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Fascism is termed as a political philosophy or rather ideology that generally exists as a form of radical ultra-nationalism or rather authoritarian that is highly characterized by not only dictatorial power as well as forcible suppression of opposition, but also strong regimentation of both the country’s economy and society. Other features of Fascism include opposition to individualism, class conflict, and democracy, while supporting totalitarianism and violence, as a result; with regard to the traditional left-right spectrum, the Fascism ideology is placed on the far-right.
Generally, Fascism emerged and also gained prominence during early 20th century with the first Fascist movements emerging from Italy immediately after the conclusion of the World War I from where it spread to the rest of European nations such as Germany. This paper explores the Fascism ideology in Europe particularly in Germany and Italy, thereby, analyzing the historical background of the ideology, reasons why it was extremely appealing to the Europeans, as well as the similarities and differences exhibited by the two countries with regard to Fascism.
After the World War I, Italians were not satisfied with the outcomes of the War nor were they happy with the way other global nations treated them; as a result Benito Mussolini emerged as a somewhat power leader promising to improve the country’s economy, restore and expand the country’s territories and to only to bring back the country’s pride but also ensure it became a well-respected state gain through the fascism ideology (Mazower, 18). Benito Mussolini is therefore attributed to having founded the fascism ideology or rather movement which began as early as the 1920s in Italy. Through the fascism ideology, Mussolini to a great extent sought to re-create the Great Roman Empire primarily through the use of totalitarian rule as well as through feeding Italian citizens the fear of communism (Mazower, 18).
After securing victory, Adolf Hitler enticed German citizens through the promise of a better, stable and ultimately flourishing economy, marked by the end of unemployment and recovery of the country’s lost territories during WWI. Following this, the complete seizure of power; thus by Germany’s Fascist leader Benito Mussolini as exhibited by the March in Rome held in 1922, to a great extent drew the admiration of Hitler who adopted the ideology and began to model himself as well as his Nazi Party to incorporate the ideology. This in, turn, led to the emergence and consequent adoption of Nazism as a somewhat form of German Fascism. Therefore, in Germany, Hitler is attributed for the Fascism ideologies which he represented in the form of Nazism (Mazower, 73).
During the first half of the 20th century, the Fascism emerged as one of the most significant and popular movements or rather ideology in both Italy and Germany, generally, there are a number of reasons why the ideology became attractive among the Europeans. Concerning this, one of the primary reasons is based on the fact that economic depression, social dislocation, and desperation of the Italian and German populations in addition to the growing desire for not only a new but also a secure direction, undermined people’s overall confidence in democracy; hence creating the need to seek alternatives (Bessel, 42). This in, turn, created a somewhat perfect environment for Fascist governments.
Moreover, both Hitler and Mussolini promise for a stable government that would ultimately bring changes such as creating employment, win back respect from global nations, while dealing with economics problems brought about by the WWI also attracted the Europeans to this ideology. Another major reason why the Fascism ideology attracted the Europeans was a result of fear of communism which had previously failed resulting in devastating impacts in both nations following the WWI, this therefore led to many intellectuals embracing fascism as it greatly promised order; thus in a time of great uncertainty (Mazower, 22).
Another reason why Europeans were attracted to Fascism ideology was because it bore with it an image of “heroic leadership”, concerning this, propaganda particularly in Germany managed to portray Mussolini as a charismatic leader and ultimately an economic miracle workers who would ultimately restore the country’s economic prosperity which drew many; especially the lower class to him and his ideology (Bessel, 46-50). Mussolini on the other hand, launched his Fascist ideology or rather regime with an image of conserving/ maintaining both low and order; thus against not only lawlessness but also social subversion.
In conclusion, there are a number of similarities with regard to Fascism in both Germany and Italy, in relation to this, one of the major similarities is based on the fact that both systems of ideologies to a great extent were influenced the extreme rise of nationalism in both countries, increased fear; among populations of communism, overall outcomes of the World War I as well as the crises experienced in both countries as a result of the capitalist economic system. The fascists ideologies in both countries also aided in amplifying the disrepute of liberal values which had the broad middle classes in both countries has adhered to before the World War I (Paxton, 9). Other major similarities is that both ideologies to a great extent were marked by what can be termed as a cult of the leader, violence was applied, democracy, individualism as well as communism were also rejected (Mazower, 19).
Furthermore, a somewhat negative view of human nature can also be derived from both ideologies. Concerning this, generally, mass in both nations are depicted as lacking intellectual capacities which are deemed as critical in gaining an understanding to complex political questions, as a result, these masses were prone to manipulation of both Mussolini and Hitler primarily through various forms of propaganda which gained virtual monopoly particularly in Germany (Bessel, 19).
Bessel, Richard. “Life in the Third Reich”. Oxford University Press. (1987). Pp. 55.
Mazower, Mark. “Dark Continent”. Vintage Books. (1998). Pp. 271
Paxton, Robert. “The Five Stages of Fascism”. The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 70, No. 1 (1998). Pp. 23. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2991418
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