1.(politics)a political theory advocating an authoritarian hierarchical government (as opposed to democracy or liberalism)
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dictature classée à droite (fr)[Classe]
science humaine (fr)[Classe]
chef d'état étranger (fr)[Classe]
partisan d'extrême droite (fr)[Classe]
d'extrême droite (fr)[Classe]
extrême droite (fr)[Thème]
fascisme (fr)[termes liés]
qualificatif d'un type de pouvoir autoritaire (fr)[DomainJugement]
doctrine d'extrême droite (fr)[Classe]
fascisme (fr)[termes liés]
fascism (n.) [politics]
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Fascism ( //) is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek rejuvenation of their nation based on commitment to an organic national community where its individuals are united together as one people in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood through a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through discipline, indoctrination, physical training, and eugenics. Fascism seeks to purify the nation of foreign influences that are deemed to be causing degeneration of the nation or of not fitting into the national culture. Fascists have commonly presented themselves as politically syncretic—opposing firm association with any section of the left-right spectrum, considering it inadequate to describe their beliefs, and being critical of the left, right, and centre. Fascism's goal to promote the rule of people deemed innately superior while seeking to purge society of people deemed innately inferior, has been noted as being a prominent far-right stance.
Fascism promotes political violence and war, as forms of direct action that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality. Fascists commonly utilize paramilitary organizations for violence against opponents or to overthrow a political system. Fascism opposes multiple ideologies: conservatism, liberalism, and the two major forms of socialism—communism and social democracy. Fascism claims to represent a synthesis of cohesive ideas previously divided between traditional political ideologies. To achieve its goals, the fascist state purges forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration.
The fascist party is a vanguard party designed to initiate a revolution from above and to organize the nation upon fascist principles. The fascist party and state is led by a supreme leader who exercises a dictatorship over the party, the government and other state institutions. Fascism rejects liberal democracy based upon majority rule but fascists deny that they are entirely against democracy. Fascism condemns liberal democracy for basing government legitimacy on quantity rather than quality, and for causing quarreling partisan politics. Fascists claim that their ideology is a trans-class movement, advocating resolution to domestic class conflict within a nation to secure national solidarity. It claims that its goal of cultural nationalization of society emancipates the nation's proletariat, and promotes the assimilation of all classes into proletarian national culture. While fascism opposes domestic class conflict, fascism believes that bourgeois-proletarian conflict primarily exists in national conflict between proletarian nations versus bourgeois nations; fascism declares its opposition to bourgeois nations and declares its support for the victory of proletarian nations.
Fascism advocates a state-controlled and regulated mixed economy, the principle economic goal of fascism is to achieve national autarky to secure national independence, through protectionist and interventionist economic policies. It promotes the use and primacy of regulated private property and private enterprise contingent upon service to the nation, but where private enterprise and private property are failing, inefficient, or unable to fulfill fascist goals, it supports the use of state enterprise and state property in those circumstances. At the same time, fascists are hostile to financial capital, plutocracy, and "the power of money". It supports criminalization of strikes by employees and lockouts by employers because it deems these acts as prejudicial to the national community.
The term fascismo is derived from the Latin word fasces. The fasces, which consisted of a bundle of rods that were tied around an axe, was an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate. They were carried by his lictors and could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command. The word fascismo also relates to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates.
The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break. Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements. For example the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.
Historians, political scientists and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism. Each form of fascism is distinct, leaving many definitions too wide or narrow. Since the 1990s, scholars including Stanley Payne, Roger Eatwell, Roger Griffin and Robert O. Paxton have been gathering a rough consensus on the ideology's core tenets.
For Griffin, fascism is "a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism" built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist "armed party" politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence. Mussolini said that Fascism is revolutionary against liberalism "since it wants to reduce the size of the State to its necessary functions."
Paxton sees fascism as "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."
One common definition of fascism focuses on three groups of ideas:
There is some dispute among scholars about where along the left/right spectrum that fascism resides. Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists who combined left-wing and right-wing political views, but Italian Fascism gravitated to the right in the early 1920s. A major element of fascism that has been deemed as clearly far-right is its goal to promote the right of claimed superior people to dominate while purging society of claimed inferior elements.
Fascism is commonly described as "extreme right" although some writers have found placing fascism on a conventional left-right political spectrum difficult. There is a scholarly consensus that fascism was influenced by both left and right, conservative and anti-conservative, national and supranational, rational and anti-rational. A number of historians have regarded fascism either as a revolutionary centrist doctrine, as a doctrine which mixes philosophies of the left and the right, or as both of those things.
Fascism is considered by certain scholars to be right-wing due to its social conservatism and authoritarian means of opposing egalitarianism. Roderick Stackleberg places fascism — including Nazism, which he says is "a radical variant of fascism" — on the right, explaining that "the more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be."
While fascism opposes Bolshevism, both Bolshevism and fascism have been noted to hold significant ideological similarities: both advocate a revolutionary ideology, both believe in the necessity of a vanguard elite, both have disdain for bourgeois values, and both had totalitarian ambitions. In practice, fascism and Bolshevism have commonly emphasized revolutionary action, proletarian nation theories, single-party states, and party-armies. Fascism's relations with Bolshevism changed over time. In 1917, Mussolini as leader of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action praised the October Revolution that brought Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik movement to power in Russia, as Mussolini himself desired a revolution in Italy to bring the Fascists to power. However Mussolini later became unimpressed by Lenin, regarding Lenin as merely a new version of Tsar Nicholas. Also, in spite of ideological differences, Fascist Italy was the first western country to recognize the Soviet Union, in 1933 Fascist Italy had signed a friendship and nonaggression treaty with the Soviet Union, and in the late 1930s both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany supported rapproachment with the Soviet Union. In support of Hitler's strategy of rapproachment of the Soviet Union in 1939, Mussolini in September 1939 informed fellow Fascist official Giuseppe Bottai that the internal differences between fascism and Bolshevism had grown less acute over time and noted that both fascism and Bolshevism held common contempt of the "demo-plutocratic capitalism of the western powers". In October 1939 Mussolini had considered making a public statement to the Italian people that would announce Fascist Italy's abandonment of hostility to the ideology of Stalin's Soviet Union by claiming that Stalin's regime had effectively dissolved Bolshevism and that it had been replaced by a Slavic fascism. Mussolini's foreign minister and son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano persuaded Mussolini not to make this statement. Similar to Mussolini, Hitler believed that Soviet Bolshevism was transforming into a form of Nazism and said in 1934:
It is not Germany that will turn Bolshevist but Bolshevism that will become a sort of National Socialism. Besides, there is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it. There is, above all, genuinely revolutionary feeling, which is alive everywhere in Russia except where there are Jewish Marxists. I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois Social Democrat and the trade union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communist always will.—Adolf Hitler, 1934
Fascism is also significantly influenced by anarchism on the far-left - particularly the originally anarchist Mikhail Bakunin's concept of propaganda of the deed advocating action as the primary motivation and means of politics - including revolutionary violence.
Benito Mussolini in 1919 described fascism as a syncretic movement that would strike "against the backwardness of the right and the destructiveness of the left". Later the Italian Fascists described fascism as a right-wing ideology in the political program The Doctrine of Fascism, stating: "We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right,' a fascist century." However Mussolini clarified that fascism's position on the political spectrum was not a serious issue to fascists and stated that:
Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center ... These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don't give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words.
The accommodation of the political right into the Italian Fascist movement in the early 1920s led to the creation of internal factions. The "Fascist left" included Michele Bianchi, Giuseppe Bottai, Angelo Oliviero Olivetti, Sergio Panunzio and Edmondo Rossoni, who were committed to advancing national syndicalism as a replacement for parliamentary liberalism in order to modernize the economy and advance the interests of workers and the common people. The "Fascist right" included members of the paramilitary Squadristi and former members of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI). The Squadristi wanted to establish Fascism as a complete dictatorship, while the former ANI members, including Alfredo Rocco, sought an authoritarian corporatist state to replace the liberal state in Italy, while retaining the existing elites. There were also smaller factions within the Italian Fascist movement, such as the clerical Fascists, who sought to shift Italian Fascism from its anti-Catholic roots to accepting Catholicism. There were also "monarchist Fascists" who sought to use Fascism to create an absolute monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
A number of fascist movements described themselves as a "third position" outside the traditional political spectrum. Benito Mussolini promoted ambiguity about fascism's positions in order to rally as many people to it as possible, saying fascists can be "aristocrats or democrats, revolutionaries and reactionaries, proletarians and anti-proletarians, pacifists and anti-pacifists." Mussolini claimed that Italian Fascism's economic system of corporatism could be identified as state capitalism which he claimed was state socialism "turned on its head", which in either case involved "the bureaucratisation of the economic activities of the nation." Mussolini described fascism in any type of language he found useful. Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera said: "basically the Right stands for the maintenance of an economic structure, albeit an unjust one, while the Left stands for the attempt to subvert that economic structure, even though the subversion thereof would entail the destruction of much that was worthwhile".
Following the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II, the term fascist has been used as a pejorative word, often referring to widely varying movements across the political spectrum. George Orwell wrote in 1944 that "the word 'Fascism' is almost entirely meaningless ... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'". Richard Griffiths argued in 2005 that "fascism" is the "most misused, and over-used word, of our times". "Fascist" is sometimes applied to post-war organisations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term "neo-fascist".
Contrary to the common mainstream academic and popular use of the term, Communist states have sometimes been referred to as "fascist", typically as an epithet. Marxist interpretations of the term have, for example, been applied in relation to Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. Herbert Matthews, of the New York Times asked "Should we now place Stalinist Russia in the same category as Hitlerite Germany? Should we say that she is Fascist?" J. Edgar Hoover wrote extensively of "Red Fascism". Chinese Marxists used the term to denounce the Soviet Union during the Sino-Soviet Split, and likewise, the Soviets used the term to identify Chinese Marxists.
Early influences that shaped the ideology of fascism have been dated back to ancient Greece. The political culture of ancient Greece under Pericles and particularly the ancient Greek city state of Sparta with its emphasis on rule by a minority of elites and on racial purity were admired by the Nazis. In The Republic, Plato emphasizes the need for absolute and unlimited authority of a philosopher king in an ideal state. Plato supported many similar political positions to fascism. Plato believed the ideal state would be ruled by an elite class of rulers known as "Guardians", and rejected the idea of social equality. Plato believed in an authoritarian state with unlimited powers. Plato held Athenian democracy in contempt, saying "The laws of democracy remain a dead letter, its freedom is anarchy, its equality the equality of unequals". Like fascism Plato emphasized that individuals must adhere to laws and perform duties while declining to grant individuals rights to limit or reject state interference in their lives. Italian Fascist Duce Benito Mussolini had a strong attachment to the works of Plato. However there are significant differences between Plato's ideals and fascism. Unlike fascism Plato never promoted expansionism and he was opposed to war. Unlike fascism, Plato advocated an effectively communist economy while fascism is ideologically opposed to communism.
Italian Fascists identified their ideology as being connected to the legacy of ancient Rome and particularly the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar and Augustus were idolized by Italian Fascists. Italian Fascism views the modern state of Italy as the heir of the Roman Empire and emphasized the need for renovation of Italian culture to "return to Roman values". Italian Fascists identify the Roman Empire as being an ideal organic and stable society in contrast to contemporary individualist liberal society that they identify as being chaotic in comparison. Benito Mussolini emphasized the need for dictatorship, activist leadership style, and the leader cult like that of Julius Caesar, that involved "the will to fix a unifying and balanced centre and a common will to action". The fasces - a symbol of Roman authority was the symbol of the Italian Fascists. Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler personally admired ancient Rome. Hitler focused on ancient Rome during its rise to dominance and at the height of its power as a model to follow and Hitler deeply admired the Roman Empire for its ability to forge a strong and unified civilization.
There were a number of influences on fascism from the Renaissance era in Europe. Niccolo Machiavelli is known to have influenced Italian Fascism, particularly his promotion of the absolute authority of the state. Machiavelli rejected all existing traditional and metaphysical assumptions of the time—especially those associated with the Middle Ages, and asserted as an Italian patriot that Italy needed a strong and all-powerful state led by a vigorous and ruthless leader who would conquer and unify Italy. English political theorist Thomas Hobbes in his work Leviathan (1651) created the ideology of absolutism that advocated an all-powerful absolute monarchy to maintain order within a state. Absolutism was an influence on fascism. Absolutism based its legitimacy on the precedents of Roman law including the centralized Roman state and the manifestation of Roman law in the Catholic Church. Though fascism supported the absolute power of the state, it opposes the idea of absolute power being in the hands of a monarch and opposes the feudalism that was associated with absolute monarchies.
During the Enlightenment a number of ideological influences arose that would shape the development of fascism. During the Enlightenment the development of tbe study of universal histories by Johann Gottfried Herder resulted in Herder's analysis of the development of nations, Herder developed the term nationalismus ("nationalism") to describe this cultural phenomenon, at this time nationalism did not refer to the political ideology of nationalism that was later developed during the French Revolution. Another major influence on fascism came from the political theories of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel promoted the absolute authority of the state. Hegel promoted a powerful state and said "nothing short of the state is the actualization of freedom" and that the "state is the march of God on earth".
The French Revolution and its political legacy had a major influence upon the development of fascism. Fascists view the French Revolution as a largely negative event that resulted in the entrenchment of liberal ideas such as liberal democracy, anticlericalism, and rationalism. Opponents to the French Revolution initially were conservatives and reactionaries, but the Revolution was also later criticized by Marxists and racist nationalists who opposed its universalist principles. Mussolini condemned the French Revolution for developing liberalism, scientific socialism, and liberal democracy, but also acknowledged that fascism extracted and utilized all the elements that had preserved those ideologies' vitality, and that fascism had no desire to restore the conditions that precipitated the French Revolution. Though fascism opposed core parts of the Revolution, fascists supported other aspects of it, Mussolini declared his support for the Revolution's demolishment of remnants of the Middle Ages such as tolls and compulsory labour upon citizens, and he noted that the French Revolution did have benefits in that it had been a cause of the whole French nation and not merely a political party. Most importantly, the French Revolution was responsible for the entrenchment of nationalism as a political ideology.
|Fin de siècle|
The ideological roots of fascism have been traced to the 1880s, and in particular the fin de siècle theme of that time. The theme was based on revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society and liberal democracy. The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism and vitalism. The fin-de-siècle mindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution. The fin-de-siècle intellectual school considered the individual as only one part of the larger collectivity, which should not be viewed as an atomized numerical sum of individuals. They condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society.
The fin-de-siècle outlook was influenced by various intellectual developments, including Darwinian biology; Wagnerian aesthetics; Arthur de Gobineau's racialism; Gustave Le Bon's psychology; and the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Henri Bergson. Social Darwinism, which gained widespread acceptance, made no distinction between physical and social life, and viewed the human condition as being an unceasing struggle to achieve the survival of the fittest. Social Darwinism challenged positivism's claim of deliberate and rational choice as the determining behaviour of humans, with social Darwinism focusing on heredity, race, and environment. Social Darwinism's emphasis on biogroup identity and the role of organic relations within societies fostered legitimacy and appeal for nationalism. New theories of social and political psychology also rejected the notion of human behaviour being governed by rational choice, and instead claimed that emotion was more influential in political issues than reason. Nietzsche's argument that "God is dead" coincided with his attack on the "herd mentality" of Christianity, democracy and modern collectivism; his concept of the übermensch; and his advocacy of the will to power as a primordial instinct, were major influences upon many of the fin-de-siècle generation. Bergson's claim of the existence of an "élan vital" or vital instinct centred upon free choice and rejected the processes of materialism and determinism, this challenged Marxism.
Gaetano Mosca in in his work The Ruling Class (1896) developed the theory that claims that in all societies, an "organized minority" will dominate and rule over the "disorganized majority". Mosca claims that there are only two classes in society, "the governing" (the organized minority) and "the governed" (the disorganized majority). He claims that the organized nature of the organized minority makes it irresistible to any individual of the disorganized majority.
Maurice Barrès, who greatly influenced the policies of fascism, claimed that true democracy was authoritarian democracy while rejecting liberal democracy as a fraud. Barrès claimed that authoritarian democracy involved spiritual connection between a leader of a nation and the nation's people, and that true freedom did not arise from individual rights nor parliamentary restraints, but through "heroic leadership" and "national power". He emphasized the need for hero worship and charismatic leadership in national society. Barrès mixed anti-Semitic nationalism with socialism and identified as a "national socialist".
The rise of support for anarchism in this period of time was important in influencing the politics of fascism. The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin's concept of propaganda of the deed that stressed the importance of direct action as the primary means of politics - including revolutionary violence, became popular amongst fascists who admired the concept and adopted it as a part of fascism.
The German National Association of Commercial Employees (DHV) was a nationalist and anti-Semitic labour union in Germany. It was anti-democratic and anti-liberal and supported the concept of a conservative revolution. It also espoused an anti-Semitic anti-capitalism. It is considered a proto-fascist or pre-fascist movement. It existed between 1893 to 1933. By 1914 it had 160,000 members.
One of the key persons who greatly influenced fascism, the French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel was greatly influenced by anarchism and contributed to the fusion of anarchism and syndicalism together into anarcho syndicalism. Sorel promoted the legitimacy of political violence in his work Reflections on Violence (1908) and other works in which he advocated radical syndicalist action to achieve a revolution to overthrow capitalism and the bourgeoisie through a general strike. In Reflections on Violence, Sorel emphasized need for a revolutionary political religion. Also, in his work The Illusions of Progress, Sorel denounced democracy as reactionary, saying "nothing is more aristocratic than democracy". By 1909 after the failure of a syndicalist general strike in France, Sorel and his supporters left the radical left and went to the radical right, where they sought to merge militant Catholicism and French patriotism with their views - advocating anti-republican Christian French patriots as ideal revolutionaries. Initially Sorel had officially been a revisionist of Marxism, but by 1910 announced his abandonment of socialist literature and claimed in 1914, using an aphorism of Benedetto Croce that "socialism is dead" due to the "decomposition of Marxism". Sorel became a supporter of reactionary Maurrassian integral nationalism beginning in 1909 that influenced his works. French right-wing monarchist and nationalist Charles Maurras held interest in merging his nationalist ideals with Sorelian syndicalism as a means to confront liberal democracy. Maurras famously stated "a socialism liberated from the democratic and cosmopolitan element fits nationalism well as a well made glove fits a beautiful hand".
The fusion of Maurassian nationalism and Sorelian syndicalism influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini. Corradini spoke of the need for a nationalist-syndicalist movement, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democrats who shared a revolutionary syndicalist commitment to direct action and a willingness to fight. Corradini spoke of Italy as being a "proletarian nation" that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the "plutocratic" French and British. Corradini's views were part of a wider set of perceptions within the right-wing Italian Nationalist Association (ANI), which claimed that Italy's economic backwardness was caused by corruption in its political class, liberalism, and division caused by "ignoble socialism". The ANI held ties and influence among conservatives, Catholics, and the business community. Italian national syndicalists held a common set of principles: the rejection of bourgeois values, democracy, liberalism, Marxism, internationalism, and pacifism, and the promotion of heroism, vitalism, and violence. The ANI claimed that liberal democracy was no longer compatible with the modern world, and advocated a strong state and imperialism, claiming that humans are naturally predatory and that nations were in a constant struggle, in which only the strongest could survive.
Futurism that was both an artistic-cultural movement and initially a political movement in Italy led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who founded the Futurist Manifesto (1908), that championed the causes of modernism, action, and political violence as necessary elements of politics while denouncing liberalism and parliamentary politics. Marinetti rejected conventional democracy for based on majority rule and egalitarianism while promoting a new form of democracy, that he described in his work "The Futurist Conception of Democracy" as the following: "We are therefore able to give the directions to create and to dismantle to numbers, to quantity, to the mass, for with us number, quantity and mass will never be—as they are in Germany and Russia—the number, quantity and mass of mediocre men, incapable and indecisive".
At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Italian political left became severely split over its position on the war. The Italian Socialist Party opposed the war on the grounds of internationalism, but a number of Italian revolutionary syndicalists supported intervention against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the grounds that their reactionary regimes needed to be defeated to ensure the success of socialism. Corradini presented the same need for Italy as a "proletarian nation" to defeat a reactionary Germany from a nationalist perspective. The beginning of fascism resulted from this split, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti forming the Revolutionary Fascio for International Action in October 1914. At the same time, Benito Mussolini joined the interventionist cause. The Fascists supported nationalism and claimed that proletarian internationalism was a failure.
At this time, the Fascists did not have an integrated set of policies and the movement was very small. Its attempts to hold mass meetings were ineffective and it was regularly harassed by government authorities and socialists. Antagonism between interventionists, including Fascists, and anti-interventionist socialists resulted in violence.
Similar political ideas arose in Germany after the outbreak of the war. German sociologist Johann Plenge spoke of the rise of a "National Socialism" in Germany within what he termed the "ideas of 1914" that were a declaration of war against the "ideas of 1789" (the French Revolution). According to Plenge, the "ideas of 1789" that included rights of man, democracy, individualism and liberalism were being rejected in favour of "the ideas of 1914" that included "German values" of duty, discipline, law, and order. Plenge believed that ethnic solidarity (volksgemeinschaft) would replace class division and that "racial comrades" would unite to create a socialist society in the struggle of "proletarian" Germany against "capitalist" Britain. He believed that the "Spirit of 1914" manifested itself in the concept of the "People's League of National Socialism". This National Socialism was a form of state socialism that rejected the "idea of boundless freedom" and promoted an economy that would serve the whole of Germany under the leadership of the state. This National Socialism was opposed to capitalism due to the components that were against "the national interest" of Germany, but insisted that National Socialism would strive for greater efficiency in the economy. Plenge advocated an authoritarian rational ruling elite to develop National Socialism through a hierarchical technocratic state.
Italy's use of daredevil elite shock troops known as the Arditi, beginning in 1917, was an important influence on Fascism. The Arditi were soldiers who were specifically trained for a life of violence and wore unique blackshirt uniforms and fezzes. The Arditi formed a national organization in November 1918, the Associazione fra gli Arditi d'Italia, which by mid-1919 had about twenty thousand young men within it. Mussolini appealed to the Arditi, and the Fascists' Squadristi, developed after the war, were based upon the Arditi.
A major event that greatly influenced the development of fascism was the October Revolution of 1917 in which Bolshevik communists led by Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia. In 1917, Mussolini as leader of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action praised the October Revolution, however Mussolini later became unimpressed with Lenin, regarding him as merely a new version of Tsar Nicholas. After World War I fascists have commonly campaigned on anti-Marxist agendas. However both Bolshevism and fascism hold ideological similarities: both advocate a revolutionary ideology, both believe in the necessity of a vanguard elite, both have disdain for bourgeois values, and both had totalitarian ambitions. In practice, fascism and Bolshevism have commonly emphasized revolutionary action, proletarian nation theories, single-party states, and party-armies.
With the antagonism between anti-interventionist Marxists and pro-interventionist Fascists complete by the end of the war, the two sides became irreconcilable. The Fascists presented themselves as anti-Marxists and as opposed to the Marxists. Benito Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement in 1919 with the founding of the Fasci italiani di combattimento, whose opposition to socialism he declared:
We declare war against socialism, not because it is socialism, but because it has opposed nationalism. Although we can discuss the question of what socialism is, what is its program, and what are its tactics, one thing is obvious: the official Italian Socialist Party has been reactionary and absolutely conservative. If its views had prevailed, our survival in the world of today would be impossible.
In 1919, Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti created The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat (a.k.a. the Fascist Manifesto). The Manifesto was presented on June 6, 1919 in the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia. The Manifesto supported the creation of universal suffrage for both men and women (the latter being realized only partly in late 1925, with all opposition parties banned or disbanded); proportional representation on a regional basis; government representation through a corporatist system of "National Councils" of experts, selected from professionals and tradespeople, elected to represent and hold legislative power over their respective areas, including labour, industry, transportation, public health, communications, etc.; and the abolition of the Italian Senate. The Manifesto supported the creation of an eight-hour work day for all workers, a minimum wage, worker representation in industrial management, equal confidence in labour unions as in industrial executives and public servants, reorganization of the transportation sector, revision of the draft law on invalidity insurance, reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55, a strong progressive tax on capital, confiscation of the property of religious institutions and abolishment of bishoprics, and revision of military contracts to allow the government to seize 85% of their[who?] profits. It also called for the creation of a short-service national militia to serve defensive duties, nationalization of the armaments industry, and a foreign policy designed to be peaceful but also competitive.
The next events that influenced the Fascists were the raid of Fiume by Italian nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio and the founding of the Charter of Carnaro in 1920. D'Annunzio and De Ambris designed the Charter, which advocated national-syndicalist corporatist productionism alongside D'Annunzio's political views. Many Fascists saw the Charter of Carnaro as an ideal constitution for a Fascist Italy. This behaviour of aggression towards Yugoslavia and South Slavs was pursued by Italian Fascists with their persecution of South Slavs - especially Slovenes and Croats.
With the 1920, militant strike activity by industrial workers reached its peak in Italy, where 1919 and 1920 were known as the "Red Years". Mussolini and the Fascists took advantage of the situation by allying with industrial businesses and attacking workers and peasants in the name of preserving order and internal peace in Italy.
Fascists identified their primary opponents as the majority of socialists on the left who had opposed intervention in World War I. The Fascists and the Italian political right held common ground: both held Marxism in contempt, discounted class consciousness and believed in the rule of elites. The Fascists assisted the anti-socialist campaign by allying with the other parties and the conservative right in a mutual effort to destroy the Italian Socialist Party and labour organizations committed to class identity above national identity.
Fascism sought to accommodate Italian conservatives by making major alterations to its political agenda;– abandoning its previous populism, republicanism, and anticlericalism, adopting policies in support of free enterprise, and accepting the Roman Catholic Church and the monarchy as institutions in Italy. To appeal to Italian conservatives, Fascism adopted policies such as promoting family values, including promotion policies designed to reduce the number of women in the workforce limiting the woman's role to that of a mother. The fascists banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state. Though Fascism adopted a number of positions designed to appeal to reactionaries, the Fascists sought to maintain Fascism's revolutionary character, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti saying "Fascism would like to be conservative, but it will [be] by being revolutionary." The Fascists supported revolutionary action and committed to secure law and order to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists.
Prior to Fascism's accommodation of the political right, Fascism was a small, urban, northern Italian movement that had about a thousand members. After Fascism's accommodation of the political right, the Fascist movement's membership soared to approximately 250,000 by 1921.
Beginning in 1922, Fascist paramilitaries escalated their strategy from one of attacking socialist offices and homes of socialist leadership figures to one of violent occupation of cities. The Fascists met little serious resistance from authorities and proceeded to take over several northern Italian cities. The Fascists attacked the headquarters of socialist and Catholic unions in Cremona and imposed forced Italianization upon the German-speaking population of Trent and Bolzano. After seizing these cities, the Fascists made plans to take Rome.
On 24 October 1922, the Fascist party held its annual congress in Naples, where Mussolini ordered Blackshirts to take control of public buildings and trains and to converge on three points around Rome. The Fascists managed to seize control of several post offices and trains in northern Italy while the Italian government, led by a left-wing coalition, was internally divided and unable to respond to the Fascist advances. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy perceived the risk of bloodshed in Rome in response to attempting to disperse the Fascists to be too high. Victor Emmanuel III decided to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy, and Mussolini arrived in Rome on 30 October to accept the appointment. Fascist propaganda aggrandized this event, known as "March on Rome", as a "seizure" of power due to Fascists' heroic exploits.
Upon being appointed Prime Minister of Italy, Mussolini had to form a coalition government, because the Fascists did not have control over the Italian parliament. Mussolini's coalition government initially pursued economically liberal policies under the direction of liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani, including balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service. Initially, little drastic change in government policy had occurred and repressive police actions were limited.
The Fascists began their attempt to entrench Fascism in Italy with the Acerbo Law, which guaranteed a plurality of the seats in parliament to any party or coalition list in an election that received 25% or more of the vote. Through considerable Fascist violence and intimidation, the list won a majority of the vote, allowing many seats to go to the Fascists. In the aftermath of the election, a crisis and political scandal erupted after Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteoti was kidnapped and murdered by a Fascist. The liberals and the leftist minority in parliament walked out in protest in what became known as the Aventine Secession. On 3 January 1925, Mussolini addressed the Fascist-dominated Italian parliament and declared that he was personally responsible for what happened, but he insisted that he had done nothing wrong. He proclaimed himself dictator of Italy, assuming full responsibility over the government and announcing the dismissal of parliament. From 1925 to 1929, Fascism steadily became entrenched in power: opposition deputies were denied access to parliament, censorship was introduced, and a December 1925 decree made Mussolini solely responsible to the King.
In 1929, the Fascist regime gained the political support and blessing of the Roman Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century.
The Fascist regime created a corporatist economic system in 1925 with creation of the Palazzo Vidioni Pact, in which the Italian employers' association Confindustria and Fascist trade unions agreed to recognize each other as the sole representatives of Italy's employers and employees, excluding non-Fascist trade unions. The Fascist regime first created a Ministry of Corporations that organized the Italian economy into 22 sectoral corporations, banned workers' strikes and lock-outs, and in 1927 created the Charter of Labour, which established workers' rights and duties and created labour tribunals to arbitrate employer-employee disputes. In practice, the sectoral corporations exercised little independence and were largely controlled by the regime, and employee organizations were rarely led by employees themselves but instead by appointed Fascist party members.
In the 1920s, Fascist Italy pursued an aggressive foreign policy that included an attack on the Greek island of Corfu, aims to expand Italian territory in the Balkans, plans to wage war against Turkey and Yugoslavia, attempts to bring Yugoslavia into civil war by supporting Croat and Macedonian separatists to legitimize Italian intervention, and making Albania a de facto protectorate of Italy, which was achieved through diplomatic means by 1927. In response to revolt in the Italian colony of Libya, Fascist Italy abandoned previous liberal-era colonial policy of cooperation with local leaders. Instead, claiming that Italians were a superior race to African races and thereby had the right to colonize the "inferior" Africans, it sought to settle 10 to 15 million Italians in Libya. This resulted in an aggressive military campaign against natives in Libya, including mass killings, the use of concentration camps, and the forced starvation of thousands of people. Italian authorities committed ethnic cleansing by forcibly expelling 100,000 Bedouin Cyrenaicans, half the population of Cyrenaica in Libya, from their settlements that was slated to be given to Italian settlers.
The March on Rome brought Fascism international attention. One early admirer of the Italian Fascists was Adolf Hitler, who, less than a month after the March, had begun to model himself and the Nazi Party upon Mussolini and the Fascists. The Nazis, led by Hitler and the German war hero Erich Ludendorff, attempted a "March on Berlin" modeled upon the March on Rome, which resulted in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in November 1923.
The events of the Great Depression resulted in an international surge of fascism and the creation of several fascist regimes and regimes that adopted fascist policies. Hungarian fascist Gyula Gömbös rose to power as Prime Minister of Hungary in 1932 and attempted to entrench his Party of National Unity throughout the country; created an eight-hour work day, a forty-eight hour work week in industry, and sought to entrench a corporatist economy; and pursued irredentist claims on Hungary's neighbors. The most important new fascist regime was Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazis to power in 1933, liberal democracy was dissolved in Germany, and the Nazis mobilized the country for war, with expansionist territorial aims against several countries. In the 1930s the Nazis implemented racial laws that deliberately discriminated against, disenfranchised, and persecuted Jews and other racial and minority groups. The fascist Iron Guard movement in Romania soared in political support after 1933, gaining representation in the Romanian government, and an Iron Guard member assassinated Romanian prime minister Ion Duca. During the 6 February 1934 crisis, France faced the greatest domestic political turmoil since the Dreyfus Affair when the fascist Francist Movement and multiple far right movements rioted en masse in Paris against the French government resulting in major political violence. A variety of para-fascist governments that borrowed elements from fascism were formed during the Great Depression, including those of Greece, Lithuania, Poland, and Yugoslavia.
The Brazilian Integralists led by Plínio Salgado, claimed as many as 200,000 members although following coup attempts it faced a crackdown from the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas in 1937. In the 1930s, the National Socialist Movement of Chile gained seats in Chile's parliament and attempted a coup d'état that resulted in the Seguro Obrero massacre of 1938.
During the Great Depression, Mussolini promoted active state intervention in the economy. He denounced the contemporary "supercapitalism" that he claimed began in 1914 as a failure due to its alleged decadence, support for unlimited consumerism and intention to create the "standardization of humankind". Fascist Italy created the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), a giant state-owned firm and holding company that provided state funding to failing private enterprises. The IRI was made a permanent institution in Fascist Italy in 1937, pursued Fascist policies to create national autarky, and had the power to take over private firms to maximize war production. In the late 1930s, Italy enacted manufacturing cartels, tariff barriers, currency restrictions, and massive regulation of the economy to attempt to balance payments. However, Italy's policy of autarky failed to achieve effective economic autonomy. Nazi Germany similarly pursued an economic agenda with the aims of autarky and rearmament and imposed protectionist policies, including forcing the German steel industry to use lower-quality German iron ore rather than superior-quality imported iron.
In Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany both pursued territorial expansionist and interventionist foreign policy agendas from the 1930s through the 1940s culminating in World War II. Mussolini called for irredentist Italian claims to be reclaimed, establishing Italian domination of the Mediterranean Sea and securing Italian access to the Atlantic Ocean, and the creation of Italian spazio vitale ("vital space") in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions. Hitler called for irredentist German claims to be reclaimed along with the creation of German lebensraum ("living space") in Eastern Europe, including territories held by the Soviet Union, that would be colonized by Germans.
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From 1935 to 1939 Germany and Italy escalated their demands for territorial claims and greater influence in world affairs. Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 resulting in condemnation by the League of Nations and widespread diplomatic isolation. In 1936 Germany remilitarized the industrial Rhineland; the region had been ordered demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938 Germany annexed Austria and Italy assisted in Germany in resolving the diplomatic crisis between Germany versus Britain and France over claims on Czecholslovakia by arranging the Munich Agreement that gave Germany the Sudetenland and was perceived at the time to have averted a European war, these hopes faded when Hitler violated the Munich Agreement by ordering the invasion and partition of Czechoslovakia between Germany and a client state of Slovakia in 1939. At the same time from 1938 to 1939, Italy was demanding territorial and colonial concessions from France and Britain. In 1939, Germany prepared for war with Poland, but attempted to gain territorial concessions from Poland through diplomatic means. The Polish government did not trust Hitler's promises and refused to accept Germany's demands.
The invasion of Poland by Germany was deemed unacceptable by Britain, France and their allies, resulting in their mutual declaration of war against Germany that was deemed the aggressor in the war in Poland, resulting in the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity to carry out a long war with France or the United Kingdom and waited until France was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender from German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940, on the assumption that the war would be short-lived following France's collapse. Mussolini believed that following a brief entry of Italy into war with France, followed by the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain some territorial concessions from France and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces. Plans by Germany to invade the UK in 1940 failed after Germany lost the aerial warfare campaign in the Battle of Britain. The war became prolonged contrary to Mussolini's plans resulting in Italy losing battles on multiple fronts and requiring German assistance. In 1941 the Axis campaign spread to the Soviet Union after Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Axis forces at the height of their power controlled almost all of continental Europe.
During World War II, the Axis Powers in Europe, led by Nazi Germany participated in the extermination of millions of Jews and others in the genocide known as the Holocaust. In Asia, Japan committed large massacres of Chinese civilians.
After 1942, Axis forces began to falter. By 1943, after Italy faced multiple military failures, complete reliance and subordination of Italy to Germany, and Allied invasion of Italy, and corresponding international humiliation, Mussolini was removed as head of government and arrested by the order of King Victor Emmanuel III who proceeded to dismantle the Fascist state and declared Italy's switching of allegiance to the Allied side. Mussolini was rescued from arrest by German forces and led the German client state, the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany faced multiple losses and steady Soviet and Western Allied offensives from 1943 to 1945.
On 28 April 1945, Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian communist partisans. On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide. Shortly afterwards Germany surrendered and the Nazi regime was dismantled and key Nazi members arrested to stand trial for crimes against humanity involving the Holocaust.
Yugoslavia, Greece and Ethiopia requested extradition of 1,200 Italian war criminals who however never saw anything like Nuremberg trial, because the British government with the beginning of cold war saw in Pietro Badoglio a guarantee of an anti-communist post-war Italy. The repression of memory led to historical revisionism in Italy and in 2003 the Italian media published Silvio Berlusconi's statement that the Benito Mussolini only "used to send people on vacation", denying the existence of Italian concentration camps, such as Rab concentration camp.
In the aftermath of World War II, the victory of the Allies over the Axis powers led to the collapse multiple fascist regimes in Europe. The Nuremberg Trials convicted multiple Nazi leaders of crimes against humanity involving the Holocaust.
However there remained multiple ideologies and governments that were ideologically related to fascism.
Francisco Franco's quasi-fascist Falangist single-party state in Spain was officially neutral in World War II and survived the collapse of the Axis Powers. Franco's rise to power had been directly assisted by the militaries of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War, and had sent volunteers to fight on the side of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union during World War II. After World War II and a period of international isolation, Franco's regime normalized relations with Western powers in the Cold War, until Franco's death in 1975 and the transformation of Spain into a liberal democracy.
Peronism associated with the regime of Juan Peron in Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974, was strongly influenced by fascism. Prior to rising to power, from 1939 to 1941, Peron had developed a deep admiration of Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on Italian Fascist economic policies.
Another ideology strongly influenced by fascism is Ba'athism. Ba'athism is a revolutionary Arab nationalist ideology that seeks the unification of all claimed Arab lands into a single Arab state. Zaki al-Arsuzi, one of the principal founders of Ba'athism was strongly influenced by and supportive of fascism and Nazism. Several close associates of Ba'athism's key ideologist Michel Aflaq have admitted that Aflaq had been directly inspired by certain fascist and Nazi theorists. Ba'athist regimes in power in Iraq and Syria have held strong similarities to fascism, they are radical authoritarian nationalist single-party states. Due to Ba'athism's anti-Western stances it preferred the Soviet Union in the Cold War and admired and adopted certain Soviet organizational structures for their governments, however the Ba'athist regimes have persecuted communists. Like fascist regimes, Ba'athism became heavily militarized in power. Ba'athist movements governed Iraq in 1963 and again from 1968 to 2003 and in Syria from 1963 to present. Ba'athist heads of state such as Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein created personality cults around themselves portraying themselves as the nationalist saviours of the Arab world.
Ba'athist Iraq under Saddam Hussein pursued ethnic cleansing or liquidation of minorities, pursued expansionist wars against Iran and Kuwait, and gradually replaced pan-Arabism with an Iraqi nationalism that emphasized Iraq's connection to the glories of ancient Mesopotamian empires, including Babylonia. Historian on fascism Stanley Payne has said about Saddam Hussein's regime: "There will probably never again be a reproduction of the Third Reich, but Saddam Hussein has come closer than any other dictator since 1945".
Historian Stanley Payne in the 1990s claimed that a prominent and Hindu nationalist militant movement Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) holds strong resemblances to fascism - including its use of paramilitaries and its irredentist claims - calling for the creation of a Greater India. Cyprian Blamires in World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia describes the ideology of the RSS as "fascism with 'Sanskrit characters'" - a unique Indian variant of fascism. Blamires notes that there is evidence that the RSS held direct contact with Italy's Fascist regime and admired European fascism. a view with some support from A. James Gregor However these views have met wide criticism; especially from academics specializing in Indian politics. Paul Brass, expert on Hindu-Muslim violence, notes that there are many problems with accepting this point of view, and identified four reasons that it is difficult to define the Sangh as fascist. Firstly most scholars of the field do not subscribe to the view the RSS is fascist, notably among them Christophe Jaffrelot, A. James Gregor, and Chetan Bhatt. The other reasons include an absence of charismatic leadership, a desire on the part of the RSS to differentiate itself from European fascism, major cultural differences between the RSS and European fascists, and factionalism within the Sangh Parivar. Stanley Payne claims that it also has substantial differences from fascism such as its emphasis on traditional religion as the basis of identity.
Fascists saw the struggle of nation and race as fundamental in society, in opposition to communism's perception of class struggle. The fascist view of a nation is of a single organic entity which binds people together by their ancestry and is a natural unifying force of people. Fascism seeks to solve economic, political, and social problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth, exalting the nation or race above all else, and promoting cults of unity, strength and purity. Benito Mussolini stated in 1922, "For us the nation is not just territory but something spiritual... A nation is great when it translates into reality the force of its spirit."
According to Eoin O'Duffy, an Irish national corporatist, "before everything we must give a national lead to our people...The first essential is national unity. We can only have that when the Corporative system is accepted".
Joseph Goebbels described the Nazis as being affiliated with authoritarian nationalism:
It enables us to see at once why democracy and Bolshevism, which in the eyes of the world are irrevocably opposed to one another, meet again and again on common ground in their joint hatred of and attacks on authoritarian nationalist concepts of State and State systems. For the authoritarian nationalist conception of the State represents something essentially new. In it the French Revolution is superseded.
The best governments in the world cannot succeed in pulling a country out of the quagmire, out of apathy, if they do not express themselves as national energies...Strong governments cannot result either from conspiracies or from military coups, just as they cannot come out of the machinations of parties or the Machiavellian game of political lobbying. They can only be born from the actual roots of the Nation.
Italian fascists described expansionist imperialism as a necessity. The 1932 Italian Encyclopedia stated: "For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence." Similarly, the Nazis promoted territorial expansionism to provide Lebensraum ("living space") to the German nation. Fascism views violence as a fact of life that is a necessary means to achieve human progress. It exalts militarism as providing positive transformation in society and providing spiritual renovation, education, instilling of a will to dominate in people's character and creating national comradeship through military service. Fascists opposed pacifism and believed that a nation must have a warrior mentality. Benito Mussolini spoke of war idealistically as a source of masculine pride, and spoke negatively of pacifism:
War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it. Fascism carries this anti-pacifist struggle into the lives of individuals. It is education for combat... war is to man what maternity is to the woman. I do not believe in perpetual peace; not only do I not believe in it but I find it depressing and a negation of all the fundamental virtues of a man.
Many fascist movements support the creation of a totalitarian state. Mussolini's Doctrine of Fascism states, "The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people." Some have argued that, in spite of Italian Fascism's attempt at totalitarianism, it became an authoritarian cult of personality around Mussolini.
In The Legal Basis of the Total State, Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt described the Nazi intention to form a "strong state which guarantees a totality of political unity transcending all diversity" in order to avoid a "disastrous pluralism tearing the German people apart"
Japanese fascist Nakano Seigo advocated that Japan follow the Italian and German models, which were "a form of more democratic government going beyond democracy" which itself had "lost its spirit and decayed into a mechanism which insists only on numerical superiority without considering the essence of human beings."
A key authoritarian element of fascism is its endorsement of a prime national leader, who is often known simply as the "Leader" or a similar title, such as Duce in Italian, Führer in German, Caudillo in Spanish, Poglavnik in Croatia, or Conducător in Romanian. Fascist leaders who ruled countries were not always heads of state, but were heads of government, such as Benito Mussolini, who held power under the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III.
Fascist movements have commonly held social Darwinist views of nations, races, and societies. They argue that nations and races must purge themselves of socially and biologically weak or degenerate people, while simultaneously promoting the creation of strong people, in order to survive in a world defined by perpetual national and racial conflict.
Italian Fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile in The Origins and Doctrine of Fascism promoted the concept of conflict as an act of progress, stating that "mankind only progresses through division, and progress is achieved through the clash and victory of one side over another". Italian Fascist Alfredo Rocco claimed that conflict was inevitable:
Conflict is in fact the basic law of life in all social organisms, as it is of all biological ones; societies are formed, gain strength, and move forwards through conflict; the healthiest and most vital of them assert themselves against the weakest and less well adapted through conflict; the natural evolution of nations and races takes place through conflict.
In Germany, the Nazis used social Darwinism to promote their racialist concept of the German nation as part of the Aryan race and the need for the Aryan race to be victorious in what the Nazis believed was a race struggle—an ongoing competition and conflict between races. They attempted to strengthen the Aryan race in Germany by killing those they regarded as weak. To this end, Action T4 was introduced in the late 1930s and organized the killing of roughly 275,000 handicapped and elderly German and non-German civilians using carbon monoxide gas.
Generally, fascist movements endorsed social interventionism. According to G.V. Rimlinger, one cannot speak of “fascist social policy” as a single concept with logical and internally consistent ideas and common identifiable goals.
Fascists spoke of creating a "new man" and a "new civilization" as part of their intention to transform society. Mussolini promised a “social revolution” for “remaking” the Italian people. Adolf Hitler promised to purge Germany of non-Aryan influences on society and to create a pure Aryan race through eugenics.
Fascist states pursued policies of social indoctrination through propaganda in education and the media and regulation of the production of educational and media materials. Education was designed to glorify the fascist movement and inform students of its historical and political importance to the nation. It attempted to purge ideas that were not consistent with the beliefs of the fascist movement and to teach students to be obedient to the state. Therefore, fascism tends to be anti-intellectual. The Nazis, in particular, despised intellectuals and university professors. Hitler declared them unreliable, useless, and even dangerous. He said: "When I take a look at the intellectual classes we have – unfortunately, I suppose, they are necessary; otherwise one could one day, I don't know, exterminate them or something – but unfortunately they're necessary."
The Fascist government in Italy banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state. The Nazis decriminalized abortion in cases where fetuses had hereditary defects or were of a race the government disapproved of, while the abortion of healthy "pure" German, "Aryan" fetuses remained strictly forbidden. For non-Aryans, abortion was often compelled. Their eugenics program also stemmed from the "progressive biomedical model" of Weimar Germany.
In 1935 Nazi Germany expanded the legality of abortion by amending its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women with hereditary disorders. The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission and the fetus was not yet viable, and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.
Italian Fascism favoured expanding voting rights to women. In 1920, Benito Mussolini declared: "Fascists do not belong to the crowd of the vain and skeptical who undervalue women's social and political importance. Who cares about voting? You will vote!" In November 1925, women were given restricted voting rights, juxtaposed with the eliminaton of opposition parties, which enabled the Fascist government to rule with dictatorial powers. Fascist women's organizations, disgruntled at the lukewarm reforms, were then made subordinate to the secretariat of the party, headed by Roberto Farinacci, although gradual women's suffrage was retained. In the 1920s, the Italian Fascist government's Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND) allowed working women to attend various entertainment and recreation events, including sports that in the past had traditionally been played by men. The Roman Catholic Church criticized this move, claiming that these activities were causing "masculinization" of women. The Fascists responded to such criticism by restricting women to participating in "feminine" sports.
Mussolini perceived women's primary role to be childbearers, while men were warriors, once saying, "war is to man what maternity is to the woman". In an effort to increase birthrates, the Italian Fascist government gave financial incentives to women who raised large families, and initiated policies designed to reduce the number of women employed. Italian Fascism called for women to be honoured as "reproducers of the nation", and the Italian Fascist government held ritual ceremonies to honour women's role within the Italian nation. In 1934, Mussolini declared that employment of women was a "major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment" and that for women, working was "incompatible with childbearing". Mussolini went on to say that the solution to unemployment for men was the "exodus of women from the work force".
The German Nazi government strongly encouraged women to stay at home to bear children and keep house. This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more babies. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs. Nazi propaganda sometimes promoted premarital and extramarital sexual relations, unwed motherhood and divorce, but at other times the Nazis opposed such behaviour. The growth of Nazi power, however, was accompanied by a breakdown of traditional sexual morals with regard to extramarital sex and licentiousness.
Fascist movements and governments opposed homosexuality. The Italian Fascist government declared it illegal in 1931. The Nazis argued that homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, perverted, and undermined masculinity because it did not produce children. They considered homosexuality curable through therapy, citing modern scientism and the study of sexology, which said that homosexuality could be felt by "normal" people and not just an abnormal minority. Critics have claimed that the Nazis' claim of scientific reasons behind their promotion of racism and hostility to homosexuals is pseudoscience. Open homosexuals were among those interned in Nazi concentration camps. The British Union of Fascists opposed homosexuality, and pejoratively questioned their opponents' heterosexuality. The Romanian Iron Guard opposed homosexuality as undermining society.
Fascists promoted their ideology as a "Third Position" between capitalism and Bolshevism. Italian Fascism involved corporatism, a political system in which the economy is collectively managed by employers, workers, and state officials by formal mechanisms at the national level. Fascists advocated a new national class-based economic system, variously termed "national corporatism", "national socialism" or "national syndicalism". The common aim of all fascist movements was elimination of the autonomy or, in some cases, the existence of large-scale capitalism.
According to Bruce Pauley, Fascist governments exercised control over private property but did not nationalize it. However, according to Patricia Knight, they did, with the Italian Fascist government coming to own the highest percentage of industries outside the Soviet Union. The Nazis also nationalized some business. In fact, the "Twenty-Five Point Programme" of the Nazi party, adopted in 1920, demanded "the nationalization of all businesses which have been formed into corporations." Other scholars noted that big business developed an increasingly close partnership with the Nazi and Fascist governments as it became increasingly organized. Business leaders supported the government's political and military goals, and in exchange, the government pursued economic policies that maximized the profits of its business allies. Nazi Germany transferred public ownership and public services into the private sector, while other Western capitalist countries strove for increased state ownership of industry. While Fascism claimed that corporatism gave workers power alongside employer in workplaces in reality the concept of "Fuhrerprinzip" gave employers and State-appointed workplace managers absolute control over the workplace as dictated by the State-owned German Labor Front; based on the Social Darwinist ideology that certain individuals are "gifted" and "born to rule", employers thought to be part of that group. In his book, Big Business in the Third Reich, Arthur Schweitzer notes that, "Monopolistic price fixing became the rule in most industries, and cartels were no longer confined to the heavy or large-scale industries. [...] Cartels and quasi-cartels (whether of big business or small) set prices, engaged in limiting production, and agreed to divide markets and classify consumers in order to realize a monopoly profit.
Hitler had no sympathy with the syndicalist tendencies of the NSBO, and in January 1934 a new Law for the Ordering of National Labour effectively suppressed independent working-class factory organisations, even Nazi ones, and put questions of wages and conditions in the hands of the Trustees of Labour (Treuhänder der Arbeit), dominated by the employers. At the same time Muchow was purged and Ley's control over the DAF re-established. The NSBO was completely suppressed and the DAF became little more than an arm of the state for the more efficient deployment and disciplining of labour to serve the needs of the regime, particularly its massive expansion of the arms industry.
Fascists pursued economic policies to strengthen state power and spread ideology, such as consolidating trade unions to be state- or party-controlled. Attempts were made by both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to establish "autarky" (self-sufficiency) through significant economic planning, but neither achieved economic self-sufficiency.
Fascists supported the unifying of proletarian workers to their cause along corporatistic, socialistic, or syndicalistic lines, promoting the creation of a strong proletarian nation, but not a proletarian class. Italian Fascism's economy was based on corporatism, and a number of other fascist movements similarly promoted corporatism. Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists, describing fascist corporatism, said that "it means a nation organized as the human body, with each organ performing its individual function but working in harmony with the whole". Fascists were not hostile to the petit-bourgeoisie or to small businesses, and they promised these groups, alongside the proletariat, protection from the upper-class bourgeoisie, big business, and Marxism. The promotion of these groups is the source of the term "extremism of the centre" to describe fascism.
Fascism blamed capitalist liberal democracies for creating class conflict and communists for exploiting it. In Italy, the Fascist period presided over the creation of the largest number of state-owned enterprises in Western Europe, such as the nationalisation of petroleum companies into a single state enterprise called the Italian General Agency for Petroleum (Azienda Generale Italiani Petroli, AGIP). Fascists made populist appeals to the middle class, especially the lower middle class, by promising to protect small businesses and property owners from communism, and by promising an economy based on competition and profit while pledging to oppose big business.
In 1933, Benito Mussolini declared Italian Fascism's opposition to the "decadent capitalism" that he claimed prevailed in the world at the time, but he did not denounce capitalism entirely. Mussolini claimed that capitalism had degenerated in three stages, starting with dynamic or heroic capitalism (1830–1870), followed by static capitalism (1870–1914), and reaching its final form of decadent capitalism or "supercapitalism" beginning in 1914. Mussolini argued that Italian Fascism was in favour of dynamic and heroic capitalism for its contribution to industrialism and its technical developments, but that it did not favour supercapitalism, which he claimed was incompatible with Italy's agricultural sector.
Thus Mussolini claimed that Italy under Fascist rule was not capitalist in the contemporary use of the term, which referred to supercapitalism. Mussolini denounced supercapitalism for causing the "standardization of humankind" and for causing excessive consumption. Mussolini claimed that at the stage of supercapitalism, "a capitalist enterprise, when difficulties arise, throws itself like a dead weight into the state's arms. It is then that state intervention begins and becomes more necessary. It is then that those who once ignored the state now seek it out anxiously." He saw Fascism as the next logical step to solve the problems of supercapitalism and claimed that this step could be seen as a form of earlier capitalism which involved state intervention, saying "our path would lead inexorably into state capitalism, which is nothing more nor less than state socialism turned on its head. In either event, the result is the bureaucratization of the economic activities of the nation." Mussolini claimed that dynamic or heroic capitalism and the bourgeoisie could be prevented from degenerating into static capitalism and then supercapitalism if the concept of economic individualism were abandoned and if state supervision of the economy was introduced. Private enterprise would control production but it would be supervised by the state. Italian Fascism presented the economic system of corporatism as the solution that would preserve private enterprise and property while allowing the state to intervene in the economy when private enterprise failed.
Other fascist regimes were indifferent or hostile to corporatism. The Nazis initially attempted to form a corporatist economic system like that of Fascist Italy, creating the National Socialist Institute for Corporatism in May 1933, which included many major economists who argued that corporatism was consistent with National Socialism. In Mein Kampf, Hitler spoke enthusiastically about the "National Socialist corporative idea" as one which would eventually "take the place of ruinous class warfare". However, the Nazis later came to view corporatism as detrimental to Germany and institutionalizing and legitimizing social differences within the German nation. Instead, the Nazis began to promote economic organisation that emphasized the biological unity of the German national community.
Hitler continued to refer to corporatism in propaganda, but it was not put into place, even though a number of Nazi officials such as Walther Darré, Gottfried Feder, Alfred Rosenburg, and Gregor Strasser were in favour of a neo-medievalist form of corporatism, since corporations had been influential in German history in the medieval era.
Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera did not believe that corporatism was effective and denounced it as a propaganda ploy, saying "this stuff about the corporative state is another piece of windbaggery".
Fascists opposed the laissez-faire economic policies that were dominant in the era prior to the Great Depression. After the Great Depression began, many people from across the political spectrum blamed laissez-faire capitalism, and fascists promoted their ideology as a "third way" between capitalism and communism.
Fascists declared their opposition to finance capitalism, interest charging, and profiteering. Nazis and other anti-Semitic fascists considered finance capitalism a "parasitic" "Jewish conspiracy". Fascist governments introduced price controls, wage controls and other types of economic interventionist measures.
Fascists thought that private property should be regulated to ensure that "benefit to the community precedes benefit to the individual." Private property rights were supported but were contingent upon service to the state. For example, "an owner of agricultural land may be compelled to raise wheat instead of sheep and employ more labour than he would find profitable." However, they promoted the interests of successful small businesses. Mussolini wrote approvingly of the notion that profits should not be taken away from those who produced them by their own labour, saying "I do not respect — I even hate — those men that leech a tenth of the riches produced by others".
According to historian Tibor Ivan Berend, dirigisme was an inherent aspect of fascist economies. The Labour Charter of 1927, promulgated by the Grand Council of Fascism, stated in article 7: "The corporative State considers private initiative, in the field of production, as the most efficient and useful instrument of the Nation", then continued in article 9: "State intervention in economic production may take place only where private initiative is lacking or is insufficient, or when are at stakes the political interest of the State. This intervention may take the form of control, encouragement or direct management."
Benito Mussolini promised a "social revolution" that would "remake" the Italian people. According to Patricia Knight, this was only achieved in part. The people who primarily benefited from Italian fascist social policies were members of the middle and lower-middle classes, who filled jobs in the vastly expanded government workforce, which grew from about 500,000 to 1,000,000 jobs in 1930 alone. Health and welfare spending grew dramatically under Italian fascism, with welfare rising from 7% of the budget in 1930 to 20% in 1940.
The Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND) or "National After-work Program" was one major social welfare initiative in Fascist Italy. Created in 1925, it was the state's largest recreational organisation for adults. The Dopolavoro was responsible for establishing and maintaining 11,000 sports grounds, over 6,400 libraries, 800 movie houses, 1,200 theatres, and over 2,000 orchestras. Membership of the Dopolavoro was voluntary, but it had high participation because of its nonpolitical nature. It is estimated that, by 1936, the OND had organised 80% of salaried workers and, by 1939, 40% of the industrial workforce. The sports activities proved popular with large numbers of workers. The OND had the largest membership of any of the mass Fascist organisations in Italy.
The enormous success of the Dopolavoro in Fascist Italy was the key factor in Nazi Germany's creation of its own version of the Dopolavoro, the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) or "Strength through Joy" program of the Nazi government's German Labour Front, which became even more successful than the Dopolavoro. KdF provided government-subsidized holidays for German workers. KdF was also responsible for the creation of the original Volkswagen ("People's Car"), a state-manufactured automobile that was meant to be cheap enough to allow all German citizens to be able to own one.
While fascists promoted social welfare to ameliorate economic conditions affecting their nation or race as whole, they did not support social welfare for egalitarian reasons. Fascists criticised egalitarianism as preserving the weak. They instead promoted social Darwinist views. Adolf Hitler was opposed to egalitarian and universal social welfare because, in his view, it encouraged the preservation of the degenerate and feeble. While in power, the Nazis created social welfare programs to deal with the large numbers of unemployed. However, those programs were neither egalitarian nor universal, excluding many minority groups and other people whom they felt posed a threat to the future health of the German people.
The attitude of fascism toward religion has run the gamut from tolerance to almost complete rejection, but is typically anticlerical. Stanley Payne notes that fundamental to fascism was the foundation of a purely materialistic "civic religion" that would "displace preceding structures of belief and relegate supernatural religion to a secondary role, or to none at all", and that "though there were specific examples of religious or would-be 'Christian fascists,' fascism presupposed a post-Christian, post-religious, secular, and immanent frame of reference."
According to Payne, fascism's own myth of secular transcendence only gains hold where traditional belief is weakened or absent, since fascism seeks to create new non-rationalist myth structures for those who no longer hold a traditional view. The rise of modern secularism in Europe and Latin America, and the incursion and large-scale adoption of western secular culture in the mid-east, leave a void where this modern secular ideology, sometimes under a religious veneer, can take hold.
Many fascists were anti-clerical in both private and public life. Although both Hitler and Mussolini were anti-clerical, they both understood that it would be rash to begin their Kirchenkampfs prematurely; though possibly inevitable in the future, such clashes were put off while they dealt with other enemies. Many Italian Fascists were disgusted by Mussolini's decision to abandon Fascism's anti-clericalism in favour of reconciliation with the Catholic Church. Many historians maintain that the Nazis had a general covert plan, which some say existed even before the Nazis' rise to power, to destroy Christianity within the Reich which was to be accomplished through control and subversion of the churches and to be completed after the war.
The leader of the Hitler Youth stated, "the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist movement" from the start, but "considerations of expedience made it impossible" publicly to express this extreme position.
According to a biographer of Mussolini, "Initially, fascism was fiercely anti-Catholic" — the Church being a competitor for dominion over the people's hearts. Mussolini published anti-Catholic writings and planned for the confiscation of Church property, but eventually moved to accommodation. Mussolini endorsed the Catholic Church for political legitimacy; during the Lateran Treaty talks, Fascist Party officials engaged in bitter arguments with Vatican officials and pressured them to accept terms that the regime deemed acceptable. Protestantism in Italy was not as significant as Catholicism, and the Protestant minority was persecuted. Mussolini's sub-secretary of Interior, Bufferini-Guidi, issued a memo closing all houses of worship of the Italian Pentecostals and Jehovah's Witnesses and imprisoned their leaders. In some instances, people were killed because of their faith.
The Ustaše in Croatia had strong Catholic overtones, with some clerics in positions of power. The fascist movement in Romania, known as the Iron Guard or the Legion of Archangel Michael, preceded its meetings with a church service. The Romanian fascist movement promoted a cult of "suffering, sacrifice and martyrdom."
In Latin America, the most notable fascist movement was Plínio Salgado's Brazilian Integralism. Built on a network of lay religious associations, its vision was of an integral state that "comes from Christ, is inspired in Christ, acts for Christ, and goes toward Christ." Salgado criticised the "dangerous pagan tendencies of Hitlerism".
Hitler and the Nazi regime attempted to found their own version of Christianity called Positive Christianity, which made major changes in its interpretation of the Bible, saying that Jesus Christ was the son of God, but was not a Jew. By 1940, however, it was public knowledge that Hitler had abandoned even the syncretist idea of a positive Christianity.
The Catholic Church was suppressed by Nazis in Poland. In addition to the deaths of some 3 million Polish Jews, 2 million Polish Catholics were killed. Between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 polish clergy (18%) were murdered; of these, 1,992 died in concentration camps. In the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland, churches were systematically closed, and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to the General Government.
The Germans also closed seminaries and convents, persecuting monks and nuns throughout Poland. Eighty percent of the Catholic clergy and five of the bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939; in Chełmno, 48%. Of those murdered by the Nazi regime, 108 are regarded as blessed martyrs. Among them, Maximilian Kolbe was canonized as a saint. Not only in Poland were Christians persecuted by the Nazis. In the Dachau concentration camp alone, 2,600 Catholic priests from 24 different countries were killed.
One theory is that religion and fascism could never have a lasting connection because both are a "holistic weltanschauung" claiming the whole of the person. Along these lines, Yale political scientist, Juan Linz and others have noted that secularization had created a void which could be filled by a total ideology, making totalitarianism possible, and Roger Griffin has characterized fascism as a type of anti-religious political religion. Such political religions vie with conventional, actual religions, and try to replace or eradicate them.
The first movement to self-identify as Fascist was the National Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini. Strains which emerged after the original fascism, but are often placed under the wider usage of the term, self-identified their parties with different names. Major examples include Falangism, Integralism, Iron Guard, and Nazism.
Gyula Gömbös' Hungarian National Defence Association was created in the Hungarian city of Szeged in 1919. Its "Szeged fascism" has been considered a form of proto-fascism in its origins, but consolidated its fascist characteristics in the 1920s and 30s.
Falangism was a form of fascism founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1934. After the Spanish Civil War and the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic, General Francisco Franco, already the leader of the rebel Nationalists, became leader of the Falangists. A merger between the Falange and the Carlists took place in 1937, creating the FET y de las JONS, a traditionalist, conservative party, which, although retaining some aspects of fascism such as nationalism and authoritarian government, is not considered to be fascist because it sought to preserve the powers of the traditional elites and the Church, and it lacked in particular the revolutionary radicalism of fascism. Franco balanced several different interests of elements in his party in an effort to keep them united, especially in regard to the question of monarchy.
"Austrofascism" is a controversial category encompassing various para-fascist and semi-fascist movements in Austria in the 1930s. In particular it refers to the Fatherland Front, which became Austria's sole legal political party in 1934 and promoted corporatism.
The Taisei Yokusankai ("Imperial Rule Assistance Association") was a Japanese coalition of fascist and nationalist political movements, such as the Imperial Way Faction (Kōdōha) and the Tōhōkai ("Society of the East"), formed in 1940 under the guidance of Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe. After 1942, Japan became a single-party state led by the Taisei Yokusankai which promoted Japanese expansionism and imperialism.
Several fascist movements existed in South Africa including the South African Fascists, the South African Gentile National Socialist Movement known as the "Greyshirts", the National Democratic Party known as the "Blackshirts", and the Ossewabrandwag ("Ox-wagon Sentinel").
In British Mandate Palestine, there were several Jewish fascist movements. The Brit HaBirionim was a fascist faction of the Revisionist Zionist Movement, active in the early 1930s. It opposed liberal Zionism and proposed the creation of a fascist Jewish state. The most prominent and influential Jewish fascist movement was the Lehi movement that initially sough cooperation with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during World War II and promised to establish a totalitarian fascist Israel that would support Axis war efforts. The Lehi declared in 1940 that it would establish a Jewish state based upon "nationalist and totalitarian principles". The discovery of evidence of Nazi extermination of Jews in from 1942 resulted in Lehi firmly denouncing the Nazis and denouncing the British for not saving the Jews of Europe. After World War II, Lehi gradually began to lean towards support of Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union and declared support for National Bolshevism that involved an amalgamation of left-wing and right-wing political elements, however this change was unpopular and Lehi began to lose support as a result.
In the late 1930s, the Iraqi and pan-Arab Al-Muthanna Club became a significant pro-fascist force and was linked to the Golden Square, whose failed coup attempt of 1941 provoked the Anglo-Iraqi War. It had a youth wing, the Futuwwa. The founder of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Antun Saadeh, came under criticism in the 1930s as being influenced by Nazism, which he strongly denied.
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