Fascism is a form of counter-revolutionary politics that first arose in the early part of the twentieth-century in Europe. It was a response to the rapid social upheaval, the devastation of World War I, and the Bolshevik Revolution. Fascism is a philosophy or system of the government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of aggressive nationalism. It considers the nation or a race as an organic community surpassing all other loyalties. This right-wing philosophy will even advocate violent action to maintain this loyalty which is held in such high regards.
Fascism approaches politics in two central areas, populist and elitist. Populist is that it seeks to activate “the people” as a whole against perceived oppressors or enemies and to create a nation of unity. The elitist approach is to put the people’s will on one select group, or most often one supreme leader called EI Duce, from whom all power proceeds downwards. The two most recognized names that go along with Fascism are Italy’s Benito Mussolini and Germany’s Adolf Hitler.
The philosophy of Fascism can be traced to the philosophers who argue that the will is prior to and superior to the intellect or reason. George Sorel, Friedrich Nietzche, and Georg Hegal are the main philosophers whose beliefs and ideologies greatly influenced the shaping of Fascist theory. They believed in the idea of the “overman” or superman which symbolized man at his most creative and highest intellectual capacity. They sustained that war was necessary to unify the state, as peace let to nothing but a weak society.
In an ideal situation, a Fascist government would be fashioned around the good of the community or nation. Everyone would work for the benefit of the nation and that is all. Regularly this would take place with the merging of the state and business leadership, with concern only of the nation. In this the nation would also take care of its members if the need should arise. This could be money, shelter, food or any other need that may come about.
Unfortunately, the ideology of Fascism has been identified with totalitarianism, state terror, fanaticism, arranged violence, and blind obedience. Adolf Hitler established his own personal ideology, Mein Kampf, which means My Struggle. The book was written while Hitler was in prison and not yet in power. Mussolini fashioned his ideology after he took control of Italy.
This authoritarian political movement that developed in Italy and other European countries started after 1919 as a reaction against the profound political and social changes brought about from inflation, and declining social, economic, and political conditions. Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany were the architects of this ideology. The difference was that Hitler’s Nazism also stressed the superiority of the Aryan race, calling for the unification of all German-speaking people into one single empire. Unlike Fascism, the state was second in importance, behind only racial purity of the nation.
One idea shared by all Fascist movements is the evident lack of a consistent political standard behind the ideology. Each individual leader would handle every situation a little differently with no sense of tradition or law. However, one very common aspect of Fascism was its unsympathetic drive to achieve and maintain state power and sovereignty. On that road to conquest fascists are willing to abandon any principle to adopt an issue more in acceptance and more likely to gain converts.
Fascism and its right wing counterparts have been influencing twentieth century politics in every area. Hitler and Mussolini are the two most noted people to bring fascism to the forefront of government. Regardless of the power and force fascism has established in the past, every time it fails, leading a person to question the vitality of this type of government.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9389988@N04/3922715134/]