Characteristics of Fascism


Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist extreme right-wing political ideology. Fascists seek to unify their nation based on commitment to an organic national community where its individuals are united together as one people through national identity. The unity of the nation is to be based upon suprapersonal connections of ancestry and culture through a totalitarian state that seeks the mass mobilization of the national community through discipline, indoctrination, physical training, and eugenics. Fascism also seeks to eradicate perceived foreign influences that are deemed to be causing degeneration of the nation or of not fitting into the national culture.

“Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind.”
― Albert Einstein

In 2003, Dr. Lawrence Britt examined the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and several Latin American regimes. He found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power” ― Benito Mussolini

6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labour Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

“Fascism is capitalism plus murder.” ― Upton Sinclair

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

“No school can supply an anti-liberal education, or a fascist education, as these terms are contradictory. Liberalism and education are one.”
― George Seldes

6 thoughts on “Characteristics of Fascism

  1. Wow – I had never seen that definition laid out that way before. It’s frightening how closely the US is moving toward fitting that paradigm.

  2. For future research, the following terms are key to fascism: populism, nationalism, patriotism and chauvinism (realised by means of integralism – the organic unity of a nation); as well as racism, anti-immigration, authoritarianism, militarization, totalitarianism and dictatorship.

  3. There is a great deal of bias in that definition of fascism. Declaring fascism to be an extreme right wing political ideology does not take into account the varying definitions of “right” and “left” around the world.

    A statement such as, “Liberalism and education are one” also implies that fascists are uneducated people controlling uneducated populations, as if being a nation of educated liberals is somehow going to prevent fascism.

    “Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts” is also a rather simplistic description. The Nazi’s invested a great deal of time in stealing and carefully categorizing art. Hitler himself was a painter. Dictators are often highly educated intellectuals who like to surround themselves with the finer things in life.

  4. “Dictators are often highly educated intellectuals who like to surround themselves with the finer things in life.”

    And they are just as often poorly educated, who like to surround themselves with the finer things in life because it sends a message: “I have arrived“.

    Hitler may have been a painter, but he was also a wallpaper hanger, proving nothing – most painters are artists, just painters.

  5. Meant to say, “are not artists” – wish there were some way to edit a comment once it’s posted.

  6. There is a great deal of bias in that definition of fascism. Declaring fascism to be an extreme right wing political ideology does not take into account the varying definitions of “right” and “left” around the world.

    We’re interested in facts, not in (with all due respect) pathetic and biased hang-ups like ‘Communism is not extremely left-wing’, or ‘Fascism is not extremely right-wing’ on the left-right-progressive-conservative political spectrum.

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