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:
- Benito Mussolini founded fascism.
- Fascism is a radical right-wing ideology.
- 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!