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Joseph Sciambra


Theologians use Pope Francis’ teaching to argue gay sex no longer ‘grave sin’

January 17, 2018 (Joseph Sciambra) – In a January 16, 2018 “Commentary” for “The National Catholic Reporter,” Creighton University Professor Todd A. Salzman, chair of the Department of Theology at Creighton, and Michael G. Lawler, professor emeritus, disagreed with the decision by certain US Bishops to possibly deny a Catholic funeral for someone who died while in a same-sex “married” relationship. They single out Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield for specific criticism.

From of a “Decree” issued by Paprocki, Salzman and Lawler are especially troubled with the following directive:

Unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death, deceased persons who have lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites. In the case of doubt, the proper pastor or parochial administrator is to consult the local ordinary, whose judgment is to be followed.

Concerning those individuals in a same-sex “marriage,” the “Decree” also included the following instructions, which Salzman and Lawler do not mention:

Pastors aware of such situations should address their concerns privately with the person in such circumstances, calling them to conversion…


In danger of death, a person living publicly in a same-sex marriage may be given Holy Communion in the form of Viaticum if he or she expresses repentance for his or her sins.

Lastly, Bishop Paprocki added:

…I remind all those who exercise a ministry within the Church that while being clear and direct about what the Church teaches, our pastoral ministry must always be respectful, compassionate and sensitive to all our brothers and sisters in the faith, as was the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepard and our everlasting model for ministry.

Although Bishop Paprocki offers the possibility of redemption and salvation through the Sacraments of the Church for those involved in a same-sex relationship, Salzman and Lawler contend that there is nevertheless something deeply flawed with the entire Catholic approach to homosexuality:

The language of the church describing homosexuality as an “objective disorder” and the specious language from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about “not unjust discrimination” of homosexuals in opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act have caused infinitely more scandal than any church funeral for a deceased same-sex spouse has done or is likely to do.

But this is not the first time these two professors have openly criticized Catholic teaching with regards to homosexuality.

In 2007, their radical theories caught the attention of Archbishop Elden Curtiss, then Archbishop of Omaha, where Creighton University is located. He stated that Salzman and Lawler proposed a sort of “new natural law theory” and “argue for the moral legitimacy of some homosexual acts.” Following the publication of their 2008 book “The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology,” from Georgetown University Press, the USCCB issued a lengthy and scathing condemnation of the book; according to the 2010 document from the “Committee on Doctrine:”

…the authors insist that the moral theology of the Catholic tradition dealing with sexual matters is now as a whole obsolete and inadequate and that it must be re-founded on a different basis.

They explained further:

For the authors of The Sexual Person, the scriptural condemnations of homosexual behavior are nothing more than expressions of the sociohistorical assumptions of the writers. In their view, this is evident from the fact that the scriptural writers condemn homosexual behavior “specifically as a perversion of the heterosexual condition they assume to be the natural condition of every person.” The basis of the condemnation is thus taken to reveal the scriptural writers’ assumption about the naturalness of heterosexuality, an assumption that has supposedly been disproven in the modern world. For the authors, there can be no perversion of the heterosexual condition by homosexuals since their natural orientation is not heterosexual, but homosexual. “In its modern meaning, homosexuality is not and cannot be a perversion of the heterosexual condition because homosexuals, by natural orientation, do not share that condition.”

Finally, stating:

The Committee on Doctrine wishes to make it clear that neither the methodology of The Sexual Person nor the conclusions that depart from authoritative Church teaching constitute authentic expressions of Catholic theology. Moreover, such conclusions, clearly in contradiction to the authentic teaching of the Church, cannot provide a true norm for moral action and in fact are harmful to one’s moral and spiritual life.

Despite these protestations, Salzman and Lawler continue to advocate for a revolutionary reinterpretation of Catholic teaching; from their 2018 piece for “The National Catholic Reporter:”

In the established Catholic moral tradition, any behavioral decision must discern not only the objective moral truth proposed to it but also any and every relevant subjective circumstance in which moral action takes place.

It is no surprise, therefore, to see [Pope] Francis clearly teach this doctrine in Amoris Laetitia, his 2016 apostolic exhortation on family life known in English as “The Joy of the Gospel,” in several different ways, without in any way abandoning or diminishing Catholic moral doctrine or behavioral norms.

The church, he argues, “possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”

Even though the behavior is wrong in the church’s eyes, “deliberate consent” may be mitigated on the part of the agent and, if deliberate consent is lacking, there cannot be grave sin.

They conclude:

Francis limits his consideration of irregular situations to couples who are divorced and remarried without an annulment and couples who are cohabiting, but his analysis applies also to other situations considered gravely sinful, such as a same-sex union. Factors may exist in all irregular situations which limit “deliberate consent” and the ability to make a fully informed moral decision (Amoris Laetitia, 301).

In 2014, several months before the Obergefell decision legalizing gay marriage, Creighton allowed same-sex spouses of employees to join the University’s health plan. According to the “Student Counseling Services” at Creighton, in a section of the official University website, which attempts to correct certain “myths” about homosexuality:

Myth #1:  Homosexuality is “Unnatural”

THE TRUTH: From a scientific point of view, it is “natural”. Any animal, including humans, is capable of responding to homosexual stimuli. Research suggests that homosexuality is almost universal among all animals and is especially frequent among highly developed species. There has been evidence of homosexuality in all human cultures throughout history. In fact, one anthropological study of non-Western cultures found that 64% of their sample considered homosexuality “normal and socially acceptable” for certain members in society.

The University also maintains a “Gender and Sexuality Alliance” (CUGSA). On their website, the GSU states as part of their “mission:”

The Alliance will uphold the spirit of Catholic teaching regarding the confrontation of fears about homosexuality and the need for the Christian acceptance of all persons. In promoting equality and justice for all students, the Alliance will exemplify Catholic teaching by fostering acceptance of homosexual persons with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

A number of the claims made by Salzman and Lawler have been recently repeated by Jesuit author James Martin during the promotional tour for his book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.” In terms of the language used in the Catechism, specifically the term “objectively disordered,” Martin wrote:

The phrase relates to the orientation, not the person, but it is still needlessly hurtful. Saying that one of the deepest parts of a person—the part that gives and receives love—is “disordered” in itself is needlessly cruel.

He since said:

God made you this way. You are wonderfully made, just like Psalm 139 says. You were knit together in your mother’s womb this way, you know, it’s a mystery why you were made this way, but this is part of your identity.

Martin has gone on to say that perhaps not just the language is problematic, but the teaching itself:

I’m no theologian, but I would say that some of the language used in the catechism on that topic needs to be updated, given what we know now about homosexuality. Earlier, for example, the catechism says that the homosexual orientation is itself “objectively disordered.” But, as I say in the book, saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is disordered is needlessly hurtful. A few weeks ago, I met an Italian theologian who suggested the phrase “differently ordered” might convey that idea more pastorally.

As a justification for this departure from tradition, during a June 8, 2017 Facebook Live Q & A session, Martin contended that:

All these Bible passages people throw at you…Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and even the stuff in the New Testament where Paul talks about it once or twice, has to be understood in their historical context. The Bible is written in a particular time; it’s the inspired Word of God, but it is written, certainly, in a particular time and in a particular historical context. Certainly, in Old Testament times, they didn’t understand the phenomena of homosexuality, and bisexuality I would say, as we do today. I’d also like to say that there’s a lot of other stuff in Leviticus that we sort of understand in its historical context, like what kind of slaves can we have, whether or not we can wear certain kinds of clothes, whether or not our crops can be next to one another. We don’t look at those passages in an a-historical way, so why should we look at passages on homosexuality that way?

In 2016, Martin delivered the commencement speech at Creighton.

On January 16, 2018, Martin posted a link to Salzman and Lawler’s “Commentary” to his official Twitter account.

Notwithstanding a blunt critique from Cardinal Robert Sarah, so far there has not been any official rebuke of James Martin’s statements. Instead, he continues to offer addresses and lectures at prestigious Catholic universities and at the upcoming 2018 LA Religious Education Congress.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared at It has been reprinted here by permission of the author. 

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Cardinal Koch, Christians Should “Convert” To Ecumenism

The Catholic Church and other Christian communities need a “conversion to the ecumenical search for Christian unity” according to Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano in preparation for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25), Koch claimed that the witness of God’s love “must be given in an ecumenical communion”.

According to Catholic Doctrine, Christian unity means the conversion of all Christians to the Catholic Church.

Picture: Kurt Koch, © Evangelische Kirche in Österreich, CC BY-SA, #newsJemhjrwnqw

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“If [Francis] were a priest in my diocese I would ensure he was suspended”

Francis’ Airplane-Wedding Was Planned Beforehand

The wedding ceremony with Pope Francis in the airplane on January 18 was apparently not a “spontaneous idea” as claimed by Francis’ partisan Father Antonio Spadaro.

The Chilean newspaper El Mercurioreported already in December, that Paula Podesta and Carlos Ciuffardi hoped to be married by Pope Francis during the flight and wanted to ask him for this.

The couple found it fitting to have a wedding in an airplane because it is where they met ten years ago, “It’s our place, our second home, where we feel safe”, said Podesta.

“If [Francis] were a priest in my diocese I would ensure he was suspended”

“If he were a priest in my diocese I would ensure he was suspended, and at his age retired from a public liturgical or pastoral function”, was the reaction of a certain Vicar General to the Pope’s ‘marriage’ of the Chilean couple after I placed on social media, “Next Thursday 3-4pm, in Waitrose gin aisle, I shall marry anyone who turns up, everyone welcome”.

I wasn’t serious but the Vicar General was, he more or less followed Ed Peter’s line that the marriage was very likely invalid, pastorally he believed it very dangerous. In his diocese he said, that there were at least a few priests and deacons who were likely to follow the Pope’s lead and marry couples who turned up at their front door, without paperwork, such as proof of freedom to marry, or even of baptism, and without much, if any preparation.

But it would be easy to look at this negatively, to speculate that someone was starved of attention when he was a child, the example of our Holy Father offers endless possibilities. Imagine!

Every diocese should have an Office of Liturgical/Pastoral/Canonical Imagination

Imagine if you lived in theatreland in London or New York and had priests competing with jugglers and street magicians, offering free marriages whilst people waited for tickets.
Imagine the Marriage of Figaro with real Marriages!
Imagine, Romeo and Juliet actually getting married!
Imagine, a two for one offer at your local supermarket! Two couples at one go.
Imagine the possibilities for an airport chaplain, you could marry people as they waited to check-in, or as they wait for luggage at the carousel.
Imagine the mass weddings that could take place at the next Glastonbury Rock Festival

Glastonbury festival: The full lineup as a spreadsheet ...

Imagine, in my diocese, a traffic jam on the M25 near Gatwick, a priest wandering up and down in cope and a high viz jacket offering weddings to all and sundry.

the newly ordained

Everywhere should be seen as a pastoral opportunity, every situation is rich in them.

But why stop at Marriage? I could offer no-fuss baptisms on Brighton beach in the summer. The vocations crisis could be ended by a bishop inviting anyone to come forward who wants to be ordained, think Glastonbury, and just do them then and there, priests will be coming out of that bishops ears.

Maybe the reason there are so few young people at this Chilean Mass with Pope is that they had all been married before he arrived and had gone off to the pub for the wedding breakfast!

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Pope’s words ‘a source of great pain’ for abuse survivors, says cardinal

Cardinal O’Malley implicitly rebukes Francis for accusing victims of ‘slander’ against bishop

Pope Francis’s top adviser on clerical sex abuse has implicitly rebuked the Pontiff over his accusations of slander against Chilean abuse victims, saying that his words were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse”.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, said he couldn’t explain why Francis “chose the particular words he used” and that such expressions had the effect of abandoning victims and relegating them to “discredited exile.”

In an extraordinary effort at damage control, Cardinal O’Malley insisted in a statement that Francis “fully recognises the egregious failures of the Church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones”.

Francis set off a national uproar upon leaving Chile on Thursday when he accused victims of the country’s most notorious pedophile priest of having slandered another bishop, Juan Barros. The victims say Barros knew of the abuse by Fr Fernando Karadima but did nothing to stop it – a charge Barros denies.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis told Chilean journalists in the northern city of Iquique. “There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

The remarks shocked Chileans, drew immediate rebuke from victims and their advocates and once again raised the question of whether the 81-year-old Argentine Jesuit “gets it” about sex abuse.

The Karadima scandal has devastated the credibility of the Catholic Church in Chile, and Francis’s comments will likely haunt it for the foreseeable future.

Cardinal O’Malley’s carefully worded critique was remarkable since it is rare for a cardinal to publicly rebuke the Pope in such terms. But Francis’s remarks were so potentially toxic to the Vatican’s years-long effort to turn the tide on decades of clerical sex abuse and cover-up that he clearly felt he had to respond.

Cardinal O’Malley headed Francis’s much-touted committee for the protection of minors until it lapsed last month after its initial three-year mandate expired. Francis has not named new members, and the committee’s future remains unclear.

“It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements … were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator,” Cardinal O’Malley said in the statement. “Words that convey the message ‘if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile.”

Francis’s comments were all the more problematic because Karadima’s victims were deemed so credible by the Vatican that it sentenced him to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” in 2011. A Chilean judge also found the victims to be credible, saying that while she had to drop criminal charges against Karadima because too much time had passed, proof of his crimes wasn’t lacking.

Those same victims accused Barros of witnessing the abuse. Yet Francis said he considered their accusations “all calumny” and that he wouldn’t believe them without proof.

Catholic officials for years sought to discredit victims of abuse by accusing them of slandering and attacking the church with their claims. But many in the Church and the Vatican have come to reluctantly acknowledge that victims usually told the truth and that the Church had wrongly sought to protect its own by demonising and discrediting the most vulnerable of its flock.

Cardinal O’Malley said he couldn’t fully address the Barros case because he didn’t know the details and wasn’t involved. But he insisted the pope “gets it” and is committed to “zero tolerance” for abuse.

“Accompanying the Holy Father at numerous meetings with survivors I have witnessed his pain of knowing the depth and breadth of the wounds inflicted on those who were abused and that the process of recovery can take a lifetime,” he said.

Karadima’s victims reported to Church authorities as early as 2002 that he would kiss and fondle them in the Santiago parish he ran. But only when they went public with their accusations in 2010 did the Vatican launch an investigation that led to Karadima being removed from ministry.

The emeritus archbishop of Santiago subsequently apologised for having refused to believe the victims from the start.

Francis reopened the wounds of the scandal in 2015 when he named Barros, a protege of Karadima, as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno.

His appointment outraged Chileans, badly divided the Osorno diocese and further undermined the Church’s credibility in the country.

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Fact box

Group 2 Melting point 777°C, 1431°F, 1050 K
Period 5 Boiling point 1377°C, 2511°F, 1650 K
Block s Density (g cm−3) 2.64
Atomic number 38 Relative atomic mass 87.62
State at 20°C Solid Key isotopes 86Sr, 87Sr, 88Sr
Electron configuration [Kr] 5s2 CAS number 7440-24-6
ChemSpider ID 4514263 ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database

Uses and properties

Image explanation
The image is of a highly abstracted metallic ‘mushroom cloud’. It alludes to the presence of strontium in nuclear fallout.
A soft, silvery metal that burns in air and reacts with water.
Strontium is best known for the brilliant reds its salts give to fireworks and flares. It is also used in producing ferrite magnets and refining zinc.
Modern ‘glow-in-the-dark’ paints and plastics contain strontium aluminate. They absorb light during the day and release it slowly for hours afterwards.
Strontium-90, a radioactive isotope, is a by-product of nuclear reactors and present in nuclear fallout. It has a half-life of 28 years. It is absorbed by bone tissue instead of calcium and can destroy bone marrow and cause cancer. However, it is also useful as it is one of the best high-energy beta-emitters known. It can be used to generate electricity for space vehicles, remote weather stations and navigation buoys. It can also be used for thickness gauges and to remove static charges from machinery handling paper or plastic.
Strontium chloride hexahydrate is an ingredient in toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
Biological role
Strontium is incorporated into the shells of some deep-sea creatures and is essential to some stony corals. It has no biological role in humans and is non-toxic. Because it is similar to calcium, it can mimic its way into our bodies, ending up in our bones.
Radioactive strontium-90, which is produced in nuclear explosions and released during nuclear plant accidents, is particularly dangerous because it can be absorbed into the bones of young children.
Natural abundance
Strontium is found mainly in the minerals celestite and strontianite. China is now the leading producer of strontium. Strontium metal can be prepared by electrolysis of the molten strontium chloride and potassium chloride, or by reducing strontium oxide with aluminium in a vacuum.


In 1787, an unusual rock which had been found in a lead mine at Strontian, Scotland, was investigated by Adair Crawford, an Edinburgh doctor. He realised it was a new mineral containing an unknown ‘earth’ which he named strontia. In 1791, another Edinburgh man, Thomas Charles Hope, made a fuller investigation of it and proved it was a new element. He also noted that it caused the flame of a candle to burn red.
Meanwhile Martin Heinrich Klaproth in Germany was working with the same mineral and he produced both strontium oxide and strontium hydroxide.
Strontium metal itself was isolated in 1808 at the Royal Institution in London by Humphry Davy by means of electrolysis, using the method with which he had already isolated sodium and potassium.

Atomic data

Oxidation states and isotopes

Supply risk

Pressure and temperature data – advanced





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Eccles and Bosco is saved

Pope Francis goes into orbit

Posted: 20 Jan 2018 11:50 AM PST

It has long been realised that Pope Francis is a little bored with Planet Earth, and does most of his good work (e.g. developing new Catholic doctrine, weddings, funerals, mass-ordination of journalists to the priesthood, etc.) while flying in the PopeJet. The fact that he is 35,000 feet above most of his flock gives him a “buzz” as well as an air of authority.The time has now come for him to leave terra firma entirely. The first plan was for him to fly round the world for ever in the PopeJet, but this would require regular in-flight refuelling. So the only reasonable answer is for Pope Francis to be the first Pope in Space!

“I now pronounce you Man and Wife – whoever you are!”

There has been much talk about making space travel available to all – well, to all who can afford it – mainly from Richard Branson, who hasn’t even managed to make train travel available to all. The Catholic Church is anxious to cash in on the Virgin brand, for obvious reasons, and the Pope has agreed to perform “the sacrament of your choice” for anyone who turns up at the PopeStation.

The papal flight to Chile was very productive, for, in addition to marrying/blessing the marriage of/regularizing the marriage of* Chief Trolley Commander Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and Deputy Lifejacket Demonstrator Paola Podest Ruiz, who had spent 8 years vainly looking for a church, the Pope also conducted the funeral of a passenger who had died, or at least wasn’t at all well, before shooting his body out over the Andes.

*Depending on which account you read.

Incidentally, it is said that the reason the Pope signalled out C.T.C. Elorriaga for a wedding was that this was the first heterosexual male flight attendant that the Holy Father had ever encountered.

An army of deacons stands by to assist Pope Francis.

Meanwhile, old-fashioned earthbound priests are now encouraged to close their churches and invest in private aeroplanes, especially since there is now a huge demand from Catholics for “stunt” weddings. For a small fee, your priest will even agree to make a parachute jump with you, while performing the marriage service.

Anyway, this whole saga has re-established Pope Francis as “the man at the top”, and nobody has mentioned Lilianne Ploumen for at least two days. Which was probably the whole point of the exercise.

“Remember, in Space nobody can hear you scream. Which is a good thing…”

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Core Competency
These numbers help explain why these last eight years were disastrous for the USA. I read the last item and then looked at Trump’s Cabinet. No wonder Washington, DC is in a turmoil. Trump’s picks are bosses who expect their employees to work. These are Eye Opening Numbers. This is what bothers a lot of people about Trump. He won’t accept a can’t do attitude, or inexperienced, incompetent performance. He will get results; it just might not be smooth or pretty.
Here are some amazing stats: Make sure you read to the bottom. An eye opener!
1. These 10 States now have more people on welfare than they do employed!
New Mexico
New York
Maine, and
South Carolina
2. Last month, the Senate Budget Committee reports that in fiscal year 2012, between food stamps, housing support, child care, Medicaid and other benefits, the average U.S. Household below the poverty line received $168.00 a day in government support.
What’s the problem with that much support?  Well the average household income in America is just over $50,000, which averages out to $137.13 a day.
To put it another way, being on welfare now pays the equivalent of $30.00 an hour for 40 hour week, while the average job pays $24.00 an hour.
3. Check the last set of statistics!!
The percentage of each past president’s cabinet who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet. You know what the private business sector is: A real-life business not a government job.
Here are the percentages:
38% T. Roosevelt
40% Taft
52% Wilson
49% Harding
48% Coolidge
42% Hoover
50% F. D. Roosevelt
50% Truman
57% Eisenhower
30% Kennedy
47% Johnson
53% Nixon
42% Ford
32% Carter
56% Reagan
51% GH Bush
39% Clinton
55% GW Bush
8% Obama
90% Trump
This helps explain the bias, if not the incompetence, of the last administration: ONLY 8% of them have ever worked in private business!
That’s right! Only eight percent – the least, by far of the last 19 presidents! And these people tried to tell our corporations how to run their businesses?
 How could Obama, president of a major nation and society, the one with the most successful economic system in world history, stand and talk about business when he’s never worked for one?
 Or about jobs when he has never really had one? And, when it’s the same for 92% of his senior staff and closest advisers? They spent most of their time in academia, government, and/or non-profit jobs or as “community organizers.”

 Probably a good idea to pass this on, because we’ll NEVER see these facts in the main stream media, or from the alphabet networks.

{A reader of this post comments:  
       I read with interest your post today “This Has Been Part Of Our Problem.” It is a real eye opener. However, I wanted to question the accuracy of just one statement in the post. It says that Obama had never had a job in the private sector. If my memory serves me correctly, he was employed at a pizzeria while in high school in Hawaii. That would have been after receiving a social security number issued in Hawaii. Of course that was years before he received a new social security number from the state of Connecticut – a state to which he had never even been until well after having received this new social security number. 
       I may be a suspicious person, but this definitely raises some red flags for me. It is interesting that Obama’s good friend, Bill Ayers, emphasized the importance of maintaining multiple social security numbers to hide the nefarious activities of his Weather Underground terrorist organization.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fascism/ˈfæʃɪzəm/ is a form of radical authoritariannationalism,[1][2] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and control of industry and commerce,[3] that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italyduring World War I, before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalismMarxism, and anarchism, fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[4][5]  {No longer.  As progressive/liberals gain power they suppress conservative thought and policy. Take a look at the People’s Republic of California: fascist laws are repressing conservative morality.}

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A “military citizenship” arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[6][7] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[6][7]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarianone-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[8] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[8] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[9][10][11][12] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.[13]

Since the end of World War II in 1945, few parties have openly described themselves as fascist, and the term is instead now usually used pejoratively by political opponents. The descriptions neo-fascist or post-fascist are sometimes applied more formally to describe parties of the far right with ideologies similar to, or rooted in, 20th century fascist movements.[14]


The Italian term fascismo is derived from fascio meaning a bundle of rods, ultimately from the Latin word fasces.[15] This was the name given to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates. According to Mussolini‘s own account, the Fascist Revolutionary Party (Partito Fascista Rivoluzionario or PFR) was founded in Italy in 1915.[16] In 1919, Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in Milan, which became the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) two years later. The Fascists came to associate the term with the ancient Roman fasces or fascio littorio[17]—a bundle of rods tied around an axe,[18] an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate[19] carried by his lictors, which could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command.[20][21]

The symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break.[22] Similar symbols were developed by different fascist movements; for example, the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.[23]


Main article: Definitions of fascism

Historians, political scientists, and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism.[24] Each interpretation of fascism is distinct, leaving many definitions too wide or narrow.[25][26]

One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts: the fascist negations (anti-liberalismanti-communism and anti-conservatism); nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence, and promotion of masculinity, youth and charismatic leadership.[27][28][29] According to many scholars, fascism—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far right.[30]

Roger Griffin describes fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism”.[31] Griffin describes the ideology as having three core components: “(i) the rebirth myth, (ii) populist ultra-nationalism and (iii) the myth of decadence”.[32] Fascism is “a genuinely revolutionary, trans-class form of anti-liberal, and in the last analysis, anti-conservative nationalism” built on a complex range of theoretical and cultural influences. He distinguishes an inter-war period in which it manifested itself in elite-led but populist “armed party” politics opposing socialism and liberalism and promising radical politics to rescue the nation from decadence.[33]

Robert Paxton says that fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”[34]

Umberto Eco,[35] Kevin Passmore,[36] John Weiss,[37] Ian Adams,[38] and Moyra Grant,[39] mention racism (including anti-semitism) as a characteristic component of fascism; e.g. how the fascistic dictator Hitler idealized German society as a racially unified and hierarchically organized Volksgemeinschaft construct. Fascist Philosophies vary by application, but remain distinct by one theoretic commonality. All traditionally fall into the far-right sector of any political spectrum, catalyzed by afflicted class identities over conventional social inequities.[40]

John Lukacs, Hungarian-American historian and Holocaust survivor, argues that there is no such thing as generic fascism. He claims that National Socialism and Communism are essentially manifestations of populism and that states such as National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy are more different than similar.[41]

Position in the political spectrum

Fascism was influenced by both left and right, conservative and anti-conservative, national and supranational, rational and anti-rational.[42] A number of historians regard fascism as either a revolutionary centrist doctrine, as a doctrine that mixes philosophies of the left and the right, or as both of those things.[43][44] Fascism was founded during World War I by Italian national syndicalists who drew upon left-wing and right-wing political views.

Some scholars consider fascism to be right-wing because of its social conservatism and its authoritarian means of opposing egalitarianism.[45][46] Roderick Stackelberg places fascism—including Nazism, which he says is “a radical variant of fascism”—on the political right, explaining that, “The more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be.”[47]

Italian Fascism gravitated to the right in the early 1920s.[48][49] A major element of fascist ideology that has been deemed to be far-right is its stated goal to promote the right of a supposedly superior people to dominate, while purging society of supposedly inferior elements.[50]

In 1919 Benito Mussolini described fascism as a movement that would strike “against the backwardness of the right and the destructiveness of the left”.[51][52] Later, the Italian Fascists described their ideology as right-wing in the political program The Doctrine of Fascism, stating: “We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the ‘right,’ a fascist century.”[53][54] Mussolini stated that fascism’s position on the political spectrum was not a serious issue for fascists: “Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center … These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don’t give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words.”[55]

The accommodation of the political right into the Italian Fascist movement in the early 1920s created internal factions within the movement. The “Fascist left” included Michele BianchiGiuseppe BottaiAngelo Oliviero OlivettiSergio Panunzio, and Edmondo Rossoni, who were committed to advancing national syndicalism as a replacement for parliamentary liberalism in order to modernize the economy and advance the interests of workers and common people.[56] The “Fascist right” included members of the paramilitary Squadristi and former members of the Italian Nationalist Association (ANI).[56] The Squadristi wanted to establish Fascism as a complete dictatorship, while the former ANI members, including Alfredo Rocco, sought to institute an authoritarian corporatist state to replace the liberal state in Italy, while retaining the existing elites.[56] Upon accommodating the political right, there arose a group of monarchist fascists who sought to use fascism to create an absolute monarchy under King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.[56]

After King Victor Emmanuel III forced Mussolini to resign as head of government and placed him under arrest in 1943, Mussolini was rescued by German forces. While continuing to rely on Germany for support, Mussolini and the remaining loyal Fascists founded the Italian Social Republic with Mussolini as head of state. Mussolini sought to re-radicalize Italian Fascism, declaring that the Fascist state had been overthrown because Italian Fascism had been subverted by Italian conservatives and the bourgeoisie.[57] Then the new Fascist government proposed the creation of workers’ councils and profit-sharing in industry, although the German authorities, who effectively controlled northern Italy at this point, ignored these measures and did not seek to enforce them.[57]

A number of post-World War II fascist movements described themselves as a “third position” outside the traditional political spectrum.[58] Spanish Falangist leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera said: “basically the Right stands for the maintenance of an economic structure, albeit an unjust one, while the Left stands for the attempt to subvert that economic structure, even though the subversion thereof would entail the destruction of much that was worthwhile”.[59]

Fascist as a pejorative

Main article: Fascist (insult)

Following the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II, the term fascist has been used as a pejorative,[60] often referring to widely varying movements across the political spectrum.[61]George Orwell wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’”.[61]

Contrary to the popular use of the term, Communist states have sometimes been referred to as “fascist”, typically as an insult. Marxist interpretations of the term have, for example, been applied in relation to Cuba under Fidel Castro and Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh.[62]

Chinese Marxists used the term to denounce the Soviet Union during the Sino-Soviet Split, and likewise, the Soviets used the term to denounce Chinese Marxists[63] and social democracy (coining a new term social fascism).

In the United States, Herbert Matthews of the New York Times asked in 1946, “Should we now place Stalinist Russia in the same category as Hitlerite Germany? Should we say that she is Fascist?”[64]J. Edgar Hoover, longtime FBI director and ardent anti-communist, wrote extensively of “Red Fascism”.[65]

Professor Richard Griffiths of the University of Wales[66] wrote in 2005 that “fascism” is the “most misused, and over-used word, of our times”.[26] “Fascist” is sometimes applied to post-World War II organizations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term “neo-fascist“.[67]


Further information: Fascism and ideology

Fin de siècle era and the fusion of Maurrasism with Sorelianism (1880–1914)

The historian Zeev Sternhell has traced the ideological roots of fascism back to the 1880s, and in particular to the fin de siècle theme of that time.[68][69] The theme was based on a revolt against materialismrationalismpositivism, bourgeois society and democracy.[70] The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalismirrationalismsubjectivism and vitalism.[71] The fin-de-siècle mindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.[70] The fin-de-siècle intellectual school considered the individual only one part of the larger collectivity, which should not be viewed as an atomized numerical sum of individuals.[70]They condemned the rationalistic individualism of liberal society and the dissolution of social links in bourgeois society.[70]

The fin-de-siècle outlook was influenced by various intellectual developments, including DarwinianbiologyWagnerian aestheticsArthur de Gobineau‘s racialismGustave Le Bon‘s psychology; and the philosophies of Friedrich NietzscheFyodor Dostoyevsky and Henri Bergson.[72]Social Darwinism, which gained widespread acceptance, made no distinction between physical and social life, and viewed the human condition as being an unceasing struggle to achieve the survival of the fittest.[72] Social Darwinism challenged positivism’s claim of deliberate and rational choice as the determining behaviour of humans, with social Darwinism focusing on heredity, race, and environment.[72] Social Darwinism’s emphasis on biogroup identity and the role of organic relations within societies fostered legitimacy and appeal for nationalism.[73] New theories of social and political psychology also rejected the notion of human behaviour being governed by rational choice, and instead claimed that emotion was more influential in political issues than reason.[72] Nietzsche’s argument that “God is dead” coincided with his attack on the “herd mentality” of Christianity, democracy and modern collectivism; his concept of the übermensch; and his advocacy of the will to power as a primordial instinct, were major influences upon many of the fin-de-siècle generation.[74] Bergson’s claim of the existence of an “élan vital” or vital instinct centred upon free choice and rejected the processes of materialism and determinism; this challenged Marxism.[75]

Gaetano Mosca in his work The Ruling Class (1896) developed the theory that claims that in all societies an “organized minority” will dominate and rule over the “disorganized majority”.[76][77] Mosca claims that there are only two classes in society, “the governing” (the organized minority) and “the governed” (the disorganized majority).[78] He claims that the organized nature of the organized minority makes it irresistible to any individual of the disorganized majority.[78]

The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin‘s concept of propaganda of the deed, which stressed the importance of direct action as the primary means of politics, including revolutionary violence, became popular among fascists who admired the concept and adopted it as a part of fascism.[79]

Charles Maurras.
Georges Sorel

French nationalist and reactionary monarchist Charles Maurras influenced fascism.[80] Maurras promoted what he called integral nationalism, which called for the organic unity of a nation, and Maurras insisted that a powerful monarch was an ideal leader of a nation. Maurras distrusted what he considered the democratic mystification of the popular will that created an impersonal collective subject.[80] He claimed that a powerful monarch was a personified sovereign who could exercise authority to unite a nation’s people.[80] Maurras’ integral nationalism was idealized by fascists, but modified into a modernized revolutionary form that was devoid of Maurras’ monarchism.[80]

French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel promoted the legitimacy of political violence in his work Reflections on Violence (1908) and other works in which he advocated radical syndicalist action to achieve a revolution to overthrow capitalism and the bourgeoisie through a general strike.[81] In Reflections on Violence, Sorel emphasized need for a revolutionary political religion.[82] Also, in his work The Illusions of Progress, Sorel denounced democracy as reactionary, saying “nothing is more aristocratic than democracy”.[83] By 1909 after the failure of a syndicalist general strike in France, Sorel and his supporters left the radical left and went to the radical right, where they sought to merge militant Catholicism and French patriotism with their views—advocating anti-republican Christian French patriots as ideal revolutionaries.[84]Initially Sorel had officially been a revisionist of Marxism, but by 1910 announced his abandonment of socialist literature and claimed in 1914, using an aphorism of Benedetto Croce that “socialism is dead” because of the “decomposition of Marxism”.[85] Sorel became a supporter of reactionary Maurrassian nationalism beginning in 1909 that influenced his works.[85] Maurras held interest in merging his nationalist ideals with Soreliansyndicalism as a means to confront democracy.[86] Maurras stated “a socialism liberated from the democratic and cosmopolitan element fits nationalism well as a well made glove fits a beautiful hand”.[87]

The fusion of Maurrassian nationalism and Sorelian syndicalism influenced radical Italian nationalist Enrico Corradini.[88] Corradini spoke of the need for a nationalist-syndicalist movement, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democrats who shared a revolutionary syndicalist commitment to direct action and a willingness to fight.[88] Corradini spoke of Italy as being a “proletarian nation” that needed to pursue imperialism in order to challenge the “plutocratic” French and British.[89] Corradini’s views were part of a wider set of perceptions within the right-wing Italian Nationalist Association (ANI), which claimed that Italy’s economic backwardness was caused by corruption in its political class, liberalism, and division caused by “ignoble socialism”.[89] The ANI held ties and influence among conservatives, Catholics, and the business community.[89] Italian national syndicalists held a common set of principles: the rejection of bourgeois values, democracy, liberalism, Marxisminternationalism, and pacifism; and the promotion of heroismvitalism, and violence.[90] The ANI claimed that liberal democracy was no longer compatible with the modern world, and advocated a strong state and imperialism, claiming that humans are naturally predatory and that nations were in a constant struggle, in which only the strongest could survive.[91]

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Italian modernist author of the Futurist Manifesto (1909) and later the co-author of the Fascist Manifesto (1919)

Futurism was both an artistic-cultural movement and initially a political movement in Italy led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who founded the Futurist Manifesto (1908), that championed the causes of modernism, action, and political violence as necessary elements of politics while denouncing liberalism and parliamentary politics. Marinetti rejected conventional democracy based on majority rule and egalitarianism, for a new form of democracy, promoting what he described in his work “The Futurist Conception of Democracy” as the following: “We are therefore able to give the directions to create and to dismantle to numbersto quantityto the mass, for with us numberquantity and mass will never be—as they are in Germany and Russia—the number, quantity and mass of mediocre men, incapable and indecisive”.[92]

Futurism influenced fascism in its emphasis on recognizing the virile nature of violent action and war as being necessities of modern civilization.[93] Marinetti promoted the need of physical training of young men, saying that in male education, gymnastics should take precedence over books, and he advocated segregation of the genders on this matter, in that womanly sensibility must not enter men’s education whom Marinetti claimed must be “lively, bellicose, muscular and violently dynamic”.[94]

World War I and its aftermath (1914–29)

Benito Mussolini in 1917, as a soldier in World War I. In 1914, Mussolini founded the Fasci d’Azione Rivoluzionaria that he led. Mussolini promoted the Italian intervention in the war as a revolutionary nationalist action to liberate Italian-claimed lands from Austria-Hungary.

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Italian political left became severely split over its position on the war. The Italian Socialist Party (PSI) opposed the war but a number of Italian revolutionary syndicalists supported war against Germany and Austria-Hungary on the grounds that their reactionary regimes had to be defeated to ensure the success of socialism.[95]Angelo Oliviero Olivetti formed a pro-interventionist fascio called the Fasci of International Action in October 1914.[95] Benito Mussolini upon being expelled from his position as chief editor of the PSI’s newspaper Avanti! for his anti-German stance, joined the interventionist cause in a separate fascio.[96] The term “Fascism” was first used in 1915 by members of Mussolini’s movement, the Fasci of Revolutionary Action.[97]

The first meeting of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action was held on 24 January 1915[98] when Mussolini declared that it was necessary for Europe to resolve its national problems—including national borders—of Italy and elsewhere “for the ideals of justice and liberty for which oppressed peoples must acquire the right to belong to those national communities from which they descended”.[98] Attempts to hold mass meetings were ineffective, and the organization was regularly harassed by government authorities and socialists.[99]

German soldiers being cheered in Lübeck during their advance to the front lines in 1914 during World War I. The concept of the “Spirit of 1914” by Johann Plenge identified the outbreak of war as forging national solidarity of Germans.

Similar political ideas arose in Germany after the outbreak of the war. German sociologist Johann Plenge spoke of the rise of a “National Socialism” in Germany within what he termed the “ideas of 1914” that were a declaration of war against the “ideas of 1789” (the French Revolution).[100] According to Plenge, the “ideas of 1789” that included rights of man, democracy, individualism and liberalism were being rejected in favor of “the ideas of 1914” that included “German values” of duty, discipline, law, and order.[100] Plenge believed that racial solidarity (Volksgemeinschaft) would replace class division and that “racial comrades” would unite to create a socialist society in the struggle of “proletarian” Germany against “capitalist” Britain.[100] He believed that the “Spirit of 1914” manifested itself in the concept of the “People’s League of National Socialism”.[101] This National Socialism was a form of state socialism that rejected the “idea of boundless freedom” and promoted an economy that would serve the whole of Germany under the leadership of the state.[101] This National Socialism was opposed to capitalism because of the components that were against “the national interest” of Germany, but insisted that National Socialism would strive for greater efficiency in the economy.[101] Plenge advocated an authoritarian rational ruling elite to develop National Socialism through a hierarchical technocratic state.[102]

Impact of World War I

Fascists viewed World War I as bringing revolutionary changes in the nature of war, society, the state, and technology, as the advent of total war and mass mobilization had broken down the distinction between civilian and combatant, as civilians had become a critical part in economic production for the war effort, and thus arose a “military citizenship” in which all citizens were involved to the military in some manner during the war.[6][7] World War I had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines or provide economic production and logistics to support those on the front lines, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[6][7] Fascists viewed technological developments of weaponry and the state’s total mobilization of its population in the war as symbolizing the beginning of a new era fusing state power with mass politics, technology, and particularly the mobilizing myth that they contended had triumphed over the myth of progress and the era of liberalism.[6]

Members of Italy’s Arditi corps in 1918 holding daggers, a symbol of their group. The Arditi formed in 1917, as groups of soldiers trained for dangerous missions, refusal to surrender, and willingness to fight to the death. The Italian Fascist movement adopted the Arditi’s black uniform and fez in homage to the Arditi.

Impact of the Bolshevik Revolution

The October Revolution of 1917—in which Bolshevik communists led by Vladimir Lenin seized power in Russia—greatly influenced the development of fascism.[103] In 1917, Mussolini, as leader of the Fasci of Revolutionary Action, praised the October Revolution, but later he became unimpressed with Lenin, regarding him as merely a new version of Tsar Nicholas.[104] After World War I fascists have commonly campaigned on anti-Marxist agendas.[103] Bolshevism and fascism both advocated a revolutionary ideology, believed in the necessity of a vanguard elite, had disdain for bourgeois values, and had totalitarian ambitions.[103] In practice, fascism and Bolshevism have commonly emphasized revolutionary action, proletarian nation theories, one-party states, and party-armies.[103]

With the antagonism between anti-interventionist Marxists and pro-interventionist Fascists complete by the end of the war, the two sides became irreconcilable. The Fascists presented themselves as anti-Marxists and as opposed to the Marxists.[105] Benito Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement in 1919 with the founding of the Fasci italiani di combattimento, whose opposition to socialism he declared:

We declare war against socialism, not because it is socialism, but because it has opposed nationalism. Although we can discuss the question of what socialism is, what is its program, and what are its tactics, one thing is obvious: the official Italian Socialist Party has been reactionary and absolutely conservative. If its views had prevailed, our survival in the world of today would be impossible.[106]

Fascist Manifesto of 1919

In 1919, Alceste De Ambris and Futurist movement leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti created The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat (a.k.a. the Fascist Manifesto).[107] The Manifesto was presented on 6 June 1919 in the Fascist newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia. The Manifesto supported the creation of universal suffrage for both men and women (the latter being realized only partly in late 1925, with all opposition parties banned or disbanded[108]); proportional representation on a regional basis; government representation through a corporatist system of “National Councils” of experts, selected from professionals and tradespeople, elected to represent and hold legislative power over their respective areas, including labour, industry, transportation, public health, communications, etc.; and the abolition of the Italian Senate.[109] The Manifesto supported the creation of an eight-hour work day for all workers, a minimum wage, worker representation in industrial management, equal confidence in labour unions as in industrial executives and public servants, reorganization of the transportation sector, revision of the draft law on invalidity insurance, reduction of the retirement age from 65 to 55, a strong progressive tax on capital, confiscation of the property of religious institutions and abolishment of bishoprics, and revision of military contracts to allow the government to seize 85% of their[who?] profits.[110] It also called for the creation of a short-service national militia to serve defensive duties, nationalization of the armaments industry, and a foreign policy designed to be peaceful but also competitive.[111]

Residents of Fiume cheer the arrival of Gabriele d’Annunzio and his blackshirt-wearing nationalist raiders. D’Annunzio and Fascist Alceste De Ambrisdeveloped the quasi-fascist Italian Regency of Carnaro, a city-state in Fiume, from 1919 to 1920. D’Annunzio’s actions in Fiume inspired the Italian Fascist movement.

The next events that influenced the Fascists in Italy was the raid of Fiume by Italian nationalist Gabriele d’Annunzio and the founding of the Charter of Carnaro in 1920.[112] D’Annunzio and De Ambris designed the Charter, which advocated national-syndicalist corporatistproductionism alongside D’Annunzio’s political views.[113] Many Fascists saw the Charter of Carnaro as an ideal constitution for a Fascist Italy.[114] This behaviour of aggression towards Yugoslavia and South Slavs was pursued by Italian Fascists with their persecution of South Slavs—especially Slovenes and Croats.

Italian Fascists in 1920

In 1920, militant strike activity by industrial workers reached its peak in Italy; 1919 and 1920 were known as the “Red Years”.[115] Mussolini and the Fascists took advantage of the situation by allying with industrial businesses and attacking workers and peasants in the name of preserving order and internal peace in Italy.[116]

Fascists identified their primary opponents as the majority of socialists on the left who had opposed intervention in World War I.[114] The Fascists and the Italian political right held common ground: both held Marxism in contempt, discounted class consciousness and believed in the rule of elites.[117] The Fascists assisted the anti-socialist campaign by allying with the other parties and the conservative right in a mutual effort to destroy the Italian Socialist Party and labour organizations committed to class identity above national identity.[117]

Fascism sought to accommodate Italian conservatives by making major alterations to its political agenda—abandoning its previous populismrepublicanism, and anticlericalism, adopting policies in support of free enterprise, and accepting the Roman Catholic Church and the monarchy as institutions in Italy.[118] To appeal to Italian conservatives, Fascism adopted policies such as promoting family values, including promotion policies designed to reduce the number of women in the workforce limiting the woman’s role to that of a mother. The fascists banned literature on birth control and increased penalties for abortion in 1926, declaring both crimes against the state.[119] Though Fascism adopted a number of positions designed to appeal to reactionaries, the Fascists sought to maintain Fascism’s revolutionary character, with Angelo Oliviero Olivetti saying “Fascism would like to be conservative, but it will [be] by being revolutionary.”[120] The Fascists supported revolutionary action and committed to secure law and order to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists.[121]

Prior to Fascism’s accommodation of the political right, Fascism was a small, urban, northern Italian movement that had about a thousand members.[122] After Fascism’s accommodation of the political right, the Fascist movement’s membership soared to approximately 250,000 by 1921.[123]

Fascist violence, 1922

Beginning in 1922, Fascist paramilitaries escalated their strategy from one of attacking socialist offices and homes of socialist leadership figures to one of violent occupation of cities. The Fascists met little serious resistance from authorities and proceeded to take over several northern Italian cities.[124] The Fascists attacked the headquarters of socialist and Catholic labour unions in Cremona and imposed forced Italianization upon the German-speaking population of Trent and Bolzano.[124] After seizing these cities, the Fascists made plans to take Rome.[124]

Benito Mussolini with three of the four quadrumvirsduring the March on Rome: from left to right: unknown, de Bono, Mussolini, Balbo and de Vecchi

On 24 October 1922, the Fascist party held its annual congress in Naples, where Mussolini ordered Blackshirts to take control of public buildings and trains and to converge on three points around Rome.[124] The Fascists managed to seize control of several post offices and trains in northern Italy while the Italian government, led by a left-wing coalition, was internally divided and unable to respond to the Fascist advances.[125] King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy perceived the risk of bloodshed in Rome in response to attempting to disperse the Fascists to be too high.[126] Victor Emmanuel III decided to appoint Mussolini as Prime Minister of Italy, and Mussolini arrived in Rome on 30 October to accept the appointment.[126] Fascist propaganda aggrandized this event, known as “March on Rome“, as a “seizure” of power because of Fascists’ heroic exploits.[124]

Fascist Italy

Historian Stanley G. Payne says Fascism in Italy was:

A primarily political dictatorship….The Fascist Party itself had become almost completely bureaucratized and subservient to, not dominant over, the state itself. Big business, industry, and finance retained extensive autonomy, particularly in the early years. The armed forces also enjoyed considerable autonomy….The Fascist militia was placed under military control….The judicial system was left largely intact and relatively autonomous as well. The police continued to be directed by state officials and were not taken over by party leaders…nor was a major new police elite created….There was never any question of bringing the Church under overall subservience…. Sizable sectors of Italian cultural life retained extensive autonomy, and no major state propaganda-and-culture ministry existed….The Mussolini regime was neither especially sanguinary nor particularly repressive.[127]

Mussolini in power

Upon being appointed Prime Minister of Italy, Mussolini had to form a coalition government, because the Fascists did not have control over the Italian parliament.[128] Mussolini’s coalition government initially pursued economically liberal policies under the direction of liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani, a member of the Center Party, including balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service.[128] Initially, little drastic change in government policy had occurred and repressive police actions were limited.[128]

The Fascists began their attempt to entrench Fascism in Italy with the Acerbo Law, which guaranteed a plurality of the seats in parliament to any party or coalition list in an election that received 25% or more of the vote.[129] Through considerable Fascist violence and intimidation, the list won a majority of the vote, allowing many seats to go to the Fascists.[129] In the aftermath of the election, a crisis and political scandal erupted after Socialist Party deputy Giacomo Matteoti was kidnapped and murdered by a Fascist.[129] The liberals and the leftist minority in parliament walked out in protest in what became known as the Aventine Secession.[130]On 3 January 1925, Mussolini addressed the Fascist-dominated Italian parliament and declared that he was personally responsible for what happened, but he insisted that he had done nothing wrong. He proclaimed himself dictator of Italy, assuming full responsibility over the government and announcing the dismissal of parliament.[130] From 1925 to 1929, Fascism steadily became entrenched in power: opposition deputies were denied access to parliament, censorship was introduced, and a December 1925 decree made Mussolini solely responsible to the King.[131]

Catholic Church

In 1929, the Fascist regime gained the political support and blessing of the Roman Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century.[132] Not long after signing the agreement, the Church, by Mussolini’s own confession, had threatened to have him “excommunicated”, in part because of his intractable nature and that he had “confiscated more issues of Catholic newspapers in the next three months than in the previous seven years.”[133] By the late 1930s, Mussolini became more vocal in his anti-clerical rhetoric, repeatedly denouncing the Catholic Church and discussing ways to depose the pope. He took the position that the “papacy was a malignant tumor in the body of Italy and must ‘be rooted out once and for all,’ because there was no room in Rome for both the Pope and himself.”[134] In her 1974 book, Mussolini’s widow, Rachele, claimed that her husband had always been an atheist until near the end of his life, writing that her husband was “basically irreligious until the later years of his life.”[135]

The National Socialists of Germany employed similar anti-clerical policies. The Gestapo confiscated hundreds of monasteries in Austria and Germany, evicted clergymen and laymen alike, and often replaced crosses with a swastikas.[136] Referring to the swastika as the “Devil’s Cross,” church leaders found their youth organizations banned, their meetings limited and various Catholic periodicals censored or banned. Government officials eventually found it necessary to place “Nazis into editorial positions in the Catholic press.”[137] Up to 2720 clerics, mostly Catholics, were arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned inside of Germany’s Dachau concentration camp, resulting in over 1,000 deaths[138]

Corporatist economic system

The Fascist regime created a corporatist economic system in 1925 with creation of the Palazzo Vidioni Pact, in which the Italian employers’ association Confindustria and Fascist trade unions agreed to recognize each other as the sole representatives of Italy’s employers and employees, excluding non-Fascist trade unions.[139]The Fascist regime first created a Ministry of Corporations that organized the Italian economy into 22 sectoral corporations, banned workers’ strikes and lock-outs, and in 1927 created the Charter of Labour, which established workers’ rights and duties and created labour tribunals to arbitrate employer-employee disputes.[139]In practice, the sectoral corporations exercised little independence and were largely controlled by the regime, and employee organizations were rarely led by employees themselves but instead by appointed Fascist party members.[139]

Aggressive foreign policy

In the 1920s, Fascist Italy pursued an aggressive foreign policy that included an attack on the Greek island of Corfu, aims to expand Italian territory in the Balkans, plans to wage war against Turkey and Yugoslavia, attempts to bring Yugoslavia into civil war by supporting Croat and Macedonian separatists to legitimize Italian intervention, and making Albania a de factoprotectorate of Italy, which was achieved through diplomatic means by 1927.[140] In response to revolt in the Italian colony of Libya, Fascist Italy abandoned previous liberal-era colonial policy of cooperation with local leaders. Instead, claiming that Italians were a superior race to African races and thereby had the right to colonize the “inferior” Africans, it sought to settle 10 to 15 million Italians in Libya.[141] This resulted in an aggressive military campaign known as the Pacification of Libya against natives in Libya, including mass killings, the use of concentration camps, and the forced starvation of thousands of people.[141] Italian authorities committed ethnic cleansing by forcibly expelling 100,000 Bedouin Cyrenaicans, half the population of Cyrenaica in Libya, from their settlements that was slated to be given to Italian settlers.[142][143]

Hitler adopts Italian model

Nazis in Munich during the Beer Hall Putsch.

The March on Rome brought Fascism international attention. One early admirer of the Italian Fascists was Adolf Hitler, who, less than a month after the March, had begun to model himself and the Nazi Party upon Mussolini and the Fascists.[144] The Nazis, led by Hitler and the German war hero Erich Ludendorff, attempted a “March on Berlin” modeled upon the March on Rome, which resulted in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in November 1923.[145]

International impact of the Great Depression and the buildup to World War II

Benito Mussolini (left) and Adolf Hitler (right).

The conditions of economic hardship caused by the Great Depression brought about an international surge of social unrest. According to historian Philip Morgan, “the onset of the Great Depression…was the greatest stimulus yet to the diffusion and expansion of fascism outside Italy”.[146] Fascist propaganda blamed the problems of the long depression of the 1930s on minorities and scapegoats: “JudeoMasonicbolshevik” conspiracies, left-wing internationalism, and the presence of immigrants.

In Germany, it contributed to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which resulted in the demise of the Weimar Republic, and the establishment of the fascist regime, Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazis to power in 1933, liberal democracy was dissolved in Germany, and the Nazis mobilized the country for war, with expansionist territorial aims against several countries. In the 1930s the Nazis implemented racial laws that deliberately discriminated against, disenfranchised, and persecuted Jews and other racial and minority groups.

Fascist movements grew in strength elsewhere in Europe. Hungarian fascist Gyula Gömbös rose to power as Prime Minister of Hungary in 1932 and attempted to entrench his Party of National Unity throughout the country; he created an eight-hour work day, a forty-eight-hour work week in industry, and sought to entrench a corporatist economy; and pursued irredentist claims on Hungary’s neighbors.[147] The fascist Iron Guard movement in Romania soared in political support after 1933, gaining representation in the Romanian government, and an Iron Guard member assassinated Romanian prime minister Ion Duca.[148] During the 6 February 1934 crisisFrance faced the greatest domestic political turmoil since the Dreyfus Affair when the fascist Francist Movement and multiple far right movements rioted en masse in Paris against the French government resulting in major political violence.[149] A variety of para-fascist governments that borrowed elements from fascism were formed during the Great Depression, including those of GreeceLithuaniaPoland, and Yugoslavia.[150]

Integralists marching in Brazil.

In the Americas, the Brazilian Integralists led by Plínio Salgado, claimed as many as 200,000 members although following coup attempts it faced a crackdown from the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas in 1937.[151] In the 1930s, the National Socialist Movement of Chile gained seats in Chile‘s parliament and attempted a coup d’état that resulted in the Seguro Obrero massacre of 1938.[152]

During the Great Depression, Mussolini promoted active state intervention in the economy. He denounced the contemporary “supercapitalism” that he claimed began in 1914 as a failure because of its alleged decadence, its support for unlimited consumerism and its intention to create the “standardization of humankind”.[153] Fascist Italy created the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), a giant state-owned firm and holding company that provided state funding to failing private enterprises.[154] The IRI was made a permanent institution in Fascist Italy in 1937, pursued Fascist policies to create national autarky, and had the power to take over private firms to maximize war production.[154] While Hitler’s regime only nationalized 500 companies in key industries by the early 1940s,[155] Mussolini declared in 1934 that “Three-fourths of Italian economy, industrial and agricultural, is in the hands of the state.”[156] Due to the worldwide depression, Mussolini’s government was able to take over most of Italy’s largest failing banks, who held controlling interest in many Italian businesses. The Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, a state-operated holding company in charge of bankrupt banks and companies, reported in early 1934 that they held assets of “48.5 percent of the share capital of Italy,” which later included the capital of the banks themselves.[157] Political historian Martin Blinkhorn estimated Italy’s scope of state intervention and ownership “greatly surpassed that in Nazi Germany, giving Italy a public sector second only to that of Stalin’s Russia.”[158] In the late 1930s, Italy enacted manufacturing cartels, tariff barriers, currency restrictions, and massive regulation of the economy to attempt to balance payments.[159] Italy’s policy of autarky failed to achieve effective economic autonomy.[159] Nazi Germany similarly pursued an economic agenda with the aims of autarky and rearmament and imposed protectionist policies, including forcing the German steel industry to use lower-quality German iron ore rather than superior-quality imported iron.[160]

World War II (1939–45)

In Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, both Mussolini and Hitler pursued territorial expansionist and interventionist foreign policy agendas from the 1930s through the 1940s culminating in World War II. Mussolini called for irredentist Italian claims to be reclaimed, establishing Italian domination of the Mediterranean Sea and securing Italian access to the Atlantic Ocean, and the creation of Italian spazio vitale (“vital space”) in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions.[161] Hitler called for irredentist German claims to be reclaimed along with the creation of German Lebensraum (“living space”) in Eastern Europe, including territories held by the Soviet Union, that would be colonized by Germans.[162]

Emaciated male inmate at the Italian Rab concentration camp.

From 1935 to 1939 Germany and Italy escalated their demands for territorial claims and greater influence in world affairs. Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 resulting in its condemnation by the League of Nations and its widespread diplomatic isolation. In 1936 Germany remilitarized the industrial Rhineland; the region had been ordered demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938 Germany annexed Austria and Italy assisted Germany in resolving the diplomatic crisis between Germany versus Britain and France over claims on Czechoslovakia by arranging the Munich Agreement that gave Germany the Sudetenland and was perceived at the time to have averted a European war. These hopes faded when Hitler violated the Munich Agreement by ordering the invasion and partition of Czechoslovakia between Germany and a client state of Slovakia in 1939. At the same time from 1938 to 1939, Italy was demanding territorial and colonial concessions from France and Britain.[163] In 1939, Germany prepared for war with Poland, but attempted to gain territorial concessions from Poland through diplomatic means.[164] The Polish government did not trust Hitler’s promises and refused to accept Germany’s demands.[164]

The invasion of Poland by Germany was deemed unacceptable by Britain, France and their allies, resulting in their mutual declaration of war against Germany that was deemed the aggressor in the war in Poland, resulting in the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, Mussolini led Italy into World War II on the side of the Axis. Mussolini was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity to carry out a long war with France or the United Kingdom and waited until France was on the verge of imminent collapse and surrender from the German invasion before declaring war on France and the United Kingdom on 10 June 1940, on the assumption that the war would be short-lived following France’s collapse.[165] Mussolini believed that following a brief entry of Italy into war with France, followed by the imminent French surrender, Italy could gain some territorial concessions from France and then concentrate its forces on a major offensive in Egypt where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces.[166] Plans by Germany to invade the UK in 1940 failed after Germany lost the aerial warfare campaign in the Battle of Britain. In 1941 the Axis campaign spread to the Soviet Union after Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa. Axis forces at the height of their power controlled almost all of continental Europe. The war became prolonged—contrary to Mussolini’s plans—resulting in Italy losing battles on multiple fronts and requiring German assistance.

Corpses of victims of the German Buchenwald concentration camp.

During World War II, the Axis Powers in Europe, led by Nazi Germany, participated in the extermination of millions of Poles, Jews, Gypsies and others in the genocide known as the Holocaust.

After 1942, Axis forces began to falter. By 1943, after Italy faced multiple military failures, the complete reliance and subordination of Italy to Germany, the Allied invasion of Italy, and the corresponding international humiliation, Mussolini was removed as head of government and arrestedon the order of King Victor Emmanuel III, who proceeded to dismantle the Fascist state and declared Italy’s switching of allegiance to the Allied side. Mussolini was rescued from arrest by German forces and led the German client state, the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany faced multiple losses and steady Soviet and Western Allied offensives from 1943 to 1945.

On 28 April 1945, Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian communist partisans. On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide. Shortly afterwards, Germany surrendered and the Nazi regime was systematically dismantled by the occupying Allied powers. An International Military Tribunal was subsequently convened in Nuremberg. Beginning in November 1945 and lasting through 1949, numerous Nazi political, military and economic leaders were tried and convicted of war crimes, with many of the worst offenders receiving the death penalty.

Post-World-War II (1945–present)

Main article: Neo-fascism

Juan PerónPresident of Argentina from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974. Perón admired Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on those pursued by Fascist Italy.

The victory of the Allies over the Axis powers in World War II led to the collapse of many fascist regimes in Europe. The Nuremberg Trials convicted several Nazi leaders of crimes against humanity involving the Holocaust. There remained, however, several movements and governments that were ideologically related to fascism.

Francisco Franco‘s Falangist one-party state in Spain was officially neutral during World War II and it survived the collapse of the Axis Powers. Franco’s rise to power had been directly assisted by the militaries of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during the Spanish Civil War, and Franco had sent volunteers to fight on the side of Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union during World War II. After World War II and a period of international isolation, Franco’s regime normalized relations with the Western powers during the Cold War, until Franco’s death in 1975 and the transformation of Spain into a liberal democracy.

Historian Robert Paxton observes that one of the main problems in defining fascism it that it was widely mimicked. He says, “In fascism’s heyday, in the 1930s, many regimes that were not functionally fascist borrowed elements of fascist decor in order to lend themselves an aura of force, vitality, and mass mobilization.” He goes on to observe that Salazar “crushed Portuguese fascism after he had copied some of its techniques of popular mobilization.”[167]Portugal was under the control of the Estado Novo, a dictatorship led by António de Oliveira Salazar. In Argentina Peronism, associated with the regime of Juan Perón from 1946 to 1955 and 1973 to 1974, was influenced by fascism.[168] Between 1939 and 1941, prior to his rise to power, Perón had developed a deep admiration of Italian Fascism and modelled his economic policies on Italian Fascist policies.[168]

Giorgio Almirante, leader of the Italian Social Movementfrom 1969–1987.

The term neo-fascism refers to fascist movements after World War II. In Italy, the Italian Social Movement, led by Giorgio Almirante, was a major neo-fascist movement that transformed itself into a self-described “post-fascist” movement called the National Alliance (AN), which has been an ally of Silvio Berlusconi‘s Forza Italia for a decade. In 2008, AN joined Forza Italia in Berlusconi’s new party The People of Freedom. In 2012 a group of politicians split from The People of Freedom, refounding the party with the name Brothers of Italy. In Germany, various neo-Nazi movements have been formed and banned in accordance with Germany’s constitutional law which forbids Nazism. The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) is widely considered a neo-Nazi party, although the party does not publicly identify itself as such.

Golden Dawn demonstration in Greece in 2012.

After the onset of the Great Recession and economic crisis in Greece, a movement known as the Golden Dawn, widely considered a neo-Nazi party, soared in support out of obscurity and won seats in Greece‘s parliament, espousing a staunch hostility towards minorities, illegal immigrants, and refugees. In 2013, after the murder of an anti-fascist musician by a person with links to Golden Dawn, the Greek government ordered the arrest of Golden Dawn’s leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other Golden Dawn members on charges related to being associated with a criminal organization.



Nationalism is the main foundation of fascism.[169] The fascist view of a nation is of a single organic entity that binds people together by their ancestry, and is a natural unifying force of people.[170] Fascism seeks to solve economic, political, and social problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth, exalting the nation or race above all else, and promoting cults of unity, strength, and purity.[34][171][172][173][174] European fascist movements typically espouse a racist conception of non-Europeans being inferior to Europeans.[175] Beyond this, fascists in Europe have not held a unified set of racial views.[175] Historically, most fascists promoted imperialism, although there have been several fascist movements that were uninterested in the pursuit of new imperial ambitions.[175]


Fascism promotes the establishment of a totalitarian state.[176] It opposes liberal democracy, rejects multi-party systems, and supports a one-party state. The Doctrine of Fascism states, “The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people.”[177] In The Legal Basis of the Total State, Nazi political theorist Carl Schmittdescribed the Nazi intention to form a “strong state which guarantees a totality of political unity transcending all diversity” in order to avoid a “disastrous pluralism tearing the German people apart”.[178]

Fascist states pursued policies of social indoctrination through propaganda in education and the media and regulation of the production of educational and media materials.[179][180] Education was designed to glorify the fascist movement and inform students of its historical and political importance to the nation. It attempted to purge ideas that were not consistent with the beliefs of the fascist movement and to teach students to be obedient to the state.[181]


Main article: Economics of fascism

Fascism presented itself as a third position, alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism.[182] While fascism opposed mainstream socialism, it sometimes regarded itself as a type of nationalist “socialism”, to highlight their commitment to national solidarityand unity.[183][184] Fascists opposed international free market capitalism, but supported a type of productive capitalism.[185]

Fascist governments advocated resolution of domestic class conflict within a nation in order to secure national solidarity.[186] This would be done through the state mediating relations between the classes (contrary to the views of classical liberal-inspired capitalists).[187] While fascism was opposed to domestic class conflict, it was held that bourgeois-proletarian conflict existed primarily in national conflict between proletarian nations versus bourgeois nations.[188] Fascism condemned what it viewed as widespread character traits that it associated as the typical bourgeois mentality that it opposed, such as materialism, crassness, cowardice, inability to comprehend the heroic ideal of the fascist “warrior”; and associations with liberalism, individualism, and parliamentarianism.[189] In 1918, Mussolini defined what he viewed as the proletarian character, defining proletarian as being one and the same with producers, a productivist perspective that associated all people deemed productive, including entrepreneurs, technicians, workers, and soldiers as being proletarian.[190] He acknowledged the historical existence of both bourgeois and proletarian producers, but declared the need for bourgeois producers to merge with proletarian producers.[190]

While fascism denounced the mainstream internationalist and Marxist socialisms, it claimed to economically represent a type of nationalist productivist socialism that while condemning parasitical capitalism, was willing to accommodate productivist capitalism within it.[185] This was derived from Henri de Saint Simon, whose ideas inspired the creation of utopian socialism and influenced other ideologies, that stressed solidarity rather than class war and whose conception of productive people in the economy included both productive workers and productive bosses to challenge the influence of the aristocracy and unproductive financial speculators.[191] Saint Simon’s vision combined the traditionalist right-wing criticisms of the French Revolution combined with a left-wing belief in the need for association or collaboration of productive people in society.[191] Whereas Marxism condemned capitalism as a system of exploitative property relations, fascism saw the nature of the control of credit and money in the contemporary capitalist system as abusive.[185] Unlike Marxism, fascism did not see class conflict between the Marxist-defined proletariat and the bourgeoisie as a given or as an engine of historical materialism.[185] Instead, it viewed workers and productive capitalists in common as productive people who were in conflict with parasitic elements in society including: corrupt political parties, corrupt financial capital, and feeble people.[185] Fascist leaders such as Mussolini and Hitler spoke of the need to create a new managerial elite led by engineers and captains of industry—but free from the parasitic leadership of industries.[185] Hitler stated that the Nazi Party supported bodenständigen Kapitalismus (productive capitalism) that was based upon profit earned from one’s own labour, but condemned unproductive capitalism or loan capitalism, which derived profit from speculation.[192]

Fascist economics supported a state-controlled economy that accepted a mix of private and public ownership over the means of production.[193]Economic planning was applied to both the public and private sector, and the prosperity of private enterprise depended on its acceptance of synchronizing itself with the economic goals of the state.[194] Fascist economic ideology supported the profit motive, but emphasized that industries must uphold the national interest as superior to private profit.[194]

While fascism accepted the importance of material wealth and power, it condemned materialism, which it identified as being present in both communism and capitalism, and criticized materialism for lacking acknowledgement of the role of the spirit.[195] In particular, fascists criticized capitalism not because of its competitive nature nor support of private property, which fascists supported—but due to its materialism, individualism, alleged bourgeois decadence, and alleged indifference to the nation.[196] Fascism denounced Marxism for its advocacy of materialist internationalist class identity, which fascists regarded as an attack upon the emotional and spiritual bonds of the nation and a threat to the achievement of genuine national solidarity.[197]

Economic self-sufficiency, known as autarky, was a major goal of most fascist governments.[198]

In discussing the spread of fascism beyond Italy, historian Philip Morgan states

Since the Depression was a crisis of laissez-faire capitalism and its political counterpart, parliamentary democracy, fascism could pose as the ‘third-way’ alternative between capitalism and Bolshevism, the model of a new European ‘civilization’. As Mussolini typically put it in early 1934, “from 1929…fascism has become a universal phenomenon… The dominant forces of the 19th century, democracy, socialism, liberalism have been exhausted…the new political and economic forms of the twentieth-century are fascist'(Mussolini 1935: 32).[146]

Fascists promoted social welfare to ameliorate economic conditions affecting their nation or race as a whole, but they did not support social welfare for egalitarian reasons towards those not considered racially embodied with pure German blood. Under an extensive welfare system, over 17 million Germans obtain assistance under the control of National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV) by 1939, an agency that had “projected a powerful image of caring and support.”[199] The NSV had grown to the second largest Nazi group organization by 1939, dwarfed only by the German Labor Front. The NSV and its Winter Aid and Strength Through Joyprovided evidence to the German citizenry that the National Socialists were keeping their promise to create “an organic national community” where “class conflict and social antagonisms would be overcome,” and the “egoism of the individual” would instead surrender to the “overriding interests of the whole.”[200] These programs were designed to “obliterate distinctions of class and status,” and enhance the lives of the ordinary people.[200] Fascists criticized egalitarianism as preserving the weak. They instead promoted social Darwinist views.[201][202]


Fascism emphasizes direct action, including supporting the legitimacy of political violence, as a core part of its politics.[11][203] Fascism views violent action as a necessity in politics that fascism identifies as being an “endless struggle”.[204] This emphasis on the use of political violence means that most fascist parties have also created their own private militias (e.g. the Nazi Party’s Brown shirts and Fascist Italy’s Blackshirts).

The basis of fascism’s support of violent action in politics is connected to social Darwinism.[204] Fascist movements have commonly held social Darwinist views of nations, races, and societies.[205] They say that nations and races must purge themselves of socially and biologically weak or degenerate people, while simultaneously promoting the creation of strong people, in order to survive in a world defined by perpetual national and racial conflict.[206]

Age and gender roles

Members of the Piccole Italiane, an organization for girls within the National Fascist Party in Italy.

Members of the League of German Girls, an organization for girls within the Nazi Party in Germany.

Fascism emphasizes youth both in a physical sense of age and in a spiritual sense as related to virility and commitment to action.[207] The Italian Fascists’ political anthem was called Giovinezza (“The Youth”).[207] Fascism identifies the physical age period of youth as a critical time for the moral development of people who will affect society.[208]

Italian Fascism pursued what it called “moral hygiene” of youth, particularly regarding sexuality.[209] Fascist Italy promoted what it considered normal sexual behaviour in youth while denouncing what it considered deviant sexual behaviour.[209] It condemned pornography, most forms of birth control and contraceptive devices (with the exception of the condom), homosexuality, and prostitution as deviant sexual behaviour, although enforcement of laws opposed to such practices was erratic and authorities often turned a blind eye.[209] Fascist Italy regarded the promotion of male sexual excitation before puberty as the cause of criminality amongst male youth, declared homosexuality a social disease, and pursued an aggressive campaign to reduce prostitution of young women.[209]

Mussolini perceived women’s primary role as primarily child bearers and men, warriors—once saying, “War is to man what maternity is to the woman.”[210] In an effort to increase birthrates, the Italian Fascist government gave financial incentives to women who raised large families, and initiated policies intended to reduce the number of women employed.[211] Italian Fascism called for women to be honoured as “reproducers of the nation,” and the Italian Fascist government held ritual ceremonies to honour women’s role within the Italian nation.[212] In 1934, Mussolini declared that employment of women was a “major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment,” and that for women, working was “incompatible with childbearing.” Mussolini went on to say that the solution to unemployment for men was the “exodus of women from the work force.”[213]

The German Nazi government strongly encouraged women to stay at home to bear children and keep house.[214] This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more children. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs. Nazi propaganda sometimes promoted premarital and extramarital sexual relations, unwed motherhood and divorce, but at other times the Nazis opposed such behaviour.[215]

The Nazis decriminalized abortion in cases where fetuses had hereditary defects or were of a race the government disapproved of, while the abortion of healthy pure German, Aryan fetuses remained strictly forbidden.[216] For non-Aryans, abortion was often compulsory. Their eugenicsprogram also stemmed from the “progressive biomedical model” of Weimar Germany.[217] In 1935 Nazi Germany expanded the legality of abortion by amending its eugenics law, to promote abortion for women with hereditary disorders.[216] The law allowed abortion if a woman gave her permission and the fetus was not yet viable,[218][219] and for purposes of so-called racial hygiene.[220][221]

The Nazis said that homosexuality was degenerate, effeminate, perverted, and undermined masculinity because it did not produce children.[222] They considered homosexuality curable through therapy, citing modern scientism and the study of sexology, which said that homosexuality could be felt by “normal” people and not just an abnormal minority.[223] Open homosexuals were interned in Nazi concentration camps.[224]

Palingenesis and modernism

Fascism emphasizes both palingenesis and modernism.[225] In particular, fascism’s nationalism has been identified as having a palingenetic character.[169] Fascism promotes the regeneration of the nation and purging it of decadence.[225] Fascism accepts forms of modernism that it deems promotes national regeneration while rejecting forms of modernism that are regarded as antithetical to national regeneration.[226] Fascism aestheticized modern technology and its association with speed, power, and violence.[227] Fascism admired advances in the economy in the early 20th century, particularly Fordismand scientific management.[228] Fascist modernism has been recognized as inspired or developed by various figures—such as Filippo Tommaso MarinettiErnst JüngerGottfried BennLouis-Ferdinand CélineKnut HamsunEzra Pound, and Wyndham Lewis.[229]

In Italy, such modernist influence was exemplified by Marinetti who advocated a palingenetic modernist society that condemned liberal-bourgeois values of tradition and psychology, while promoting a technological-martial religion of national renewal that emphasized militant nationalism.[230] In Germany, it was exemplified by Jünger who was influenced by his observation of the technological warfare during World War I, and claimed that a new social class had been created that he described as the “warrior-worker”.[231] Jünger like Marinetti emphasized the revolutionary capacities of technology, and emphasized an “organic construction” between human and machine as a liberating and regenerative force in that challenged liberal democracy, conceptions of individual autonomy, bourgeois nihilism, and decadence.[231] He conceived of a society based on a totalitarian concept of “total mobilization” of such disciplined warrior-workers.[231]

Criticism of fascism

Fascism has been widely criticized and condemned in modern times since the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II.

Anti-democratic and tyrannical

Further information: Anti-democratic thought

One of the most common and strongest criticisms of fascism is that it is a tyranny.[232] Fascism is deliberately and entirely non-democratic and anti-democratic.[233][234][235]

Unprincipled opportunism

Some critics of Italian fascism have said that much of the ideology was merely a by-product of unprincipled opportunism by Mussolini, and that he changed his political stances merely to bolster his personal ambitions while he disguised them as being purposeful to the public.[236]Richard Washburn Child, the American ambassador to Italy who worked with Mussolini and became his friend and admirer, defended Mussolini’s opportunistic behaviour, writing: “Opportunist is a term of reproach used to brand men who fit themselves to conditions for the reasons of self-interest. Mussolini, as I have learned to know him, is an opportunist in the sense that he believed that mankind itself must be fitted to changing conditions rather than to fixed theories, no matter how many hopes and prayers have been expended on theories and programmes.”[237] Child quoted Mussolini as saying, “The sanctity of an ism is not in the ism; it has no sanctity beyond its power to do, to work, to succeed in practice. It may have succeeded yesterday and fail to-morrow. Failed yesterday and succeed to-morrow. The machine first of all must run!”.[237]

Some have criticized Mussolini’s actions during the outbreak of World War I as opportunist for seeming to suddenly abandon Marxist egalitarianinternationalism for non-egalitarian nationalism, and note to that effect that upon Mussolini endorsing Italy’s intervention in the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary, he and the new fascist movement received financial support from foreign sources, such as Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies[238] as well as the British Security Service MI5.[239] Some, including Mussolini’s socialist opponents at the time, have noted that regardless of the financial support he accepted for his pro-interventionist stance, Mussolini was free to write whatever he wished in his newspaper Il Popolo d’Italia, without prior sanctioning from his financial backers.[240] Furthermore, the major source of financial support that Mussolini and the fascist movement received in World War I was from France, and is widely believed to have been French socialists who supported the French government’s war against Germany and who sent support to Italian socialists who wanted Italian intervention on France’s side.[241]

Mussolini’s transformation away from Marxism into what eventually became fascism began prior to World War I, as Mussolini had grown increasingly pessimistic about Marxism and egalitarianism while becoming increasingly supportive of figures who opposed egalitarianism, such as Friedrich Nietzsche.[242] By 1902, Mussolini was studying Georges Sorel, Nietzsche, and Vilfredo Pareto.[243] Sorel’s emphasis on the need for overthrowing decadent liberal democracy and capitalism by the use of violence, direct actiongeneral strikes and neo-Machiavellian appeals to emotion impressed Mussolini deeply.[244] Mussolini’s use of Nietzsche made him a highly unorthodox socialist, due to Nietzsche’s promotion of elitism and anti-egalitarian views.[242] Prior to World War I, Mussolini’s writings over time indicated that he had abandoned the Marxism and egalitarianism that he had previously supported, in favour of Nietzsche’s übermensch concept and anti-egalitarianism.[242] In 1908, Mussolini wrote a short essay called “Philosophy of Strength” based on his Nietzschean influence, in which Mussolini openly spoke fondly of the ramifications of an impending war in Europe in challenging both religion and nihilism: “a new kind of free spirit will come, strengthened by the war, … a spirit equipped with a kind of sublime perversity, … a new free spirit will triumph over God and over Nothing.”[93]

Ideological dishonesty

Fascism has been criticized for being ideologically dishonest.

Major examples of ideological dishonesty have been identified in Italian fascism’s changing relationship with German Nazism.[245][246] Fascist Italy’s official foreign policy positions were known to commonly utilize rhetorical ideological hyperbole to justify its actions, although during Dino Grandi’s tenure as Italy’s foreign minister, the country engaged in realpolitik free of such fascist hyperbole.[247] Italian fascism’s stance towards German Nazism fluctuated from support from the late 1920s to 1934, when it celebrated Hitler’s rise to power and meeting with Hitler in 1934; to opposition from 1934 to 1936 after the assassination of Italy’s allied leader in AustriaEngelbert Dollfuss, by Austrian Nazis; and again back to support after 1936, when Germany was the only significant power that did not denounce Italy’s invasion and occupation of Ethiopia.

After antagonism exploded between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy over the assassination of Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss in 1934, Mussolini and Italian fascists denounced and ridiculed Nazism’s racial theories, particularly by denouncing its Nordicism, while promoting Mediterraneanism.[246] Mussolini himself responded to Nordicists’ claims of Italy being divided into Nordic and Mediterranean racial areas due to Germanic invasions of Northern Italy, by claiming that while Germanic tribes such as the Lombards took control of Italy after the fall of Ancient Rome, they arrived in small numbers (about 8,000) and quickly assimilated into Roman culture and spoke the Latin language within fifty years.[248] Italian fascism was influenced by the tradition of Italian nationalists scornfully looking down upon Nordicists’ claims, and taking pride in comparing the age and sophistication of ancient Roman civilization as well as the classical revival in the Renaissance, to that of Nordic societies that Italian nationalists described as “newcomers” to civilization in comparison.[245] At the height of antagonism between the Nazis and Italian fascists over race, Mussolini claimed that the Germans themselves were not a pure race and noted with irony that the Nazi theory of German racial superiority was based on the theories of non-German foreigners, such as Frenchman Arthur de Gobineau.[249] After the tension in German-Italian relations diminished during the late 1930s, Italian fascism sought to harmonize its ideology with German Nazism and combined Nordicist and Mediterranean racial theories, noting that Italians were members of the Aryan Race, composed of a mixed Nordic-Mediterranean subtype.[246]

Mussolini declared in 1938, upon Italy’s adoption of antisemitic laws, that Italian fascism had always been antisemitic,[246] In fact, Italian fascism did not endorse antisemitism until the late 1930s, when Mussolini feared alienating antisemitic Nazi Germany, whose power and influence were growing in Europe. Prior to that period there had been notable Jewish Italians who had been senior Italian fascist officials, including Margherita Sarfatti, who had also been Mussolini’s mistress.[246] Also, contrary to Mussolini’s claim in 1938, only a small number of Italian fascists were staunchly antisemitic (such as Roberto Farinacci and Giuseppe Preziosi) while others, such as Italo Balbo, who came from Ferrara, which had one of Italy’s largest Jewish communities, were disgusted by the antisemitic laws and opposed them.[246] Fascism scholar Mark Neocleous notes that while Italian fascism did not have a clear commitment to antisemitism, there were occasional antisemitic statements issued prior to 1938, such as Mussolini in 1919 declaring that the Jewish bankers in London and New York were connected by race to the Russian Bolsheviks, and that eight percent of the Russian Bolsheviks were Jews.[250]

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A Service of EWTN
Gaspar Bouttats (1640-1695), “Nicholas Owen”
Gaspar Bouttats (1640-1695), “Nicholas Owen”
The Little Saint Nicholas Owen
St. Nicholas Owen was, like Jesus himself, only a carpenter, but he displayed a heroism to shame us all.
BLOGS  |  JAN. 19, 2018

St. Thérèse of Lisieux is known for her little way, but there is another little saint who is one of my favorites.

St. Nicholas Owen was known as “Little John.” He was part of the courageous resistance during the Protestant revolution in England. Owen was a Jesuit lay brother.

A master carpenter from Oxford, he was only a little bit taller than a dwarf. He limped from a badly injured leg and suffered a painful hernia. A loyal, Samwise Gamgee kind of hobbitish fellow, Nicholas Owen is the man who designed and built countless “priest holes” in recusant country houses across England. The “recusants” were those who refused to conform to the Queen’s new Protestant religion.

To be a Catholic priest in England was a crime punishable by being hung drawn and quartered. The poursuivants were the spies and agents of the crown who searched tirelessly for the priests.

To stay one step ahead of them, Owen had to devise increasingly cunning hiding places. He would build false walls and then put another false wall in front of it so when they tapped and found it hollow and tore the wall down they would find an empty hiding place–never supposing that the real hiding place was in another wall behind that one.

He used sewage drains, false chimney flues, fake attics and underfloor hiding places. Often, he would even build in a hole to be used as a toilet and construct a side chamber so the priest would slide down the toilet, then into the hiding place. Sometimes minute holes would be drilled in the walls through which a straw could be placed so the priest (who might have to hide there for days or even weeks) could be fed secretly.

Little John was captured thrice. The first time he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The second time in the Tower he was tortured. The final time he was captured in the crackdown after the Gunpowder Plot. Despite cruel torture he never revealed his hiding places, and he finally died under torture in the Tower of London.

What I like about Nicholas Owen is his stout and determined faith. He never gave in, showing the kind of courage in the face of adversity of all the great saints. Because of his skill at escape and hiding places he is the patron saint of illusionists and escapologists.

I also like his littleness. Somehow, he shows us the stalwart courage of all God’s ‘little’ saints. He was not only little physically, but he was comparatively unlearned and unpolished. He was, like Jesus himself, only a carpenter, but he displayed heroism and a “bigness” to shame us all. He’s leaping up in my gallery of saints, and I pray for a measure of both his littleness and his greatness.

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Cardinal Carlo Caffarra.
Cardinal Carlo Caffarra.
Major Conference Planned on Divisions in Church, Papal Infallibility
The international meeting in Rome, one of the last wishes of the late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, is due to take place in April.
JAN. 18, 2018

One of the late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra’s last wishes — to have an international conference to examine ways to resolve the current crisis of division in the Church — will take place in Rome in early April, the Register has learned.

Details have yet to be officially released, but the conference is expected to explore the limits of papal infallibility as well as seek ways to overcome the division in the Church, exacerbated by what many see as pastoral and doctrinal confusion on key moral issues.

Sources who were close to Cardinal Caffarra up until his death last September said he had become deeply disillusioned by the crisis in the Church, especially the confusion and division caused by differing interpretations of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia on the issue of giving the Eucharist to Catholics engaging in sexual relations outside marriage, such as the divorced and civilly remarried and cohabiting couples.

The archbishop emeritus of Bologna was one of the four signatories of the dubia, five questions sent to the Pope in 2016 asking for clarification of the document to ascertain whether it was in continuity with the Church’s teaching and tradition, but to which the Pope has not responded.

Concerns have further increased lately after revelations that some Church scholars are using Amoris Laetitia to find ways to soften Humanae Vitae’s teaching that reaffirmed the Church’s proscription of contraception.

Cardinal Caffarra, who helped found the then-Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in 1982, was especially concerned by reports last year of possible attempts to re-read and revise Humanae Vitae. He once said the encyclical and the interest it provoked in the Church’s teaching on marriage and family had spurred him to devote all his energies to deepen and share the Church’s teaching on marriage, family and human procreation.

The upcoming conference is expected to also debate a related subject: the limits of papal power, amid concerns that Pope Francis is leading the Church in a direction that they consider to be a departure from the faith, continuity and tradition, and that he is doing so in an authoritarian fashion and without unanimous consent of bishops.

The news of the conference comes as the archdiocese of Braga in Portugal has become the latest to release guidelines on applying Amoris Laetitia. The norms stress the importance of six months of discernment leading to conversion, with a strong emphasis on conscience and “conjugal stability” of at least five years, before admittance to the sacraments. Critics, however, say it leaves the decision ultimately to the couple and is very similar to the Kasper proposal, which subsequently was rejected by the majority of bishops at the Synods on the Family.

At the same time, Catholics in Poland have launched a campaign directed towards the country’s bishops calling on them to “protect marriage and remain true to Christ” ahead of the publication of their guidelines on Amoris Laetitia, which are expected soon.

Called Polonia Semper Fidelis, the campaign invites Catholics to put their names in support of an open letter to the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, in which they call on him to “confirm the teaching of the Church about both the indissolubility of marriage and non-admission of divorced and civilly remarried persons to Holy Communion.”

“We don’t want the interpretational confusion to spread across Poland,” the organizers say, according to the Polish Catholic website Pch24. “We want the Polish Shepherds of the Church to confirm the traditional teachings of the Church with regard to the indissolubility of marriage in an official document.”

They add that the faithful’s “strong voice can become a great support for the Polish bishops,” and show that what their bishops decide “can become a ‘spark’ which will make bishops in other countries confirm the traditional teachings of the Church.”

The Polish bishops, who took firm positions at the synods on the family in line with previous pastoral practice, reportedly planned to publish the guidelines last year, but delays have led to suspicions of internal divisions.


Some readers have asked who is organizing the conference. Some respected Church figures and laity are involved who share the concerns of the late Cardinal Caffarra, but the organizers say they prefer to wait until the official announcement to announce more details.  

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