- [*] A political regime, having totalitarian aspirations, ideologically based on a relationship between business and the centralized government, business-and-government control of the market place, repression of criticism or opposition, a leader cult and exalting the state and/or religion above individual rights. Originally only applied (usually capitalized) to Benito Mussolini's Italy.
[*] A political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government, opposed to democracy and liberalism.
[*] An authoritarian system of government under absolute control of a single dictator, allowing no political opposition, forcibly suppressing dissent, and rigidly controlling most industrial and economic activities.
[*] Fascism is derived from the italian fascio, which means bundle.
An interesting short article was written by George Orwell in 1944: What is Fascism? He concludes:
...even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.
But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.
I suggest at a minimum, Fascism has these 3 elements:
1. Government and business joint control of the market and economy
2. Authoritarian and totalitarian
3. Repression of criticism and opposition
Clearly the Nazis were fascists. But then so also were the Soviets. And while there are fascist tendencies in modern American government and some businesses (especially in the technology sector), it is clearly not (yet) fascist.