Skip to main content

Fascism: An Introduction to a Philosophy That Dominated the 20th Century

MG is a keen political observer and commentator who has a ringside seat to the turbulent years of the present political scenario


Origin of Fascism

Fascism is a term heard and used very often all over the world.. Perhaps the people using this term are themselves not aware of what fascism means. Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultra-nationalism. Its main characteristic is dictatorial power, suppression of opposition, and regimentation of society and economy. The philosophy came into prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Italy was the vanguard for the spread of Fascism before spreading to other European countries. The philosophy is opposed to liberalism, democracy, Marxism, and anarchism. if we measure on a scale Fascism is on the extreme far right of the left-right spectrum. An important difference with communism is the integration of this philosophy with corporate houses and industry.

The word fascism originated in Italy during the early twenties of the last century and was derived from the ancient Roman word fasces. This word represented ancient Roman symbols that denoted the power of the state. Fascism is a representative of authoritarianism.

Fascism is a radical concept that gained credence at the turn of the twentieth century. It was a political ideology that was adopted by Benito Mussolini in the 1920s. However, the father of fascism is Giovanni Gentile (1875 -1944). He was an Italian philosopher who gave shape to Fascism. He wrote A Doctrine of Fascism (1932) for Benito Mussolini. He was also in his youth influenced by Karl Marx and later by Friedrich Nietzsche and Hegel who represented the materialistic doctrine.


Philosophy of Fascism

Fascism is a distinct philosophy that believes in the supremacy of the state and the nation. It advocates a single-party form of government and the marshaling of all forces of the state and the people to attain a strong nation. Fascism believes in violence and war as a means to an end. However, as a philosophy, it steers clear of Communist and Marxist dogma as well as capitalism represented by free enterprise.

It is fashionable to represent it as a right-wing ideology. Marxism is the enemy of Fascism and the great Marxist thinker Leon Trotsky commented that "Fascism is nothing but capitalistic reaction." Maybe Trotsky was correct because the concept of white supremacy so prevalent in the United States with organizations like the Ka Klux Klan represented Fascist thought; though the Americans are loathed to agree with this observation.

The basic tenets of Fascism were adopted by Hitler and Mussolini. It will not be wrong to credit the development of Fascist thought to Mussolini. His concept of Fascism was anti-communist and anti-capitalist as well as anti-democracy. Fascism believes in denying the basic rights of citizens. It also believes in the mass regimentation of society through military drills and physical culture. Thus the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg and Mussolini's Black Shirts marching in Rome give us a vivid picture of the concept of mass mobilization as envisaged by Mussolini and Giovanni. These rallies created a military atmosphere and also enthused the masses. One of the pillars of Fascism is racism. Thus in the USA the concept of white supremacy was exemplified by the KKK( Ka Klux Klan) who in the name of purity of the white race executed negroes.

Hitler's final solution to the Jews was the result of adapting Fascism as a state concept. Here he made it a state policy to execute Jews who he considered as sub-human and this led to over 6 million executions. If one has to summarize the 3 pillars of Fascism are Racism, Militarism, and dictatorship


Fascism and Society

One other aspect of Fascism is to keep society in perpetual ferment with agitations and movements that appeal to the masses. Thus the Red Brigade and Peoples cultural revolution unleashed by Mao Tse Tung is another facet of Fascism. The period of the cultural revolution led to at least 20 million deaths in China. The deaths engineered by Hitler pale into insignificance at the magnitude of the deaths and executions in China.

Fascism certainly does have some appeal. It does bring in order from Chaos and with a greater state control brings in benefits that accrue to the people. Thus when Mussolini took over in Italy for the first time the trains began to run on time and the anarchy of the previous years was replaced by order and discipline. But the defect or limitation in Fascist thought is the complete negation of human values where the dictator becomes omnipotent as brought out by George Orwell in his books

.As far as the founder of fascism in Italy is concerned, Giovanni Gentile is concerned he was shot dead in 1944 by anti-fascist protesters led by one Bruno Fanciullacci in Florence.

Bruno Fanciullacci (13 November 1919 – 17 July 1944) was an Italian partisan.
He is one of the most well-known and discussed figures of the Italian Resistance for complicity in the murder of Giovanni Gentile. This was an episode that divided the same anti-fascist front and ultimately he paid with his life when he was shot and bones were broken.

Till the last Giovanni Gentile remained loyal to Mussolini.

As far as Fascism is concerned, its a political ideology characterized by a mass movement that dominated many parts of central, southern, and eastern Europe between 1919 and 1945. It also had adherents in western Europe, the United States, South Africa, Japan, Latin America, and the Middle East.

One significant spillover of Fascism and a big difference from Communism is the patronage of big business and the corporate world. This is an important plank of Fascism. It is worth mentioning and a point for discussion is that with the United States protecting big business and corporates ( Trump even lowered taxes for the ultra-rich) with emotional discrimination against the blacks, there are seeds of Fascism already sowed. Can they sprout?

Scroll to Continue

Last word

Where do we stand as far as fascism is concerned now? To deny its existence is a travesty of fact and fascist regimes still rule in North Korea and some Islamic states like Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has all the trappings of a fascist state with the cover of Islam. and it will appear in some form or another as long as instability and chaos rules and there is a fear of instability. In India also with rampant corruption being the order of the day, Fascism in some form may rear its head. A disgusted people are the breeding ground of Fascism.

One can think over and apply what I have written to his /her own country. Fascism can come again; it does bring benefits but one has to pay the cost. Maybe India with its rampant casteism and corruption with no regard to meritocracy is a ripe country for this transition. Lastly, the topic has so interested me that I have thought to amplify it in a book. Let's see.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 19, 2020:

Thank you, Anupam. nice of you to have commented

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on December 19, 2020:

Very informative. Thank you for this description.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 19, 2020:

Thanks Ruby, what you stated is the tragedy of this world.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 19, 2020:

I really never understood fascism. Your article explains it well. I was brought up to regard all people the same, none better, none worse. I will never understand why some hate black people, yet they sing the good ole gospel song. " Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. "

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 19, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy, so sweet of you to have commented

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 19, 2020:

Thanks for this informative write-up about fascism. Here in the U.S., we certainly have seen the rise of fascism under the current White House resident. Trust in elections, news media, and more have been affected. Much of this is on purpose.

I pray that calmer days lie ahead.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 19, 2020:

Pamela, I have a lot of respect for your comments. I like them and I have a close association with the USA. Maybe I will let you know soon.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 19, 2020:

This is a very informative and well-written article, MG. I think you have explained fascism very well, and there is some degree of fascism in the U.S.

We did all benefit from the tax cut, but Trump is a business man. I believe he is trying to keep businesses in the U.S., which then keeps people employed.

Of course, it is not to the degree of North Korea or Saudi Arabia.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 18, 2020:

Thanks, Tom, Mao introduced Fascism though he never gave it that definition. Sadly the USA facilitated the rise of China there are no two opinions about it, maybe as the USA itself has elements of Fascism. So it appears to be a case of stepbrothers but the USA will know now under Biden what it means to do the tango with the dragon.

India is peculiar as here we have a caste division that is iconoclastic and sadly even those who convert carry their caste with them. When the UK ruled India it was a fascist state as they suppressed local genius and men like Rudyard Kipling talked of "white man's burden: It is a moot point that the white race, be it German or British have been the greatest exponents of Fascism. It's not going to die away. Watch for more fun and games in the next decade. History is a cycle and that's why Biden has won. He is not in the pink of health and god forbid Kamla Harris is de facto president.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 18, 2020:

Thanks, tom, Heidegger, and Nietzsche are the inspiration for Fascism. They are both difficult to understand but they had a profound effect on world philosophy.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 18, 2020:

Tony, your comment has delighted me. Thank you for reading and sparing time. Do you feel Fascist tendencies may again surface in Germany?

Tony Hegler from Germany on December 18, 2020:

I just came across this article and was struck by its simplicity and breadth of knowledge displayed by the author. It was wonderful to read but I wish you had made a mention of General Franco the last of the Fascist dictators who died in 1975. You are right Fascisim has an appeal and that cannot be denied. Its not negative all the way. I also feel the USA has the trappings of fascist state under the veneer of democracy. I can't say about India as I have never been there. China and North Korea, China in particular is the REAL fascist state in the 21st century. What a travesty they give lip service to Marx..

Related Articles