The Fourteen Identifying Characteristics of Fascism-Expanded
[Editor's Note: I originally posted Laurence
Britt's listing of the fourteen characteristics of fascism on November 2,
2004, but this updated version offers much greater explanation of each
characteristic. It's rather apparent that each characteristic can be recognized
in the Bush regime, along with the complicitness of the traitors in congress
and the assistance of municipal and state police departments who have allowed
themselves to be transformed into military assault units primed to destroy
their own country under the command of the federal satanists running Homeland
Security and FEMA. The politicians need to be impeached, removed from office
and indicted for high treason against the US Constitution and the American
people. The worker bees in police, Homeland Security, etc. need to wake
up to the reality of their actions and recognize that they and their
families will also be destroyed in the chaos to come. The
Illuminati 's plan is to destroy America and ALL of its people-including
police, Homeland Security, FEMA, military, etc. What role can you play in
resisting this treasonous Fifth column and help to restore our constitutional
way of life?..Ken]
by Laurence W. Britt
Posted Oct. 14, 2005
The Fourteen Identifying Characteristics of Fascism
Fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously
masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The
cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused,
but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the
wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm. We are two-and-a-half
generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant
reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical
models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer
exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been
imitated by protofascist(1) regimes at various times in the twentieth century.
Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes
show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question
any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual
similarities. Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and
protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their
modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political
observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to
restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.
For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following
regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s
Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s
Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities,
cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist
or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further,
all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture
of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible. Analysis of these
seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable
patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics
are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they
all share at least some level of similarity.
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of
From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel
pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the
regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious.
Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common
themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion
of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance
to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda,
the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing,
even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic
was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as
a unifying cause.
The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating
as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to
shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions.
The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were
usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous”
acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals,
Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members
of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.”
Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists
and dealt with accordingly.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial
infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources
was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The
military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever
possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase
the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
5. Rampant sexism.
Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture
were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class
citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes
were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the
orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its
6. A controlled mass media.
Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control
and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes
exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included
the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals
to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often
politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success
in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
7. Obsession with national security.
Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the
ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret
and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric
of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities
was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never
proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached
themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray
themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling
elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion
was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that
the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.
” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was
tantamount to an attack on religion.
9. Power of corporations protected.
Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control,
the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not
compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not
only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional
means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered
by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially
in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge
the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it
was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass,
viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor
was considered akin to a vice.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals
and the arts.
Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated
with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom
were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal.
Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed
or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly
attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should
serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with
huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost
unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political
crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used
against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals
or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an
excuse for more police power.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their
position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power
elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite,
who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of
the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources
as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national
security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption
was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
14. Fraudulent elections.
Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually
bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually
be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods
included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and
disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes,
and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America,
officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press,
honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard
against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal
gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.
Note 1. Defined as a “political movement or regime tending
toward or imitating Fascism” Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
Laurence W. Britt
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Cooper, Marc. Pinochet and Me. New York: Verso, 2001.
Cornwell, John. Hitler as Pope. New York: Viking, 1999.
de Figuerio, Antonio. Portugal—Fifty Years of Dictatorship. New York:
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Eatwell, Roger. Fascism, A History. New York: Penguin, 1995.
Fest, Joachim C. The Face of the Third Reich. New York: Pantheon, 1970.
Gallo, Max. Mussolini’s Italy. New York: MacMillan, 1973.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler (two volumes). New York: Norton, 1999.
Laqueur, Walter. Fascism, Past, Present, and Future. New York: Oxford, 1996.
Papandreau, Andreas. Democracy at Gunpoint. New York: Penguin Books, 1971.
Phillips, Peter. Censored 2001: 25 Years of Censored News. New York: Seven
Sharp, M. E. Indonesia Beyond Suharto. Armonk, 1999.
Verdugo, Patricia. Chile, Pinochet, and the Caravan of Death. Coral Gables,
Florida: North-South Center Press, 2001.
Yglesias, Jose. The Franco Years. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977.
Laurence Britt’s novel, June, 2004, depicts a future America dominated
by right-wing extremists.
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