Fascism refers to an extreme form of government that came into existence after World War I. Countries like France, Britain, and United States could maintain their democracy despite the crisis resulting from the Great Depression.
However, there were nations that lost faith in democracy and turned to an authoritarian rule named Fascism. It is essentially a form of ultranationalism characterised by forceful suppression of opposition, strict regimentation of economy and society, and dictatorial power.
Origin of Fascism
This movement became prominent towards the end of the war at the beginning of the 20th century in Italy before spreading to other parts of Europe. Historians and political experts have always tried to define and outline the nature of Fascism and several schools of thought exist.
Each definition talks about different traits and many are criticised for being too limited or too wide. Most experts suggest that Fascism opposes liberalism, communism, and conservatism and relies on far-right authority.
Definition of Fascism
The most accurate definition of Fascism is that given by the historian Stanley Payne who breaks it down into three concepts:
- It is opposed to communalism
- It acquires support through mass mobilisation, a positive view of violence, romantic symbolism, and authoritarian leadership
- It aims at creating a dictatorship that structures interactions within modern culture and regulates the economy
History of Fascism
After World War I, the world was hit by economic challenges and weakening governments. The Great Depression, the Russian Revolution, and other events further deteriorated the economies in post-war European nations.
The condition was worse in Italy and Germany which was further aggravated as inflation rendered the currency in Germany worthless. The government seized to pay war reparations and France invaded the Ruhr Valley to force Germany to pay back debts.
Events such as these gave appropriate ground to the Nazi Party to establish reign. Hitler made promises to get the country rid of problems and bring in an era of prosperity. In Italy, Benito Mussolini came to power in a similar way.
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Characteristics of Fascism
- Fascists were famous for organising rallies in marches, meetings, and public gatherings to gain popularity.
- They criticised democracy and cultural liberalism.
- Most of the economic programmes introduced under Fascism were conservative, as they favoured the rich more than the weaker classes.
- Fascists also favoured military virtues of discipline, authority, and physical strength.
The movements had ended in Italy and Germany during World War II, though the ideology remained alive in Spain until the 1970s. Today, Fascism exists as a fringe movement that can gain momentum in times of crises affecting nations.
FAQs of Fascism
Q.1 Give examples of Fascism.
The best examples of Fascism are - Francisco Franco's rule in Spain, Mussolini in Italy, and Nazi Germany under the rule of Adolf Hitler.
Q.2 When did Fascism end?
As World War II came to an end, most fascist European parties broke up while some countries like Italy and Germany banned them altogether.
Q.3 With regard to Fascism, what is Benito Mussolini known for?
With regard to Fascism, The political leader became the first dictator in Italy and is known for forging the fascist movement in 1919.
Q.4 How is Fascism different from dictatorship?
Fascism is a political ideology while dictatorship is a form of government in which one person rules over the country.