Fascism is an ideology, about an extremely right-wing attitude to society. Fascism emerged in Italy in the early 1920s as a nationalist and antidemocratic grouping of citizens.
What is fascism?
Fascists reject the fact that there is a class difference between people in society. Society is perceived as an organized system, in which all citizens are assigned a particular function. All parts of the organism are necessary for its well-being, and in the same way society is dependent on all citizens performing their particular functions as best as possible. Fascists find no sense in claiming that the different organs of the organism have different interests.
Fascism arose in Italy, and the country was ruled through this ideology from 1922 to 1943, where the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was in power. The term ‘fascism’ comes from the Latin word ‘fasces’, which was the name of a bundle of branches with an ax in the middle. Fasces was carried by Roman soldiers and officers. Fasces was a power symbol of the Roman rulers’ executive power. Mussolini took the symbol in connection with the development of the fascist ideas, as it symbolized unity, power and justice for him.
Fascism and Nationalism
Fascism is especially characterized by its strong nationalism. That is, the nation should act as the primary identifying factor for all citizens of a society. Nationalists strive to defend the country and its specific characteristics (language, culture, history) and emphasize the idea of a historical and ethnic membership of the country.
However, fascism and nationalism are not exactly the same. Where nationalists, for example, demand that all citizens have equal right to participate in the country’s rule, fascists believe that it is the elected leader who sovereignly governs the formation of the state. In contrast to nationalism’s fundamental focus on demarcation to other nations, fascists advocate for a progressive proliferation, which, among other things, was seen when the fascist Italy attacked Albania and Ethiopia in the 1930s.
Fascism and Totalitarianism
Fascists advocate a totalitarian state. This means that citizens must submit to the state and the state leader’s will. Fascists do not recognize individual freedoms.
Fascists believe that only a strong state can control and gather the population and make sure everyone is doing their best. It is therefore necessary for an authoritarian state to control all parts of society. In a totalitarian society, there is no room for democratic elections, and political opponents, which is believed to disturb the balance of the organism.
Totalitarianism means, in other words, the total dictatorship. In totalitarian systems, such as a fascist society, all parts of public and private life are accurately controlled in the same way with dictatorship. The dictator is called in fascist systems as ‘leader’.
The most popular examples are; the totalitarian regime in Nazi Germany (with Adolf Hitler as “Der Führer”), the fascist Italy (with Benito Mussolini as “Il Duce”) and the fascist Spain (with Francisco Franco as “El Caudillo”).
Fascism in Italy
The fascist movement was founded by Benito Mussolini in Italy in 1919. In the early 1920s, the movement grew more and more, which was largely a reaction to the end of World War I, leaving Italy in a deep social and economic crisis. Mussolini was a charismatic leader who received many followers on the basis of promises of economic progress and improvement on living conditions of Italians.
This meant that the Italian king eventually had to choose Mussolini as head of government, and the full power transfer was finalized in 1925. The fascist movement of Mussolini was in power until 1943, however, Mussolini remained in power in Northern Italy until the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
Mussolin’s fascist movement was banned in Italy after the Second World War. However, there have been various right-wing movements and parties in Italy, which sympathize with the fascist values. An example is the new fascist party, Alleanza Nazionale (“National Alliance”), which today is part of the center-right party, Forza Italia (“Forward Italy”), led by the controversial politician and former president, Silvio Berlusconi.