Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Fascism Definition:

A form of government which is authoritarian, oppressively conservative, who believe in the supremacy of the stated national group, and which, at least initially, purports to vest law-making and administrative authority in the hands of workers or their organizations.

Related Terms: Communism, Socialism, Nazism

According to Hawkesworth and Krogan, the name originated and derived from Italy, under Benito Mussolini. fascio in Italian means "union" and became the nickname of radical union groups then forming in Milan, circa 1919, and elsewhere in Italy.

However, Bogdanor’s theory is that the name came from ancient Rome. A fasces was an ornament used during official hearing ands it symbolized unity and authority.

Further, according to Bogdanor, fascism is characterized by:

"... the belief in the supremacy of the chosen national group over all other races and minorities; the total subordination of the individual to an absolute leader or Führer figure; the suppression of all autonomous secondary institutions; the rejection of values and institutions of parliamentary democracy and their replacement by fascist dictatorships; total opposition to peaceful internationalism (and) a foreign policy of expansionism and conquest as the natural ‘destiny’ of the nation."

Bogdanor also quotes George Orwell from The Road to Wigan Pier:

"It is usual to speak of the fascist objective as the beehive state, which does a grave injustice to bees.

"A world of rabbits ruled by (weasels) would be nearer the mark."

In 1921, it had become a political party, "Fascist Party" and by 1925, Mussolini was a dictator of what was popularly known as a fascist regime.

Hitler’s political party, of which adherents became known as fascists, were similar to the Italian fascists and indeed, Hitler saw Mussolini as a kindred spirit. Hitler’s fascism took the politics to a new level as it openly propounded advantage to those of the Aryan or Nordic race, and then proceeded to murder those who it took to belong to a lesser race.

Hungary (the Arrow Cross), Romania (the Iron Guard), Croatia (Ustasi) and Spain (Franco’s Phalanx) also had governments which were fascist if not in name, in practice and policies.

Fascists and Marxists were often at odds as both pretended to represent the working class.

Le Boutellier spoke of the similarities between communism and fascism as follows:

"It would seem, that in order to endure, both communism and fascism, wherever they have appeared, have had to be bolstered from within by intensive and reckless propaganda. ·This links them more closely. All citizens have been intensively indoctrinated, but especially youth, in the precepts and practices of that particular government. Furthermore, besides positive propaganda employed intramurally, both have waged fierce, negative propaganda in the attempt to undermine opposed types of state and statecraft. These similarities, however, do not alter the fact that the two political forms are, in their basic theories of association, diametrically opposed. One comes into being as an expression of man's faith in man; the other as an expression of man's distrust in man."

Fascism disappeared faster than it had been raised as the defeat of Germany and Italy in the Second World War meant an end to the fascist form of government.


  • Bogdanor, Vernon, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Science (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 1991), p. 226-228.
  • Hawkesworth, M. and Kogan, M., Encyclopedia of Government and Politics (London: Routledge, 2004), Volume 1, pages 174-183.
  • Le Boutellier, Cornelia, American Democracy and Natural Law (New York: Columbia University Press, 1950), page 42.

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