Fascism is one of the ideological results of the 20th century and is synonymous with Benito Mussolini’s political regime in Italy after WW1 in 1922. As narrated by Griffin, fascism represents a wide spectrum of radical as well as authoritarian nationalist political philosophies that are complex to define (21). It is a form of administration that has been centered on anti-democracy, anti-capitalism, anti-liberalism, anti-semitism, as well as anti-communism. As earlier mentioned, this type of form of governance was employed to full effect after World War One with Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy and Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany is the most studied.
European history analysts such as Laclau Ernesto argue that fascism is the consequence of the crisis that engulfed most European nations after World War 1. Over the years, studies have shown that fascism took various forms mainly Italian fascism, German Nazism, and Romanian legionaries; however, the most cited form is the fascism of Italy. The liberal regime that was imposed in Italy after ‘The Great War’ did not represent the majority of the poor Italian public. As narrated by Poulantzas, it employed repressionary tactics against mass protests while serving the needs of the elite. In Germany, likewise, Nazism was a consequence of the First World War (212).
Benito Mussolini, a son to two anarchist activist parents who had republican beliefs, was born in a rural village in the Italian town called Predappio in 1883. With such a background, he grew up as a troublemaker, being expelled from several schools due to defiance and violence. Soon after joining the military service in 1903, he advanced his fascist visions on Italy and politics. After the ‘Great War’, the Italian economy went through a tough time, and eventually, the people sought different guidance, which came in the form of Mussolini and several others forming the National Fascist Party (NFP) in 1919. Three years after its formation, the NFP had not only received national recognition but was also the most popular party in the country. The party run under the promise that fascism was the solution to Italy’s economic problems. Through a dictatorship system, Mussolini quickly rose in popularity becoming Prime minister in the process; as explained by Payne, this was the launch of fascism in Italy (12).
Despite some Germans having reservations against Hitler and his liberal activism, his party won the national elections promising to revitalize the economy. Hitler promised the German people a vigorous rearmament program that would see the financing of public works, which included the development of infrastructure such as highways as well as drainage of swamps for more agricultural farming opportunities. Hitler’s actins absorbed the unemployed and improved livelihoods. In 1939, Hitler and Mussolini became allies after the Italians invaded Ethiopia. The formation of the great triple alliance between Italy, Germany, and Austria-Hungary saw an astronomical growth of fascism as a favored form of governance.
As an idea, fascism is complex to evaluate because of several factors such as it is an amalgamation of adverse characteristics; For instance, anti-bourgeois, anti-democratic, anti-capitalist, anti-liberalism, as well as anti-communist. As such, it is hard to know what it condemns and what it supports. Additionally, it is an eclectic ideology much like a religion as used by Hitler who asked for blind obedience from his supporters. Through the advancement of anti-liberalism as well as anti-democracy, fascism is centered on taking no notice to the citizens’ rights as well as freedom, subduing the political diversity, consequently upholding a single-party system. In both Italy and Germany, any critic who tried to question the government was punished, and any political competitor was crushed in case it tried to develop a new form of democracy. This meant that all the political power in the region was confined to a single leader, Benito Mussolini, in Italy and Adolf Hitler, in Germany. Lastly, fascism is formed on the premise of anti-rationalism; it represses human rationality as well as intellectual life. Unlike socialism and liberalism that support the freedoms of citizens in the development of representative governance, fascism makes use of will and violence in writing the political doctrine. Additionally, fascism represents the demands of a political regime built on will and addressed to the soul, emotions, and instincts of the people, first promising the youth a better future before setting up to brainwash and repress them.
As earlier stated, a fascist regime is conventionally a totalitarian political system that is defined by organizing in addition to controlling the society by the power establishment principle through any means, counting the use of force. This system of governance seeks for complete submission of the individual or the society to the state authority. Benito Mussolini prearranged the ‘March of Rome’ a move that saw him receive significant political power through fascism. On the other hand, Adolf Hitler took advantage of Germany’s political instability in convincing the liberal regime to award the chancellor more supremacy than the president. He received more authoritative power from the state as the people saw the Nazi regime as a solution out of the crisis thus taking part in the destruction of major democratic aspects as well as acquiring all the control needed to become a fascist.
Griffin, Roger. The nature of fascism. Routledge, 2013.
Laclau, Ernesto. Politics and ideology in Marxist theory: Capitalism, fascism, populism. Verso Trade, 2012.
Paxton, Robert O. The anatomy of fascism. Vintage, 2007.
Payne, Stanley G. A history of fascism, 1914–1945. University of Wisconsin Pres, 1996.
Poulantzas, Nicos. Fascism and Dictatorship: The Third International and the problem of Fascism. Verso Books, 2019.