Fascism: Some Characterizations

Fascism is characterized by:

1. A mass movement with multiclass membership in which prevails, among the leaders and the militants, the middle sectors, in large part new to political activity, organized as a party militia, that bases its identity not on social hierarchy or class origin but on the sense of comradeship, believes itself invested with a mission of national regeneration, considers itself in a state of war against political adversaries and aims at conquering a monopoly of political power by using terror, parliamentary tactics, and deals with leading groups, to create a new regime that destroys parliamentary democracy.

2. An anti-ideological and pragmatic ideology that proclaims itself anti-material, anti-individualist, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, is populist and anti-capitalist in tendency, expresses itself aesthetically more than theoretically by means of a new political style and by myths, rites, and symbols as a lay religion designed to acculturate, socialize, and integrate the faith of the masses with the goal of creating a 'new man.'

3. A culture founded on mystical thought and the tragic and activist sense of life conceived as the manifestation of the will to power, on the myth of youth as artificer of history, and on the exaltation of the militarization of politics as the model of life and collective activity.

4. A totalitarian conception of the primacy of politics, conceived as an integrating experience to carry out the fusion of the individual and the masses in the organic and mystical unity of the nation as an ethnic and moral community, adopting measures of discrimination and persecution against those perceived to be outside this community either as enemies of the regime or members of races considered inferior or otherwise dangerous for the integrity of the nation.

5. A civil ethics founded on total dedication to the national community, on discipline, virility, comradeship, and the warrior spirit.

6. A single state party that has the task of providing for the armed defense of the regime, selecting its directing cadres, and organizing the masses within the state in a process of permanent mobilization of emotion and faith.

7. A police apparatus that prevents, controls, and represses dissidence and opposition, even by using organized terror.

8. A political system organized by a hierarchy of functions named from the top and crowned by the figure of the 'leader,' invested with a sacred charisma, who commands, directs, and coordinates the activities of the party and the regime.

9. A corporative organization of the economy that suppresses trade union liberty, broadens the sphere of state intervention, and seeks to achieve, by principles of technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the 'productive sectors' under the control of the regime, to achieve its goals of power, yet preserving private property and class distinctions.

10. A foreign policy inspired by the myth of national power and greatness, with the goal of imperialist expansion.'

Emilio Gentile: Enciclopedia italiana [1992] from

Fascism and Nazism as ideologies involve, to varying degrees, some of the following hallmarks:

1. Nationalism and super-patriotism with a sense of historic mission.

2. Aggressive militarism even to the extent of glorifying war as good for the national or individual spirit.

3. Use of violence or threats of violence to impose views on others (fascism and Nazism both employed street violence and state violence at different moments in their development).

4. Authoritarian reliance on a leader or elite not constitutionally responsible to an electorate.

5.Cult of personality around a charismatic leader.

6. Reaction against the values of Modernism, usually with emotional attacks against both liberalism and communism.

7. Exhortations for the homogeneous masses of common folk (Volkish in German, Populist in the U.S.) to join voluntarily in a heroic mission - often metaphysical and romanticized in character.

8. Dehumanization and scapegoating of the enemy - seeing the enemy as an inferior or subhuman force, perhaps involved in a conspiracy that justifies eradicating them.

9. The self image of being a superior form of social organization beyond socialism, capitalism and democracy.

10. Elements of national socialist ideological roots, for example, ostensible support for the industrial working class or farmers; but ultimately, the forging of an alliance with an elite sector of society.

11. Abandonment of any consistent ideology in a drive for state power.

It is vitally important to understand that fascism and Nazism are not biologically or culturally determinant. Fascism does not attach to the gene structure of any specific group or nationality. Nazism was not the ultimate expression of the German people. Fascism did not end with World War II.