The first fascist dictator of the 20th century, Benito Mussolini,
ruled Italy between 1922 and 1944.
Fascism is an oppressive political movement that first developed in Italy
after 1919, and then in various countries in Europe, as a reaction to
the political and social changes brought about by World War I. The name
comes from the Latin word fasces, meaning a bundle of rods tied around
an axe which symbolized authority in ancient Rome.
The term "fascism" was first used in Italy by the 1922-1924 government
led by Benito Mussolini. And the figure of a bundle of sticks tied around
an axe became the emblem of the first fascist party. After Italy, fascist
governments came to power in Germany from 1933 to 1945, and in Spain from
1939 to 1975. After World War II, dictatorial regimes set up in South
America and other undeveloped countries were generally described as fascist.
A lictor from ancient Rome. He walked in front of Roman magistrates
and held a bundle of rods in his hand as a symbol of power and authority.
To understand the philosophy of fascism, we may consider the description
that Mussolini wrote for the Italian Encyclopedia in 1932:
Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future
and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations
of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of
perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism-born of a
renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice.
War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the
stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other
trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where
they have to make the great decision-the alternative of life or death....
[The Fascist] conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but
above all for others-those who are at hand and those who are far distant,
contemporaries, and those who will come after.1
Mussolini adopted the Roman axe to symbolize his power. Above is
an Italian magazine of the time, entitled Il Fascismo Scientifico
Evidently, the main idea behind fascism, as stressed by Mussolini, is
Darwinist conflict and war. For, as we saw in the foreword, Darwinism
claims that "the strong survive, the weak are eliminated," for which reason
it suggests that people need to be in a constant state of struggle in
order to survive. Fascism, having been developed from this idea, promotes
the belief that a nation can only advance through war, and regards peace
as an element that retards progress.
The same line of thought was expressed by Vladimir Jabotinsky, widely
regarded as one of the foremost representatives of Zionist Jews, and proponent
of the Israeli radical right, who summed up the fascistic ideology in
a statement he made in the 1930s:
Stupid is the person who believes in his neighbor, good and loving as
the neighbor may be. Justice exists only for those whose fists and stubbornness
make it possible for them to realize it . . . Do not believe anyone, be
always on guard, carry your stick always with you-this is the only way
of surviving in this wolfish battle of all against all.2
As is evident from these words, and as we shall be seeing in some detail
in the pages that follow, fascism is actually an ideology that is set
in accordance with "the law of the jungle" as developed by Darwinism.
A nother feature of fascism to consider is that it is
a nationalistic and aggressive ideology based on racism. This nationalism
is far removed from mere love of country. In the aggressive nationalism
of fascism, one aspires to see his own nation dominating others, and utterly
humiliating them, and has no compunction about inflicting great suffering
upon its own people in the process. Moreover, fascistic nationalism consists
of using war, occupation, massacre and bloodshed as tools towards such political
The axe and a bundle of rods symbolizing fascism in an illustration
with Mussolini's signature.
In the same manner as fascist regimes use such means to dominate other
nations, they also use force and oppression against their own nation.
Fascism's basic social policy is insistence on an idea, and obliging people
to accept it. Fascism aims at making individuals and all of society think
and behave in the same way. In order to attain this end, it uses force
and violence along all kinds of methods of propaganda. It denounces as
an enemy anyone who does not comply with its ideas, even going as far
as genocide, as in the case of Nazi Germany.
Mussolini's Fascist Party emblem and flags. A bundle of rods bound
together around an axe is the common form of fascist emblems.
The above has been just a brief description of the nature of the social
structure and political structure of fascism. But the real problem is
in identifying where the idea of fascism was born, how it then spread,
came to power, and took hold of entire nations. It is important to understand
these, because, although people think that fascism was done away with
at the end of World War II, it still rears its head in a number of forms.
Fascism is not just a political system, it is also a mentality, and even
if this mentality no longer leads to the establishment of political regimes,
such as Nazi Germany, or Mussolini's Italy, it nevertheless continues
to inflict suffering on people all over the world.
So we shall now examine the roots of the fascist mentality, and how it
was able to grow in strength to the point of outraging the whole world
in the first half of the 20th century, and fill it with suffering.