A number of political movements which arose in Europe after the World War I are generally given the name "Fascist".
The common features of this movement were their hostility of democracy and socialism and the aim of establishing dictatorships.
They succeeded in many countries of Europe, such as Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Germany and Spain. Their success in Italy and Germany had the most serious consequences.
The term Fascism is of Italian origin. It was first used from the movement which started in Italy under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. The movement had certain well-defined features.
Foremost characteristic of Fascism was extreme Nationalism. It meant an emphasis on the rebirth of the nation after a period of decline. It signified building up of the greatness and prestige of the State. It also meant that one's own nation is superior to all others.
Secondly, the characteristic of Fascism is that of setting up of a totalitarian system of Government. This meant a complete way of life in which the government attempted to arouse and mobilize the great wars of ordinary people, to control and organize with strong discipline as many aspects of people's lives as possible. This was necessary to promote the greatness of the state, which was more important, the interests of the individual.
The third notable characteristic of Fascism was that a one-party state was essential. There was no place for democracy. Fascism was especially hostile to communism in which explain much of its popularity. The fascist party members were the elite of the nation and great emphasis was placed on the cult of the leader who would win mass support with thrilling speeches and skillful propaganda.
Economic self-sufficiency (austerely) was partially important in developing the greatness of the state. The government must therefore direct the economic life of the nation, through not in the Marxist sure of the state owning factories and land.
Another vital characteristic of Fascism was that the military strength and violence were considered an integral part of the way of life. Mussolini himself remarked - "Peace is observed: Fascism does not believe in it". Hence, they fostered the myth that they had sieved power by force, they allowed the violent treatment of opponents and critics, and they pursued an aggressive foreign policy.
In Italy, all parties except the Fascist were suppressed. Persistent opponents were either exiled or murdered. However, the Italian septum still was fewer brutes than the Germany. Further, the Prime Minister (Mussolini) was responsible only to the king, not to the parliament.
The Prime Minister could rule by dive, which meant that new laws did not need to be discussed by Parliament. The electorate was reduced from about 10 million to 3 million. Although, the Parliament met all important decisions were take, by the Fascist Grand Council. Elected town councils were abolished and towns were run by officials appointed from Rome. In practice, the local fascist party bosses often held as much power in the government officials.
Fascists believed in strict press censorship in which anti-fascist news-papers and magazines were either banned or their editors replaced by fascist supporters. Radio, films and theatre were controlled in the same way. The fascists also supervised the education.
Fascists had to wear uniforms and new text books were written to glorify the fascist system. Children were encouraged to criticize teachers who seemed to lack enthusiasm for the party. Children and young people were forced to join the government youth organizations which indoctrinated them with the brilliance of dice and glories of war. The other main message was total obedience to authority which was necessary because everything was seen in terms of struggle - "Believe, obey, fight!"
The Fascist government further believed in cooperation between employers and workers and to end class warfare in what was known as the corporate state. Fascist controlled unions had the sole right to negotiate for workers, and both unions and employers associations were organized into corporations, and were expected to work together to settle disputes over work and pay conditions.
Strikes and lockouts were not allowed. The twenty-two corporations, each dealt with a separate industry, was Mussolini's way to control workers and direct production and economy. To compensate for their loss of freedom, workers were assured of such benefits as free Sundays, annual holidays with pay, social security, sports and theatre facility and cheap tours and holidays.
The Race theory was vitally important for Nazism, the German variety of Fascism. The theory was that the mankind could be divided into two groups-Aryans and non-Aryans. The Aryans were the Germans, ideally tall blond, blue-eyed and handsome. They were the master-race, destined to rule the world.
All the rest such as Slave coloured peoples and particularly the Jews were inferior and were destined to become the slave races of the Germans.
Hitler's Nazism was in many ways similar to Mussolini's Fascist system. Jots were intensely anti- communist and became of this drew a solid basis of support from all classes. Secondly, both attempted to organize a totalitarian state controlling industry, agriculture and the way of life of people.
Both the systems attempted to make their countries self- sufficient economically. Both emphasized the close unity of all classes working together to achieve their ends. Both emphasized the supremacy of the state and were intensely nationalistic.
However, despite being totalitarian mates, there were significant differences between Italian fascism and its German variant. To begin with, Fascism was seemed to take root in Italy as deeply as it did in Germany. Then, the Italian system was not as efficient as that in Germany and there were no mass atrocities. Italian Fascism was not particularly anti-Jewish or Fascist until 1938 when Mussolini adopts the policy to enumerate Hitler.
Further, Mussolini was more successful than Hitler with his religious policy after his agreement with the pope in 1929. Finally, their constitutional positions were different. Monarchy still remained in Italy. The king was normally ignored, but played a vital role in 1943 when Mussolini was dismissed by him. Unfortunately there was nobody in Germany who could dismiss Hitler.
The rise of Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany held portentous future for the world. Their extremely nationalistic policies, and their ever- readiness to go far war which they glorified as sign of national visibly before long pushed the world to that second world war which wreaks havoc on humanity.