The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

The 14 Defin­ing Char­ac­ter­is­tics Of Fascism
Post­ed April 7, 2003

by Dr. Lawrence Britt

Dr. Lawrence Britt has exam­ined the fas­cist regimes of Hitler (Ger­many), Mus­soli­ni (Italy), Fran­co (Spain), Suhar­to (Indone­sia) and sev­er­al Latin Amer­i­can regimes. Britt found 14 defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics com­mon to each:

1. Pow­er­ful and Con­tin­u­ing Nation­al­ism — Fas­cist regimes tend to make con­stant use of patri­ot­ic mot­tos, slo­gans, sym­bols, songs, and oth­er para­pher­na­lia. Flags are seen every­where, as are flag sym­bols on cloth­ing and in pub­lic dis­plays. Have you EVER seen as many Amer­i­can flags as have been fly­ing in the last few years?

2. Dis­dain for the Recog­ni­tion of Human Rights — Because of fear of ene­mies and the need for secu­ri­ty, the peo­ple in fas­cist regimes are per­suad­ed that human rights can be ignored in cer­tain cas­es because of “need.” The peo­ple tend to look the oth­er way or even approve of tor­ture, sum­ma­ry exe­cu­tions, assas­si­na­tions, long incar­cer­a­tions of pris­on­ers, etc. Hmm. Guan­tanamo Bay, anyone?

3. Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Uni­fy­ing Cause — The peo­ple are ral­lied into a uni­fy­ing patri­ot­ic fren­zy over the need to elim­i­nate a per­ceived com­mon threat or foe: racial, eth­nic or reli­gious minori­ties; lib­er­als; com­mu­nists; social­ists, ter­ror­ists, etc. You mean like ter­ror­ists and Islam­ic bogeymen?

4. Suprema­cy of the Mil­i­tary — Even when there are wide­spread domes­tic prob­lems, the mil­i­tary is giv­en a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of gov­ern­ment fund­ing, and the domes­tic agen­da is neglect­ed. Sol­diers and mil­i­tary ser­vice are glam­or­ized. I don’t actu­al­ly think the enlist­ed mem­bers of our mil­i­tary are being treat­ed well at all. Bush likes to wave them around and pose in flight suits, though. And he REALLY does­n’t like peo­ple pok­ing at his (lack of) ser­vice in the Nation­al Guard to avoid going to Vietnam.

5. Ram­pant Sex­ism — The gov­ern­ments of fas­cist nations tend to be almost exclu­sive­ly male-dom­i­nat­ed. Under fas­cist regimes, tra­di­tion­al gen­der roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abor­tion and homo­sex­u­al­i­ty are sup­pressed and the state is rep­re­sent­ed as the ulti­mate guardian of the fam­i­ly insti­tu­tion. Well that’s fair­ly easy to see, isn’t it. Attempts to undo Roe vs. Wade, the whole “sanc­ti­ty of mar­riage” BS and talk of a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment to define marriage.

6. Con­trolled Mass Media — Some­times to media is direct­ly con­trolled by the gov­ern­ment, but in oth­er cas­es, the media is indi­rect­ly con­trolled by gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion, or sym­pa­thet­ic media spokes­peo­ple and exec­u­tives. Cen­sor­ship, espe­cial­ly in war time, is very com­mon. I think we’re doing rel­a­tive­ly well on this front — so far. The RNC is warn­ing sta­tions not to show the com­mer­cials. The main­stream media com­plete­ly ignored the betray­al of Valerie Plame when the infor­ma­tion first came out, and con­tin­ued to do so until it was absolute­ly impos­si­ble to not talk about it.

7. Obses­sion with Nation­al Secu­ri­ty — Fear is used as a moti­va­tion­al tool by the gov­ern­ment over the mass­es. There is that Patri­ot Act still in force, isn’t there?

8. Reli­gion and Gov­ern­ment are Inter­twined — Gov­ern­ments in fas­cist nations tend to use the most com­mon reli­gion in the nation as a tool to manip­u­late pub­lic opin­ion. Reli­gious rhetoric and ter­mi­nol­o­gy is com­mon from gov­ern­ment lead­ers, even when the major tenets of the reli­gion are dia­met­ri­cal­ly opposed to the gov­ern­men­t’s poli­cies or actions. Well, yes, the rad­i­cal right is way too invest­ed in Bush­Co and has way too much influ­ence there.

9. Cor­po­rate Pow­er is Pro­tect­ed — The indus­tri­al and busi­ness aris­toc­ra­cy of a fas­cist nation often are the ones who put the gov­ern­ment lead­ers into pow­er, cre­at­ing a mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial business/government rela­tion­ship and pow­er elite. You don’t have to look far for that one.

10. Labor Pow­er is Sup­pressed — Because the orga­niz­ing pow­er of labor is the only real threat to a fas­cist gov­ern­ment, labor unions are either elim­i­nat­ed entire­ly, or are severe­ly sup­pressed. Now who was that call­ing the NEA ter­ror­ists? I’m not a fan of theirs, but that was way out of line.

11. Dis­dain for Intel­lec­tu­als and the Arts — Fas­cist nations tend to pro­mote and tol­er­ate open hos­til­i­ty to high­er edu­ca­tion, and acad­e­mia. It is not uncom­mon for pro­fes­sors and oth­er aca­d­e­mics to be cen­sored or even arrest­ed. Free expres­sion in the arts and let­ters is open­ly attacked. Right now, peo­ple who dis­agree are “unpa­tri­ot­ic.” I’ll be more wor­ried about this one is Bush is re-elected.

12. Obses­sion with Crime and Pun­ish­ment — Under fas­cist regimes, the police are giv­en almost lim­it­less pow­er to enforce laws. The peo­ple are often will­ing to over­look police abus­es and even forego civ­il lib­er­ties in the name of patri­o­tism. There is often a nation­al police force with vir­tu­al­ly unlim­it­ed pow­er in fas­cist nations. Like the FBI?

13. Ram­pant Crony­ism and Cor­rup­tion — Fas­cist regimes almost always are gov­erned by groups of friends and asso­ciates who appoint each oth­er to gov­ern­ment posi­tions and use gov­ern­men­tal pow­er and author­i­ty to pro­tect their friends from account­abil­i­ty. It is not uncom­mon in fas­cist regimes for nation­al resources and even trea­sures to be appro­pri­at­ed or even out­right stolen by gov­ern­ment lead­ers.

14. Fraud­u­lent Elec­tions — Some­times elec­tions in fas­cist nations are a com­plete sham. Oth­er times elec­tions are manip­u­lat­ed by smear cam­paigns against or even assas­si­na­tion of oppo­si­tion can­di­dates, use of leg­is­la­tion to con­trol vot­ing num­bers or polit­i­cal dis­trict bound­aries, and manip­u­la­tion of the media. Fas­cist nations also typ­i­cal­ly use their judi­cia­ries to manip­u­late or con­trol elec­tions. You mean like the flawed Flori­da elec­tion in 2000? I won­der how much more went on that we don’t know about.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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