), you'd have a super-national organization (the U.N.), using the military force of many nations to force your agendas on others ("New World Order", etc). That's just replacing national-fascism with super-national fascism; a pretty subtle distinctions that doesn't require much of a philosophical shift at all.

History and it's origins

Key take-aways:

  • Fascism arose from the left (and with the support of the left), not the right (at least not in Italy and Germany)
  • all their founders were Socialists (or Marxists or Unionists): no famous Fascist came from the right wing
  • It was a branch of socialism / syndicalism (not a right wing philosophy) -- basically there were revolutionary socialists (Marxists), and evolutionary (incrementalist) Socialists (Fascists). The latter wanted Socialism, but felt in the short term, the better way to get there was to not destroy economies, but work with business to get to socialism: under the threat of nationalizing any business that didn't cooperate with their tax/regulation/federal oversight
  • Fascism had virtually no alignment with or support from conservatives or the right, at all. While the left supported fascism, and generally support it at their rallies, "first brown, then red": it was anti-Capitalist, anti-establishment, and anti-traditionalism movement, thus the left saw fascism as a progressive step towards their ultimate ideology of a more pure Socialism/Communism as it was a sibling revolutionary philosophy, headed in their direction.

Famous Fascists

For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism (Classical liberalism always signifying individualism) it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State. —Benito Mussolini, "The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” Jane Soames authorized translation, Hogarth Press, London, 1933, p. 20.[2] Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State . . . . It is opposed to classical Liberalism . . . . Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual. (p. 13) 1935 version

Similarities to today include leftist movements such as Occupy or Black Lives Matter, which are the same kind of populist uprisings that the Socialists, Communist and Fascists all supported: a remaking of the country because of injustices. They may not be identical in cause, but they have many of the same supporters. Whereas these movements are in direct conflict/contradiction to right wing movements/philosophies, which are trying to move society to more moderation or traditional (past) systems/solutions. (not remake society into something new)

Even the rhetoric of Occupy is amazingly similar to historical fascists. I've joked that the only way you can tell the difference between the 30's fascists speech and todays occupy ones, was if they include the word Jewish when they scapegoat the 1% as, "rich Jewish bankers, media magnates, and industrialists that controlled the system and oppressed the workers". But even back then, Italian fascists didn't have the anti-semitic streak that the Germans had (making distinction harder), but they weren't as anti-business/corporate either. The solutions in common is always a new authoritarian government (controlled by the people, this time) to fix things -- and pick winning and losing sectors (some deserve subsidies, others penalties), all in the name of the greater good (think "Green Energy and Solar Subsidies).

Progressives of today, even use the "Gini Coefficient" (an arbitrary measure of rich-to-poor income inequality, as if they know what that ratio should be, and non-compliance to their construct is a known problem) to proclaim why we need their authoritarian guidance, while they completely fail to recognize that this ratio was created by Corrado Gini -- the guy who literally wrote the book, "The Scientific Basis of Fascism", which was the pseudo-science justification used by both Hitter and Mussolini as economic justification for their policies.

NOTE: Antisemitism was a German thing (not in Italian or other fascism) -- but again, it stemmed from German Socialism. Socialism is about workers uniting and being part of the club. Germans formalized this with paramilitary like organization, and a hierarchy, salutes, symbols, pins, greetings (signals) and ways of showing you were an socialist insider (Nazi's borrowed these from the Socialists they stemmed from). Having a secure Socialist job was a status symbol (making you more desirable mate/provider/etc). And for there to be secure insiders (Unions/Trades), others had to be outsiders that had unsecured jobs subject to market forces (Capitalism), made worse by the protected parts of the economy (for some to get more, others must get less). Thus the socialists (unions) both excluded Jews and drove the Jews outside of these Trade Unions and Socialism Clubs, and then resented them for not being part of the clubs and being beyond their sphere of influence. Antisemitic resentment was really the same thing as anti-capitalist resentment (and vise versa), "you do things like are the merchants, traders, bankers, insurance men, etc". That Socialists dropped the anti-Jewish sentiment doesn't change much, because they use the same invectives and disdain in their Anti-Capitalistic rhetoric, they've just broadened the terminology to include all the non-Jewish bankers, merchants, and investors as well.



The following pointt never get answered by those attack the right (and ignoring the left's) alignment with fascism:

  • The "right" values individualism which was opposed by fascists.
  • The progressive movement of the 30's actively supported the National Socialists and other fascists, because their ideological alignment.
  • Modern progressivism value collectivism and statism, which is aligned with fascism in the following areas:
    • regulatory fascism; more government control, pro-centralized authoritarianism (federalism), a coupling of government and business (like healthcare or green energy), high regulation/tax state, that picks winners and losers.
    • economic fascism (against capitalism): being anti-bankers and anti-rich
    • anti-libertarian fascism: willing to sacrifice free speech for a good cause (safe spaces, speech codes, persecuting climate heretics), being anti-individual and willing to give up 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th amendment rights with regards to gun-control.
  • Even the techniques and rhetoric used to rise to in power; appeals to youth, pro-change, pro-government, pro-authoritarian (to protect us from industrialists), big symbolism, the use of propaganda (and vilification of the opposition / "the big lie"), control of the media (suppression of free speech and gun rights), intimidation (political correctness), and soaring rhetoric speeches that brought political prominence to Obama, Occupy and Black Lives matter (as well as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders), is nearly identical to these same techniques used by Hitler/Mussolini in their rise and retention of power/popularity.

Thus the right (in America) sees fascism as a left wing movement for many valid reasons.

However, our progressives see the fascists were nationalist (patriotic), highly militaristic/imperialist and culturalist/racist (pro-eugenicists) that helped motivate the fascists. All true, but narrow definitions of what fascists stood for, and missed points like:

  • the Italian fascists weren't racist, the French weren't fascist but were racists) -- little correlation
  • the American progressive left (at the time) was racist, militaristic, nationalistic: more than the right was
  • even today, progressives are selectively all of them, their just blind to their own flaws:
    • affirmative action is racism to try to make up for an "injustice", just like the Nazi's did against the Jews. Favoring one group over the others (for whatever reasons) is the ethic -- changing which groups are favored and why, doesn't change the ethic.
    • community organization and government social involvement programs is the same means as the brown shirts
    • Super-nationalism (U.N.) and multiculturalism are substitutes for the old-Nationalism (a subtle retargeting, not complete flipping of ideology). Whether we use our military directly, or advocate giving its power to the super-state (U.N.), doesn't change the imperialistic nature of imposing our will on other sovereign nations. Whether I kill you, or pay someone else to, the abstraction shouldn't lessen the crime/morals.

So the rationalizations are the same, even if the victims/degrees are different. Their motives for sacrificing our liberty to Federal Government is irrelevant to the argument of authoritarianism, is still authoritarian. In the end, we had individualism before, and the progressives want to displace it with authoritarian-federalism (or super-statism) -- and if the individual doesn't fit the new collective, they lose.

Most of all, it is nearly impossible to point out that someones views are economically fascist without them taking it personally and their emotions taking over. To them it's a personal attack, and they shut down the reasoning centers of their brains, and the visceral and emotion parts take over. (You called me a name!). Thus, I find these discussions too intellectual for most to consider rationally. By the points they care about, the similarities to their side doesn't matter, and the softer similarities with the other side matter more to them. In their provincial enclaves, and by their ethnocentric (and egocentric) view of the world, they're not fascist -- and anyone that says otherwise can be ignored. And they will still use the term freely to describe those they don't agree with, in the name of open-minded tolerance.


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Written: 2013.10.19 Updated: 2015.12.25