The 14 characteristics of Fascism
by Dr. Lawrence Britt
Free Inquiry magazine, Spring
Dr. Britt, a political scientist,
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. ]
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
-- Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos,
slogans, symbols, 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 prisoners,
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 is 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 antigay
legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes
the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other
cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation,
or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship,
especially in wartime, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security --
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the
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
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
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 who 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
the assassination of) opposition candidates, the use of legislation
to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and
the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically
use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.