What Does Fascism Mean?

Fascism is a complex and frequently misunderstood political ideology that can be explained in both broad and in-depth perspectives. To truly understand it, we need to dive into its historical roots, primary features, and examples worldwide.

The term “fascism” originated in Italy during the early 20th century and it was used to describe a new political movement led by Benito Mussolini that arose after World War I. Fascism was embodied within the National Fascist Party, characterized by dictatorial power, forceful suppression of opposition, and a firm establishment of a regimented society.

However, fascism isn’t solely confined to Italy under Mussolini’s rule. It’s a far-reaching ideology that has been adapted and modified across various countries and times, although such modifications still share specific fundamental attributes.

Fundamentally, fascism is a far-right political ideology that discards democracy and leans towards authoritarianism. It often centers around the concept of ethnonationalism, whereby it propagates the belief that the state – defined by a single homogeneous race or culture – should achieve ultimate supremacy.

Fascist states tend to be characterized by dictatorial power, bolstered by martial law, mass surveillance, and propaganda. Personal freedoms are drastically curtailed under a fascist regime – the state comes first, and individual rights and freedoms are considered secondary, or sometimes irrelevant.

In addition to authoritarianism and ethnonationalism, fascism also promotes a society regulated by corporatism. Corporatism in this sense means the organization of society by professional and industrial bodies, which would work collaboratively in the national interest. Unlike socialism which aims to take control of industries for worker benefit, in fascism, corporations serve the nation — typically under strict regulation and privileges offered by the state.

Well-known examples of fascism in practice include Mussolini’s Italy (1922–1943), Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany (1933–1945), and Francisco Franco’s Spain (1939–1975).

While those historical contexts provide prime examples, it’s important to note that no two fascist regimes are identical. Each has been formed by its distinctive historical and national context. It’s not uncommon for leaders who espouse fascist ideologies today to reject the term due to its historical stigma.

In summary, fascism is a political ideology that encompasses a range of right-wing positions, placing importance on the state’s supremacy over individual rights, typically led by a dictatorial regime enforcing strict social and economic structures. It’s a term often utilized to describe harsh, authoritarian regimes that are fundamentally opposed to democracy and liberalism. Fascism is a serious matter, as history has demonstrated the horrific consequences that can arise under such regimes.