|14 Characteristics of Fascism
Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about
fascism which appeared in Free Inquiry magazine -- a journal of humanist
thought. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany),
Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet
(Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls
these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The article is
"Fascism Anyone?," Lawrence Britt, Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20.
The 14 characteristics are:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make
constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symb ols, songs, and other
paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on
clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of
enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are
persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of
"need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of
torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people
are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate
a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious
minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic
problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government
funding, and the domestic agenda i s neglected. Soldiers and military
service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost
exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender
roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is
homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by
the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled
by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and
executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational
tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist
nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to
manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common
from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are
diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business
aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the
government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial
business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is
the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either
eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to
promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia.
It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or
even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and
governments often refuse to fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the
police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are
often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties
in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with
virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are
governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to
government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect
their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes
for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even
outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a
complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns
against or even assassination of opposition candidat es, use of
legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries,
and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their
judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
Any of this sound familiar?