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•Not only Germany, Italy
•Not only 1930s, WWII
•Still alive today – more than we realize
The term Fascism derives from
the Italian fascio, or Latin
fasces, in reference to the
bundle of rods that
symbolized the authority of
the Republic of ancient Rome.
The term was used in the late
19th century for new radical
movements combining strong
nationalism, aggressive
activism, violence and
Original Fascism was born in part as a
reaction to the Russian Revolution, in part
in opposition to the rise of the ideal of
liberal democracy.
BUT it also borrowed idealist elements from
workers movements such as the primacy of
labour, social and unionist revolution:
(Today’s Italian neo-Fascists call themselves
the Italian Social Movement)
Wealthy upper classes abetted and encouraged
Fascism’s emergence, confident that they
could control it.
The roots of Fascism are European;
Linked to the birth of mass society after WWI

Especially in those nations in transformation, which

were conditioned by political and economic weakness
as in Italy and Germany
German Nazism = racially-oriented
Italian fascism = state-oriented
Fascism first emerged in an Italy
ravaged by World War I
1921: Fascist Party
Black Shirts
Fascist dictatorship widely
perceived as the only salvation
of strife-ridden Italy
Italian Fascism drew support from
all classes of society
Benito Mussolini became modern
Europe’s first Fascist leader,
Italy’s prime minister and
dictator from 1922 to 1943.

“Il Duce” (“Fascism’s Supreme Leader”)

Italians voted for Mussolini
and for the glory of the
newly unified state of Italy.
Italians voted for Mussolini because of his
promises of glory and a modern empire in
imitation of imperialistic France and England.
Fascism entranced the people
Fascism considered itself a third way
between capitalism and Socialism-Communism.
To resolve economic problems, the
bourgeoisie ‘threw democracy overboard’.

“Fascism is a great mobilization of

material and moral forces. What does it
propose? We say the following without false
modesty: To govern the nation. With what
program? With a program necessary to
guarantee the moral and material grandeur
of the Italian people. …
We work for the moral and traditional
values which Socialists neglect and

B. Mussolini
Intense radical demagogic propaganda
Military build-up
Creation of a mass social base
Centralized government
Anti-intellectual trends in culture, social
How did it end for
Mussolini ?
How did it end for Italy ?

•Fascism interrupted the attempt to unite

and modernize Italy
•(Before Fascism,) the making of modern
Italy was about emancipating the people,
of freeing the country from foreign rule,
of nation-building.
•Fascism  devastating defeat in WWII,
followed by American occupation
and Christian Democratic-Catholic Church-
Vatican domination
“Moral sickness of Europe”
The result of a failing moral conscience
and drunken decadence
produced by the horrors of WWI
The word “Fascism” has not always been
politically derogatory:

Early 20th century: a cluster of similar

nationalist-militaristic movements in
Most important ones: the original Fascism
in Italy and Nazism in Germany
No precise forerunners from the 19th
century (unlike Socialism and Communism)
But soon imitated by like-minded
movements across Europe and in the USA
E.g. 1930s USA:
Silver Shirts
An influential, violent,
anti-Semitic, native
American Fascist
organization with
allegedly some two
million members
Continued ideological
bonds with
today’s Right (e.g. TV
evangelists); hatred of
minorities, Jews,
Communists, welfare,
trade unions, in favour
of a corporate-
clerical state
With the rise of the power of corporations
came also the rise of modern military-police
control mechanisms in order to maintain order
among the people
A merger of the nationalist-military state
and corporate power
This “marriage” = the heart of
Fascism everywhere
What are corporations?
Legally named persons that have gained more
rights than individual human beings.
Politically and sociologically, corporations
are bastions and generators of privilege.
By nature corporations are thirsty for power.
Growth, greater profits, and more power are
their mottos.
The corporate state guarantees the monopoly
organization of capital.
As corporations acquire more power, they come
to control also the “democratic” governments
In the capitalist state the “government of
the people” becomes a fiction—a
contradiction— and morphs into corporate
Another tenet of Mussolini’s

Fascism is thus the protective shield for
“Capitalism’s naked fist / unmasked face”,
especially when it feels its power
slipping Every Fascist-Corporate state
inevitably erects a police state to
regulate and finally enslave its
Fascist economics
•Printing money 
 ruining national currency
•The enormous expenses of the fascist
state do not appear in the official
•State bureaucracy becomes powerful in
directing the economy: Capitalist tycoons
dictate; bureaucracy executes.
WHAT ABOUT 2010?...
War and economic crises
play off of one another,
and are systematically
linked. Imperialism is the
driver of this system, and
behind it, the banking
establishment is the
USA: oppressive state
Heavy surveillance
‘Homeland Security’
the population,
not protecting it.
According to some analysts…

“the financial oligarchy have

chosen to ‘throw democracy
and have opted
for the other option:
totalitarian capitalism;
The merger of the US
entertainment complex and the
political world
is the most contemporary example
of the concept of
ilitary - industrial - entertainment comple
ilitary - industrial - entertainment comple
“When material success—that is possession—
is considered the highest value,
between men will also follow the same
of exchange controlling consumer goods
and labour.
In this sense, resistance is the key
Resistance to being owned.
A person’s real value then is proportional to
the resistance one puts up against being
Alberto Moravia
mmunists , and I did not speak out — because I
de unionists , and I did not speak out — because
s , and I did not speak out — because I was not
there was no one left to speak out for me .”
Martin Niemöller