Definition of Fascism

A reader with the vunderful name of Vunder Guy writes and asks:

Speaking of, what is the actual definition of fascism (just plain old fascism without the racial hatred) and communism, and what makes them both different from each other?

Other folk (including Paul Johnson and Tom Simon) have already answered this question with clarity and detail, but nonetheless I’d like to share my summation.

The first thing to realize is the the word has been etiolated by the Left to refer to anything they dislike, including, but not limited to, populist military dictatorships, constitutional monarchies, absolute monarchies, plutocracies, limited-government-style constitutional republics, English-style class systems, and various other forms of government which are mutually exclusive. Hence, when used by a Leftist, the word means ‘enemy’ and overlooks that fascism is merely one brand of Leftist secular doctrines of socialist utopian thinking.

Originally the word had a very specific meaning. It was coined by Mussolini, a socialist, to describe how his heresy of socialism differed from orthodox Marxist socialism.

The word itself comes from the fasci which is the Roman symbol of a magistrate called a Lictor, that is, the authority of the state to punish dissent and nonconformity. The fasci is a bundle of rods surrounding an ax. You can see it in the architectural decorations of statehouses and courts of law. The bundle of rods represents the truism that any one stick can be broken in isolation, but when gathered together, cannot be broken. If put into words, it is a symbol of the motto that unity is strength.

The two main differences of doctrine are, first, that Mussolini socialism operates factories and large businesses as public utilities, where the owners are allowed to keep their businesses in name only, but in fact are reduced to mere managers under direct state control, or quartermasters. This is distinct from Marxism in that it does not consider businessmen and workingmen to be two separate species of mankind, as Marxism does, locked in a Darwinian struggle to the death for racial survival.

The second difference and related to the first is that Mussolini considered the nation, that is, a racial and cultural group sharing a language, to be the fundamental collective to which the individual was to be subordinated, and the state to be the apotheosis of the collective Will. This is distinguished from Marxism who selected the rather more abstract (and irrational) group of persons engaged in categories of economic activity to be the fundamental collective.

The short answer is that a Fascist is a Nationalist Socialist whereas a Marxist is an International Socialist.

Marx believed the state would evaporate like the Bellman beholding a Boojam, and softly and suddenly vanish away, because the same rainbow-unicorn-powered magic fairy dust which would also eliminate the disutility of labor, the law of supply and demand, Say’s Law, Gresham’s Law, and also the law of cause and effect.

Odd as this sounds, Mussolini’s evil and crackpot theory was closer to reality than Marx’s evil and crackpot theory, but only because Marx was in total and absolute rebellion against reality in general and the science of economics in particular, and Mussolini was not. Of course, this is like saying Proxima Centauri is closer to Earth than Alpha Centauri.

Mussolini, albeit four lightyears away, is closer to reality than Mad Marx, because nation-states exist, whereas economic categories of behavior do not correspond to anything in the real world which forms a group of men with any interests in common, neither class, nor tribe, nor culture, nor law, nor anything. One man who works for his brother and owns his own tools, hires a maid, and buys one share of stock in his 401K is at once a proletarian, a bourgeoisie, an owner and a capitalist. Merely because a man engages in an activity of one or the other of these categories of economic analysis does not mean he shares any common interest to another man in the same activity. Ask Mr Macy whether Mr Gimbel and he have a harmony of self interests, or ask Coke whether anything that benefits Pepsi benefits Coke.

Marx also conflates economic activity groups (owner, wage-earner, investor) with social classes (peasant, burgher, aristocrat, royalty) and he just assumes the two are interchangeable. Only in England, and only in the Victorian Age, was this true even for some people. There was a time in England when all major industries were owned by aristocrat families who also controlled the Parliament, and they could and did rewrite the ancient laws of England to their personal benefit and class interests. But even in those years, the main tension was between the Old Money (whose wealth came from the conquests of their forefathers) and the Nouveau Riche (whose wealth came from their own earnings).

Mussolini saw, as the Cloudcuckooland theory of Marx by superhuman effort of self-inflicted folly somehow forced itself not to see, that men of different social classes belonging to the same nation would combine and sacrifice to overcome other nations in struggle or open war; whereas Marx believed that men of the same social class in different nations would combine to overcome other classes in struggle or open war.

Mussolini waved all that theoretical mumbo-jumbo away. In a sense, he was like a blue-collar version of a Marxist, a workingman’s Marxist, who wanted the practical results issuing from the doctrine of strength through unity. Being a pragmatist, Mussolini boasted that by making the captains of industry subordinates of the government, he could organize all aspects of human life and get the trains to run on time. This was a lie, by the way. The trains in Italy under Mussolini’s dictatorship never ran on time.

Being European, Mussolini was haunted by the racial memory of the Roman Empire, the source in Medieval legal theory of the legitimacy of government: his adventures in Ethiopia was an attempt to revive the old Roman love of conquest. Not being wise enough to read the lessons of history, he overlooked the fact that the Roman Republic was the organization that conquered the known world; the only thing the Roman Empire did was manage the years of shrinking, decline and fall.

So National Socialism has the particular quality of being unabashedly in favor of open war and conquest, after the fashion of the ancient Romans; whereas Marxist Socialists and modern Leftwingers are loudly and vehemently in favor of peace, unless the enemy is weak, in which case they are in favor of war, but they pretend to be motivated by some highminded motive.

Even though International Socialists from Mao and Stalin onward have killed an order of magnitude more innocent souls than National Socialists could ever dream, and conquered far more territory by direct military force, the doublethink of Political Correctness requires the International Socialists to claim to be peace-lovers, and they condemn National Socialists for being militant and militaristic.

When Hitler arose in Germany, he was nakedly, openly, obviously, and unambiguously a socialist, a man of the Left. The name of his political party was the National Socialist German Workers Party: Nazionalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterspartei, which was abbreviated to Nazi. But the Socialists of Russia, along with all their useful idiots, allies, and gigolos among the intellectuals of Europe claimed that Hitler was actually a ‘reactionary’ that is, someone working to restore the ancient Monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church on behalf of the worldwide conspiracy of industrialists, banks, and investors who secretly control the world. The Nazis, naturally enough, more than willing to distinguish themselves from their hated twin brothers the Communists, adopted the term ‘Right’ with pleasure, and saw themselves, ironically, as defenders of civilization against the Slavic hordes of Communism.

Much ado is made of Hitler’s racism, and fascism is frequently used as an interchangeable term with with racism. However, once one accepts the premise that the nation-state is based on one’s ethnic group, all outside groups maintaining a separate identity within one’s borders, Jews, Gypsies, and even Roman Catholics, who have any outside loyalties, are nonconformists and must be enslaved or exterminated.

The one group which never adapts, coheres, or assimilates into the nation-state is the Jew. Both Marx and Trotsky were Jewish, and many Jews enthusiastically joined the Communist movement. Conspiracy theory belief in the power of the Jew, particularly Jewish banking families, to control worldwide events, or their evil propensity to suck the lifeblood out of a nation and then flee elsewhere, combined with their unusual unwillingness to defend themselves by force of arms, makes it easy and fun to hate Jews, and we are even now seeing a raise of this satanic insanity grip and darken the minds of otherwise reasonable men; how much worse, how much easier, to stir up hatred against the one most hated of all races during times of war and depression and times of widespread government corruption and incompetence, such as was seen in Wiemar Germany, and is seen now. But Jew-hatred is a separate and supernatural phenomenon. The Italian brand of fascism had no part of it.

Nationalism is the odd and rather recent idea that men should draw their political boundaries where their language and cultural mores start and stop. Nationalism is a necessary precondition for democracy, just as Federalism is a necessary precondition for a republic, but older forms of government, monarchic or imperial, drew their boundaries without regard to language.

Fascism is the idolatry of the nation as the fundamental collective group from which the socialist utopia will spring. Any groups within the state unwilling to assimilate, unwilling to foreswear any outside loyalties, that is, any group with an international flavor, Jews, Gypsies, Roman Catholics, are suspect.

Fascism is populist in tone, and requires both the corruption of the state by wealthy businessmen, and the rapine of wealthy businessmen by the state. The recent and utterly lawless looting of General Motors by the Federal Government for the sake of the Labor Unions was as perfect an example of fascism in action as any example could be. Nazism was even more populist than Italian Fascism, so it is always an oddity to see in popular American films or comics a Nazi portrayed as a Baron with a monocle and the Heidelberg dueling scar.  The German aristocrats by and large hated Nazism, and would have assassinated Hitler had the West shown them any reason to do so. Nazism was the lower classes rising up to despoil the aristocrats of their allegedly ill gotten gains.

The difference between Nazis and Commies is that the Communists, being book-taught intellectuals and Mandarins, wanted to obliterate the aristocrats and landowners and factory owners, whereas the Nazis, who hated the Commies more than the hated the rich, were willing merely to subvert or enslave the possessing classes.

Conservatism in America, for better or worse but mostly for the worst, has been saddled with the term ‘Right’ because we are, just as monarchists and imperialists and national socialists are, enemies of the glorious utopia foretold in the drug induced psychic phrenzy of the international socialist. Because the International Socialist dogma is from Cloudcuckooland, there will of course be surface features in common. For example,  conservatives favor a strong military for national defense. National Socialists favor a strong military for the conquest of Ethiopia and Poland. Leftist favor unilateral disarmament of the West so that the strong military of the Reds can trample the blood-soaked slave-nations of the world, killing uncountable millions, without interference or protest from the West. Leftist who claim to be pacifists, or who say monies should be better spent on social engineering than national defense, are either liars, if they alert enough to be liars, or are useful idiots. I have seen Leftist volunteer to be human shields to block the weapons of democratic nations pointed at Communists or Mohammedans; I have never seen Leftist volunteer to be human shields to block Communist or Mohammedan weapons pointed at any democracy.

Conservatism (ironically, considering the firm, clear, and abstract ideals of the movement) prides itself on practicality and the lack of an abstract ideology; since National Socialism likewise sought a pragmatic method of putting the Marxist program of heaven on earth into practice, both are distinct from the airy and ethereal intellectual carbon monoxide fumes which pass for ideals in the brains of the Left.

However, the similarities between the Left and the fascists are many and markedly pronounced, whereas similarities between Conservatives and the fascists are matters of slander and rhetoric. No socialist or any stripe, nationalist or internationalist, ever favored private ownership of weapon or private ownership of industry, none ever favored the melting pot theory of national unity or the federalist theory of national disunity. Leftists are racists, and whether they favor foreign races over their own or favor their own race over the foreign is no matter.

Conservatives judge a man not by his faceless membership in a collective identity, but by the content of his character, by the unique soul created by that same Almighty God who grants us our political rights and liberties which we enact governments, as our servants, to protect and enshrine. Conservatism is Western, Christian, and Individualist. Socialism is Oriental, Secular, and Collectivist. A fascist demands the state run the economy and trample individual liberty for in the name of the good of the national collective; a communist demands the state run the economy and trample individual liberty in the name of the good of a meaningless abstraction having something to do with pretending economics does not exist, but they act just like fascists in protecting their national collective. Soviet Russia was run for the benefit of the Russia leaders and Russian race and Russian nation, trampling the many other ethnic groups living in their boundaries, and conquering any territory they can outside their boundaries;  in the exact same way that Red China is run for the benefit of the Chinese leaders of the Mandarin race and Chinese nation, trampling the many other ethnic groups living in their boundaries, and conquering any territory they can outside their boundaries.

In sum, Communists and Fascists behave the exact same way, but the Communists are hypocrites about it, and the Fascists are not. Both are socialist and secular totalitarians.


  1. Comment by Mary:

    “the Old Money (whose wealth came from the conquests of their forefathers) ”

    No — or at least, not only — they also frequently got wealth from letting their positions be bought by the daughters of the New Rich.

  2. Comment by SMM:

    Thank you Mr. Wright. That is filled with more gems than a Drow treasure chest.

    The Latin fasci: ” bundle of rods” is used extensively in anatomy, if this helps anyone’s understanding. Fascicules, made of bundles of muscle fibers (cells), are further bundled into groups, that are further bundled into a muscle itself. Fascicules themselves are made of bundles of structures as small as myofilaments to filaments to myofibrils to the muscle cell.

    Fascism certainly is a good system for creating major fighting muscle (war power). No wonder the Left confuses a Conservative desire for a strong defense with Fascism.

  3. Comment by Stephen J.:

    “The German aristocrats by and large hated Nazism, and would have assassinated Hitler had the West shown them any reason to do so.”

    A number of them tried at least once, as dramatized rather well in the Tom Cruise movie Valkyrie; Hitler survived over thirty attempts in total, and I think it likely aristocratic backers supported at least some others of those.

    However, it must be conceded that the Valkyrie plan in particular was only launched in the late days of the war, when it was obvious Hitler’s leadership was sending Germany towards destruction rather than victory, so that may have been more raw desperation to survive than ideological antipathy.

    • Comment by Mary:

      Since they also talked about the “blood guilt” of the Holocaust in their letters, it’s also possible that the start of that was the start of their plotting, which does take a while.

      No reason why it can’t be overdetermined: hatred of Nazism as a system, stopping the blood guilt, and saving Germany from Hitler are not incompatible as motives.

    • Comment by The OFloinn:

      Many of the Valkyrie plotters were also involved in the Oster conspiracy in 1938. They believed that Hitler’s proposal to invade Czechoslovakia would be disastrous for Germany. The plotters included most of the Army leaders, esp. the Home Army. They had even gotten Pope Pius to agree to act as intermediary when the time came. The strike teams were in place and ready to move when Chamberlain announced he would cave in and took the wind out of their sails.

      After that, they laid low and waited for another opportunity; but so long as Hitler was winning, it was difficult to sell anyone on the need to overthrow him. Oster himself was opposed to Naziism on Christian grounds. Oster was exposed by accident later on and he and his boss, Canaris, head of military intelligence, who had also been involved, were summarily executed.

      And yes, the “vons” were very much involved.

  4. Comment by TheConductor:

    Minor correction: the full name of the Nazi Party was the “National Socialist German [not People’s] Workers Party”: Nazionalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterspartei. The intent behind the name, however, was the same.

  5. Comment by Joseph M (was Ishmael Alighieri):

    I’ve often tried to trace my own weird and woefully incomplete intellectual journey by those milestones where I went ‘huh?’ – when I noticed that reality does not just differ from conventional wisdom, but is at war with it. Thus, years ago, when it dawned on me while reading something or other that Hitler was a socialist, claimed to be a socialist and did exactly socialist things, I went ‘huh?’ and started rethinking things. The supposed ideological animosity between socialist and fascists was just a sort of family feud, and, like most family feuds, built up on, from any objective perspective, trivial hair-splitting. They both agree that the government should take your stuff, or kill you, or both – an agreement that makes the differences vanishingly minor, from the victim’s perspective.

    The biggest such milestone of all is the Church’s place in history. It truly is amazing how many and how great are the brute facts that can (and must!) be ignored in order to hold to the conventional wisdom that the Church has been the source of all evil in the West, has held back progress, and is even now trying to darken and enslave the world. One extreme example will have to represent the legions of other cases: A while back, greatly aided by Mike Flynn’s blog and occasioned by that execrable Hypatia movie, read up some on the known facts surrounding Hypatia’s death. She, a woman scholar following in the steps of St. Catherine of Alexandria, was murdered by a politically motivated mob. The mob was nominally Christian, and allied to one of several Christian factions present in Alexandria at the time, along with several pagan factions. However, Hypatia’s friends and allies included many Christians, and it’s not even certain from the source material that she was a pagan herself. One of the four principle contemporary sources, a pagan, in reporting her death, does not blame the Christians and does not indicate that her being a woman and a scholar had anything to do with it – she was killed in apparent retaliation for some action against the faction that did the murdering.

    And there was no library burned by the mob; there’s no evidence her being a woman figured into it at all; there was no bias against science, and Hypatia was not a scientist in any event. Scholarship in Alexandria did not die with Hypatia – it continued as a premier education center up until the Muslim conquest. Her death did not usher in the Dark Ages. Alexandria was a wild and lawless Wild West style border town, where many different cultures and beliefs duked it out for centuries in the most appalling bare-knuckle fashion. She was one of many such victims of mob violence over the centuries.

    That’s what the contemporary accounts and modern scholarship say. Yet, the advocates of the evil, evil Church theory could not let it go – in the com boxes of an (atheist) historian who pointing all this out, conniption fits of epic proportions were thrown, all sorts of libels and insults and accusations were flung. Why? Why is this minor historical event, the horrible murder of an old lady by an angry mob, so important to those hating the Church? So important that actual history, presented in a scholarly manner by about as disinterested a party as could be found, must be destroyed?

    Answering those and related questions is the start of really interesting journey.

  6. Comment by MarkAndrew:

    I think you did a good job summarizing Fascism with your last sentence. Total control by the government of people’s lives is the Fascist impulse. It exists on the left and the right (though mostly the left, lately).

    Jonah Goldberg’s book, “Liberal Fascism” is a good in-depth look at the history of Fascism and the Left in general, though he chases his tail a bit in places.

    Good post, I’ll bookmark it.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I suppose that depends on whether you define the ‘Right’ as including both totalitarians like Hitler and Conservatives like Goldwater. A Conservative believes in limited government of enumerated powers, minimal taxes, the right to free speech and free exercise of religion, the right to bear arms, the right to own property, federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances. If there is any way an acrobat contortionist of semantics can made out that philosophy to be a fascist impulse that exists on left and right, I would be amused, and, yes, disgusted to hear it.

      The only area where the Conservatives want society, and, when society fails, at the last resort, the state, to control matters which the Politically Correct want left free is, at the moment, the area of sexual perversion and sexual incontinence. However, the Politically Correct get the absolute power they crave, they will impose government regulation on groin matters as swiftly as these allegedly pro-free-speech hypocrites imposed government regulation on commercial, political, and private speech. It is baked into their bones: they think freedom comes from government decree, so they will intrude sex crime laws and regulations into the bedroom to ensure that women and minorities have sexual freedom.

      At first, no doubt, it will be only to stop ‘hate sex’ .

      • Comment by Stephen J.:

        With the caveat that “Right” may mean different things depending on which “level” of the Right you’re talking about (I don’t remember the title but I am thinking here of your post dividing both Left and Right into three internal factions each), one other area in which the Conservative Right often seems to be imputed to favour more government power and state control than the Left is in anti-drug use and drug-trafficking laws. Certainly many libertarians I’ve read part ways quite vigorously with many traditional conservatives on that issue.

        • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

          Actually, it has always been the Left which has pushed Prohibition (Both Liquor and Drugs) on the nation. The confusion comes because the Right takes the Law seriously, and so works to enforce all the laws, while working to get the bad ones repealed, as opposed to the Left (for example, the current vile racist quota system we used was given to us by Senator Ted Kennedy), which creates bad laws, and then create political allies by using their political pull to “help” people being harmed by them, on a case by case basis.

          • Comment by Stephen J.:

            “Actually, it has always been the Left which has pushed Prohibition (Both Liquor and Drugs) on the nation.”

            I’m not hugely familiar with the Prohibition movement, but some brief research seems to indicate a fairly broad spectrum of both pro- and anti-prohibition advocacy groups, not all of which fit what I’ve generally understood to be the modern Left’s or Right’s motivations or beliefs. (Indeed, according to Wikipedia it was the shift in Congress in 1930 from a “dry” Republican majority to a “wet” Democrat majority that helped lay the groundwork for repealing the Volstead Act and the Eighteenth Amendment.)

            The specific meaning of Left and Right has changed over time, of course, but I honestly don’t think “outlawing what is deemed generally bad for people” is necessarily a purely Leftist motive in itself — only to the degree of both aegis and intrusiveness to which the modern Left takes it.

            I should also acknowledge that the modern issue of drugs is complicated by the fact that so much of the trade is intimately entwined with the illegal immigration issue, which skews how people might otherwise shake down on it.

            • Comment by The OFloinn:

              Jerry Pournelle has noted regarding Prohibition that in order for the federal government to outlaw booze, they had to amend the Constitution. That amendment was later repealed. So where does the federal government get the authority to outlaw other drugs?

              This is not to say that marijuana or crack should be legal or not, only that it was once believed that the Feds did not have the power to do it; while today there is virtually nothing that the Feds do not get into. That people quietly accept something that would have turned our grandparents purple with rage is a more interesting point than the drugs themselves.

              • Comment by Tom Simon:

                The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, which started the process of making narcotics illegal, did not require the Eighteenth Amendment to make it constitutional. The subsequent history of the Harrison Act is a testimony to the sleaziness of a certain subset of the legal profession: It was ruled that it was illegal for anyone to buy, sell, or import narcotics without a licence. As licences for heroin and cocaine (among other drugs) were not issued by the relevant authority, all usage of those drugs became illegal. And this bit of chicanery was upheld by the courts both before and after the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.

                Also, the United States was a signatory to the International Opium Convention of 1912, and implemented that treaty beginning in 1915.

            • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

              Prohibition was one of the “Great Victories” of the Progressive movement, which the Left lays claim to. I think you are confused because before the madness caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the political parties were not defined by “Left” and “Right” (Neither of which have fundamentally changed since, oh, about the 13th century (Read “Leftism Revisited” for a solid overview)). The Republicans had a Left wing (See : Teddy Roosevelt) at one time. It was a combination of the Hubris from destroying Nixon, and the Despair of the fall of the Soviet Union, which seems to have caused the Leftists in charge of the Democrats to purge any “Non-Leftists” from the party, forcing the Republicans to be Right, by default.

              As to “Illegal Immigration”, note that the very “Right wing” Pax Britannia required no passports. “Illegal Immigration” is a problem caused by Left Wing programs, which turn people from assets into burdens. Also, and again, note that the racist quotas were put into place by the Democrats (Very much under the control of the Left at the time), and the only example of charity and mercy given to “Illegals” was done by the very Right wing Ronald Reagan. The issue is only cloudy because of endless Leftist lies.

      • Comment by MarkAndrew:

        Hitler was a creature of the left, no doubt about that. I heard somewhere that Nazi-ism and Fascism were both heresies against Communism and that seems to fit William Shirer’s description of them.

        I’m a small-government, personal-accountability Conservative now but I was a self-described member of the ‘Republican Radical Right’. I was fanatically patriotic and nationalistic and I transferred that love of country to the government. It took me a few more years to realize that you can lover the goverment (or the Air Force) but it didn’t and couldn’t love you back. Anyway, my point is, you can still be of the Right and feel the totalitarian impulse to ‘force’ people to be honest or honorable or decent. It’s a bad impulse but it exists.

        I think the Left is far more prone to thinking that if they can just get the reins of power, they can steer it into Utopia, wherever that is.

      • Comment by SirBrass:


        They’re already doing it. I made several friends recently in the Whovian community, and as it is the way of things, most of these folks lean or very much are liberal or left. And I saw “conversation” I didn’t think exist, such as “rape culture.”

        Oh my goodness. You want to talk about how the Left will control your bedroom behavior, just look at what they are talking about in terms of how “rape culture” is “spread.” If you look at a woman wrong, proof of rape culture in action. If you make an off hand comment (disregard that oggling a lady is not the Christian thing to do… matters where sin does not transgress what is common sense law should be left to church discipline to handle, not the sword of the law) about a woman’s very attractive posterior to a friend and it accidentally gets overheard, rape culture. If the woman with whom you engaged in coitus suddenly feels guilty (shocker there) that she and you both prostituted yourselves to each other because neither of you are married, let alone to the other… Yup, rape culture again.

        Basically, if the woman at the moment or later on takes offense to a perceived sexual comment, it’s an example of rape culture against her. That’s how it is today among the libs and leftists. Even amongst themselves. Some obviously think that’s going too far and don’t support such stupid radicalization (they’re the libs I actually get along with pretty well), but plenty of the compatriots have bought into the feminazi kool-aid.

        Now just think about how the state will then need to “regulate” certain things and mandate others (such as mandatory abortion in cases of “rape”, or something else draconian, because a rape victim is understandably distraught and cannot be trusted to make the decisions best for them) in order to prosecute “the war on rape.” The fact that I can imagine this pretty clearly is very frightening.

        Harken back to 1984 and remember that sash all the young women wore? Uh huh, the Junior Anti-sex League. And remember that the main character described having sex with his wife, and described it as her being wooden, stiff, and bored.

        That’s where it’s going. And they’ll use the fact that they’ve turned sex into unenjoyable self-masterbation for both parties as proof of the continuance of “rape culture”, and continued need for sexual behavior regulations.

        Just like they yell “rascist” today, they’ll be yelling the word “rape” when any disagree with the government sticking its camera into everyone’s bedroom or back seat. And that very word which is pinned to one of the most hateful and vile acts one person can inflict on another will become just as much of a laughingstock and joke of a word as “rascist” now is.

  7. Comment by Brian Niemeier:

    I remember asking my college history professors to define fascism. None of their definitions agreed with each other.

  8. Comment by Larry Pryor:

    I remember being taught once upon a time in college that the foundations of czarist Russia were Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationalism and that all the Soviets did was to replace Orthodoxy with Communism. Even at the little podunk school I went to there were some professors with good ideas.

    • Comment by Mary:

      You might find the Marquis de Custine’s La Russie en 1839 interesting. I’ve only been able to find abridged English translations, but it’s still interesting — and the one I own has an introduction by someone working for the American embassy in the Soviet Union recommending it as the best book to understand the Soviet Union.

    • Comment by ladyhobbit:

      Probably there were professors with good ideas BECAUSE it was a little podunk school!

  9. Comment by The OFloinn:

    The world was divided not into poor and rich classes, but into poor and rich nations. One reason why a nation was poor was the wasteful competition among different corporations. Fascism envisioned a Leader who would arise and embody the aspirations of the People in his own person. The class struggle would be resolved not by class warfare by the Leader inspiring the classes to unify for the nation, like the bundle of sticks (which also represented corporal punishment). (Compare the Falange in Spain. A fist is more powerful than a single finger.)

    Industry would be rationalized through “syndicates.” A board consisting of representatives of government, business, labor, and academia would determine what percentage of the market each business should have (and in which regions). There were also regulations on things like sales, store hours, prices, and so forth. Any resemblance to health care alliances must surely be coincidental. The ordinary management of the businesses within these guidelines would be left to the professionals.

    Notice that the Leader represents the People, not the State. Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, and the rest took their legitimacy from the Will of the People rather than from the constitution of the State. (Note the frequent resort to plebiscites.) When Mussolini lost the People, he went to the King and resigned. (After which Hitler kidnapped him and made him a puppet in northern Italy until the People hunted him down and lynched him.)

    There is a nice section on the fascist and national socialist movements in John Lukacs’ The Last European War.

  10. Comment by Mariana Baca:

    Would you not consider the Spain of Francisco Franco a fascist state? Although the opposition was a mix of anarchism and socialism/communism, and they had support from Nazis, the mix of policies of Franco’s rule was completely against socialism (national or otherwise) and socially conservative. I don’t think his rule could be said to be Leftist in any real sense. But given that was the longest running “fascist” state, I think I see why people associate the word with conservatism and right wing (even if I know that there is no reason conservative policies cannot be applied democratically).

    • Comment by Tom Simon:

      Franco gets called Fascist pretty much exclusively because of Left propaganda from the Spanish Civil War. It’s true that he received military aid from the two leading Fascist régimes; but then, the opposite side received most of its aid from the leading Communist régime. What you must remember is that the propagandists for the Republican side (who were nearly all Communist, even though the Republic itself was not) branded every form of opposition as Fascist, including the Anarchists and the P.O.U.M. (who were considerably to the left of the Spanish Communist Party). The mud stuck, and people believe the propaganda to this day.

      None of this is to imply that Franco was a nice man, or that his régime was a good thing overall. He was, in effect, an old-fashioned caudillo of the type so often seen in Latin America. However, not even the Left ever thought very much about him or Spain after the civil war ended; and the popular idea of Fascism owes nothing to Franco’s Spain, and everything to the Axis powers in WWII.

      • Comment by Mariana Baca:

        I thought that the party Franco belonged to, the Falange, was a Fascist party, but the ideology changed since they ended merging several groups together. I guess the ideology changed enough that they ceased being properly fascist. But I don’t think they were called that just out of propaganda. But I’ll accept that what became the opposition became much more monarchist/other policies and was no longer recognizably fascist.

        Maybe it is because I’m of the “hispanic” persuasion, but we heard a lot more in history class about Franco than about Mussolini, and it was a topic in my professors’ minds, some of them having lived or studied in Spain, so my idea of “fascist” comes more from that than solely WWII.

        • Comment by Tom Simon:

          Well, the original Falange was Primo de Rivera’s party, and Franco did not become prominent in party circles until he was already the commander-in-chief of the Nationalists. (The chronology is exceedingly complicated, and I don’t pretend to understand it fully, but this much, at least, is clear.) About the first thing he did was to bung the Falange together with the Carlists and various other Nationalist factions, creating the FET y de las JONS, of which he was the undisputed leader. But by this time Nationalist Spain was a military dictatorship, and it cannot fairly be said that Franco ever paid much attention to the Falange, except to use it as a way of recruiting functionaries for his government.

          Franco’s ideology, in so far as he had one, has been called ‘Fascism of the friars’, but I strongly suspect the friars counted for more than the Fascism. At a time when the Republican leaders had outlawed Catholicism, shut down all the churches, and were executing priests and monks in large numbers, there was not much that Spanish Catholics could do except hope for Franco to win, and support him if they could. There were a lot more Catholics than Falangists in Spain, even when the FET was at its peak.

          I humbly accept your reminder that Franco is a much bigger historical figure in the Spanish-speaking countries than elsewhere. However, in America and most of Europe, it’s Mussolini and Hitler that people chiefly think of when they think of Fascism, with Franco as an afterthought (if even that). The fact that he stayed neutral in the Second World War did much to separate him from the ‘true’ Fascists in the popular understanding. It also helps that he provided a sanctuary for many Jewish refugees, just at the time when Mussolini went against his own principles and adopted Hitler’s antisemitism.

          • Comment by Andrew Brew:

            In fact Franco was never a member of the Falange, was he? I am open to correction, but I thought that while he was happy to include them in his coalition they were never his party.

          • Comment by The OFloinn:

            A Spanish associate of mine told be the Spanish fascists did not much care for Franco. Neither, after their one face-to-face, did Hitler, who tries to talk him into entering into the war. As one observer put it, Hitler had finally found someone who could out-talk him.

    • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

      Once you get past the propaganda, No. Franco did not, for example, crush and co-opt rival power structures like the Monarchy or the Church (Which is why the Monarchy was able, as you recall, to take over once France stepped down). Which is why Spain, as opposed to actual Fascist states such as Germany or Iraq, did not need to rebuilt society from the ground up (Which is why we still have troops in Germany, and should still have troops in Iraq…..) when the “fascist” government stopped being the government. No actual Fascist government allows even small rivals to it’s power, which is why we saw China suppressing an trivial exercise group…..

  11. Ping from The F-Word, Again | Rotten Chestnuts:

    […] If you don’t want to hear any more about it from me, there’s always science fiction author John C. Wright. […]

  12. Comment by AstroSorcorer:

    “A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better.” from Firefly

    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

      I was stunned and saddened when Whedon endorsed Obama. All I could think was How can the guy who wrote Firefly not see the problem here?


      I’m so sick of Hollywood leftists.

      • Comment by Stephen J.:

        Oh, Whedon didn’t vote for Obama expecting him to be the Alliance. He voted for Obama because he thought Obama was one of the Browncoats, and would govern not by trying to make people better, but by letting some people who were already “naturally better” run things for a change. (Reviewing the fulsomeness spouted about him back in 2008, one of the most prevalent themes is the idea that “this man is not just another politician” — and his near-total lack of experience actually worked to that idea’s advantage rather than the reverse.)

        Personally, I think a bunch of the people voting for Obama did so because they thought they were going to get the real-world equivalent of the character David Palmer (as played by Dennis Haysbert), from 24. There’s a part of me that wants to compare Palmer’s oratory on that show to some of Obama’s early speeches, and see if I can spot commonalities, now.

  13. Ping from DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Definition of Fascism:

    […] John C. Wright lays out some inconvenient truth. […]

  14. Comment by ladyhobbit:

    Both Communism and Fascism pervert the natural desire for community into collectivism.

  15. Comment by Tom Simon:

    One tiny emendation: The Roman symbol is called fasces rather than fasci; the (rarely used) singular is fascis. Third declension, not second. (The anatomical term is fascia.) Fasci is the modern Italian plural of fascio, which means much the same thing as fascis and is derived from it; but it is generally considered more correct to use the Latin word when talking about Roman things.

  16. Ping from Fascism, communism...a good definition of the two... - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum:

    […] two… this is one of the better looks at the twins of socialism…fascism and communism… Definition of Fascism | John C. Wright's Journal (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); __________________ Reason for […]

  17. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    A good summary. I would only add the small note that, although Marx and Lenin were internationalist, Stalin was not. His proposal of “socialism in one country” in 1924 (not quite so euphonious as “national socialism”, is it?) ousted Trotsky’s vision of permanent (international) revolution as official policy, which cost Trotsky his job and later his life. That Stalin essentially used the same phrase for his policy as Hitler (actually his predecessors – he joined a going concern) used as a party name perhaps illuminates both their ability to plot together against Poland and the bitter hatred between the two regimes. It was the hatred of twin brothers squabbling over an inheritance.

  18. Comment by Orichovius:

    Baker, not Bellman.

  19. Comment by LugoTeehalt:

    Mussolini waved all that theoretical mumbo-jumbo away. In a sense, he was like a blue-collar version of a Marxist, a workingman’s Marxist,

    This is an important point. Generally speaking,

    Fascism = socialism for the proles and the middle class

    Communism = socialism for the elites (including academics, intellectuals, and those with inherited wealth)

    Much of the detestation of the Left for “Fascism” (however defined) is pure snobbery and condescension. If their disgusting social inferiors like it, then they must hate it.

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