Fascism is a word with no objective definition. How do you define something based so heavily on opinions? Each person has their own opinion on the issue and they vary so distinctly from one to another we cannot pin-point an exact meaning for the term. We can only take into account many opinions and combine them to draw an appropriate conclusion. To do such a task we must start at the very beginning. Luckily for us, fascism is very much a product of the modern age. Therefore we only have to retrace our steps for about a hundred years. Beginning with Mussolini fascism took on a very powerful role.
The Italian leader combined ultra nationalism with hostility to establish a new form of conservatism. However, fascism is not that simple; it is also associated with totalitarianism, fanaticism, social engineering and brainwashing. The more we study fascism the more we realise; no matter what its goals are it uses coercion to fulfil them. Fascism preaches violence in the name of order. How is this possible? A fascist leader will use state terror to produce the opposite of his actions. In short, the leader scares the people so thoroughly they will not turn against him, if indeed they would want to.
If they do, however, it is violence that restores the order. The concept of fascism is linked extremely closely with nationalism; the whole ideology of a superior race is reflected. In fact, fascism takes those dangerous nationalistic feelings and amplifies them. Making the whole regime one of terror, hate, control and dangerous objectives. It would be simpler just to say that fascism is an extreme wing of nationalism, this however would be unacceptable due to the fact that fascism incorporates socialism and other ideologies also.
As we can read in the Oxford Reader, fascism uses true socialism we can derive this by the fact that both involve commitment to corporatist economics, national syndicalism, and a high degree of state planning. This is still not enough however to define fascism. There are far too many ideas involved for it to be an ideology in its own right. Fascism is though, one of the most powerful and dangerous systems of the 20th century. In addition, the aims and goal of the fascist state also have slight tendencies to vary; the overall idea, however, is one of pure blood and a strong united nation which is self-sufficient and exclusive.
Within fascist states races are classed very strongly. It is only the purest blood which is considered acceptable. The citizens are all united with common ancestry and traditions. The people within the state use this to their advantage and begin to blame race. As Kevin Passmore writes, In effect their behaviour is determined by race, while we are individuals. This is a clear indication that fascism is an exclusive and dangerous club. Possibly providing a route to lose blame as it is would not then be possible for other races to do such things. A classic example of this is Nazism.
The rulers of the perfect fascist state strive for a strong nation; there is no room for weakness. The entire nation must be united and when this plan is intact they must protect the state from other, less important, enemies. The whole regime of fascism is very inward looking, they battle to keep out other races and often coercion is involved in order to do so. This is true in most fascist states however, like previously mentioned it does vary. Fascism therefore could be described as any number of things, one of these being an exclusive club of racists who will go to extremes to keep their blood as pure as possible and their people united.
Moreover, the fascist state does not just exist, it has to be created. When considering the infamous fascists state of history we find that it frequently appears, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of a morally bankrupt state system. In short, to create the supreme following needed to build such a strong identity one must use the extreme lows of a country. It occurs as a third way, incorporating both socialism and conservatism to form the perfect combination and an ideal solution to troubled times. This can be seen in both Germany and Italy.
The fascist will always promise what is needed, in times of depression, for example, a scapegoat will be offered. While a country is suffering the fascists will promise to, relaunch it towards greatness and glory. This creates a loyal following for the strong leader who then proceeds to unite and join his fellow countrymen. This is one of the few things that remains constant throughout; a fascist state is born for a struggling one. Generally when in times of desperation people look for a route out but it is still difficult to see why one would turn to the extremes of fascism.
The fact that fascism has no rules or regulations should surely be a deterrent. How do people know what is to come of what is promised? The truth is that they do not. This is the key most dangerous fact about fascism; it knows no bounds. Take Germany as an example, after the growth of their strong leader, they began to exterminate their scapegoatthe Jews. This alone shows the severity of the fascist condition. Although we can assume the fascist state develops during extreme lows faced by a country this does not in fact tell us what fascism is; only that it is a way out.
Finally, to understand what fascism is we should consider what it inspires. There is evidence to suggest that fascism and Nazism have links. As Kevin Passmore argues there are, sufficient similarities between Fascism and Nazism to make it worthwhile applying the concept of fascism to both. This could be argued due to the fact that both strive for a totalitarian state and in each case violence is regarded as a way to install order. With this in mind we can agree that fascism has roots in Nazism; but does this mean that it is the same thing? To all intents and purposes, no.
Fascism is the evil mastermind behind such a regime but Nazism itself is not fascism due to the fact that it evolves the ideas into more. The argument that, All political ideologies are prone to assume a charismatic this just proves that fascism and Nazism are not one in the same. Each remains an individual policy although over lapping on certain aspects. The fact that Nazism and fascism are closely linked but remain separate fuels the idea that they are not one in the same. If an ideology can adapt itself, as fascism does, but not change then we must agree that it is an individual concept.
Both Nazism and Fascism by nature are racist, but this just adds another factor to the equation. We can define racism, belief of superiority in particular race, however, this does not bring us any closer to the meaning of fascism. This merely tells us another piece in the puzzle that is fascism. In answer fascism can neither be defined alone or in conjunction with Nazism due to the fact that it lends itself so readily to other ideologies. To conclude, we must understand that Fascism has no definition.
It is not a case of what fascism is more what do you want it to be. It incorporates many ideas to create whatever is needed. This can be seen by the usage of fascism in Nazism, its links to racism and the ideas which overlap from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Fascism is a single entity which applies to so many others and is in turn is applied. If by definition one wants meaning then fascism has too many meanings to be defined. Either way we look at fascism we find that it is simultaneously one thing and the contrary, it is A and not A.