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This is an introductory article. See Social psychology of facism for a psychological perspective.

Fascism (IPA: [ˈfæː.ʃɪ.zm̩]) is a political ideology and mass movement that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community.[1] Many different characteristics are attributed to fascism by different scholars, but the following elements are usually seen as its integral parts: nationalism, authoritarianism, militarism, corporatism, anti-liberalism, and anti-communism. For further elaboration, please refer to fascism and ideology.

The term fascism was first used by Benito Mussolini, and it comes from the Italian word fascio, which means "union" or "league", and from the word fasces, which means rods bundled around an axe. The fasces was an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of magistrates and the symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity; a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is very difficult to break.

Roots and branches

Originally, the term fascism was used by an Italian political movement that ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. Later, fascism became a more generic term that was meant to cover an entire class of authoritarian political ideologies, parties, and political systems, though no consensus was ever achieved on a precise definition of what it means to be "fascist". Various scholars have sought to define fascism, and a list of such definitions can be found in the article Definitions of fascism.

Part of the difficulty arises from the fact that there are, at present, very few self-identified fascists. Since the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II, the word has become a slur throughout the rest of the political spectrum; since 1945 it has been extremely uncommon for political groups to call themselves fascist. In contemporary political discourse, adherents of some ideologies tend to associate fascism with their enemies, or define it as embodying the opposite of their own views. There are currently no major self-proclaimed fascist parties or organizations anywhere in the world.

The governments and parties most often considered to have been fascist include Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, Spain's Falange, Portugal's Estado Novo, Hungary's Arrow Cross Party, Romania's Iron Guard, and other similar movements that existed across Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Some authors reject this broader use of the term or exclude certain of these parties and regimes.[2]

Fascism attracted political support from diverse sectors of the population, including big business, farmers and landowners, nationalists, and reactionaries, disaffected World War I veterans, intellectuals such as Gabriele D'Annunzio, Curzio Malaparte, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger to name a few, conservatives and small businessmen, and the masses to whom they promised work and bread. In countries such as Romania and Hungary (and to a lesser extent in other states), Fascism had a strong base of support among the working classes and extremely poor peasants.


Main article: Definitions of fascism

Many diverse regimes have identified themselves as fascist, and many regimes have been labelled as fascist even though they did not self-identify as such. Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have engaged in long and furious debates concerning the exact nature of fascism and its core tenets. Since the 1990s, there has been a growing move toward some rough consensus reflected in the work of Stanley Payne, Roger Eatwell, Roger Griffin, and Robert O. Paxton.

Mussolini defined fascism as being a right-wing collectivistic ideology in opposition to socialism, liberalism, democracy and individualism. He wrote in The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism:

Anti-individualistic, the fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity. ... The fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. ... Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number. ... We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State. (a version of the text is here).

Since Mussolini, however, there have been many conflicting definitions of the term "fascism." Merriam-Webster defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition".[3]

Two particular definitions reflect the fact that Fascism has always arisen from an extreme right-wing ideology:

(1) "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism." --American Heritage Dictionary (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983)

(2) "Extreme right-wing totalitarian political system or views, as orig. prevailing in Italy (1922-43)." --The Pocket Oxford Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1984)

A recent definition is that by former Columbia University Professor Robert O. Paxton:

  • "Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."[4]

Paxton further defines fascism's essence as:

  • "1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign `contamination."[5]

Fascism is associated by many scholars with one or more of the following characteristics: a very high degree of nationalism, economic corporatism, a powerful, dictatorial leader who portrays the nation, state or collective as superior to the individuals or groups composing it.

Stanley Payne's Fascism: Comparison and Definition (1980) uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including the creation of an authoritarian state; a regulated, state-integrated economic sector; fascist symbolism; anti-liberalism; anti-communism.[6] Semiotician Umberto Eco also attempts to identify characteristics of fascism in his popular essay Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.[7] More recently, an emphasis has been placed upon the aspect of populist fascist rhetoric that argues for a "re-birth" of a conflated nation and ethnic people.[8]

Most scholars hold that fascism as a social movement employs elements from the political left, but many conclude that fascism eventually allies with the political right, especially after attaining state power. For example, Nazism began as a socio-political movement that promoted a radical form of National Socialism, but altered its character once Adolf Hitler was handed state power in Germany. A minority of scholars and political commentators argue that fascism is a form of corporatist socialism similar to that in other countries with extensive state regulation of the economy.[9]

Scope of the word Fascism

The term fascism is sometimes applied (by both supporters and opponents) to other authoritarian regimes of the same period, such as those of Imperial Japan under Hideki Tojo and Austria under Engelbert Dollfuss, or somewhat later, Argentina under Juan Perón and Greece under Ioannis Metaxas. Its use for similar, but longer-lived, regimes such as Spain under Francisco Franco and the Estado Novo of António de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal, is widespread among opponents of those regimes, but often disputed by supporters and by some historians. This trend toward the term being used only by opponents is even more pronounced in the case of more recent authoritarian regimes, such as Indonesia under Suharto.

Although the broadest definitions of fascism may include every authoritarian state that has ever existed, most theorists see important distinctions to be made. Fascism in Italy arose in the 1920s as a mixture of syndicalist notions with an anti-materialist theory of the state; the latter had already been linked to an extreme nationalism. Fascism in many ways seems to have been clearly developed as a reaction against Communism and Marxism, both in a philosophic and political sense, although it opposed democratic capitalist economics along with socialism, Marxism, and liberal democracy.

It viewed the state as an organic entity in a positive light rather than as an institution designed to protect collective and individual rights, or as one that should be held in check. It tended to reject the Marxist notion of social classes and universally dismissed the concept of class conflict, replacing it instead with the struggle between national ethic and agenda, on the one hand, and individualistic liberalism, on the other. This meant embracing nationalism and mysticism, and advancing ideals of strength and power as means of legitimacy, glorifying war as an end in itself and victory as the determinant of truth and worthiness. An affinity to these ideas can be found in Social Darwinism. These ideas are in direct opposition to the ideals of humanism and rationalism characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment, from which liberalism and, later, Marxism would emerge. Fascism is also considered to be a form of collectivism.[10]

Fascism is also typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic; in the examples given, by way of a strong, single-party government for enacting laws and a strong, sometimes brutal militia or police force for enforcing them. Fascism exalts the nation, state, or group of people as superior to the individuals, institutions, or groups composing it. Fascism uses explicit populist rhetoric; calls for a heroic mass effort to restore past greatness; and demands loyalty to a single leader, leading to a cult of personality and unquestioned obedience to orders (Führerprinzip). Hannah Arendt classed Italian fascism as an ordinary authoritarian ideology, and included only Stalinism and Nazism as totalitarians.[11]

Fascist as epithet

Main article: Fascist (epithet)

The word fascist has become a slur throughout the political spectrum following World War II, and it has been uncommon for political groups to call themselves fascist. In contemporary political discourse, adherents of some political ideologies tend to associate fascism with their enemies, or define it as the opposite of their own views. In the strict sense of the word, Fascism covers movements before WWII, and later movements are described as Neo-fascist.

Some have argued that the term fascist has become hopelessly vague in the years and that it has become little more than a pejorative epithet used by supporters of various political views. George Orwell wrote in 1944:

...the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else ... almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’.[12]

The association of fascism with strict discipline has led to the word fascist being used as computer hacker jargon for a feature which is seen as too restrictive. For example: "Our old mainframe computer's operating language was very fascist; it insisted on one space and no more, between instruction parameters."[13]

Italian Fascism

See also: Fascio and Italian fascism

Fascio (plural: fasci) is an Italian language word which was used in the late 19th century to refer to radical political groups of many different (and sometimes opposing) orientations. A number of nationalist fasci later evolved into the 20th century movement known as fascism.

Mussolini claimed to have been the founder of fascism. Italian fascism (in Italian, fascismo) was the authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. Fascism in Italy combined elements of corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism, militarism, and anti-Communism. Fascism won support as an alternative to the unpopular Liberalism of the time. It also won support of Italians who were anti socialist.

Differences and similarities with Nazism

Further information: Nazism

Benito Mussolini giving the Roman salute standing next to Adolf Hitler

Although the modern consensus sees Nazism as a type or offshoot of fascism, some scholars, such as Gilbert Allardyce and Organski, argue that Nazism is not fascism — either because the differences are too great, or because they believe fascism cannot be generic.[14][15]

Nazism differed from Italian fascism in that it had a stronger emphasis on race, in terms of social and economic policies. Mussolini's Fascism held that cultural factors existed to serve the state, and that it wasn't necessarily in the state's interest to interfere in cultural aspects of society. The only purpose of government in Mussolini's fascism was to uphold the state as supreme above all else, a concept which can described as statolatry. Where fascism talked of state, Nazism spoke of the Volk and of the Volksgemeinschaft.

Cover of a September 1938 Italian magazine, titled La difesa della razza ("The Defence of the Race").

The Nazi movement, at least in its overt ideology, spoke of class-based society as the enemy, and wanted to unify the racial element above established classes. However, the Italian fascist movement sought to preserve the class system and uphold it as the foundation of established and desirable culture[How to reference and link to summary or text] However, the Italian fascists did not reject the concept of social mobility, and a central tenet of the fascist state was meritocracy. However, fascism also heavily based itself on corporatism, which was supposed to supersede class conflicts.

Despite these differences, Kevin Passmore (2002 p.62) observes:

There are sufficient similarities between Fascism and Nazism to make it worthwhile applying the concept of fascism to both. In Italy and Germany a movement came to power that sought to create national unity through the repression of national enemies and the incorporation of all classes and both genders into a permanently mobilized nation.[16]

Mussolini and Hitler weren't always allies, and France under Pierre Laval tried to ally itself with Italy against Germany, leading to the 1935 Stresa Front. In 1934, Engelbert Dollfuss, the Austrofascist leader of Austria, was assassinated by Nazi Brown shirts on Hitler's orders in preparation for a planned Anschluss, which prompted Mussolini to move troops to the Austrian-Italian border in readiness for war against Hitler. When Hitler and Mussolini first met, Mussolini referred to Hitler as "a silly little monkey" before he was forced by the Western Allies into an agreement with Hitler.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Hitler and Mussolini recognized commonalities in their politics, and the second part of Hitler's Mein Kampf — "The National Socialist Movement" — (1926) contains this passage:

I conceived the profoundest admiration for the great man south of the Alps, who, full of ardent love for his people, made no pacts with the enemies of Italy, but strove for their annihilation by all ways and means. What will rank Mussolini among the great men of this earth is his determination not to share Italy with the Marxists, but to destroy internationalism and save the fatherland from it. (p. 622)

In Soviet useage (which has translated into modern Russian useage), the epithet fascist is synonymous with Nazi Germans. This came to be only after Hitler's invasion of the USSR. Several historians, such as Valery Senderov, have claimed that the "fascist" epithet for Nazi Germans was created by Stalin who did not want to use the term Nazi, fearing it would cast a negative spin on the word socialism (National Socialism).


Main article: Anti-Communism

Fascism and Communism are political systems that rose to prominence after World War I. Historians of the period between World War I and World War II such as E.H. Carr and Eric Hobsbawm point out that liberalism was under serious stress in this period and seemed to be a doomed philosophy. The success of the Russian Revolution of 1917 resulted in a revolutionary wave across Europe. The socialist movement worldwide split into separate social democratic and Leninist wings. The subsequent formation of the Third International prompted serious debates within social democratic parties, resulting in supporters of the Russian Revolution splitting to form Communist Parties in most industrialized (and many non-industrialized) countries.

At the end of World War I, there were attempted socialist uprisings or threats of socialist uprisings throughout Europe, most notably in Germany, where the Spartacist uprising, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in January 1919, was eventually crushed. In Bavaria, Communists successfully overthrew the government and established the Munich Soviet Republic that lasted from 1918 to 1919. A short lived Hungarian Soviet Republic was also established under Béla Kun in 1919.

The Russian Revolution also inspired attempted revolutionary movements in Italy with a wave of factory occupations. Most historians view fascism as a response to these developments, as a movement that both tried to appeal to the working class and divert them from Marxism. It also appealed to capitalists as a bulwark against Bolshevism. Italian Fascism took power with the blessing of Italy's king after years of leftist-led unrest led many conservatives to fear that a communist revolution was inevitable (Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci popularized the conception that fascism was the Capital's response to the organized workers' movement). Mussolini took power during the 1922 March on Rome.

Throughout Europe, numerous aristocrats, conservative intellectuals, capitalists and industrialists lent their support to fascist movements in their countries that emulated Italian Fascism. In Germany, numerous right-wing nationalist groups arose, particularly out of the post-war Freikorps, which were used to crush both the Spartacist uprising and the Munich Soviet.

With the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s, it seemed that liberalism and the liberal form of capitalism were doomed, and Communist and fascist movements swelled. These movements were bitterly opposed to each other and fought frequently, the most notable example of this conflict being the Spanish Civil War. This war became a proxy war between the fascist countries and their international supporters — who backed Francisco Franco — and the worldwide Communist movement allied uneasily with anarchists and Trotskyists — who backed the Popular Front — and were aided chiefly by the Soviet Union.

Initially, the Soviet Union supported a coalition with the western powers against Nazi Germany and popular fronts in various countries against domestic fascism. This policy was largely unsuccessful due to the distrust shown by the western powers (especially Britain) towards the Soviet Union. The Munich Agreement between Germany, France and Britain heightened Soviet fears that the western powers were endeavoring to force them to bear the brunt of a war against Nazism. The lack of eagerness on the part of the British during diplomatic negotiations with the Soviets served to make the situation even worse. The Soviets changed their policy and negotiated a non-aggression pact known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. Vyacheslav Molotov claims in his memoirs that the Soviets believed this was necessary to buy them time to prepare for an expected war with Germany. Stalin expected the Germans not to attack until 1942, but the pact ended in 1941 when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. Fascism and communism reverted to being deadly enemies. The war, in the eyes of both sides, was a war between ideologies.

Even within socialist and communist circles, there were debates about the nature of fascism. Communist theoretician Rajani Palme Dutt crafted one view that stressed the crisis of capitalism.[17] Leon Trotsky, an early leader in the Russian Revolution, believed that fascism occurs when "the workers' organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat."[18]

Fascism and religion

Main article: Neo-fascism and religion

Fascism and the Roman Catholic Church

A controversial topic is the relationship between fascist movements and the Roman Catholic Church. As mentioned above, Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum included doctrines that fascists used or admired. Forty years later, the corporatist tendencies of Rerum Novarum were underscored by Pope Pius XI's May 25, 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno[19] restated the hostility of Rerum Novarum to both unbridled competition and class struggle. Apologists claim the criticism of both socialism and capitalism in these encyclicals was not fascist but rather closer to Christian Democracy.

In the early 1920s, the Catholic party in Italy (Partito Popolare) was in the process of forming a coalition with the Reform Party that could have stabilized Italian politics and thwarted Mussolini's projected coup. On October 2, 1922, Pope Pius XI circulated a letter ordering clergy not to identify themselves with the Partito Popolare, but to remain neutral, an act that undercut the party and its alliance against Mussolini. Following Mussolini's rise to power, the Vatican's Secretary of State met Il Duce in early 1923 and agreed to dissolve the Partito Popolare, which Mussolini saw as an obstacle to fascist rule. In exchange, the fascists made guarantees regarding Catholic education and institutions.

In 1924, following the murder of the leader of the Socialist Party by fascists, the Partito Popolare joined with the Socialist Party in demanding that the King dismiss Mussolini as Prime Minister, and stated their willingness to form a coalition government. Pius XI responded by warning against any coalition between Catholics and socialists. The Vatican ordered all priests to resign from the Partito Popolare and from any positions they held in it. This led to the party's disintegration in rural areas where it relied on clerical assistance.

The Vatican subsequently established Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action) as a non-political lay organization under the direct control of bishops. The organization was forbidden by the Vatican to participate in politics, and thus was not permitted to oppose the fascist regime. Pius XI ordered all Catholics to join Catholic Action. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of Catholics withdrawing from the Partito Popolare, and joining the apolitical Catholic Action. This caused the Catholic Party's final collapse.[20]

When Mussolini ordered the closure of Catholic Action in May 1931, Pius XI issued an encyclical, Non Abbiamo Bisogno. This document stated the Catholic Church's opposition to the dissolution, and argued that the order "unmasked the pagan intentions of the Fascist state". Under international pressure, Mussolini decided to compromise, and Catholic Action was saved. For Catholics, the encyclical's disapproval of any system that puts the nation above God or humanity remains doctrine.

Aside from certain ideological similarities, the relationship between the Church and fascist movements in various countries has often been close. An early example is Austria which developed a quasi-fascist authoritarian Catholic regime some call the "Austro-fascist" Ständestaat between 1934 and 1938. There is little debate over Slovakia, where the fascist dictator was a Catholic monsignor; and the Independent State of Croatia, where the fascist Ustashe identified itself as a Catholic movement. The Iron Guard in Romania identified itself as an Eastern Orthodox movement (with no connection to Roman Catholicism), and had particularly strong leanings toward clerical fascism. (See also Involvement of Croatian Catholic clergy with the Ustaša regime.)

The Vichy regime in France was also deeply influenced by the reactionary Catholic-influenced ideology of the Action Française. This group had actually been led by an agnostic and condemned by the Catholic Church in 1926. Many of its members were reactionary Catholics so this condemnation damaged the group, but then in 1938 the condemnation was lifted. Conversely, many Catholic priests were persecuted under the Nazi regime, and many Catholic laypeople and clergy played notable roles in sheltering Jews during the Holocaust.

While some historians wrote that the Catholic organization Opus Dei and its founder Josemaría Escrivá supported the fascist regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, some recent historians state that Escrivá was staunchly non-political, and the connection between Opus Dei and Franco's fascist regime was a black legend propagated by the Falange and by some clerical sectors.[21]

Fascist movements like Rexism in Belgium and the Christian Social Party also combined fascist and conservative populist Roman Catholic elements

Fascism and the Protestant churches

Protestantism in Italy and Spain was not as significant as Catholicism and the Protestant minority was persecuted. Mussolini's sub-secretary of Interior, Bufferini-Guidi issued a memo closing all houses of worship of the Italian Pentecostals and Jehovah Witnesses, and imprisoned their leader. There were some instances of people being killed because of their faith.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

The connection between the German form of Fascism, Nazism, and Protestantism has long been debated, with some saying that the Protestant denominations, especially the German Lutheran Church, was close. According to some scholars, especially Richard Steigman-Gall (The Holy Reich: Protestantism and the Nazi Movement, 1920-1945) the relationship was collaborationist. Hitler, in his manifesto, Mein Kampf, listed Martin Luther as one of Germany's great historic reformers. In Luther's 1543 book On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther advocated the burning of synagogues and schools, the deportation of Jews, and many other measures that resemble the actions later taken by the Nazis.

The overwhelming majority of Protestant church leaders in Germany made no comment on the Nazis' growing anti-Jewish activities. Many Protestants opposed the governments of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s which they saw as coalitions between the Socialists and the Catholic Centre party. In 1932, many German Protestants joined together to form the German Christian Movement which enthusiastically supported Nazism, and sought to join Church and State. 3,000 of the 17,000 Protestant pastors in Germany were to join the movement. Hitler wished to unite a Protestant church of 28 different federations into one nationalist body. Pastor Ludwig Müller, the leader of the German Christian Movement, was soon appointed Hitler's advisor on religious affairs. He was elected Reich's Bishop in charge of the German Protestant churches in 1933. Many churches and ministers attempted to purge Christianity of "Jewish influences" and tried to institute the Nazis' Positive Christianity viewpoint on religion.

An "Aryan Paragraph" was introduced to the constitution which stated that no one of non-Aryan background, or married to anyone of non-Aryan background, could serve as either a pastor or church official. Pastors and officials who had married a non-Aryan were to be dismissed. Much of the Lutheran establishment and most of the Reformed churches in Germany had welcomed Hitler's promise to oppose Bolshevism and social instability.

The new measures began to raise some opposition to the German Christians from a minority of Lutherans and Evangelicals who had become increasingly disillusioned with unethical practices of the Nazis and disliked state interference in church affairs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theological liberal, was strongly opposed to the Nazis. Though there is some debate as to his actual involvement in planning the assassination attempt of Hitler, he was found guilty and executed for his alleged part in the conspiracy. A small group of Protestant clergy under Martin Niemoeller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer separated from the main churches to form the Confessing Church. The group had limited effect, however, as it was forced to meet secretly and was largely dispersed by the Nazis by 1939 at the latest, and the effect of Protestantism on inhibiting Nazism in Germany was limited at best.

Clerical fascism

Main article: Clerical fascism

Some expressions of fascism have been closely linked with religious political movements. This combination is referred to as Clerical fascism, a prime example of which is the Ustashe in Croatia.

Fascism and Islam

See Mohammad Amin al-Husayni for ties between the Grand Mufti and WWII fascists. In the 2000s, some commentators have compared extreme Islamism to fascism, using the disputed term Islamofascism.

Fascism, sexuality, and gender roles

Further information: Gender role

There has been a revival of interest in recent times, among many academic historians, with regard to the so-called "cult of masculinity" that permeated fascism, the attempts to systematically control female sexuality and reproductive behavior for the ends of the State.[citation needed] Italian fascists viewed increasing the birthrate of Italy as a major goal of their regime, with Mussolini launching a program, called the 'Battle For Births', to almost double the country's population. The exclusive role assigned to women within the State was to be mothers and not workers or soldiers.[22] However, Mussolini did not practice what some of his supporters preached. From an early stage, he gave women high positions within Fascism, and in Germany, the leader of one of the major feminist organisations pleaded with Hitler to be incorporated into the Nazi Party as early as 1928. Fascists have generally been opposed to the concept of women's rights per se, preferring the traditions of chivalry to guide male-female relations. Once again, Hitler, Himmler and Mussolini dismissed male chauvinist attitudes towards women, especially in private. The attempt to equate Fascism and Nazism with male chauvinism is not only dubious and highly flawed; on close examination it is unsustainable.

Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.[23]

But Sylvia Plath's angry metaphor may simply be a repetition of the old 'woman as masochist' claim. As this came in a poem about her German father, Plath may have been associating all Germans with fascism [something that was common in Britain until fairly recently]. According to Anson Rabinbach and Jessica Benjamin, "The crucial element of fascism is its explicit sexual language, what Theweleit calls 'the conscious coding' or the 'over-explicitness of the fascist language of symbol.' This fascist symbolization creates a particular kind of psychic economy which places sexuality in the service of destruction. According to this intellectual theory, despite its sexually-charged politics, fascism is an anti-eros, 'the core of all fascist propaganda is a battle against everything that constitutes enjoyment and pleasure'… He shows that in this world of war the repudiation of one's own body, of femininity, becomes a psychic compulsion which associates masculinity with hardness, destruction, and self-denial."[24]

See also


  1. Kevin Passmore, Fascism: A Very Short Introduction, pages 25-31. Oxford University Press, 2002
  2. Griffiths, Richard Fascism. (Continuum, 2005), pgs. 91-136. ISBN 0-8264-8281-3
  3. Fascism. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. URL accessed on November 17, 2005.
  4. Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. (Knopf Publishing Group, 2005), 218. ISBN 1-4000-4094-9
  5. Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism. (Knopf Publishing Group, 2005), 218. ISBN 1-4000-4094-9
  6. Payne, Stanley (1980). Fascism: Comparison and Definition, 7, University of Wisconsin Press.
  7. Umberto Eco (1995). Eternal Fascism Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. New York Review of Books (June 22): 12–15.
  8. Griffin, Roger (1995). Fascism, Oxford University Press.
  9. Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, Inc.. 1981
  10. Triandis, Harry C., Gelfand, Michele J. (1998). Converging Measurement of Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (1): 119.; Collectivism. (2006). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 14, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  11. Arendt, Hannah (1973). The Origins of Totalitarianism, Harvest Books. ISBN 0-15-670153-7.
  12. George Orwell: ‘What is Fascism?’
  14. Gilbert Allardyce (1979). What Fascism Is Not: Thoughts on the Deflation of a Concept. American Historical Review 84 (2): 367-388.
  15. Paul H. Lewis (2000). Latin Fascist Elites, 9, Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-97880-X.
  17. Rajani Palme Dutt: Fascism. Fascism and Social Revolution: A Study of the economics and Politics of the Extreme Stages of Capitalism in Decay (1934). URL accessed on November 5, 2006.
  18. LEON TROTSKY: Fascism. Fascism: What is is and How to Fight It. URL accessed on November6, 2006.
  19. Rerum Novarum. URL accessed on November 17, 2005.
  20. Italy, the Vatican and Fascism. The Vatican in World Politics. URL accessed on November 17, 2005.
  21. See Allen, John (2005). Opus Dei: an Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church. Random House Double. See also Preston, Paul. (1993). Franco. A Biography, London: HarperCollins, p. 669, and Crozier, Brian (1967) Franco, A Biographical History, Little, Brown and Company.
  22. Durham, Martin: Women and Fascism, Routledge 1998, ISBN 0-415-12280-5
  23. The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath, Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-090900-5.
  24. Theweleit, Klaus; Erica Carter, Anson Rabinbach, Chris Turner (Translator), Anson Rabinbach (1989). Male Fantasies, Volume 2: Male Bodies—Psychoanalyzing the White Terror (Theory and History of Literature, Volume 23), United States: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-1451-2.

Further reading


  • Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf (1992). London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-5254-X
  • "Labor Charter" (1927-1934)
  • Mussolini, Benito. Doctrine of Fascism which was published as part of the entry for fascismo in the Enciclopedia Italiana 1932.
  • Paxton, Robert O. 2004. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 1-4000-4094-9
  • Sorel, Georges. Reflections on Violence.
  • De Felice, Renzo Interpretations of Fascism, translated by Brenda Huff Everett, Cambridge; London : Harvard University Press, 1977 ISBN 0-674-45962-8.
  • Eatwell, Roger. 1996. Fascism: A History. New York: Allen Lane.
  • Hughes, H. Stuart. 1953. The United States and Italy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Payne, Stanley G. 1995. A History of Fascism, 1914-45. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press ISBN 0-299-14874-2
  • Reich, Wilhelm. 1970. The Mass Psychology of Fascism. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  • Seldes, George. 1935. Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism. New York and London: Harper and Brothers.
  • Alfred Sohn-Rethel Economy and Class Structure of German Fascism,London, CSE Bks, 1978 ISBN -0906336007

Fascist ideology

  • De Felice, Renzo Fascism : an informal introduction to its theory and practice, an interview with Michael Ledeen, New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Books, 1976 ISBN 0-87855-190-5.
  • Fritzsche, Peter. 1990. Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505780-5
  • Griffin, Roger. 2000. "Revolution from the Right: Fascism," chapter in David Parker (ed.) Revolutions and the Revolutionary Tradition in the West 1560-1991, Routledge, London.
  • Laqueur, Walter. 1966. Fascism: Past, Present, Future, New York: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-511793-X
  • Schapiro, J. Salwyn. 1949. Liberalism and The Challenge of Fascism, Social Forces in England and France (1815-1870). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Laclau, Ernesto. 1977. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism. London: NLB/Atlantic Highlands Humanities Press.
  • Sternhell, Zeev with Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri. [1989] 1994. The Birth of Fascist Ideology, From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution., Trans. David Maisei. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

International fascism

  • Coogan, Kevin. 1999. Dreamer of the Day: Francis Parker Yockey and the Postwar Fascist International. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Autonomedia.
  • Griffin, Roger. 1991. The Nature of Fascism. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Paxton, Robert O. 2004. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Weber, Eugen. [1964] 1985. Varieties of Fascism: Doctrines of Revolution in the Twentieth Century, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, (Contains chapters on fascist movements in different countries.)
  • Wallace, Henry. "The Dangers of American Fascism". The New York Times, Sunday, 9 April 1944.

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