Fascism

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism[1][2] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy,[3] which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.[4] The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before spreading to other European countries.[4] Opposed to anarchism, democracy, liberalism, and Marxism, fascism is placed on the far right-wing within the traditional left–right spectrum.[4][5][6]

Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler (right), the leaders of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, respectively, were both fascists.

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A military citizenship arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[7][8] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[7][8]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[9] A fascist state is led by a strong leader (such as a dictator) and a martial law government composed of the members of the governing fascist party to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[9] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views imperialism, political violence and war as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[10][11] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky (national economic self-sufficiency) through protectionist and economic interventionist policies.[12] The extreme authoritarianism and nationalism of fascism often manifests a belief in racial purity or a master race, usually synthesized with some variant of racism or bigotry of a demonized "Other"; the idea of racial purity has motivated fascist regimes to commit massacres, forced sterilizations, genocides, mass killings, or forced deportations against a perceived "Other".[13][14][15]

Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions of neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe contemporary parties of the far-right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th-century fascist movements.[4][16]