The concept of fascism is a tricky one, for it is a form of government that not many scholars have been able to adequately define (Umland, 2005, p. 34). Moreover, scholars have debated as to what regimes belong under the fascist rubric. Some scholars converge upon a generic definition of fascism, while others reject that there can be such a thing as a generic model of fascism…
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One of these reasons is timing, in that it took several generations for the Left to realize that fascism was a not a clever manipulation of the populace by the reactionary Right, but was, rather, authentically popular to the masses. Another reason is because many states, during fascism’s heyday, tried to mimic the fascist governments, even though these states were not functionally fascist, essentially trying to identify themselves as fascists by their plumage or clothing. A third reason why fascism is difficult to define is because there is such a wide disparity between regimes due to space and time, as each fascist country derived their own fascist elements from their own community identity. For instance, religion would play a greater role in any kind of United States incarnation of fascism than it would in Europe, where the fascists were pagan. A fourth difficulty in defining fascism is that there is a tenuous relationship between its ideology and fascism as put into action (Paxton, 1998, pp. 1-4). While fascism is a concept that has eluded definition, there is some comfort in knowing that Marxist definitions and critiques generally differ from non-Marxist ones, in a number of different ways. In this way, fascism has a better theoretical ground when studied in light of fascist theories of the ideology, and these Marxist theories are the focus of this paper. That said, there are a number of fundamental differences between Marxist theories of fascism and non-Marxist theories. Marxist theories of fascism differed from the non-Marxist theories of fascism, in that non-Marxist theories do not study the class and social policies of Germany and Italy under fascism, doing little to explain how these regimes dealt with taxes, social services, business and labor conditions, as well as not asking for who benefited from fascism and for whom fascism was a detriment, while these questions are at the core of the Marxist critique of fascism (Pizzo, 1998, p. 97). This is because the Marxist ideology sees class as central to government in general, whereas non-Marxists see state governments as being above class structures (Pizzo, 1998, p. 97). In other words, to Marxists, “fascism was a mass movement that acted independent of capitalist support” (Renton, 1997, p. 2). Another major difference between Marxist critiques of fascism from non-Marxist critiques is that the latter is concerned with fascism as a mature form of governing, focusing on the essence of fascism; non-Marxists concentrate on fascism as a movement. Thus, the non-Marxist critiques of fascism concentrate ideological themes and organizational principles of fascism than do Marxist critiques (Vanaik, 1994, p. 1730). Another major difference between Marxist theories and non-Marxist theories is that Marxist theories tend to view fascism strictly in economic terms, while non-Marxist theories see fascism in psychological and personality terms (Thomas, 1991, p. 1). According to these non-Marxist theories, fascism is a product of a diseased society in crisis, or the consequence of moral failure and these theories revolve around the concept of a sick society and a world gone mad (Davies & Lynch, 2002, p. 4). These theories try to get into the psyche of leaders who embrace the fascist ideology, such as Hitler and Mussolini, as well as the psyches of those who were ardent followers of
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