Despite the similarities of these two ideologies, socialism and fascism are quite different. They originated in different periods and had other goals. Socialism was created in the 1800s with the intent to create a classless society where people were equal politically, socially, and economically. Fascist ideology is much more recent, originating from the 1920s to create an authoritarian government that would have total control over its citizens’ lives. The core values of both ideologies are very similar: they want absolute power over their citizens and all their resources. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between socialism and fascism to understand better how they affect people’s lives.
What is socialism?
Socialism is defined as a “political, social and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership of the means of production. It includes the political theories and movements associated with such systems” [Source].
It can also be explained as a “political and economic system in which property and the means of production are owned in common, typically controlled by the state or government.” It is based on the idea that “common ownership of resources and means of production leads to a more equal society” [Source].
From a Marxist point of view, socialism is a state achieved after workers overthrow capitalists. These workers will create a society dominated by equality. Every person is treated equally, and there are no social classes. It is part of social transition that seeks to bring equality and break all strides of human oppression.
Socialism is mainly concerned with economies such as the distribution of wealth, ownership of property and means of production, public good, and services, but can be used in other aspects like politics and a way of living.
What is fascism?
Merriam Webster defines fascism as a “political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition” [Source].
It can also be viewed as “an autocratic political movement that emphasizes a centralized-nationalistic government above individualism.”
Being fascist is described as a “tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.” The word fascism is accredited to Italians and linked to the Fascisti of Benito Mussolini. He utilized this model to unite Italians to obey a single authority.
“Under fascism, private property, private enterprise, and personal choice in the market have no rights as ends in themselves. They have different measures of social usefulness subject to public control. [Source].
Similarities between socialism and fascism
There are notable similarities between socialism and fascism, including the idea of government intervention in terms of economic and social policies, but reasons for such involvement may differ.
Both socialism and fascism agree on the government controlling the means of production. Socialists and fascists advocate for this concept, which holds that the government should be in charge of caring for its people and, to a certain extent, suppressing selfishness by private firms. Also, under socialism and fascism, issues affecting people in a nation are dealt with by authorities.
It is argued that “Both systems (that is socialism and fascism) have incredibly powerful and effective ideologies” [Source], which can amass a lot of support from the masses and trigger a large social movement. Due to this powerful ability, there is a need for strong leaders and well-established government organizations to achieve set objectives.
There is an element of collective in these two systems, where people have to unite and form a front to tackle challenges presented in a nation or society. These philosophies are anti-capitalistic and oppose a free market.
Differences between fascism and socialism
Analysts of theories state that socialism is an old age concept that started around the 1820s from the ideas of Greek philosophers, which include Plato and Aristotle, and fascism erupted in the 20th century in Italy [Source].
Fascism stands on three iconic roots, which are: “Everything in the state, Nothing outside the state, Nothing against the state,” and socialism branches into various types such as Religious Socialism, Democratic Socialism, Liberal Socialism, Progressive Socialism, and will eventually turn into Communism after Socialism slowly fades away.
Differences between fascism and socialism can be seen when considering each philosophy’s core focus. It is noted that “fascism deals with the economic problems prevalent in the world whereas socialism is associated with the social issues.” Fascism is more focused on issues at the national level rather than individual or community. Socialism, on the other hand, prioritizes the community level and can exert some effort on the individual.
Under fascism, authorities need to ensure that their country prospers in all aspects, but socialism fights for social issues to be fixed, such as inequality, human rights, and fair distribution. This means that a fascist government puts national issues above individual problems. In a socialist one, discrimination against an individual or group in society is dealt with appropriately.
Another notable difference is that “in fascism, the central supremacy prevails whereas in socialism, economic and social theories are given importance, and social ownership is their primary aim.” Fascists argue for government control regarding means of production, but socialism notes that the government ought to control both production and distribution to the people.
Economic well-being is a major focus for fascism, while socialism looks at social equality, which is the primary concern. A fascist system promotes private ownership, which socialists totally oppose it. In socialism, high taxes are channeled towards social welfare and services. In fascism, high taxes raise funds for national defense. Fascist states tend to have unequal distribution of wealth, but in socialist ones, the objective is to provide for individual needs and a person benefits based on their contribution and ability.
Fascists believe that ‘war is good’ while socialists only support a rebellion that topples capitalists but despises war. Socialism can coexist with democracy, and fascism cannot.
Fascism state gains glory through their authoritative nature and has a superior race or ruling class. The state forms a union with businesses and tells them what to do through a single authority, usually a dictator, and there is nationalistic religion for everyone.
Socialism is an economic system that believes society should be built through the efforts and abilities of its people. It is against social classes, encourages central planners to manage the economy. The government is elected through democratic processes and protects the freedom of religion.