History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2007: Q.7

History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2007: Q.7

Q. 7. Discuss the main characteristics of Fascism.


 The fascism of Mussolini had the following main characteristics:

Apart from other things, “The Doctrine of Fascism”, an essay attributed to Benito Mussolini and first published in the Enciclopedia Italiana of 1932, gives us main clue about characteristics of Fascism. “The Doctrine of Fascism” as an authoritative document of the fascism emphasised on nationalism, corporatism, totalitarianism and militarism.

The following are main characteristics of Fascism:

Totalitarian system of Government

Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.

This government attempted to arouse and mobilize the great wars of ordinary people, to control and organize with strong discipline as many aspects of people’s lives as possible. This was necessary to promote the greatness of the state, which was more important, the interests of the individual.

Fascists believed in strict press censorship in which anti-fascist news-papers and magazines were either banned or their editors replaced by fascist supporters. Radio, films and theatre were controlled in the same way. The fascists also supervised the education.

Fascists had to wear uniforms and new text books were written to glorify the fascist system. Children and young people were forced to join the government youth organizations which indoctrinated them with the brilliance of dice and glories of war. The other main message was total obedience to authority which was necessary because everything was seen in terms of struggle – “Believe, obey, fight!”


Benito Mussolini said: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production. State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management.

The Fascist government believed in cooperation between employers and workers and to end class warfare in what was known as the corporate state. Fascist controlled unions had the sole right to negotiate for workers, and both unions and employers associations were organized into corporations, and were expected to work together to settle disputes over work and pay conditions. Strikes and lockouts were not allowed.

Extreme  nationalism

An  emphasis  on  the  rebirth  of  the  nation  after  a  period  of decline;  building up the greatness and prestige of the state, with the implication that one’s own nation is  superior  to  all  others.

A  one-party state

There was no  place for democratic debate, because that  made  decisive  government  impossible  and  held  up  progress.  Only  fascism could  provide the  necessary dynamic action  to  guarantee  Italy a great  future.  It  also involved  the  cult  of  the  great  charismatic  leader  who would guide  and  inspire  the nation  to  great  things.  Mussolini  did  not  see  himself  as  a prime  minister  or  presi­dent  – instead  he  took  the  title  il  Duce  (‘the  leader’),  in  the  same  way  that  Hitler called  himself  Fuhrer.

Fascism  was  especially  hostile  to  communism,  which explains much of its popularity with big  business and the  wealthy.

Rejection of individualism and importance of the state

Fascism is opposed to all individualistic abstractions based on eighteenth century materialism. Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State

Economic  self-sufficiency  (autarky)

This  was  vitally  important  in  developing  the greatness of the state; the government must therefore direct the economic life of the nation (though not in  the  Marxist sense of the  state  owning factories and land).

Use of propaganda

Great  use  was  made  of  all  the  latest  modern  forms  of  propaganda  – uniforms, marches, songs and displays, all to  demonstrate that fascists were a completely new and  dynamic  alternative  to  the  boring,  old-fashioned  traditional  parties,  and  to mobilize mass support  behind  the  heroic leader.

Militarism and Social Darwinism

The military strength and violence were considered an integral part of the way of life. Mussolini himself remarked – “Peace is observed: Fascism does not believe in it“. Hence, they fostered the myth that they had sieved power by force, they allowed the violent treatment of opponents and critics, and they pursued an aggressive foreign policy.

The doctrine of survival of the fittest (Social Darwinism) and the necessity of struggle for life is applied by fascists to the life of a nation-state. Peaceful, complacent nations are seen as doomed to fall before more dynamic ones, making struggle and aggressive militarism a leading characteristic of the fascist state. Imperialism is the logical outcome of this dogma.



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