Historica Wiki

Brown flag.png

Fascism is a far-right political ideology that originated in Italy during World War I. Fascism is a combination of far-right nationalism, xenophobia, militarism, and populism, and it rejects both left-wing and right-wing politics. Fascism rose in countries that had lost during World War I, as many people were upset with the loss of territory to foreign powers or, in Italy's case, not having an equal share of the glory. Fascism opposes communism, socialism, liberalism, and conservatism in favor of an authoritarian single-party state ruled by a single strongman, and fascism favors corporate control of the government. According to Stanley G. Paine, "Given authoritarian form, the combination of nationalism with socialism or corporatism usually became known as 'fascism'". He also claimed that fascism "drew its main strength from the fear and insecurity of the middle classes, who turned to the corporate coordination of economic force in the name of the nation as the only new creed which could control the proletarian rebellion." Italian fascism was a pragmatic reconciliation of socialist and nationalist aspirations, while Nazism "talked of socialism only to submerge it beneath nationalism," as Paine worded it. 

Fascism is named for the fasces, a bundle of sticks held together with an axe (which represented "collective strength"), and the Axis Powers of World War II such as Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, Romania, and neutral countries like Spain and Portugal were ruled by fascist governments. After the war's end, fascism was used as an insult, and it lost its large following. Since World War II, fascism has toned down its authoritarian stances, although it still opposes freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Right-wing populism is directly influenced by fascism, as seen in the Freedom Party of Austria and the Jobbik party of Hungary.


The fasces

Fascism originated in the aftermath of World War I, opposing left-wing politics such as liberalism and socialism. It originated in several European countries during the war, with German ideologist Johann Plenge "declaring war" on the ideals of the 1789 French Revolution such as the natural rights of man and liberalism in favor of the German values of duty, discipline, law, and order. Fascists like Benito Mussolini in Italy originally supported Vladimir Lenin during the 1917 Russian Revolution, but Mussolini later regarded him as a new version of Czar Nicholas II of Russia and opposed the revolution. Fascism declared war on socialism because of its opposition to nationalism, although both Bolshevism and fascism believed in a totalitarian government, a vanguard upper class, single-party states, armies controlled by the ruling party, proletarian nations, and revolutionary action. 

In October 1922, fascism took power in Italy after the "March on Rome", with Prime Minister Luigi Facta stepping down and allowing for Mussolini to form a fascist government. Adolf Hitler formed the Nazi Party in Germany at the same time, but his 1923 "March on Berlin" ended in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Bavaria. In Hungary and Romania, the governments were taken over by Fascists, while on 6 February 1934 France faced protests by the fascist movement. In 1938, the National Socialist Movement of Chile tried to rebel in Chile, but this led to the Seguro Obrero massacre, where 60 rioters were shot. 

Fascism's tenets included ultranationalism, with both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy pursuing goals of forming empires in Europe. Italy tried to recreate the Roman Empire by taking over North Africa and the Balkans, while Germany fought against their perceived enemies: the Slavs of Poland, the "Jewish Bolsheviks" of the Soviet Union, the liberals of France, the monarchs of Scandinavia and the Balkans, and the World War I victor, the United Kingdom. In 1939, these ultranationalist sentiments led to the invasion of Poland, which led to the outbreak of World War II. The fascist Axis Powers were defeated by the Allied Powers, who opposed Hitler, and both Hitler and Mussolini died before the war ended. World War II ended in all of the fascist governments falling to the Allies, with the Soviets spreading communism from the east and the Allies liberating countries to the west. 

Since the end of World War II, fascist movements were outlawed in much of Europe; in Germany, for example, Nazi symbolism was illegal. However, Spain and Portugal continued to be led by fascist dictators, and military juntas in South America, Africa, Greece, Turkey, and elsewhere were inspired by fascist leadership. In the Middle East, the fascist-inspired Ba'ath Party became a powerful force, advocating Arab nationalism and a "renaissance" of Arab culture. In the 21st century, the fascist movement evolved into the right-wing populism movement and the alt-right movement, with the latter originating on the internet. The rise of Islamist terrorism, a global refugee crisis, and illegal immigration in the United States led to the rebirth of the fascist movement worldwide.