Term Paper: Fascism and Communism

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Fascism and Communism

Although fascist and communist authoritarian regimes have manifested similarly in many countries, the two systems are ideologically opposed to each other. Historically, communism has earlier roots than fascism; as a general social, political, and economic system, communism characterized many pre-agricultural societies that were stateless. Many religious and utopian communities were also communist, based on their communal practices and ideals. However, as it is generally referred to today, communism stems from the socialist traditions codified by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their 1848 publication The Communist Manifesto. Technically, no government can be considered communist since communism necessitates the total abolition of a state government ("Communism"). However, because political parties can be communist in their platforms, those nations that are controlled by Communist political parties are referred to as communist for ease of reference. The basic tenets of communism differ significantly from those of fascism: communism is highly egalitarian in its ideals; opposes the state, opposes private ownership of property, and opposes social classes. Fascism, on the other hand, is non-egalitarian, and supports the state's interests above all else. Private property, capitalism, and social classes are encouraged under fascist regimes, which are essentially capitalist in nature, although authoritarian in practice. The history of fascism is notably shorter than that of communism, although the root word for fascism extends back to the Roman Empire, deriving from a term meaning "bundle," ("Fascism"). The first official fascist regime was Benito Mussolini's Italy. Fascism soon spread throughout the world, but its most notable manifestations besides Mussolini's Italy were Hitler's Germany and Franco's Spain. Like communism, fascism rose to prominence in Europe after World War One and in conjunction with economic depressions in the early twentieth century. However, while communism supported a working-class revolution and revolt against the encroaching capitalist state, fascism represented exactly the opposite: a backlash against labor unions and other forms of socialism.

While communism seeks ultimately to eliminate capitalism and class divisions, fascism seeks to promote both. Fascism is a political philosophy based on the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that the state does not exist to serve individuals but vice-versa. Because of its support of capitalism and its promotion of a stratified society based on class or even race, fascism differs significantly from communism. Communism, especially Marxism, promoted a classless society ultimately egalitarian in its aim. Marx also depicts communism as the ultimate product of human social evolution, the end product of a series of class struggles that will supposedly end in a stateless egalitarian society. Fascism has no similar ideology. Communism, however idealistic and utopian in its outlook, led to the implementation of authoritarian regimes that on the surface resemble fascist regimes. Because of the negative connotations of both fascism and communism in the United States, the two terms are often confused and blanketed under similar totalitarian rubrics. Other seeming similarities between fascism and communism include the state control of vital industries. However, because pure communism involves the dissolution of state in favor of a collective ownership of the means of production, defining communism in terms of state-owned facilities and institutions is theoretically false. Communism has been misinterpreted because of the way communist parties have implemented the ideologies of Marx, Lenin, and other political theorists.

Historically, fascists and communists were bitter enemies. The Spanish Civil War was essentially fought between the fascist Franco supporters and a wide range of disparate communist movements including the anarchists, Trotskyists, the Popular Front in Spain, and the Soviet Union ("Fascism"). Although both communism and fascism arose in response to similar social and economic situations in Europe after the end of World War One, the two systems of government diverged considerably in their core philosophies and origins. In his Doctrine of Fascism, Mussolini, who was widely regarded as the central and formative figure in the fascist movement, harshly criticized Marxist theory. For example, Mussolini denied the primacy of class struggle as defining human history and purported to support a philosophy that had no ulterior motive but to glorify the state. In light of its support of capitalist enterprise, fascists view business enterprises as good insofar as they serve the state. Fascism also opposes liberalism and leftist socialism, which communism is an offshoot of. Fascism denies individualism and instead favors intense regimentation, regulation, and the sublimation of the individual in favor of the state.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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