Fascism as an ideology emerged after World War I as a reaction to the leading political ideologies of the time, liberalism and

socialism. According to fascism both liberalism, with its emphasis on individualism, and socialism, by stressing conflict between the social classes, pit the members of society against each other, thus creating an weak state. The state can only be strong when all members and classes of society unite behind a single party and supreme leader. This was the ideological core of fascism as it developed in Italy under Benito Mussolini (1883 -1945) and under Adolf Hitler (1889 -1945) in Germany . It is important to note that fascism is a 20th century ideology and is a revolt against the ideas and values that have dominated Western politics since the French Revolution. Fascists are basically against every major idea behind liberalism, socialism, and anything that arose out of the Enlightenment. For fascists, freedom is defined as complete submission to the state. Progress is only possible through struggle and war. And because fascism rejects the basic ideas of the Enlightenment, it is not a rational philosophy, but favors action instead. In the late 1800's some social theorists began to question the ideals of the Enlightenment. Of these thinkers, a man named George Sorel wrote a book called Reflections on Violence which focused on the significance of political myths. According to Sorel, these myths were not objective reflections of political reality, but simply expressions of the will. They are emotionally based. Even if an idea does not make rational sense, said Sorel, if enough people believe it, then it can work. Fascism used this as a basis to promote itself. According to fascism, the really important truths of life defy rational thought. The source of higher truth is instinct, rather than rationality, as the Enlightenment thinkers would have us believe. A good fascist leader simply knows instinctively what is right, and makes his or her decisions that way, as opposed to using reason. A leader of a fascist state will not rise to the top out of luck though. They must win power through struggle. Struggle: To the extent that struggle plays a large part in the fascist philosophy, the Social Darwinists had a fairly large influence. Struggle to the fascist is natural, both at home and in the international arena. Only struggle and constant competition promote human progress according to fascist doctrine. War is, in fact, an ultimate goal of the fascist state. Hitler described war as "�an unalterable law of the whole of life." As a result of the necessity of struggle and war, fascism opposes sympathy, caring, kindness, and other principles based on conventional morality because they only promote weakness, and should therefore be eliminated. (One example of this kind of thinking put into action was the sterilization, and later execution, of the physically and mentally handicapped in Germany under Hitler's rule). Finally, it was thought that the national identity arose out of struggle, and struggle was therefore important to the existence of the state. Elitism: According to fascism the rule of the elite class is inevitable, and therefore neither liberal democracy nor socialism are possible (according to elite theorists). Fascists felt that elite rule was natural and desirable, and those with the rare qualities of leadership would rise to the top (by struggling and vying for power). The fascist leader did not derive power from a constitution, but was the embodiment of the people. Mussolini said a leader was "�the living sum of untold souls striving for a goal." In short, the elite class was desired and needed because they would lead the people to greatness. Fascism and the State: The fascist concept of the state was most prevalent in Italian fascism, although

it can be seen in the German version as well. In Italy, Mussolini sought to create a national consciousness by using the power of the state. According to fascism, the state is the focal point of human existence, and all citizens should give the state absolute obedience. Only the state gave people their identity, and only through the state could people achieve what Mussolini called the "higher life." (Mussolini never really went into any detail as what this "higher life" entailed). Mussolini also argued that the state drew its personality from the personality and will of each individual in the state and then developed its own unique personality and will. Therefore, thought Mussolini, the state has the greater will and should dominate the individuals that live in it. The will of the state then becomes the measure of value and wisdom for its people. Mussolini attempted to form a totalitarian state, in which every aspect of society is controlled by the state. Mussolini and other Italian fascists thought the state could be used to modernize Italy, and they promoted technology and industrial life. Economically, corporation was important to the state. Fascists opposed a free market because it resulted in individuals working for their own gain. In theory, fascists also opposed central planning, although this is pretty much what developed in Italy. The development of fascism, and its eventual popular support, was a total rejection of Marxism, which was a growing movement at the time. In fact, Germany was the birthplace of Marxism, as it is where Karl Marx was born and schooled and where his ideologies were first accepted. Germany, at the time of the fascist takeover, had one of the strongest Marxist traditions in the world with a large and organized Marxist labor movement. Fascism ultimately rejected all of the ideas contained in Marxism and took action to break Marxist labor movements. The principle tenets of Marxism are equality, democracy and atheism/materialism. Marxism champions the pursuit of the equality of race, gender, and economic status. Marxism stated that democracy as it was practiced was not truly representative of all people, it was only representative of establishment interests, and thus Marxism was a call for "true" and total democracy where every citizen was totally equal in their political influence. Marxism, of course, stated that religion was the "opium of the people" and a barrier to solutions for worldly problems, and Marxism, as an atheist ideology, acknowledges nothing supernatural and held that the only things that exist are material; that all of reality is simply the material reality that we see and experience. Additionally, Marxism held that "class struggle" was the driving force of social progress, and that class struggle was the appropriate means by which a just society would be created. It is important to note that not every form of fascism involves racism. Italian fascism did not necessarily involve racism, and although Mussolini passed antiSemitic laws, he did so to please Hitler, not as an idea from his concept of fascism. So where did Hitler get his ideas about race? Not a tremendously original thinker, Hitler got most of his racial theory from a man named Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau (1816 -1882) who argued in his Essay on the Inequality of Human Races (1853 -1855) "that the mingling of races led, and must continue to lead, to the downfall of great civilizations." (Ball & Dagger, 1999, p.317). Gobineau said the highest white race was the Aryan race, a nomadic people. The Aryans had, over the course of history, imposed their will on inferior peoples and established new civilizations. However, this race had a tendency to inter-marry and weaken their bloodline. Gobineau, a French diplomat, argued that the purest strain of Aryans left were the German people, and therefore had an advantage over everyone else. The Germans would only be able to maintain this advantage, though, if they maintained racial purity. Although Hitler got quite a few of his ideas about race from Gobineau, anti-Semitism is much older than the 19th century.