What is Fascism
Fascism was the name given to the totalitarian, nationalist, militarist and anti-Marxist political and social system and movement that emerged in Italy in the 20th century.
The word comes from the Italian fascio, which means ‘beam’ or ‘fasces’, a symbol assumed to characterize this movement.
Fascism is a political and social movement that was born in Italy. It was founded in 1921, and came to power in Italy in 1922, by the hand of Benito Mussolini after the end of the First World War.
This is a totalitarian and nationalist movement, whose doctrine (and similar ones developed in other countries) is called fascist.
Fascism is a political and social movement and system of a totalitarian character, opposed to liberalism and parliamentary democracy in Europe, of a violent nature and politically placed on the right.
The origin of this doctrine was due to the social and economic crisis of the post-war period, and to national resentments.
The Origin of the Name Fascism
Fascism is a generic name that also encompasses German National Socialism and other related doctrines such as Spanish National Trade Unionism, Japanese Hojinism, etc.
However, all the major European nations, including Britain and France, produced internal fascist movements of various kinds during the 1930s.
The fascist doctrine, besides being anti-liberal and anti-democratic, was also segregationist (the existence of a superior race was raised), and anti-Marxist.
This doctrine subordinated the rights of the person to the needs of the State, it did so with the will of the people and not with violent implantation, but in later years it was necessary with opponents.
The Powerful State
Fascism was proposed as a third way before liberal democracies (such as the US) and socialism (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). In addition to the Mussolini regime in Italy, Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Francisco Franco’s Spain are described as fascists.
Fascism is based on an all-powerful state that claims to embody the spirit of the people. The population must not, therefore, seek anything outside the State, which is in the hands of a single party.
The fascist state exercises its authority through violence, repression, and propaganda (including the manipulation of the educational system).
In Germany, fascism is associated with Nazism. This movement had a strong racial component, promulgating the superiority of the Aryan race and seeking the extermination of other collectivities, such as Jews, Gypsies, and blacks.
Italy, in spite of having contributed to the victory of the First World War, was not properly compensated with the surrender of territories that it aspired to possess for its expansion.
It only obtained the region of Trento and Trieste and no participation in the distribution of the German and Turkish colonies.
Morally this situation translated among Italians into a feeling of inferiority and resentment against the Allies.
Faced with the rise in the price of basic necessities, the working class formulated new wage demands, which the bosses rejected. The lira, the national currency, was continuously devalued.
Before the war it was worth 19 American cents and, in 1920, it was worth only 3 cents. The public debt had risen to 95 billion pounds, 7 times more than before the war.
Rising prices and continued inflation, the ruin of industry and unemployment, caused serious economic imbalances.
These stimulated, supported by socialists and communists, an atmosphere of unrest, by the repeated trade union revolts, or those of strikes, agricultural land seizures and factories.
A large part of the population, on returning from the war, was displaced from workplaces.
The weakness of successive governments, to contain and dominate the disorders, awoke in the big businessmen and in the middle class, the fear that Italy was on the verge of the red revolution.
It is precisely in these circumstances that the Fascist Party led by Benito Mussolini appears.
Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was the son of a blacksmith. He had a difficult childhood. After a great effort he became a teacher, but because of his socialist ideas he was persecuted and had to take refuge in Switzerland.
On his return to Italy, he devoted himself to journalism, founding the newspaper “IL Popolo de Italia”, in order to get his country into the war.
In it he fought bravely, being wounded and entering the hospital, where he remained for a long time.
On March 23, 1919, he founded, in Milan, the fasci di combatimento or union of former combatants with the aim of fighting against the internal politics and the defense of the country against the Marxist danger.
In 1921 he was elected deputy for Milan when he called for the dissolution of parliament and the participation of fascism in power.
In 1922, faced with a general strike in Italy, one hundred thousand of its supporters called the “Black Shirts” carried out the March on Rome, broke the strike and brought down the government of Prime Minister Luigi Faeta and King Victor Emmanuel III. Mussolini was in charge and then elected prime minister.
Shortly thereafter he was the head of the party or Duce and, in practice, he was the Head of the Italian Government, implanting the fascist government. On the other hand, Victor Manuel III kept his royal title in nominal form.
Characteristics of Fascism
The fascists, organized by ex-combatant Benito Mussolini, used to wear black shirts and salute with arms held high.
They had an ideology that was radically inspired and equally opposed to capitalism and communism.
However, already in power, he made a pact with the capitalist forces, drifting toward a reactionary position of strength.
The movement, initially weak and limited, developed with the passing of the years a dynamism that no enemy could challenge; a rudeness that no other party could match.
Without this dynamism and violence I would never have been able to triumph. In addition, it counted on the ineptitude of the liberal government, the weakness of the parliament, the help of the army, the police, and the administrative authorities.
Main characteristics of fascism
At the height of power, fascism suppressed all opposition; it eliminated all opposing elements in Parliament.
Anti-government parties and organizations were dissolved; newspapers were banned from circulation; citizens accused of crimes against the state could not present witnesses and had no right of appeal.
Opposition leaders and all those who were unwilling to compromise with fascism were forced to emigrate or banished to small distant islands.
In the Economic Aspect.
Parallel to these political measures there was an attempt to reshape the economic structure and organize all producers into unions and corporations.
In fact, however, workers’ unions were eliminated, but employers’ organizations were not. The latter managed to extend the working day up to 9 hours, in those activities that suffered foreign competition, without increasing wages.
Workers and leaders who dared distribute pamphlets, protesting unpaid overtime, were sentenced to 7 months to 5 years in prison.
What Is Fascism?
Characteristics of Fascism
In fascism, the state is present in all aspects of people’s lives, leaving no channel open for dissenting voices to be heard.
Ideology penetrates everything: work, school, youth, the media, etc. Democracy and voting are seen as useless methods for moving a country forward, and obviously there is only one single political party.
In fascism, individual freedom is not a value; on the contrary, all must fully subordinate themselves to the State and put themselves at its full service. Freedom of the market and freedom of association and worship are also denigrated.
Fascism is considered a third position, which has nothing to do with either capitalism or communism, ideologies which it considers incapable of functioning in the real world.
The figure of the financial banker as a degenerate element of the bourgeoisie was stigmatized by the hand of Nazism, a particular form of fascism that ended up turning Hitler’s Germany into the darkest and most denigrating face of human behavior.
Fascist anti-capitalism was expressed, for example, through the corporate organisation of labour, in which both employers and workers were forced to belong to unions controlled by the single party.
Totally opposed to the class struggle sustained since Marxism, fascism maintained a unifying and nationalist concept, and harshly persecuted all forms of opposition, including socialist, communist and anarchist youth.
The left-wing parties were outlawed and their supporters intensely persecuted by state security apparatuses.
This partly contributed to the adhesion of the fascist movements on the part of some sectors of the middle class.
Fascism determined that class conflicts of interest would be completely suppressed through a single vertical trade union policy, which receives directives from the government.
In fascism there is no room for dissent; social functioning is sustained by rigid discipline and a total attachment to chains of command. Insubordination was harshly punished.
To sustain authoritarianism, a strong military apparatus was needed, the spirit of which transcended society as a whole. Education in military values and large uninformed parades, meticulously planned, became part of the daily landscape in the periods of fascist governments.
In addition, the fascist parties organized paramilitary groups that were involved in the persecution of the opponents.
Radio and the press have meant a lot during the fascist regimes, as they acted as instruments of mass propaganda to spread ideals and supposed achievements, leaving all access to different opinions closed.
The concept of nation is exalted in fascism, which gives supreme value to national unity and the family as the basis of society, with the role of the woman clearly located in the house, caring for the husband and children, and that of the man in the world of work and the defense of the nation.
From certain mythological and literary sources, Nazi fascism installed the aberrant idea of an inequality of races.
In this context, they placed the Aryan race as “the superior race”, and below it, the other ethnic groups made up of inferior beings, such as gypsies and Jews. This ideology gave rise to something that shames humanity as a whole: the Holocaust.
History clearly shows that fascist governments have always been organized around the figure of a chief or caudillo, who, starting from a certain charisma, was able to construct an entire hierarchical structure in which he occupies the central position, becoming the only authorized voice, that of the leader, and those around him sustain this image through the cult of personality, which transcends and reaches the entire population.
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