Characteristics of Fascism
Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about
fascism which appeared in Free Inquiry magazine -- a journal of
Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany),
Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and
Pinochet (Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common,
and he calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The
article is titled 'Fascism Anyone?', by Lawrence Britt, and
appears in Free Inquiry's Spring 2003 issue on page 20.
The 14 characteristics are:
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.
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.
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,
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.
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. Opposition
to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and
6. Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes the media is directly
controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is
indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through
sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship,
especially in wartime, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security -- Fear is used as a
motivational tool by the government over the masses.
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.
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.
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
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 is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to
fund the arts.
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
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 who 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 the assassination of)
opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting
numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of
the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to
manipulate or control elections.
Copyright © 2003 Free
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.