Fascism is a term heard and used very often all over the world.. Perhaps the people using this term are themselves not aware of what fascism means. Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultra-nationalism. Its main characteristic is dictatorial power, suppression of opposition, and regimentation of society and economy. The philosophy came into prominence in early 20th-century Europe. Italy was the vanguard for the spread of Fascism before spreading to other European countries. The philosophy is opposed to liberalism, democracy, Marxism, and anarchism. if we measure on a scale Fascism is on the extreme far right of the left-right spectrum. An important difference with communism is the integration of this philosophy with corporate houses and industry.

The word fascism originated in Italy during the early twenties of the last century and was derived from the ancient Roman word fasces. This word represented ancient Roman symbols that denoted the power of the state. Fascism is a representative of authoritarianism.

Fascism is a radical concept that gained credence at the turn of the twentieth century. It was a political ideology that was adopted by Benito Mussolini in the 1920s. However, the father of fascism is Giovanni Gentile (1875 -1944). He was an Italian philosopher who gave shape to Fascism. He wrote A Doctrine of Fascism (1932) for Benito Mussolini. He was also in his youth influenced by Karl Marx and later by Friedrich Nietzsche and Hegel who represented the materialistic doctrine.

Philosophy of Fascism

Fascism is a distinct philosophy that believes in the supremacy of the state and the nation. It advocates a single-party form of government and the marshaling of all forces of the state and the people to attain a strong nation. Fascism believes in violence and war as a means to an end. However, as a philosophy, it steers clear of Communist and Marxist dogma as well as capitalism represented by free enterprise.

It is fashionable to represent it as a right-wing ideology. Marxism is the enemy of Fascism and the great Marxist thinker Leon Trotsky commented that “Fascism is nothing but capitalistic reaction.” Maybe Trotsky was correct because the concept of white supremacy so prevalent in the United States with organizations like the Ka Klux Klan represented Fascist thought; though the Americans are loathed to agree with this observation.

The basic tenets of Fascism were adopted by Hitler and Mussolini. It will not be wrong to credit the development of Fascist thought to Mussolini. His concept of Fascism was anti-communist and anti-capitalist as well as anti-democracy. Fascism believes in denying the basic rights of citizens. It also believes in the mass regimentation of society through military drills and physical culture. Thus the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg and Mussolini’s Black Shirts marching in Rome give us a vivid picture of the concept of mass mobilization as envisaged by Mussolini and Giovanni. These rallies created a military atmosphere and also enthused the masses. One of the pillars of Fascism is racism. Thus in the USA the concept of white supremacy was exemplified by the KKK( Ka Klux Klan) who in the name of purity of the white race executed negroes.

Hitler’s final solution to the Jews was the result of adapting Fascism as a state concept. Here he made it a state policy to execute Jews who he considered as sub-human and this led to over 6 million executions. If one has to summarize the 3 pillars of Fascism are Racism, Militarism, and dictatorship

Fascism and Society

One other aspect of Fascism is to keep society in perpetual ferment with agitations and movements that appeal to the masses. Thus the Red Brigade and Peoples cultural revolution unleashed by Mao Tse Tung is another facet of Fascism. The period of the cultural revolution led to at least 20 million deaths in China. The deaths engineered by Hitler pale into insignificance at the magnitude of the deaths and executions in China.

Fascism certainly does have some appeal. It does bring in order from Chaos and with a greater state control brings in benefits that accrue to the people. Thus when Mussolini took over in Italy for the first time the trains began to run on time and the anarchy of the previous years was replaced by order and discipline. But the defect or limitation in Fascist thought is the complete negation of human values where the dictator becomes omnipotent as brought out by George Orwell in his books

.As far as the founder of fascism in Italy is concerned, Giovanni Gentile is concerned he was shot dead in 1944 by anti-fascist protesters led by one Bruno Fanciullacci in Florence.

Bruno Fanciullacci (13 November 1919 – 17 July 1944) was an Italian partisan.

He is one of the most well-known and discussed figures of the Italian Resistance for complicity in the murder of Giovanni Gentile. This was an episode that divided the same anti-fascist front and ultimately he paid with his life when he was shot and bones were broken.

Till the last Giovanni Gentile remained loyal to Mussolini.

As far as Fascism is concerned, its a political ideology characterized by a mass movement that dominated many parts of central, southern, and eastern Europe between 1919 and 1945. It also had adherents in western Europe, the United States, South Africa, Japan, Latin America, and the Middle East.

One significant spillover of Fascism and a big difference from Communism is the patronage of big business and the corporate world. This is an important plank of Fascism. It is worth mentioning and a point for discussion is that with the United States protecting big business and corporates ( Trump even lowered taxes for the ultra-rich) with emotional discrimination against the blacks, there are seeds of Fascism already sowed. Can they sprout?

Last word

Where do we stand as far as fascism is concerned now? To deny its existence is a travesty of fact and fascist regimes still rule in North Korea and some Islamic states like Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has all the trappings of a fascist state with the cover of Islam. and it will appear in some form or another as long as instability and chaos rules and there is a fear of instability. In India also with rampant corruption being the order of the day, Fascism in some form may rear its head. A disgusted people are the breeding ground of Fascism.

One can think over and apply what I have written to his /her own country. Fascism can come again; it does bring benefits but one has to pay the cost. Maybe India with its rampant casteism and corruption with no regard to meritocracy is a ripe country for this transition. Lastly, the topic has so interested me that I have thought to amplify it in a book. Let’s see.

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