Towards a definition of generic fascism

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Ideology and goals:

– An idealist, vitalist and voluntarist philosophy, normally involving the attempt to realise a new, modern, self-determined and secular society.

– the creation of a new, nationalistic autoritarian state not based on traditional principles, models or classes.

– the organization of a new, highly regulated and controlled economic structure which transcends traditional class interests and is planned in the national interest, as defined by the regime. This is called variously, national socialist, national corporatist or national syndicalist.

– Willingness to use violence and war to further state goals.

– the desire for a strong state as a prelude from expansion at the cost of neighbouring states.

– the creation of the „new man“. In National Socialism this centred on the racial concept of Aryan superiority and the struggle against international Jewry.

The Fascist negatives

– Anti-liberalism.

– Anti-communism.

– Anti-conservatism.

– (Fascist groups were, however, willing to form temporary alliances with other political groups and these were usually on the right, although in 1930-31 Nazi and Communist militias worked together against Social Democrats).

Style and organization

– Mass mobilization of society
– Militarization of civilian and political relationships.
– The ‚Führerprinzip‘, or the cult of charismatic leadership, with a corresponding cult of loyalty and obedience.
– Creation of a mass political party, with its own militia, party institutions etc. which mirror those of the state.
– Civic religion, political theatre and liturgy. Civic religion with its aesthetic structure of uniforms, symbols etc. stresses the emotional and mystical aspects of political life. The individual becomes aware of himself as a party member through participation in the civic religion.
– Emphasis on the organic nature of Fascist society – the ’national community‘ or Volksgemeinschaft, as an alternative to class allegiance.
– Emphasis on male dominance and distinct, though complimentary role of men and women.
– Exaltation of youth and the cult of sport as a preliminary to military service and war.

Roger Griffin’s ‚Fascist minium‘: Fascism is a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism‘

(sources: from Stanley G. Payne’s A history of Fascism, 1914-1945. London: UCL Press, 1997, p.7 and Roger Griffin’s The nature of Fascism. London: Pinter, 1991, p.26 – adapted by Andrew Lacey as a hand-out for his Cambridge International Summer School in History specialist course on Fascism in July 2011)

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