A man with a beard and glasses taking his hat off and scratching his head, looking upward out of frame

Can You Define Fascism?

By Elise DeYoung

Fascism. It is a term widely used but hardly understood.

Are you aware of the history and philosophy surrounding this term? Can you define it?

When these questions arise, men like Benito Mussolini are often accredited with the philosophy of fascism, and words such as “authoritarianism” and “right-wing extremism” are frequently given as synonyms. Armed with these ambiguous and frightening words as arrows in their quiver, left-wing politicians commonly use the word fascism to attack their right-wing opponents. We are all familiar with CNN anchors referring to Donald Trump as a right-wing, MAGA fascist.

Where did this term originate? Is fascism really right-wing extremism? Are there fascists in America today?

By exploring each of these questions, we will come across three misconceptions of fascism that have distorted our understanding of this powerful word.

These misconceptions are:

  1. Benito Mussolini founded fascism.
  2. Fascism is a radical right-wing ideology.
  3. The modern Left is anti-fascist.

Misconception One: Mussolini and Fascism

Contrary to popular belief, Benito Mussolini was not the founder of fascism. Instead, he explicitly recognized the real founder of fascism as Giovanni Gentile, and gave him the title, “The philosopher of Fascism.”

Gentile lived from 1875 to 1944 and was an extremely prominent Italian philosopher, politician, and educator. He established the idea of fascism, and with his ideology, he paved the way for the dictatorship of Mussolini, which lasted from 1922 to 1943.

Gentile, like Marx, sought to create a form of government that resembles the family unit. What would this look like exactly? Well—if you think of the family unit, who is the head of the household? Traditionally, it is the father. And what is the role of the father? It is to provide for and to protect his family.

Likewise, Gentile ordered his fascist ideology in such a way that the government would be the father of civilization—its sole provider and protector. With this structure, personal responsibility and individual liberty, which Gentile condemned as “selfish,” are thrown out the window and replaced by slothful dependence and security through submission to Father Government. It is obvious why authoritarianism is so closely attributed to fascism; they have many similarities. Now that we understand Gentile’s philosophical intention, we can define his term.

Fascism is a political movement that seeks to establish an authoritarian system of government that resembles the family unit.

There is one final fact about Gentile that must be understood to have a well-rounded understanding of his philosophy of fascism. That is—Gentile was a Leftist. This may come as a shock because fascism has been attributed to the right for many decades, but when we consider the philosophy of fascism in relation to the modern right and left, it begins to make sense.

Misconception Two: Fascism and the Right

As I said before, fascism has been viewed as the end game of radical right-wing politics for many decades. Republican politicians have seemed to accept this abuse of language and have allowed it to continue all these years.

However, a brief comparison of conservatism and fascism will expose the ridiculous claim that fascism is rooted in the right. Allow me to ask this simple question: Do conservatives want big government? The answer is an obvious and resounding no.

If there is one thing that has not changed in the Republican party, it is the desire for small government. To claim otherwise is folly.  

Additionally, what true conservative wants to surrender personal responsibility and individual liberty to Father Government? The answer is none.

For fascism to work at all, liberty and responsibility must be discarded and replaced by a far-reaching, powerful, all-consuming government that rules its complacent society with an iron fist. That is what happened in Italy under Mussolini’s fascist reign, and that is precisely what conservatives are actively fighting against.

Misconception Three: The Left and Modern-Day Fascists

So, if Republicans are not undercover fascist dictators, are there fascists in America at all?

I am not here to make the argument that all leftist politicians and Democrat voters are fascists. Because that is not the case, however, there are clear-cut agreements between the two political movements that we must acknowledge.

PragerU makes this comparison in their video, “Is Fascism Right or Left?”,

“At the 1984 convention of the Democratic Party, the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, likened America to an extended family where, through the government, people all take care of each other.”

They continue by saying,

“Nothing has changed. Thirty years later, a slogan of the 2012 Democratic Party convention was, ‘The government is the only thing we all belong to.’ They might as well have been quoting Gentile.”

The left has taken Gentile’s idea of collectivism under Father Government and applied it to their political philosophy. We must be aware of the left’s implementation of this core fascist ideal in its policies and plans for our country.

Fascist Philosophy Embedded in Leftist Policies

Just to name a few, the Welfare system has resulted in a complete dependence upon the government by large swaths of the American public. In addition, the left’s movement to ban assault rifles would instantly create a total dependence on Father Government for protection. These two examples prove that the left is furthering our dependence on the government for provision and protection; Gentile would be proud.

The most glaring example, however, of fascist philosophy embedded in leftist policies was the effort by Democratic politicians to instate federal mask and vaccine mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would have exponentially multiplied the scope and influence of the state and greatly increased our submission to it in the name of security. Gentile’s philosophy continues infiltrating institutions today, such as education and healthcare, through Democratic policies.

It is abundantly clear that there are extreme misconceptions surrounding the term and ideology of fascism. Thankfully, we can know the facts behind the philosophy. With a newfound clarity of the origin and political affiliation of fascism, we must now boldly oppose all efforts to instate Father Government in our fascist-free country.

You can read other articles written by Elise here.

Elise DeYoung is a PR & Communications Associate as well as a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!

a closeup of a microphone on a stage

Freedom of Speech and the Modern Public Square

By Elise De Young

James Madison embedded the freedom of speech in American society when he penned the Bill of Rights in 1791.

The free speech clause in the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech or the press.” Abridging can be understood simply as “to impose a restriction on.” If I may be so bold as to reconfigure Madison’s words, he wrote, “Congress shall make no law… that imposes a restriction on freedom of speech or the press.” It is abundantly clear that the right to freedom of speech is absolute. The government may apply no restrictions on speech without violating the First Amendment.

How was this right exercised by the early Americans? 

Historically, before the internet and social media, even before mass-produced papers and articles, the public square was represented by a physical space where citizens would gather to reason with one another. It was a place of persuasion. The idea was that you would come with your belief, and I would come with mine, and we would discuss and debate our differences until the best idea won.

Consider the masterful debates between “Honest Abe” and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858. These debates would gather large crowds who would eagerly attend the speeches that were known to span three or four hours.


The answer is that Americans loved and respected their public square. They yearned for truth and wanted their views to be challenged and improved. This era embodied Romans 12:2 (ESV) when it says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Of course, this does not represent every individual; there are always those who are too proud to listen. But this accurately represents the posture of the 19th-century American mind.

In short, freedom of speech is the right of an American to express any idea or belief without imposition from the government; the public square is where this right is exercised freely.

With these definitions in mind, we can now examine our modern day.

The Modern Public Square

In 2017, the Supreme Court made the case in Packingham v. North Carolina that “social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are now the “town squares” of America where the right of freedom of speech is exercised.” They officially titled this phenomenon the “modern public square.”

I believe you would agree with me when I say that today, our modern public square has regressed far from its original model. Rather than hosting serious, intellectual, and reasonable discussions, social media has become a war zone that wields mockery, foolishness, and manipulation as its weapons.

In recent decades, the term “hate speech” has gained traction among Americans as we label opposing perspectives as dangerous, violent, or harmful. Terms like misogynistic, homophobic, or transphobic rhetoric (I am probably missing a “phobic”) and ultra-MAGA speech have been thrown around on platforms like X and TikTok to describe speech that disagrees with a mainstream position on culture, politics, or religion.

These developments have profound implications because freedom of speech cannot flourish in a public square where people are shamed and mocked for speaking. So, we must ask ourselves: how can we change the status quo?

The Solution

I believe the solution is Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Freedom of speech is essential because it ensures that language, thought, and expression cannot be controlled by and conform to the ruling power of this world.

Today, the world is racing towards mass control and conformity to a specific set of ideas and beliefs. They are achieving their objective by silencing and shaming specific speech before the debate has even begun. Thankfully, Romans 12:2 gives us two ways to fight against conformity to the world.

The Romans 12: Strategy

First, renew your mind. One of the reasons why our modern public square is suffering is because ignorance has taken over the conversation. Ignorance of history, logic, and truth have all blended to confuse and anger both sides of the debate. We need well-educated individuals to enter into places of confusion to provide clarity and understanding. And this begins with you and me. By educating ourselves on the topics of the day, we will know the truth more fully and be prepared when our positions are challenged.

Second, discern the truth through testing. Another reason why our public square is in disarray is that we have forgotten how to test ideas through debate. Our public square echoes with the screaming of political slogans, but this is not a debate. These statements are only childish expressions of emotional opinions. If we wish for productive conversations to flourish once more, we must learn to discern ideas and put them to the test together. When we allow the opposing argument to confront our ideas, we will grow in both humility of mind and wisdom in opinion. Without this vital testing process, how can we arrive at the truth? 

The right to freedom of speech has been the bedrock of American society since our founding, and it must remain the bedrock of our modern public square today. So, let us learn to converse with one another, and may the best idea win.

Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!