In an article in the 1932 Enciclopedia Italiana, written by Giovanni Gentile and attributed to Benito Mussolini, fascism is described as a system in which "The State not only is authority which governs and molds individual wills with laws and values of spiritual life, but it is also power which makes its will prevail abroad. ...For the Fascist, everything is within the State and ... neither individuals or groups are outside the State. ...For Fascism, the State is an absolute, before which individuals or groups are only relative."
Mussolini in a speech delivered on October 28, 1925 delivered the following maxim which encapsulates the fascist philosophy: "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato," "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State".
Nazism is usually considered as a kind of fascism, but it should be understood that Nazism sought the state's purpose in serving an ideal to valuing what its content should be: its people, race, and the social engineering of these aspects of culture to the ends of the greatest possible prosperity for them at the expense of all else. In contrast, Mussolini's fascism held to the ideology that all of these factors existed to serve the state and that it wasn't necessarily in the state's interest to serve or engineer any of these particulars within its sphere as any priority. The only purpose of the government under fascism proper was to value itself as the highest priority to its culture in just being the state in itself, the larger scope of which, the better, and for these reasons it can be said to have been a governmental statolatry. While Nazism was a metapolitical ideology, seeing itself only as a utility by which an allegorical condition of its people was its goal, fascism was a squarely anti-socialist form of statism that existed by virtue and as an ends in and of itself. The Nazi movement spoke of class based society as the enemy and wanted to unify the racial element above established classes, whereas the Fascist movement sought to preserve the class system and uphold it as the foundation of established and progressive culture. This underlying theorem made the contemporary Fascists and Nazis see themselves and their respective political labels as at least partially exclusive to one another. Today however this difference is not made often in terminology, even when used historically. That is due mostly because both politics have ceased to be a society driven ideology of their own anywhere in the world today. Outside of their internal reasoning their own opposing ideas have no part to play and could even be said to be arbitrarily alien to the liberal states currently dealing in defining political concerns.
As a political science, the philosophical pretext to the literal fascism of the historical Italian type believes the state's nature is superior to that of the sum of the individual's comprising it, and that they exist for the state rather than the state existing to serve them. The resources individuals provide from participating in the community are conceived as a productive duty of individual progress serving an entity greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore all individual's business is the state's business, the state's existence is the sole duty of the individual. In its Corporativist model of totalitarian but private management the various functions of the state were trades conceived as individualized entities making that state, and that it is in the state's interest to oversee them for that reason, but not direct them or make them public by the rationale that such functioning in government hands undermines the development of what the state is. Private activity is in a sense contracted to the state so that the state may suspend the infrastructure of any entity in accord to their usefulness and direction, or health to the state.
The social composition of Fascist movements have historically been small capitalists, low-level bureaucrats and the middle classes. Fascism also met with great success in rural areas, especially among farmers, peasants, and in the city, the lumpenproletariat. A key feature of fascism is that it uses it's mass movement to attack the organizations of the working class - parties of the left and trades unions.
Unlike the pre–World War II period, when many groups openly and proudly proclaimed themselves fascist, in the post–World War II period the term has taken on an extremely pejorative meaning, largely in reaction to the crimes against humanity undertaken by the Nazis. Today, very few groups proclaim themselves as fascist, and the term almost universally is used for groups for whom the speaker has little regard, often with minimal understanding of what the term actually means. The term "fascist" or "Nazi" is often ascribed to individuals or groups who are perceived to behave in an authoritarian manner; by silencing opposition, judging personal behavior, or otherwise attempting to concentrate power. More particularly, "Fascist" is sometimes used by people of the Left to characterize some group or persons of the far-right or neo-far-right, or the far left activists as a description of any political or cultural influences perceived as "non-progressive," or merely not sufficiently progressive. This usage receded much following the 1970s, but has enjoyed a strong resurgence in connection with Anti-globalization activism.
The Doctrine of Fascism was written by Giovanni Gentile an idealist philosopher and who served as its official philosopher. Mussolini signed the article and it was officially attributed to him. In it, Frenchmen Georges Sorel, Charles Peguy, and Hubert Lagardelle were invoked as the sources of fascism. Sorel's ideas concerning syndicalism and violence are much in evidence in this document. It also quotes from the Frenchman Joseph Renan who it says had "prefascist intuitions". Both Sorel and Peguy were influenced by the Frenchman Henri Bergson. Bergson rejected the scientism, mechanical evolution and materialism of Marxist ideology. Also, Bergson promoted an elan vital as an evolutionary process. Both of these elements of Bergson appear in fascism. Mussolini states that fascism negates the doctrine of scientific and Marxian socialism and the doctrine of historic materialism. Hubert Lagardelle, an authoritative syndicalist writer, was influenced by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who is the inspirer of anarchosyndicalism.
There were several strains of tradition influencing Mussolini. Sergio Panunzio, a major theoretician of fascism in the 1920s, had a syndicalist background but his influence waned as the movement shed its left wing roots. The fascist concept of corporatism and particularly its theories of class collaboration and economic and social relations are very similar to the model laid out by Pope Leo XII's 1892 encyclicalRerum Novarum which addressed politics as it had been transformed by the Industrial Revolution and other changes in society that had occurred during the nineteenth century. The document criticized capitalism, complaining of the exploitation of the masses in industry. However, it also sharply criticized the socialist's concept of class struggle, and their proposed solution to eliminate private property. It called for strong governments to undertake a mission to protect their people from exploitation, and asked Roman Catholics to apply principles of social justice in their own lives.
Seeking to find some principle to replace the Marxist doctrine of class struggle, Rerum Novarum urged social solidarity between the upper and lower classes, and endorsed nationalism as a way of preserving traditional morality, customs, and folkways. In doing so, Rerum Novarum proposed a kind of corporatism, the organization of political societies along industrial lines that resembled mediaeval guilds. A one-person, one-vote democracy was rejected in favor of representation by interest groups. This idea was to counteract the "subversive nature" of the doctrine of Karl Marx.
The themes and ideas developed in Rerum Novarum can also be found in the ideology of fascism as developed by Mussolini.
Fascism also borrowed from Gabriele D'Annunzio's Constitution of Fiume for his ephemeral "regency" in the city of Fiume. Syndicalism had an influence on fascism as well particularly as some syndicalists intersected with D'Annunzio's ideas. Before the First World War, syndicalism had stood for a militant doctrine of working-class revolution. It distinguished itself from Marxism because it insisted that the best route for the working class to liberate itself was the trade union rather than the party. The Italian Socialist Party ejected the syndicalists in 1908. The syndicalist movement split between anarcho-syndicalists and a more moderate tendency. Some moderates began to advocate "mixed syndicates" of workers and employers. In this practice, they absorbed the teachings of Catholic theorists and expanded them to greater power of the state and diverted them by the influence of D'Annunzio to nationalist ends.
When Henri De Man's Italian translation of Au-dela du marxisme emerged, Mussolini was excited and wrote the author that his criticism destroyed any "scientific" element left in Marxism. Mussolini was appreciative of the idea that a corporative organization and a new relationship between labor and capital would eliminate 'the clash of economic interests" and thereby neutralise "the germ of class warfare.'"
Mussolini's fascist state was established nearly a decade before Hitler's rise to power. Both a movement and a historical phenomenon, Italian Fascism was, in many respects, an adverse reaction to both the apparent failure of laissez-faire and fear of the left, although trends in intellectual history, such as the breakdown of positivism and the general fatalism of postwar Europe should be of concern.
Fascism was, to an extent, a product of a general feeling of anxiety and fear among the middle class of postwar Italy arising because of a convergence of interrelated economic, political, and cultural pressures. Under the banner of this authoritarian and nationalistic ideology, Mussolini was able to exploit fears regarding the survival of capitalism in an era in which postwar depression, the rise of a more militant left, and a feeling of national shame and humiliation stemming from Italy's 'mutilated victory' at the hands of the World War I postwar peace treaties seemed to converge. Such unfulfilled nationalistic aspirations tainted the reputation of liberalism and constitutionalism among many sectors of the Italian population. In addition, such democratic institutions had never grown to become firmly rooted in the young nation-state.
As the same postwar depression heightened the allure of Marxism among an urban proletariat even more disenfranchised than their continental counterparts, fear regarding the growing strength of trade unionism, Communism, and socialism proliferated among the elite and the middle class. In a way, Benito Mussolini filled a political vacuum. Fascism emerged as a "third way" — as Italy's last hope to avoid imminent collapse of the 'weak' Italian liberalism, and Communist revolution. While failing to outline a coherent program, it evolved into new political and economic system that combined corporatism, totalitarianism, nationalism, and anti-Communism in a state designed to bind all classes together under a capitalist system, but a new capitalist system in which the state seized control of the organization of vital industries. Under the banners of nationalism and state power, Fascism seemed to synthesize the glorious Roman past with a futuristic utopia.
The appeal of this movement, the promise of a more orderly capitalism during an era of interwar depression, however, was not isolated to Italy, or even Europe. For example, a decade later, as the Great Depression led to a sharp economic downturn of the Brazilian economy, a sort of quasi-fascism would emerge there that would react to Brazil's own socio-economic problems and nationalistic consciousness of its peripheral status in the global economy. The regime of Getulio Vargas adopted extensive fascist influence and entered into an alliance with Integralism, Brazil's local fascist movement.
Founded as a nationalist association (the Fasci di Combattimento) of World War I veterans in Milan on March 23, 1919, Mussolini's fascist movement converted itself into a national party (the Partito Nazionale Fascista) after winning 35 seats in the parliamentary elections of May 1921. Initially combining ideological elements of left and right, it aligned itself with the forces of conservatism by its opposition to the September 1920 factory occupations.
Despite the themes of social and economic reform in the initial Fascist manifesto of June 1919, the movement came to be supported by sections of the middle class fearful of socialism and communism, while industrialists and landowners saw it as a defence against labour militancy. Under threat of a fascist "March on Rome," Mussolini in October 1922 assumed the premiership of a right-wing coalition Cabinet initially including members of the pro-church People's Party.
The transition to outright dictatorship was more gradual than in Germany a decade later, though in July 1923 a new electoral law all but assured a Fascist parliamentary majority, and the murder of the Socialist deputyGiacomo Matteotti eleven months later showed the limits of political opposition. By 1926 opposition movements had been outlawed, and in 1928 election to parliament was restricted to fascist-approved candidates.
The regime's most lasting political achievement was perhaps the Lateran Treaty of February 1929 between the Italian state and the Holy See, by which the Papacy was granted temporal sovereignty over the Vatican City and guaranteed the free exercise of Catholicism as the sole state religion throughout Italy in return for its acceptance of Italian sovereignty over the Pope's former dominions.
Trade unions and employers' associations were reorganized by 1934 into 22 fascist Source | Copyright