HS-102 Readings

Fascism

WHAT ARE THE BASIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FASCIST IDEOLOGY?

WHERE DID FASCISM ORIGINATE AND WHY?

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE PROCESS OF INDUSTRIALIZATION AND THE RISE OF FASCISM?
BETWEEN THE MIDDLE CLASS AND FASCISM?
BETWEEN MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND FASCISM?
BETWEEN PROPAGANDA AND FASCISM?

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NATIONALISM AND FASCISM?
BETWEEN MILITARISM AND FASCISM?

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WORLD WAR I AND THE RISE OF
FASCISM?

HOW DID THE GREAT DEPRESSION AFFECT FASCISM?

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FASCISM AND TOTALITARIANISM?,
BETWEEN FASCISM AND STALINISM?

WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY EXAMPLES OF FASCIST AND TOTALITARIAN STATES DURING THE PERIOD BETWEEN THE WORLD WARS?

    The fascist ideology cannot be explained logically because it is inherently irrational. It justifies giving all power to a single dictator. It identifies the leader with the nation and demands total obedience. It can only be understood in terms of its emotional and psychological impact.

    Fascism becomes possible when masses of people feel deeply insecure. Some of that insecurity was created by the industrial revolution, which separates people from nature, reduces them to relative insignificance as compared to the powerful institutions which govern their lives, and creates dislocation and rapid change.

    Industrialization alone is not enough. World War I created great insecurity by destroying economic and political institutions that were needed for stability, by accelerating the process of change in a variety of ways, and by creating unemployment and high inflation.

    Fascism also requires a certain level of industrial development because it depends upon propaganda to persuade people and to acquire mass support. That means the use of the radio and newspapers. That means a reasonably literate population which can be reached. That means having means of transportation to bring large numbers to mass rallies.

    The other primary leg of fascism, besides propaganda, is terror. Here, too, a certain level of industrial development is required so that police can move quickly, can communicate readily, and can spy on people. A large prison system also requires the resources of an industrial society.

    The middle class is the class which is primarily susceptable to fascism because they value property highly, and fear of the loss of property and wealth, through unemployment and inflation, is a primary source of the insecurity which fascism feeds upon. Again, a certain level of industrialization is necessary to create that middle class.

    Fascism exploits nationalism by playing upon feelings of superiority over others. It also exalts militarism as the greatest way to prove superiority, and war as an acceptable, even desirable way of accomplishing national goals. People feel good about themselves if they can forget their insecurities and problems by immersing themselves in an apparently invincible nation.

    Fascism is reactionary in that it recalls a non-existent national past of greatness which it promise to restore. It also appeals to false memories of a virtuous, rural past.

    The depression opened the way to Nazism in Germany by creating massive
unemployment and economic insecurity.

    Italy was the first fascist state to develop after World War I. Austria, Germany and Spain also developed fascist governments in the inter-war period.

    Totalitarianism shares many of the characteristics of fascism, and fascist states are often also totalitarian, but not every totalitarian state is fascist. Totalitarianism is a system in which the state has almost total control over its people, through the techniques common to fascism: propaganda and terror. But a totalitarian state leadership may not
necessarily endorse the reactionary nature of fascist ideology.

    The Nazi Germany is the most evident example of a fascist state which was also totalitarian. Italy was clearly a fascist state and had totalitarian characteristics. Stalinist Russia was clearly totalitarian but was not fascist. Though Russia's internal behavior was very similar to Nazi Germany, fascism and socialism are diametrically opposite and
fiercely opposed to each other.