Lawrence 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, which he calls the identifying characteristics of fascism. This piece has made its way all over the internet. It is from a longer piece called Fascism Anyone?
The 14 characteristics are:
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, etc.
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 anti-gay 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 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 governments 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
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
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 candidates, 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.
Lawrence is a political scientist. Fascism Anyone? appeared
in the Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry, a journal of humanist thought. For
more information on the journal, contact <FreeInquiry@SecularHumanism.org.>